13th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
The bank’s published balance-sheet forthe year ended the 30th September. 1933. shows a net profit of £439,616 12s.
Yes, in common with all other bank institutions.
The minis in Australia are branches of the Royal Mint, London, and are owned and controlled by the Imperial Government.
Arising out of a previous question by Senator Kraut and the reply of the Minister thereto re Sandy BayRifle Range, has he seen the statement of the Town Clerk of Hobart, published in theMoroury of the 28th November, to theeffect that a definite proposal hadbeen made by the council to the Minister for Defence on the 15th September last, but no notification has been receivedas to whether the Minister approved of the proposal; if so. would he inform the Senate the reasonfor the delay in finalizing the matter?
Iam now in a position to inform the honorable senator as follows : -
The proposal of the15th September referred to in the honorable senator’s question ottered as an alternative rifle range sitean area at Glenorchy. It has been necessary to survey this area (over which the Hobart City Council has obtained options) with a view to ascer- taining its suitabilityas a rifle range. This survey has just been completed, and many points have arisen which require further investigation, but it is anticipated that the Defence Department will be able to give a definite reply to the Hobart City Council’s proposal by the end of this year.
The following papers were presented : -
Commonwealth Public Service. Act - Tenth
Report on the Commonwealth Public Service by the Board of Commissioners, dated 20th November, 1933.
Audit Act - Transfers of amounts approved bythe Governor-General in Council - Financial year 1932-33 - Dated 20th November, 1933.
-I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.As an old parliamentarian, the honorablesenator knows very well that it is not the practice to make a statement of government policy in answer to questions.
– I ask the Minister for Defence -
– Portion of the question- relates to a transaction between certain individuals and the Agricultural Bank of Western Australia. The honorable senator knows of course that that bank is a State institution, and therefore the Commonwealth Government cannot give a. reply to that portion of his inquiry. So far us the question relates to the- Defence Department, T. ask the honorable senator to give notice of it.
– Will the Minister representing the Treasurer say how many members of this Parliament have informed the Government that they do not intend to accept the recent partial restoration of the parliamentary allowance?
– I am unable to give the honorable senator any information on that matter.
– Is the Minister representing the Treasurer aware that the private banks of Australia have restored to their employees 8 per cent, of the amounts by which their salaries were reduced under the Premiers plan, and will the Treasurer approach the Commonwealth Bank Board with a view to having restored to the employees of that bank the amount of salary which was taken from them under the Premiers plan?
– I am not aware of the facts regarding the salaries of the employees of the private banks, and the Government has no control over the Commonwealth Bank.
– Will the Minister representing the Treasurer consider the desirability of bringing under the Treasurer’s notice the advisability of approaching the Commonwealth Ba.nk Board with a view to placing employees of that bank on- the same basis as those of the private trading banks, to whom 8 per cent… of the amount by which their wages were reduced under the Premiers plan has recently been restored?’
– I shall submit the matter for the consideration of the Prime Minister; but, as I have already indicated, this Government has no- power to interfere in the internal management of the Commonwealth Bank.
– I merely suggested the advisability of approaching the bank board.
Assent to the following bills reported : -
Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) Bill 1933.
Customs Tariff (Industries Preservation)
Customs Tariff 1933.
Iron and Steel Products Bounty Bill 1933,
[3.18]. - by leave - During the past few weeks the Loan Council has been in close touch with the High Commissioner in London, Mr. Bruce, in connexion with negotiations for a further conversion loan. It was hoped that an operation would have been announced earlier; but, unfortunately, conditions in the international monetary world had become unfavorable, and the operation was delayed. Despite these conditions, negotiations ha ve been carried on, and the Loan Council has authorized Mr. Bruce to arrange for a further conversion loan of £16,647,000. The negotiations are approaching finality, and it is expected that a loan for this amount will be underwritten in London to-day. The operation will cover £2,980,000 of New South Wales 5½ per cents., £6,888,000 of Victorian 5½ per cents., £5,633,000 of South Australian 5 per cents., and £1,146,000 of Tasmanian 5 per cents. It is expected that the terms will be 3¾ per cent. at £99 for fifteen years, with the. option to the Government to repay after twelve years. On these terms, the yield to the investor, allowing for redemption at the end of fifteen years, would be £3 16s. 9d. The last conversion operation was for £20,951,000, the terms being 3¾ per cent;, at £98, and the period twenty years, with the option of redemption after fifteen years. The yield to the investor in the case of that operation, including redemption at the end of twenty years, was £3 17s.11d. It will be seen, therefore, that the proposed terms of the now loan are a slight improvement on theterms on which the last conversion loanwas arranged. As was the case with earlier conversions, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has agreed to the proposed issue as an exceptional measure. As soon as advice has been received that the loan has been underwritten, a further announcement will be made.
Attendance ofmedical. Practitioners.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
Is it a factthat during the day of 23rd November, 1933, a workman engaged on the construction work of the new reservoir at Black Mountain, Canberra, was seriously injured?
– The Minister for Health supplies the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
Senator Sir HARRY LAWSON.The Minister for Commerce states that the information desired by the honorable senator is being obtained.
Interest on Short-dated Loans.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer supplies the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasurer supplies the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The AttorneyGeneral supplies the following answers : - 1 and 2. Yes. 3 and 4. This organization has not been authorized in any way by the Commonwealth Government and, as the use of the words “ Commonwealth of Australia “ in the letter head may lead people to believe that it has some official status, thu organization is being asked to have the offending words removed.
Visit of Assistant Minister for Defence
askedthe Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
Experimental Meat Chilling Chambers
asked the Minister administering the Commonwealth Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. A sum of money has been made available by the Commonwealth Bank which has made it possible to add to the cool chambers, thereby rendering it practicable tp extend the experiments. There is no suggestion that this building constructional work is being undertaken because of disappointing results; on the contrary, Fesults have been most satisfactory.
Licensing of Foreign Ships - Protection of Australian Shipping Interests
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Prime Minister supplies the following answers: -
asked the Leader of the Senate, upon notice-
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
The subject of shipping services in relation to the external territories of the Commonwealth is receiving the consideration of tho Government..
Cost of Upkeep
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister; upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Prime Minister supplies the following answers: -
At the end of June, 1933, the rentals and recoverable payments for cleaning services were in the aggregate approximately £24,305 per annum.
asked the Leader of the Senate, upon notice-
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
It will probably be found that many of the 28 States were in arrears only by reason of delay in payment.
In the view of the Commonwealth Government the position as regards arrears of contributions of some States members of the League of Nations is not such as to warrant consideration being given to the question raised by the honorable senator.
asked the Leader of the Senate, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Has he any statementto make, in connexion with wireless on coastal vessels plying on the Australian coast?
– The Prime. Minister has supplied thefollowing answer to the honorable senator’s questions : -
A report has been received from the special departmental committee set up to consider the questionof wireless’ on ships of less than. 1,600 tons plying on the Australian coast. During the progress of the investigation an application was made by the Governments of Victoria’ and New South Wales that the scope of the inquiry be widened to include ships engaged in intra-state traffic. This was agreed to by the Commonwealth, and as a large number of ships which would be affected are intrastate ships mainly in New South Wales waters, the Prime Minister forwarded a copy of the report to the Premier of that State suggesting a conference between the appropriate New South Wales Minister and the Commonwealth Minister for Commerce. This conference, it is hoped, will bc held shortly.
The following bills were received from the House of Representatives, and read a first time: -
Fruit Growers Relief Bill 1933. Income Tax Bill 1933. Dried Fruits Bill 1933. Ashmore and Cartier Islands Acceptance Bill 1933.
War Pensions Appropriation Bill 1933.
Bill returned by the House of Representatives with amendments.
CUSTOMS TARIFF (No. 2) 1933. Bill read a third time.
– I move - .
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to provide £100,000 to meet monetary grants to certain migrant settlers in Victoria. The question whether this liability should be accepted by the Commonwealth or whether the whole or any portion of it should be borne by the State of Victoria, is to be referred to arbitration in terms of an arbitration agreement entered into between the Governments of the Commonwealth and Victoria, dated the 16th October, 1933, a copy of which is annexed to this bill. The Honorable Langer Owen will act as arbitrator.
What is described as the “ Tentative Government Scheme”, also annexed to the bill, defines how the. sum of £100,000 shall be applied. In certain cases monetary grants are to be made to settlers still on their holdings, and in other cases grants are to be made to settlers not now in occupation of blocks. The maximum payment proposed will not in any one case exceed £500. In addition, a sum not exceeding £8,000 is to be provided to meet pressing personal debts of settlers. The money will not be used for adjustment of capital or areas of holdings. Those responsibilities already have been accepted by the Government of Victoria. I think I should explain shortly the history of this matter, although the delicacy of the situation forbids the discussion of the question of who should bear the blame. That has been left for the arbitrator to decide, and for th* present is sub judice.
On the 31st May, 1922, the United Kingdom Government passed an act known as The Empire Settlement Act 1922. That act provided for co-operation, financial and otherwise, between the United Kingdom and the dominions, in the better distribution of the white population of the Empire. Being desirous of entering into such co-operative arrangement, and obtaining the financial and other advantages likely to accrue from such co-operation, tho Commonwealth Government concluded certain agreements with the United Kingdom Government and with the various States, including Victoria. The United Kingdom Government dealt with the Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth in turn dealt with the States. Pursuant to those agreements, certain assisted migrants came to Australia and were settled on the land in Victoria. Following the passage of the Empire Settlement Act, a series of conferences was held between Commonwealth and State Ministers for the purpose of considering, among other matters, the subject of migration and its concomitant development. Those conferences decided to draw a line of demarcation as to responsibility in respect of migration as between tho Commonwealth and States.
Briefly - (1) the Commonwealth was to have full control overseas; and (2) the States were to assume full responsibility for settlement. Consequent upon this arrangement, the Commonwealth during 1922 proceeded to assume control of certain matters overseas, including recruitment and propaganda relating to migration; hut, notwithstanding the measure of control that the Commonwealth sought to exercise, recruiting in respect of Victorian land settlement schemes was, in fact, conducted by certain officers specially selected for the work by the Government of Victoria. To facilitate recruitment, these officers used, in the main, literature which bore the imprimatur of the State of Victoria. It is the view of the Commonwealth Government that those officers acted, although they were nominally under Commonwealth control, as the agents of Victoria. This matter is, however, sui judice. I stress particularly the division of responsibility as between the Commonwealth and the State, and the alleged manner in which those responsibilities were discharged in respect of the recruitment of migrants, because this matter constitutes the basic difference of opinion as between the Commonwealth a.nd. the State of Victoria, and has necessitated recourse to arbitration.
In response to insistent representations by migrant settlers in Victoria, and later by the British Government, a royal commission was appointed by the State of Victoria on the 9th December, 1930, to investigate complaints of settlers. The personnel of the commission was His Honour Chief Justice Dethridge, Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, Chairman; and Messrs. Olive McPherson and W. E. B. Macleod as Commissioners. The commission furnished its report on tho 21st March, 1933. Altogether the commission dealt with the cases of 311 complainant settlers, and found tha.t most of the complaints were justified. In short, the commission found -
In its general conclusion as to obligations the commission expressed the view that the migrants, not being parties to the agreements, had no ordinary contractual rights thereunder, but although the complainants have no rights under the agreements enforceable in law, there are special circumstances in nearly every case which give them a just claim upon the State for the fulfilment of the agreements so far as the State undertook, by those agreements, to confer benefits upon persons in the position of the complainants.
While the Government of Victoria is prepared to make substantial adjustments in respect of writing-off of capital, and in regard to areas of holdings, in cases where settlers remain on their blocks, involving in all, I am informed, a liability of about £350,000, it disclaims responsibility for monetary grants, because it does not agree that the State is responsible for misleading propaganda and for misleading statements that were made in Britain.
The whole question has formed the subject of protracted negotiations, and I am pleased to be able to say that the United Kingdom Government is prepared to accept the basis of settlement as set out in what is described as the Tentative Government Scheme. As already indicated, however, the Government of Victoria is not prepared, except upon the decision of the arbitrator, to provide the whole or any portion of the amount required for monetary grants. While the Commonwealth Government does not admit that a legal claim for compensation lies on the part of the settlers, it nevertheless recognizes that certain moral claims exist. The formula of settlement proposed is intended to satisfy those moral claims.
The object of the bill is to provide the money now, so that a speedy settlement may be reached. The sum of £100,000 represents an estimate. The amount required might be less or it might be more than that sum. If more money is required, additional funds will be appropriated later, but it is emphasized that the provision of the money is in no way to be construed as an admission by the Commonwealth that it has any financial or other responsibilities in respect of these migrants. The purpose of the bill is simply to facilitate settlement, because it is felt that further delay will prove inimical to the interests of Australia overseas.
During the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers held in February, 1930, the then Prime Minister, the Right Honorable J. H. Scullin, said, inter alia -
Under the £34,000,000 agreement, the Commonwealth Government has a definite and seriousresponsibility to the British Government in respect of the satisfactory settlement of all assisted migrants who come to Australia. The agreements with the States, although providing for the division of this responsibility, do not, iu any way, absolve the Commonwealth Government from its obligations to the British Government. In every case the. British Governmentlooks to the Commonwealth Government to honour its compact, although the whole machinery of settlement lies in the hands of the respective State Governments.
In accepting the basis of settlement proposed, and consenting to provide funds pending the results of arbitration, the Commonwealth Government was actuated by a desire to see remedies applied with as little delay as possible, because it is considered . that speed should be the primary aim of any basis of settlement. Any involved and long-drawn-out methods would necessarily detract from the effectiveness of a scheme, no matter how liberal the provisions might be. It is recognized that the formula which has been agreed to is not perfect - it would be futile to attempt to evolve a perfect formula - but, in the opinion’ of the Government, it represents an honest attempt to confer the greatest benefits upon the greatest number. No embracive scheme of this character would be likely to satisfy every one. A further point, too, is that there is a limit to the funds which can be made available for the purpose. An endeavour has been made to provide for the utilization of funds within those limits to the best advantage.
The Senate must either accept or reject the schedule in its entirety. It represents an agreement as between governments which is unalterable as to detail. However, in considering the matter, cognisance should be taken of the fact that the real object of the bill is to provide the sum of £100,000 pending the results of arbitration. It is scarcely within the province of the Senate to express views as to the merits of the formula of settlement. The formula has been accepted by the British Government, thereby removing any obstacle in the way of its operation.
In asking the Senate to pass this legislation, I desire to emphasize that because unfortunate circumstances have surrounded this scheme of settlement, it cannot be said that the whole scheme of migration was a failure. Indeed, there are many striking instances of success, and it must he remembered that the problem of population, so far as Australia is concerned, is of transcendent importance. Economic depression always will have a restricting influence, and the tendency will be for settlers, in time of adversity, to think that the distant fields are green. By this I mean that, in times of depression, they will feel the urge to return to their native land, but I stress the fact that Australia is to-day in a far better economic position: than most other countries of the world.
I hope that honorable senators will forbear debating the merits or demerits of the original proposal. I have endeavoured to avoid discussing whether or not literature that was issued in connexion with the migration campaign was the responsibility of the Commonwealth or of the Government of Victoria. This matter will be argued by the representatives of the Commonwealth and the State concerned on the admitted facts, and the arbitrator will determine where (he responsibility lies. I ask for the speedy passage of the bill.
.- While I agree with the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator McLachlan) that there is little to be gained from recriminations with regard to the migration scheme that ended so disastrously, it is only right that I should review briefly the history of the project. When the proposals to settle people on land in Australia were under discussion in 1922, the Victorian Government brought forward a scheme to place 10,000 migrants from Great Britain on the land in that State over a period of five years. A contract to that effect was made with the Commonwealth and Imperial Governments, and a bill dealing with it was introduced into this Parliament in October of that year. The then Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes), referring to the financial side of the scheme, said that an advance of £1,000 was to be made by the British Government in respect of each settler, and that the Commonwealth Government would be liable for one-third of the interest payable, the Victorian Government being responsible for the balance. The right honorable gentleman clearly indicated that the liability of the Commonwealth was limited both as regards time and amount. Notwithstanding that statement, I agree with the Vice-President of the Executive Council that whatever might have been the understanding arrived at, although there might be no legal responsibility on the Commonwealth in respect of the scheme, there is certainly a moral obligation to have it satisfactorily settled. This, I think, is admitted by the Minister who has stated that the points in dispute between the Commonwealth and the State of Victoria will be determined by arbitration.
When tho bill dealing with this project was under discussion in 1922, members of the Labour party were most emphatic in their condemnation of it. Subsequent events have proved that there was no justification for the encouragement of migrants “from Great Britain. We realized the danger of placing on the land newcomers inexperienced in agricultural operations under Australian conditions, knowing that there was no lack of demand on the part of people living here for any land that might be available. Mr. Charlton, the then Leader of the Labour party, emphasized that inexperienced men would be confronted with a heartbreaking task.
– Mr. Charlton appreciated the opportunity to obtain cheap money under that scheme.
– Mr. Charlton was under no misapprehension as to the outcome of the scheme and the folly of borrowing money for the settlement of inexperienced men on the land. Everyone now knows that many migrants were allotted land . that was most unsuitable. The Victorian Government had launched, in a most haphazard fashion, a land settlement scheme which has proved most expensive to the community. Mr. Hughes, the then Prime Minister, informed members of the House of Representatives that the ‘Premier of Victoria, had told him that he proposed to sandwich migrant settlers on land be tween Australian farmers, in the belief that the experience which they would gain from their neighbours would enable them to succeed. That might have been a wise provision; but, as we now know, the migrants were placed on inferior land, and thus were handicapped from the start. Victoria is becoming notorious for its land settlement schemes, and it is just as well that the people should be warned of the folly of adopting ill-considered proposals. I do not know what is the present position of soldier settlements in that State, but according to the Melbourne Age of the 7th July, 1926, they were a disgrace to the State. That newspaper, in criticizing the State Government’s proposals, stated -
The State has settled 10,600 discharged soldiers on thu land, at a cost of £20,625,000. Same of the nien have made good, but numerically, they are fractional. The monetary arrears on tha transactions amount to £3,000,000. In the vast majority of these cases, the unfortunate settler is not to blame. Much of the land was unsuitable. Seemingly good laud was subject to flooding, and was in parts imperfectly drained. Many values wore excessive; many areas were inadequate.
Both in regard to soldier and migrant settlements, the Victorian Government of the day either showed a shocking lack of foresight, inasmuch as it did not secure land that could be worked successfully, or was totally indifferent to the fate of its settlers. It is difficult to believe that any government could be so callous about the welfare of returned soldiers as to settle them on unsuitable land. Men whose patriotism during the war was at fever heat, took advantage of the opportunity which the Government’s land settlement proposals presented, and asked excessive values for land upon which it was impossible for the new settlers to make a living. Members of the Labour party pointed. out at the time that the cheap money to be made available under the agreement with the British Government would, in the long run, prove to be dear money. Australia now has to pay for the folly and shortsightedness of previous anti-Labour governments. Alleged patriots “sold a pup “ to the British settlers, who were, misled because of their ignorance of Australian conditions. They were led like lambs to’ the slaughter, and I am sorry to say that Australians did their best to deceive them. Glowing pictures were painted to attract them to this country. A circular letter referred to on page 3 of th)e report of the Victorian royal’ commission that inquired into this matter stated -
It i3 not necessary for a new settler to have a knowledge of farming.
The Government has arranged that twelve months’ practical experience shall be given to new settlers after their arrival.
Men who had had military careers in India, and were living in retirement in Great Britain, were particularly appealed to, and were induced to take up land in Australia. Imagine a British migrant being regarded as qualified for life on the land after twelve months’ farming experience! As a matter of fact, many of them did not receive even a year’s training.
In 1926, 3,947 applications were received for one homestead farm, and, in 1927, no fewer than 170 applicants attempted to secure nine blocks of land. This shows conclusively that any good land that is available for settlement is quickly taken up by Australians who are familiar _ with local conditions. A number of single migrants were placed on farms because, usually, they were prepared to accept low wages, to be assured of at least a living for such period as suited the employer; but married migrants could not take their families with them when they were obtaining experience by working for other farmers. As a’ ‘result, married men with families were placed on blocks as soon as possible, willy-nilly, whether they had had experience or not, and they were left to make tho best of their opportunities. In January, 1924, the Elcho training farm was established, and married men were given a rough idea of farming at that institution; but they received only about six weeks’ experience. A pamphlet entitled, Australia - Farms for British Settlers in Victoria, stated -
In each case a living area, i.e., an area sufficient to enable the settler to make a good living out of his holding, will be provided by the Government at a reasonable price.
Another pamphlet entitled Victoria, the Speedway to Rural Prosperity, stated that the land policy of the Victorian. Government was to give the migrant settler “ a fair start on a carefully selected and productive holding, and reasonably to finance him during tho initial stages of his establishment.” On page 5 of the report .of the commission we find these words -
Upon these allegations, we are compelled to find, oh the evidence, that assurances were given that the intending settlers, if they worked hard, would, after the first few years, be receiving not incomes ranging from £400 a year upwards, and (with a fair prospect of reaching an independent position in fifteen or twenty years. No evidence was given on behalf of the State to rebut the testimony of the complainants upon this issue.
The Government dared not attempt to rebut the statements made by the settlers before the royal commission. The Premier of Victoria had made a statement, which the settlers naturally thought would be honoured, and which was reported in The Speedway to Rural Prosperity, as follows: -
We do not want to make promises which we cannot redeem. We wish to be cautious and prudent, and safe in the promises we hold, out.
On page 20 of the commission’s report is the following statement: -
About the blocks in the Pyramid district, there was strong evidence from old-established farmers in the neighbourhood condemning most of them as unsuitable for migrant settlement. Much of .the laud is poor, and dry seasons are frequent . . . Turning to the western district, the land at Mr Violet was not suitable for closer settlement, lt is very stony country, and the blocks do not contain enough cultivable land for dairy-farmers. In the other western district blocks there is good soil, and the question is one of price and area.
Where the land was suitable for dairying the price was so prohibitive that it was impossible for the settlers to obtain a profitable living. Referring to blocks in the north-west Mallee, the report states, on page 21 -
The evidence shows that such investigations as had been made were not enough to justify confidence that either the soil or the rainfall would enable farming to be carried, on successfully, even by experienced Australians, upon the blocks allocated to the complainants. Indeed, the contrary is indicated.
I have quoted sufficient to show that misleading statements induced many unfortunate settlers to come to Australia. Many similar mistakes have been made by antiLabour Governments, both State and
Federal, and the time comes when the people have to pay for their misdeeds. This glaring instance of government mismanagement will have the effect of showing how minutely and carefully statements made by showmen, for the purpose of misleading good citizens should be scrutinized. I have a friend in Ballarat who has been working in the Sunshine Mallee of Victoria. He has been constructing roads there, and he wonders who is likely ever to use them, because as quickly as they are made they are covered up by sand. He informed me that the country is bare, and that the farmers are walking off their blocks.
Members of the Labour party prophesied that the efforts at migration to which I have been referring would fail, but it is little comfort to us to know that our prophecy ha3 been fulfilled. Unscrupulous persons in Great Britain published misleading information, and blocks were sold to settlers, although the land was known to be practically worthless. I regret that it is necessary for me to make these scathing comments, but they are well deserved. The relief to he afforded by this measure should be given without delay.
– I welcome this bill, which is rather overdue; but I join issue with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Barnes) in regard to his statement that the error was due to the action of unscrupulous governments. After the war, it was realized by many thinking men that a re-distribution of the man power of the Empire was feasible and wise. The mistake that occurred in. connexion with this effort at migration was repeated in many countries. I saw something of it over twenty years ago in Rhodesia. Australian ex-service men on their return from abroad at the termination of the Great War had experiences similar to those of the migrant settlers, and so had the ex-service men in New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa. After the cessation of hostilities, a period of fictitious prosperity was experienced. Values soared to remarkable heights, and these conditions were common throughout the world. When I returned to my own State of Tasmania, I was astonished at the prices asked for land suitable for the cultivation of potatoes. Such fictitious values could not be maintained. Returned soldiers and other settlers who were placed upon land purchased at a price in excess of its economic value, were handicapped from the outset. Neither governments nor experts in the various State agricultural departments anticipated that the difficulties confronting these men would be as great as they actually were, and that there would be such a large number of failures. Members of local committees, many of whom were successful farmers, recommended the purchase of land which they thought would be suitable for settlement. Moreover, a large number of “ diggers “ who had been on the land before they went, overseas to fight have been faced with serious difficulties and the efforts of many of them have been attended by complete failure. I was immigration officer for the State of Tasmania for some time, and I have always been intensely interested in migration and land settlement. There have been a number of failures, but many of these were inevitable owing to the settlers being temperamentally unsuitable and inexperienced. Some have been successful, and I could take honorable senators to quite a number who came out from the Old Country ut that time and have done well. I cannot agree with the statement of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Barnes) that the position of certain Victorian migrants, who are being provided for under this bill, is due to the action of unscrupulous governments. That statement is inaccurate and misleading; the governments concerned were not unscrupulous. When these migrants came to Australia, governments in various parts of the Empire were competing with each other in an endeavour to obtain migrants and to increase land settlement. They were “ painting the lily, “ in order to secure men and particularly those with capital. On two occasions, I visited the Elcho training farm, at Lara, to see how migrants were progressing before being placed on blocks which they were to work on their own account. Since that time I have met five or six of them who intend, if possible, to remain on their blocks and who anticipate receiving some financial assistance under this measure . Negotiations proceeded between the British Government, the Commonwealth Government and the Victorian Government for some time; and eventually a royal commissionwas appointed, to inquire into the whole matter. Some of the findings of that commission have been quoted by the Leader of the Opposition and many of them,I think, are sound. I welcome the; introduction of this measure, and I hope thatt it will be passed by the Senate, as- itis the least that can be done to correct what was really an error of judgment.
– I feel sure that honorable senators will deplore the necessity for the introduction of this measure, but will welcome it as evidence that an earnest attempt is being made by those concerned to bring, the matter to a conclusion. I have been in fairly close contact with a number of settlers affectedin. the northern part of Victoria. I have visited them on their farms and conversed with them in their homes, and it was: an inspiration to me to see the way they were standing up to their difficulties. I was astonished to see the conditions under which many of them were living, and to learn that some who have been advised to leave their holdings intend to: remain if it is humanly possible to do so.
– They are the right type of men..
– Yes, they deserve all the assistance that can be given to them. Quite a number have stood up to their responsibilities, and are determined to live up to the old British tradition of winning through if possible. I shall respect the wishes of the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Senator McLachlan) by refraining from discussing the bill in detail, but I direct his attention to the fact that a firm of solicitors in Melbourne is now bringing pressure to hear upon some of the settlers in the north-western part of Victoria by inducing them to sign away to creditors their rights with respect to any relief which may be afforded to them under this bill.
– What are they asked to sign?
– A firm of solicitors, which has been represeniting certain persons on the line between Redcliffs and the South Australian border, and assisting them in their fight for concessions, is now bringing pressure to bear upon them, and asking them to sign away their rights to certain creditors. I hope that the Minister will inquire whether there is any way in which these men, who do not wish to escape their lawful responsibilities, can be protected. They are weak financially because of the difficulties with which they have had to contend, and I hope that the Minister will see if they can be advised and assisted.
– In view of the statement made by Senator Elliott that a. firm of Melbourne solicitors is pressing certain persons who may be. afforded some relief under this measure, the action of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley) is fully justified. I do not intend to support the second reading of the bill, which is to appropriate £100,000 in order to afford relief to certain migrant settlers in Victoria,’ while there are thousands of workers in Australia to-day whose position is quite as bad as thosewhom the Government proposes to assist. There are 4,000 men on the northern coalfields of New South Wales who, through no fault of their own, have not had work; for six years.
– The honorablesenator must connect his remarks with the subject-matter of the bill.
– I am contending that if the Government can find £100,000 tocompensate certain migrants who settled in Victoria, it should be able to providesufficient money to relieve unemployment, particularly in New South Wales. My opposition to the measure would not be so great if the settlers were to receive the money to be appropriated, but I regard the Government’s proposals as a “ ramp “ or a “ racket “ in the interests of “ big business “ in Victoria. These “boodleiers” intend to whip in their garnishee orders-
– It is worse than a garnishee order.
– The settlers are to be asked to sign away their rights to any relief.
– What, does the honorable senatormean by a “racket?.”
– Seeing that you, sir, have not had the benefit of a university education, I shall explain what I mean. The representatives of “ big business “ in Victoria know that £100,000 is to be appropriated to assist certain migrants who have been settled on the land, and by subtle means have got them into their offices, and by a system of threats, within the law, are endeavouring to intimidate them. That is what I mean by a “ racket.”
– It is legal robbery.
– It is robbery within the law. Certain business men in Collins-street are intimidating these unfortunate slaves who have been brought here under a misapprehension as my parents were many years ago. I arrived in Australia as an Irish migrant when I was fifteen years of age, but besides Australia I know no other country as my own. At the time when my parents migrated to Australia there were exhibited throughout the Old Country posters and pamphlets depicting Australia as a veritable garden of Eden, in which the pumpkins grew so large that it required a traction engine to take a single specimen in from the field, and where men had to mount ladders to cut down the sugar cane. The part of Victoria to which some of these migrants were attracted by such publicity methods was so barren that they had to displace their sheep with goats, and even the goats, which as honorable senators know can live where other animals starve, for they will eat almost anything, not even objecting to devouring a shirt, a pair of trousers, or a pair of “ slacks,” went blind looking for grass. The files containing the correspondence which has passed between the Commonwealth Government and Mr. Crutchley, the representative in Australia of the British Government, and the British Government itself, in relation to the repatriation of these settlers, must contain interesting reading. Senator Sampson said that a number of returned soldier settlers had been the victims of sharp practices by persons connected with questionable land deals.
– He said nothing of the kind.
– Then I will say that various governments, including the Tas- manian Government, have been guilty of sharp practices in connexion with land transactions. Senator Sampson certainly did say that numbers of returned ‘soldiers had been placed on land entirely unsuitable for cultivation. In the various Parliaments of Australia many hundreds of questions have been asked regarding the activities of “ go-getters “ and “ land jobbers “ in unloading unsuitable land on returned soldier settlers. In some of the States royal commissions have been appointed to inquire into various land deals. If only we could get at the truth of some of these transactions, a sordid story would be told. Politicians, and oven Ministers of the Crown, as well as private individuals, have been associated with land scandals of the first magnitude in Australia. This hill seeks to appropriate £100,000 in order to compensate those migrant settlers who, to-day, are practically starving through having been placed on unsuitable land. Yet, when £25,000 was asked for in order to grant relief to the unemployed at Christmas time, the Government said that money could not be found. The appropriation of this sum might he justified if it were paid to the unfortunate settlers, but Senator Elliott let the cat out of the bag when he stated clearly and definitely the channels into which the money would be diverted. He said that the “big stick” was being wielded over these unfortunate settlers, who were being intimidated. I realize that my colleague, Senator Rae, and I, have no hope of success against the brutal majority of the Government.
SenatorFoll. - I rise to a point of order, and ask if the honorable senator is in order in referring to the Government’s brutal majority.
– The term has been used frequently. I do not think that Senator Dunn has suggested anything sinister; he used the term only in a political sense. Otherwise, he would not be in order.
– The word “brutal” is personally offensive to me. The practice has been for the Chair to order the withdrawal of a term which is regarded as being personally offensive. I therefore ask for a withdrawal in this case.
– I followed Senator Dunn carefully, and he did not refer directly to Senator Foll. In my opinion, therefore, the honorable senator is not entitled to a withdrawal.
– That is only a quibble.
– Order !
– I also object to be included in what Senator Dunn has been pleased to term the” “ brutal “ majority behind the Government. It is due to the dignity of the Senate that an honorable senator using such a term should withdraw it when objection has been taken to it.
– This is the first time that tho withdrawal of a term which is regarded as personally offensive has not been insisted upon.
– In order that the business of the Senate may proceed, I request Senator Dunn to withdraw the term to which objection has been taken.
– I accept your advice,
Mr. President, and withdraw the word complained of. and substitute for it “ political mass brutality.” Senator Elliott directed the attention of the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Senator McLachlan) to the sharp practices which had been indulged in, and I now appeal to Mr. Crutchley, the representative in Australia of the British Government, to consult with the Minister in charge of Development when this bill becomes law, with a view to curtailing the activities of commercial “ go-getters “ throughout Australia. Unless effective means of checking their activities are adopted, these land jobbers will get their greasy lingers on the taxpayers’ money, and the migrants will be left without assistance. Not only as a Labour senator, but also as a taxpayer, I shall object by every method at my command in this chamber to the tactics employed by companies all over Australia in the administration of repatriation services. You, Mr. President, will remember that many millions of pounds were paid out of the Commonwealth Treasury into the pockets of big business. They used the big stick on the shoulders of the soldiers, dragged them into the law courts, and smashed and bashed “them without regard to the services they had rendered to their country or the needs of their Wl vas a;nd children. Thus their greedy maws were satisfied. If Senator Elliott can point out one man representing commercial interests in Melbourne, who is prepared to be the spearhead in an attack on this grant of £100,000, how many more of these vultures are there perched on their roosts in the capital cities of the Commonwealth? I. cannot impress upon Ministers too strongly the great opportunity they now have to deal with the matter referred to by Senator Elliott. Now that the cat is out of the bag, I do not intend to support the Government until it agrees to give £100,000 to the unemployed of New South “Wales this Christmas.
– Unlike the leader of the Lang party in this chamber, we on this side intend to support the bill, because it represents a measure of justice to farmers who were brought . out to this country under false pretences and exploited. It is an extraordinary form of argument for Senator Dunn to say that because the Government is not willing to give £100,000 to the unemployed at Christmas, as it ought to do, we should refuse to give £100,000 to deluded migrant farmers who are in need of it. I am at all times prepared to vote in favour of moneys being given to those who have been robbed by Australian Governments, and I am also in favour of voting sums of money to assist the unemployed; but the Government’s refusal to vote £100,000 for the unemployed is no reason for refusing to support this bill.
I was sorry to ‘hear Senator Elliott’s remarks. No doubt his statement is correct. It shows that under modern capitalism we have many vampires sucking the blood of suffering people. I hope that the Minister will give a satisfactory assurance in this matter, and that an effort will be made by the Government to stop these blood-suckers sinking their fangs into the unfortunate people who, in some instances, have lost several thousands of pounds in trying to make good on unsuitable land.
– Let me clear up what appears to be a misapprehension in the minds of some honorable senators that this £100,000 is a grant. It is merely an appropriation, the destiny of which has to be determined by an arbitration decision by the Honorable Langer Owen. It may be that the decision will be that the legal responsibility rests with Victoria, in which event Victoria will reimburse the Commonwealth. I was glad of the logical way in which Senator Brown dealt with Senator Dunn’s argument. It is not logical to suggest that because we do not do something for somebody else, we should not pass this bill. This matter has formed the basis of considerable negotiation. The whole of the economic conditions of Australia have changed greatly since the majority of the men were settled on the land, and the crisis did not arise until after the fall in price levels. Whatever blame may be attached to those who induced these men to come from overseas, I do not think it can be said that they were at the time overoptimistic, having regard to the conditions then existing. It is fair to say that some of those who made the representations did so in the height of their enthusiasm, and regardless of the consequences. We are all liable at times to be perhaps a little too optimistic.
Dealing with the matter raised by Senator Elliott, I can assure honorable senators that the possibility of the assigning of benefits that may accrue to settlers under this agreement has not been lost sight of. It formed the subject of discussion between Mr. Menzies and Mr. Dunstan, representing the Victorian Government, and Mr. Latham and myself, representing the Commonwealth Govern ment. We found that we would have had to resort to devious and perhaps improper means to bring about an absolute exclusion of the power to assign. I raised the question myself, and we all realized the difficulties involved. It does not rest with us to supply the remedy, and it is not competent for either the Commonwealth or State Governments to interfere withthe ordinary process of law if it is a matter of a garnishee. I can assure Senator Elliott that his observations will be conveyed to the AttorneyGeneral of Victoria, who is vary zealous to see that whatever benefits are provided shall go into the pockets of those who deserve them. Honorable senators will bear inmind that those who go off their blocks are relieved of personal liability, not only to the Crown, but also to the local authorities. But how can we interfere with the processes of the law if a man is in debt? I have had personal knowledge of the correspondence between the British representative in Australian and the Victorian Government, and Iknow that the cases in which anything of this kind could occur are very limited in number. I shall bring the matter which Senator Elliott has so properly raised, under the notice of the Victorian Government, because that Government actually deals with the settlers. It is through the assessors that the demand for the amount that we will have to find will come. I am quite sure that the Attorney-General of Victoria will see that nothing improper is done to garnishee or improperly secure this grant.
Question - That the bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided. (President - Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch.)
Majority . . . . 23
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 (Short title).
– I do not know whether I shall be allowed to say what I intend to say with respect to the gross misinterpretation of my remarks on the motion for the first reading of the hill, but I propose to take this opportunity, or any other that may be afforded, to make my position quite clear. In the first place, I object to the Minister-
– Order! The honorable senator’s remarks must be relevant to the clause.
– If I am not allowed to say on this clause what 1 intend to say, I shall do sp on the motion for the third reading.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 2 (Approval of agreement).
– Can the Minister inform me if the whole of the amount is to be provided by the Treasury, or will it be in the form of a Commonwealth grant, for which the Victorian Government, as a member of the Loan Council, will be required to pay its quota?
– In the first instance, the money will be provided by the Commonwealth Treasury. If the arbitration proceedings are in favour of the Commonwealth, Victoria will recoup the Commonwealth. If, on the other hand, the arbitrator’s finding is against the Commonwealth, we shall have to pay the money.
– In that event will there be any appeal to the High Court?
– No ; the de’cision of the arbitrator will be final.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 -
The Treasurer on behalf of the Commonwealth may, in accordance, with the scheme set forth in Annexure K to the said agreement, make payments, not exceeding in the whole the sum of One hundred thousand pounds, under and subject to the terms and conditions of that scheme.
– Can the Minister indicate the nature of the provisions to protect the interests of settlers against pressing creditors, in cases such as those mentioned by Senator Elliott?
.- - I have already intimated that that matter was brought to the notice of the Attorney-General of Victoria, who will see that the interests of the settlers are adequately protected. It. is not competent for the Commonwealth to do this, because it has no direct dealings with the migrants. If the honorable senator will study Annexure K he will find that the position is adequately safeguarded.
– Will the Victorian Government exercise its own discretion in the allocation of . the money, notwithstanding that it is provided by the Commonwealth ?
– We do not acknowledge any liability in respect to the matter. The Victorian Government adopts precisely the same attitude. In the meantime, as a modus vivendi, we have made an agreement with the Government of Victoria to submit the issue to arbitration. The manner in which the money shall be distributed is provided for in Annexure K. We. do not actually approach the migrants themselves. That will be done by an assessor who will visit the various farms and arrive at a settlement as between the Closer Settlement Board of Victoria and the migrants. If the arbitrator fixes the responsibility for failure of the scheme on the Commonwealth, it will have to bear the cost. In the meantime the administration of the tentative agreement is in the hands of the Victorian Government.
Motion (by Senator Dunn) put -
That the following words be added to the clause : - “ and subject to an appeal by any settler to the Victorian Attorney-General in respect to the payment of debts to outsidebodies.”
The Committee divided. (Chairman - Senator the Hon. , Herbert Hays.)
Majority ‘. . . . 22 *
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 agreed to.
Schedule and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
In committee: Consideration resumed from the 1st December (vide page 5342).
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 (Application of Financial Emergency Act 1931-33).
SenatorRAE (New South Wales) [5.30]. - It seems to me that the consideration of the clauses which relate to the issue and application of £11,603,510, and the appropriation of supply to the amount of £21,280,070, should be postponed until the committee has dealt with the items in the Estimates, because if the Defence vote, for instance, were reduced, the total amounts would have to be reduced accordingly.
– It seems to me like putting the cart before the horse for the committee to vote the total sum asked for before dealing with the schedules in detail.
– I desire to assist the committee in every possible way, but it seems farcical to pass the clauses before dealing with the schedules.
– I have always understood that if the total amount to be appropriated is altered because of amendments to the schedule requested by the Senate, the clauses are recommitted, and necessary amendments are made.
– The customary procedure has been followed. The bill may be recommitted, if necessary, after consideration of the schedules.
Clause agreed to.
First schedule agreed to.
Proposed vote, £109,300.
. - Under this proposed vote, £9,930 is to be appropriated to meet the cost of the Parliamentary Reporting Staff, and I take this opportunity to bring under the notice of the committee the fact that when the Leader of the Government (Senator Pearce) was replying to certain statements I made on the motion for the first reading of this bill, and when he palpably misinterpreted what I said, the interjections by which I sought to correct him were not recorded in Hansard. When discussing the Government’s administration of the Northern Territory, I quoted a statement made by a reverend gentleman at Palm Island, and the Minister said that I did not give the name of the gentleman, who. he said, was apparently unknown, and was not an authority on native affairs. The Hansard report of my speech shows that 1 mentioned the name of the Reverend E. R. Gribble-
– I rise to a point of order. On the vote for the Parliamentary Reporting Staff, is the honorable senator in order in reviving a debate that took place at the firstreading stage?
– The honorable senator is not in order in referring to a previous debate under this proposed vote. The honorable senator must fake some other opportunity to do so.
– It is a matter of misinterpretation.
– I suggest that the honorable senator should bring the matter forward on the motion for the adjournment.
– When I proposed to mention this matter on clause 1 the Leader of the Government said that the treatment of the natives could he discussed when the vote for the protection of aborigines was under consideration.
– The honorable senator would be in order in discussing tho salaries paid to the members of the Parliamentary Reporting Staff, or the work of the staff, or the adequacy of the staff for the work required of it.
– If the honorable senator were in order in discussing the care, of aborigines at this stage, he would be entitled to discuss every subject reported by the Ilansard staff.
– If the honorable senator considers that he has been misreported, he can raise the subject on the motion for the adjournment or at some other time.
– Then I shall have to adopt the course of moving that the vote be reduced by £1 in order that I may correct this misrepresentation.
– The honorable senator will not be entitled to discuss the subject he wishes to bring before the committee even if he moves such a reduction.
– If Senator MacDonald moved to reduce the vote by £1, he would be in order in giving reasons why it should he so reduced.
– Yes, but he cannot disregard the ruling I have already given.
– I propose to move that the vote be reduced by £1. As 1 have stated, I was surprised to find that certain interjections I made when the Minister was speaking on the first reading of the bill were not recorded. Had they appeared in the report of the proceedings of this chamber, I would have been satisfied, and would not have raised the subject at this juncture. My interjection should have followed the statements made by the Minister when he said-
– I rise to a point of order. I contend, sir, that Senator MacDonald is contravening your ruling by referring to a debate in this chamber concerning the care of aborigines. I submit that, under cover of moving that the vote be reduced by £1, he cannot debate the subject which you have previously ruled that he is not entitled to discuss.
– I have already ruled that the honorable senator must take some other opportunity to bring the matter before the Senate.
– Senator MacDonald wishes to make a complaint concerning the reports of the proceedings in this chamber, and proposes to move that the vote be reduced by £1, to enable him to explain where he has been misreported.
– On tho motion for the first reading of the bill, honorable senators are entitled to discuss matters not relevant to the bill.
– If the honorable senator wishes to complain of the way in which the proceedings in this chamber are reported, I submit that he is entitled to do so when the salaries of the reporting staff are under consideration.
– I do not think that Senator MacDonald wishes to move to reduce the salary of any member of the parliamentary staff. He merely wishes to have an opportunity to make a complaint with respect to the reports of tho proceedings in this chamber.
– I have already ruled that, on this vote, an honorable senator is not entitled to revive earlier debates:. but he will be quite in order in complaining of the w’ay in which such debates have been reported.
– I am not raising this matter in any offensive spirit. I understand that the number of reporters on the Hansard staff has been reduced by two, and that, under the new arrangement, four reporters are employed in this chamber and five in the House of Representatives. I nin not in favour of a reduction of any staff required to do expert work, for in any calling the placing of more work on the individual necessarily increases the risk of error and inefficiency. In several instances recently the reports of my speeches have been considerably condensed, which has resulted in a different meaning being given to the words I used. I believe that that is due to the fact that the staff has been reduced, and that additional work has been placed upon the shoulders of the reporters. I hope that the staff will not be unduly reduced, because in view of the attitude of newspapers in these days, Hansard is a valuable record of the proceedings in this Parliament.
– It is the only protection which honorable senators have.
– It is, and I hope that nothing will be done to prevent the report from being as complete as practicable. I do not say that superfluities and tautology should be preserved, but a member’s argument should be reproduced in the actual words used by him. Probably the reporter thinks that he can use more appropriate terms, but at times, the member who has made the speech prefers to see his own words in the report. He may think that the language he has used has a better literary flavour, or is more pungent, or that it expresses his ideas better than that of the reporter. Ari interjection which is made in clear tones should appear in Hansard, otherwise its effect is lost. I do not say that frivolous remarks should bc recorded ; but when an honorable senator interjects. “ That is not correct,” or “ I did not say that,” his interjection should be recorded.
– Interjections are disorderly.
– Theoretically, .that is so; but in practice they are allowed. I ask the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) to read my speech-
– I do not even read my own speeches.
– The only point in regard to which my remarks were in error was the situation of Palm Island. I know the island well, but when I spoke I could not for the moment remember whether iti is north of Mackay or north of Townsville. The Leader of the Senate did not hear all my speech, although his colleague, Senator Lawson, remained here during the whole of the sitting. “While I was speaking, Senator Poll made, what I thought was a ridiculous interjection, concerning my comparison of the Maori and the Australian aboriginal. Hansard is concerned in this matter, because the honorable senator’s interjection appears in the official report.’ When I expressed my views regarding the representation of the aborigines in this Parliament, the Minister said that I wanted to stage a full-dress election in the Northern Territory. I did not say anything so ridiculous.
– The honorable senator is repeating his firstreading speech.
– I am not. I am merely making my position clear.
– I ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to the item now under consideration.
– As soon as I attempt to make my meaning clear, the Minister rises and tries to gag me. When I try to show where the official report is wrong, I am asked to sit down. That is not fair. My interjection that the Minister had grossly misinterpreted my remarks was not recorded in Hansard. That also is unfair. When the item dealing with the aborigines comes before us, I shall show that my previous charges were well ‘founded despite the Minister’s frivolous attempt to discount them. The Minister grossly misinterpreted what I said. ,
Proposed vote agreed to.
Prime Minister’s Department.
Proposed vote, £307,550.
– I am pleased that an increased sum is being provided in these Estimates for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
– The expenditure for the previous year included a larger amount from the trust fund.
– Are we to understand that last year’s vote is not to be increased ?
– I wish it could be increased.
– Instead of setting aside £72,16!) for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, we should set aside £172,000 because of the splendid work which the council is doing. If the people of Australia knew the valuable work being carried out by the officers of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, they would willingly make available a much larger sum. A young country like Australia should give every assistance to those who engage in scientific investigation, for if this country is to compete successfully with other nations, it will have to make full use of scientific knowledge. I have my own opinion in regard to trade . competition and foreign trade; but so long as the present system of competition remains, Australia must endeavour to keep abreast of other nations in the methods of production and distribution. In these directions, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is doing splendid work.
The frozen and chilled beef trade is of great value to Australia; and particularly to Queensland, from which State 80 per cent, of Australia’s exports of beef are shipped. The cattle-growers are greatly concerned about the future of their industry, Mr. Norman Bourke, the President of the United Graziers Association, states - “ If Queensland cattle producers cannot develop regular shipments of chilled beef, the outlook for the industry is black.
Overseas market reports make it apparent that the death knell has been sounded for frozen beef, and unless we can meet the newmarket needs the position of the cattlemen will be more tragic than ever “.
Even though an industry is confined to one State, all good Australians should come to its rescue if it is in danger of extinction. Queensland members are always willing to assist the wheat-growers of the southern States, and in turn they expect to receive support for the cattle industry. Mr. C. A. Jacob, the Secretary of the Queensland Cattle-growers Association has stated - “ If payable prices were available for good quality meat and a continuous supply of chilled beef was wanted, the Queensland cattlegrowers would meet all the requirements of the trade”.
I am pleased to know that, because doubts have been cast on their efficiency. Mr. Jacob, who knows the cattle business from A to Z, says that Queensland can meet all requirements. Mr. F. J. Walker, of the Aberdeen meat works, states -
We have to face the fact that frozen beef on the English market is practically unsaleable except to government departments. Australians themselves will not eat frozen beef.
I do -not blame them for that. In my opinion, wo should keep for ourselves the best of what we produce, instead of shipping it overseas. A good deal of work has been done in Brisbane in connexion with the ‘ export of chilled beef. Experiments have been carried out, but £1,700 is too small a sum to conduct experiments with a view to making it possible to ship chilled beef to England. The supporters of the Ottawa agreement remind us that meat imports from the Argentine are reduced by from- 40,000 to 50,000 tons, representing between 150,000 and 250,000 cattle. If that be so, a new market opens up for Australian beef, if we can take advantage of it. A market for 40,000 or 50,000 tons of chilled beef is a matter of importance to the cattle-growers of Queensland. For many months we have been told that the scientists are on. the verge of a great discovery, and that soon Australians will be able to send chilled beef to the English market. Last August, the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Stewart) stated that a shipment of chilled beef from Queensland would be sent to the Old Country. Dr. Vickery, who is conducting the experiments, has said the same thing on a number of occasions. We are now told that there is a possibility of a shipment of chilled beef being sent from the Brisbane abattoirs in February next. We have not yet achieved success in these experiments ; but success will come if sufficient support is given to the scientists connected with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Dr. Vickery, in the Journal of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, for November, 1933, tells us how far the experiments have progressed. On page 233 of the Journal, the following paragraph appears : -
For countries regularly engaged in a chilled beef trade with Great Britain, the duration of -the voyage seldom exceeds 25 days, but the corresponding time from Queensland, which contributes rather more than 85 per cent, of Australia’s exports of quarters of beef, at present exceeds 50 days. Since about five days for the preparation of the beef in the meat works, and about three days for its marketing, must be added to this period, the average duration of holding of chilled beef exported from Queensland is likely to be of the order of 60 days. Only a small margin of safety exists in the export of chilled beef from countries nearer to Great Britain. It therefore seems fairly certain that, in order to secure reasonable freedom from wastage, a somewhat different technique from that used by Australia’s competitors .must be employed in the export of chilled beef from the northern States of Australia.
It is not sufficient that beef may be held in a chilled condition for, 45 days. Under special conditions, which cannot be duplicated on ships, meat has been kept for 60 days in a chilled condition. I know that there have been private shipments of chilled beef, but none from the Brisbane abattoirs. Private shipments have not proved commercially profitable, because, although some of the beef was landed in good condition, much of it was affected by mould and bacteria. The prices obtained, however, have been good. The Mooltan shipment was sent on the 11th September, and was sold in the Smithfield market. Argentine beef realized 5£d. to 6-Jd. per lb., Australian chilled, 5d. to 5½d., and Australian frozen from 3£d. to 3-£d. Those prices show a difference of about 2d. per lb. in favour of chilled beef. If we could put chilled beef in proper condition on the English market, that advantage of 2d. a lb. would run into hundreds of thousands of pounds a year, and into millions in the course of years. Yet the Government is allowing only £1,700 for carrying on these investigations. Experiments with the De Raeve process have been conducted in Western Australia. A few days ago I asked that the papers relating to it should be laid on the table of the Senate. I was informed that Professor Young had spoken against the method, and that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, which spoke through its mouthpiece, Senator McLachlan, said that it was of no use conducting further experiments unless some fresh developments had occurred in this method of treatment. I have statements by Mr. McGhie, general manager of the Wyndham Meat Works, who said, “ We have succeeded in holding chilled beef in good condition for one hundred days.” Yet Dr. Vickery says that 60 days is the limit with the carbon dioxide method under special conditions. Mr. McGhie goes on to say -
I am confident that a longer period is possible, without deterioration, but we had to shut down then to close the season’s operations. This is an important advance upon past practice. It demonstrates the possibility of holding chilled meat, not only long enough for shipment to London, but also to permit of deliveries there being regulated over periods to suit marketing requirements. When supplies of beef, of suitable description, become available for export, I believe it will be possible by this system to initiate a chilled beef trade from Australia.
I urge the Minister to see that the papers are placed on the table for the information of honorable senators.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I notice an item, “Allowance for expenses to Minister without Portfolio in London,. £1,328.” There is another item, “Allowance to High Commissioner for expenses of official residence, £775.” On top of these two items are “ Other incidental expenses, £1,300.” Members of the Senate are entitled to know how these items are made up. I believe that you, Mr. Chairman, have a farm in Tasmania. I have no doubt that if you were absent from your business for two years you would want to know, when the balance-sheet was sent to you, what “Incidental expenses, £1,300” meant. I have been honoured’ by honorable senators by being appointed a member of the House Committee. When the secretary of that committee submits his balance-sheet, it shows how every penny has been expended, but there is no indication in this bill how the £1,300 I have referred to has been disbursed.
– Cannot the honorable senator guess?
– To use an unparliamentary expression, I am a “mug”: I do not know. The total general expenses of the Australian Commissioner-General in the United States of America are given as £2,805. On another page I find an amount for the same gentleman of £2,274. This includes, “ Special allowance to official secretary whilst acting as CommissionerGeneral, £500,” and “Allowance to official secretary, £216.” There is also an item covering the salary of the official secretary. I am not going to quibble about the salary paid to any man if he is doing his job. I am not an advocate of low wages, but I want to know about the expenses and allowances to the secretary. Do they go to support Al Capone’s for boot-legged whisky, or any such things? I should like to know what benefit we are getting from the position of Australian Commissioner-General in the United States of America. Is the expenditure to enable the CommissionerGeneral to go to banquets and sing the “ Star Spangled Banner “ ? In view of the attitude of the United States of America on tariff matters, I fail to see that we are getting any benefits from our representation in that country. The whole of the expenditure should be discontinued. We are spending on the Commissioner-General about £3,000 a year that could be suitably expended in this country in building up an unemployment fund. We are getting very poor treatment from the United States of America in the matter of trade treaties, and we are “ greasing the fat pig.”
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– Under division 16 provision is made for the appropriation of £41,000 to cover the cost of mail services to Papua, New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Norfolk Island, . Lord Howe Island and the New Hebrides. I understand’ that provision is made in the contract for vessels carrying the mails to the islands mentioned to call at the British Solomons. I should like to know if the British Government makes any contribution towards this service, as it appears that we are “ not cutting the cake” properly.
– The British Government pays a portion of the amount.
[8.5]. - Senator Dunn has questioned the cost of conducting the High Commissioner’ office in London. The estimated cost for 1933-34 exceeds the expenditure of 1932-33 by £1,302. This is accounted for by the fact that the estimated amount to be paid in salaries this year is £20,901, as compared with £19,775 paid last year, showing an increase of expenditure on this item of £1,126. The increase is made up by provision .having been made for six months’ furlough to Mr. J. R. Collins, the ex-official secretary in the High Commissioner’s office, who was retired from service on the 18th September, 1933; this has involved the expenditure of £826. An additional amount of £300 was also paid for extra duty pay. The general expenses last year were £27,449, as against the estimate of £27,025 for this year, or an increase of £176. Provision has been made for the transport expenses involved in the return of Mr. Collins to Australia and the transport expenses of the exchange officer filling the position of assistant secretary. When these Estimates were prepared provision was made for the cost of the Min;ister without Portfolio, now the High Commissioner, returning to Australia.
The Minister without Portfolio received while in London the amount which he would have received as High Commissioner and no more. The amount paid to Mr. Bruce included his ministerial salary and parliamentary allowance, the balance being made up from the High Commissioner’s vote. Provision was made in this item to meet these payments for six months. Under item 10 an amount of £775 has been provided as an allowance to Mr. Bruce in accordance with the provision of the High Commissioner’s Act, No. 22 of 1909, less reductions under the financial emergency legislation, namely, an allowance of £2,000 per annum, or £1,000 for six months, reduced to approximately £775. Salary will be paid to Mr. Bruce as High Commissioner under special appropriation. The foregoing amounts were included in the Estimates before the date of Mr. Bruce’s appointment as High Commissioner. This shows that Mr. Bruce did not receive any more when acting as Minister without Portfolio than he would have received as High Commissioner.
With respect to the point raised concerning the Pacific Island shipping service, I may explain that from the 9th November, 1931, Burns, Philp and Company agreed to reduce payments under the Pacific Islands contract for shipping mail services by 20 per cent., namely, from £55,000 to £44,000, for six months, and the reduced rate continues. The lower figure of £41,000 shown in the Estimates is due to payments from the British Government on account of the service provided under contract to the British Solomon Islands.
.- In division No. 14, “Australian CommissionerGeneral in the United States of America “, the amount to be appropriated this year for general expenses is £2,805, as against £2,174 expended last year. The item, “Freight and Cartage, including Removal Expenses, £600 “, appears to he entirely new, and I should like the Minister .to explain for what purpose this amount is to be appropriated.
I agree with the remarks made by other honorable senators as to the importance of the work carried out by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, but I suggest that members of Parliament should have better opportunities to keep in close contact with” these operations. The Government should arrange for periodical visits of parliamentarians to be made to that institution, and also to the Forestry School, so that we may be able to assess the value of tho work being done.
– Honorable senators have the right to go there at any time.
– Yes, but it would be more beneficial from an educational view-point if they went in parties, so fiat there could be an interchange of ideas. I trust that next year arrangements will be made for such visits of inspection.
.- I should like some further information from the Minister concerning the work being undertaken at the High Commissioner’s office in London. “When visiting Australia House this year, my previous opinion that Australia House is overstaffed was confirmed, and it is certainly costing a great deal more than is needed to run it efficiently. I expressed that opinion on my return to Australia. The office of the Agent-General for New South Wales has been transferred to what i3 considered to be a more suita’ble building, and the Tasmanian office would also be moved if it were not for the lease.
– Does the honorable senator think that Agents-General are necessary?
– The Agents-General are rendering a greater service to their respective States than are the officers at Australia House. The Minister gave the committee some information concerning the allowances received by Mr. Bruce when he was Resident Minister, but it appears that the amount has been increased to over £2,000.
– It is not higher than it has been in previous years.
– According to the figures, the amount is £2,403 for the present year. The salary of the High Commissioner is not shown under this proposed vote.
– It is not in the Estimates.
– Perhaps the Minister will state the salary of the High Commissioner.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that a High ‘Commissioner is not worth the money paid to him?
– I believe that the expenditure at Australia House could be curtailed without any loss of efficiency. The impression formed when’ visiting Australia House was that, the staff was unnecessarily large, and that Australia received little return for the expenditure incurred in this respect.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for Defence) [8.13]. - The increase of expenditure in Australia’s representation in the United States of America is £939. Honorable senators are. aware that officers employed in the Commissioner-General’s office in the United States of America, and in the High Commissioner’s office in London are Australians, and it has been the practice for many years past to arrange for them to return to Australia when other officers take their place. This is considered to be a desirable system, because it enables officers who have been stationed abroad to keep in close touch with Australian affairs. This year a relief officer is to fill the position of accountant in New York, and the amount provided for allowances associated with the transfer is £284. There are also removal expenses amounting to £600 to cover the expenses of two officers who are exchanging positions. The balance is accounted for by the partial restoration of reductions of salaries under the Financial Emergency Act.
Senator Grant sought information regarding the salary and expenses of the High Commissioner. His salary is provided by special appropriation under the act of 1909. That legislation has not been amended, so that Mr. Bruce will receive the amount therein provided. These estimates cover the portion of the year during which Mr. Bruce was Minister without Portfolio as well as the period during which he acted solely as High Commissioner, but no variation of salary is involved, because he received the same amount in each capacity. Tinder the High Commissioner Act, No. 22 of 1909, it is provided that the following payments shall be made to a High Commissioner : -
These amounts, when reduced under the financial emergency and relief legislation, become -
As Mr. Bruce will be paid for part of the financial year as a Minister, and for another period as High Commissioner, provision has been made as follows : -
In addition, salary as a Minister and allowance as a member were paid to Mr. Bruce until he resigned and,’ was appointed High Commissioner on the7th October, 1933. His total remuneration for the year will be approximately £3,850.
– Are the amounts payable in sterling, or in Australian currency ?
– I presume that they are payable in sterling.
From time to time allegations and counter-allegations are made in regard to Australia House. One set of visitors to London will tell us that Australia House is overstaffed, while another setwill report that it is understaffed. During the time that he was out of Parliament, Mr. Bruce had to curtail expenditure in connexion with the firm with which he was associated, and I know him to be an economical and careful administrator. If there is any surplus staff at Australia House, I am confident that Mr. Bruce will reduce it. Australia House has been the subject of a number of reports. Practically every Minister who has visited London has submitted a report on its administration, and during the regime of the Scullin Government, Mr. Percy Coleman conducted an inquiry into its working. I do not think that Australia House is overstaffed.
.- Under Division 15 - Council for Scientific and Industrial Research - provision is made for expenditure on a number of investigations. In respect of some of the items there is a footnote, which reads, “Includes expenditure from contributions from outside sources.” I should like toknow the meaning of the footnote.
– Under the heading, “Investigations,” the sum of £113,414 is provided for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. That sum is reduced by £39,482, representing amounts recoverable by way of grants from outside sources. The proposed expenditure is approximately the same as for last year, but the grants are about £9,000 less. That is due in a large measure to the Empire Marketing Board having gone out of existence. These contributions from outside sources are made in respect of a number of matters. One man may be interested in food preservation, and may make a contribution to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to enable investigations to be conducted. The money so contributed is brought into the funds of the council, and the expenditure is audited by the Auditor-General. Another man may be interested in horticulture, or in animal health, and may make contributions to assist in the conduct of experiments. Were it not for these contributions from outside sources much of the valuable work performed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research could not be undertaken.
Senator Brow referred to the export of chilled beef to England. The process of chilling beef has been the subject* of investigation by Dr. Young, a leading authority on the subject. If anything new can be brought under the notice of the council, it will be thoroughly investigated. The honorable senator desires the council to make rapid progress with this experiment. I remind him that the laboratory at Brisbane was opened only in July, 1932, although certain experiments had been made previously. When I inform the honorable senator that experiments have proved that chilled beef can be sent from Australia to England, he will realize that the Government has not been dilatory in this respect. Nor is it unmindful of the necessity for developing the chilled beef trade. It recognizes its indebtedness to Mr. Sunners for his unsparing efforts in that direction. Only a little while ago, I received information from London that chilled beef from South Africa was finding a ready sale in London, whereas the stores there were full of frozen beef. We should do well if, instead of sending frozen beef to England, we sent chilled beef.
Senator Payne urged that greater publicity be given to the work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Scientists as a body are inherently modest and extremely cautious. They do not seek the limelight, and are careful not to make pronouncements until something definite has been accomplished.
– In that respect they are the antithesis of politicians.
– I sometimes think that they are too modest. The council desires that its knowledge shall be placed at the disposal of the public and to that end it issues bulletins from time to time. In Melbourne, Mr. Boas is doing wonderful work for the timber industry, notwithstanding that he is working under difficulties. In South Australia, there is the Wai te Institute, under the charge of Dr. Richardson, while the laboratory at Sydney is an eye opener to those engaged in pastoral pursuits. The Brisbane laboratory mentioned by Senator Brown is also doing valuable work. All these establishments as well as the
Canberra buildings may be inspected by honorable senators on application to the officers in charge. .
– Would not it be a good policy to make more money available to the council?
– The Government realizes the importance of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to Australia, and makes available as much money as it can. In an address which I gave recently in Melbourne, I mentioned that the cost of the experiments conducted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research amounted to about 2-Jd. per head of the population. The work which the council is doing is of tremendous value to this country.
Senator Sir WALTER KINGSMILL (Western Australia) [8.27]. - I should like some information in regard to fisheries research. I ask the Minister whether the fisheries conference is still in existence; if it is, what money is to be expended on it this year? I should also like to know what it has cost since its inception; and what work it has done. I understand that about £5,000 has been set down for fisheries research. That is a bitter disappointment to me. So far as I know, this subject came up for the second time in 1922-23, when, because of my personal interest in it, I wrote at considerable length to the Prime Minister of the day. Parliament then went into recess, and I heard no more about the matter until -one day after I had addressed the Senate in Melbourne, the Director of Development and Migration, who was in the audience, sought an interview with’ me to discuss the matter. I readily agreed. When he saw me he asked me if I could draw up a scheme for him. I said I would. The scheme was not drawn up by one new to the subject, for I had already participated in two previous investigations in Western Australia. I was connected with them from their inception, including the fitting out of the trawlers and the practical trawling. From the first investigation we got a tremendous amount of information, principally about the dangers and losses likely to occur from trawling on the Western Australia coast. From the second we got positive results, but .unfortunately the trawler was lost after the first day’s trawling, although without loss of life. The results fortified the information’ gained when one of the largest fishing grounds in the world was found in the Great Australian Bight. I drew up the set of. estimates for their latest developments. They were approved by Mr. Gepp, now Sir Herbert Gepp, and it was thought that we ought to initiate the scheme. My scheme was somewhat more ambitious than that on the estimates. It was practical and could have been put into operation within six months. Mr. Gepp thought it better to have a conference. I asked why. He said that it was necessary to implicate the States, and that State representatives ought to be at the conference. We had a conference of 29 people, of whom a large proportion were University professors. There were only two or three people with actual knowledge of trawling, which is the most important part of the investigation. A large number of subcommittees was appointed to inquire into various subjects, some relevant and some irrelevant. As far as I know this fisheries conference went on working. Being disgusted with the turn things had taken I resigned from it because I could not see that anything worth while would be achieved. Now we find that £5,000 is made available for only one . phase of fisheries research - a phase which, in my opinion, and in the opinion of many practical people, is less important than the prosecution of trawling experiments. It is a very pitiable result for the time and money that have been expended. I should like, if possible, to get a brief history of the fisheries conference.
My scheme embraced the provision ultimately of four vessels, two for the eastern and western coasts, one to deal with the more important investigation of trawling, and the other to deal with pelagic fishing and drift netting. After taking an interest practically all my life in this matter it is disappointing to me to find that so little has been done for so much expenditure of time and money. I hope that some day we may come into line with other nations which find that these inves- tigations have paid them handsomely - such as the United States of America, the dominion of Canada, and the Mother Country. When I put my scheme forward we had plenty of knowledge of the subject, and plenty of money. Subcom.mitteees have been appointed and officers have been kept going at considerable ex- ‘pense, and now we have no money. I am sorry that it should be so. I do not know whom to blame. Governments of two political colours have been in power and have honestly and sincerely expressed themselves as desirous of getting results. Parliament, I feel sure, would treat any project of the kind liberally. Other matters have intervened and this has been crowded out. The Government need not think that I want to make any proposal again. I have got rather tired of that because of the way I have been treated, but I think I have the right, as one who has taken a considerable and practical interest in this subject, to complain of the pitiable result of these years of inquiry and considerable expenditure of money.
– When listening to the criticisms of honorable senators about the expenses of the High Commissioner’s Office, and the Australian Commissioner-General, the first impression I got was that the figures quoted were in Australian currency. I should like the Minister to tell me whether that is correct, or whether the expenditure is quoted in sterling.
– They have always been quoted in sterling.
– I do not mention this matter as a criticism of the Government, but it is a fact that the figures do not give us a clear idea of the actual amount of expenditure. There is no intimation in the bill that the expenditures are quoted in sterling. I submit that all figures; whether in the Estimates, the budget, or other financial statements, ought to be quoted in Australian currency. When honorable senators are debating the item of £48,000 for the High Commissioner’s Office and expenses in London, they should add to it the ruling rate of exchange at £25 10s. per cent. The American expenditure is also quoted in sterling so to the £25 10s. per cent. must be added the difference between the sterling and the dollar rate.
– I sympathize with SenatorKingsmill in his remarks about the fisheries conference. I opened the 1929 fisheries conference in Melbourne. Representatives of the Commonwealth and the States were present, and it was recommended that work in regard to the fisheries industry should be undertaken by the Commonwealth Government. Steps are now being taken which are designed to carry out that recommendation. The upshot was that a certain amount of work was done by some of the gentlemen who attended, and representations were made to the Commonwealth Government. In the course of time the work and expenditure of the fisheries conference became merged in the activities of the Development and Migration branch.
– How much expenditure ?
– It was very small. I cannot say off-hand. The vote for development and migration in this regard was also very small. Subsequently the Government had an investigation made by Professor Dakin, -of Sydney University, who is regarded as ‘an outstanding authority.
– As to pure science, yes, but not on the practical side.
– And there were Sir George Julius and the Director of Development, Mr. Gunn. The result of their deliberations was made available to the Government in a report which reached us a short time ago. The result is that the sum of £5,000, which the honorable senator has alluded to, is provided for this scientific investigation. In addition, under new works he will find £15,000 provided to secure a vessel for which we are endeavouring at the present time to get plans from overseas. The vessel is to be designed for exploratory work in connexion with pelagic or surfaceswimming fish. The £5,000 is for the following objects : -
It is quite true that a considerable amount of exploratory work has been done. Valuable records went down, unfortunately, with the trawler Endeavour. The Government has decided for the time being to confine operations to surfaceswimming fish, believing that by so doing we can more quickly develop the industry already in existence, and so come to the aid of fishermen. About 60 per cent. of fishermen’s catches are unloaded into the sea because the fish are not edible. A tremendous amount of support is offering and money is waiting to be put into the industry as soon as we can supply information about the habits of pelagic fish and can illustrate the most modern methods of catching them. Honorable senators who were in Canberra a week or two ago had an opportunity of seeing a film illustrating in a small way some of the iatest methods overseas. Senator Kingsmill is right in saying that we are behind the times in this matter. In America, £400,000 a year is spent on fisheries research. We are merely making a small start. One of the officers of the branch, who is very enthusiastic on the subject, is devoting a considerable amount of time and attention to getting the business on a proper footing, so far as finances will allow.
– I should like a promise from the Minister that he will table the papers in - connexion with the investigations into the De Raeve process of chilling meat. He has again said that Dr. Young has made a report derogatory to the treatment. I would point out that Dr. Young, whatever his qualifications, and I have no doubt they are very high, is not a practical man. In my previous speech I quoted Mr. McGhie, manager of the Wyndham meat works. I now quote the testimony of Mr. P. J. Collins, engineer, at Wyndham -
During the years 1928-20, the writer had the privilege to be associated with the late Jean De Raeve in the carrying out of certain experiments and tests relating to the holding of beef in store in a chilled condition. By the application of this process 15 quarters of beef were held in storage at Wyndham in 1929 for a period of 99 days at a temperature of 30 degrees Farenheit. Judging by its appearance and condition at the time of its removal, one could readily believe that the meat could be held in this state almost indefinitely.
As I have already pointed out, beef subjected to the carbon dioxide process was held in this condition in Brisbane for only 60 days in special circumstances. Mr. Collins continued -
It was not possible to continue the test for the reason that the killing season ended, involving the closing down of refrigeration. Owing to the untimely death of Mr. De Raeve soon after the conclusion of these tests, further experiments were deferred. It is claimed that this process will be just as effective when applied to the storage of fruit as it is with meat.
This information should be of interest to Tasmanian senators, because I understand that exporters of Tasmanian fruit have suffered severe losses.
– Our chief trou’ble is the heavy transport charges.
– I have been informed that heavy losses- have been sustained by exporters of Tasmanian fruit because of the condition in which shipments have reached the London market. lt is claimed for the De Raeve method * that it may be applied with equal success to the export of fruit, especially citrus fruit. The Minister has told me that this method has been examined by Professor Young, and other departmental experts, and that nothing is to be gained by making further inquiries. All I am asking for is that a report be obtained from the Government of Western Australia on the subject. Mr. Collins, the Wyndham engineer, stated further -
An outstanding feature was the greatly improved keeping qualities of the meat stored by t the De Raeve method.
Reports regarding the condition of meat chilled ‘by tho carbon dioxide process state that, after being taken out of Storage, it lasts only a few hours. Mr. Collins continued -
Pieces cut from a. hindquarter- kept for 35 days, were hung in an outside, corridor where the temperature was 65 degrees, alongside of similar pieces which had been chilled by the Ordinary method the -previous day. The latter had to be thrown out on the second day, whereas the former, chilled under the De Raeve process, remained in good condition for five days. An additional advantage that the flesh, when cut, is of very bright and attractive colour, very different from the dull, soggy appearance of frozen beef when it is thawed.
That report, I remind t!he Senate, is from a practical man, and, because of its favora’ble nature, the Minister should not hesitate to obtain information concerning the process from the Government of Western Australia. He should even go so far as to procure the necessary machinery - I am informed that the cost involved would be only about £2,500 - and arrange for experiments to ‘be made in Sydney or Brisbane to test the efficacy ‘or otherwise of the new process.
– Can the honorable senator tell me if there is any new feature about the experiment since it was examined ‘by Professor Young ?
– I do not know when Professor Young made his investigation. There is this further report from Mr. J. Patterson, head slaughterman at Wyndham Meat Works -
The dressed condition of the beef selected for the experiment would be termed “ fiery “ and lacking bloom, u condition brought about by the cattle not having been sufficiently rested before slaughter. No special dressing of any description was indulged in. The dressed quality of the beef would be termed “ fair seconds “, several of the quarters showing superficial bruising. The balance of the quarters were released after 100 days had passed. The condition of these quarters was favorable and quite dry. Parcels of this meat were delivered to residents of ,the town and meat works, and all reports were favorable. I am quite confident that the period of holding chilled beef under this method is almost indefinite.
What is behind this refusal of the Government to obtain further information concerning the process? Are we to assume that, as in the case of the search for flow oil in Australia, American interests are operating to prevent the development of the new process? Is there any valid reason why the Government should decline to ask the Government of Western Australia for a report? It would not cost the Government anything like the amount involved in the answering of the plethora of questions which are submitted to Ministers from time to time. Actually, it would not cost more than, a 2d. stamp to obtain a report as to whether what I have been saying is correct.
– If it will satisfy the honorable senator, I shall write to the Government of Western Australia, and ask for the information.
– -I am pleased to hear the Minister say that. The new process is based on the scientific fact that foodstuffs of all description, when placed in storage, absorb oxygen, and give off carbon dioxide, and it is claimed for the De Raeve process that by passing nascent oxygen through the cooling chamber at a temperature higher than freezing point, and by the use of lime to take off the carbon dioxide, it is possible to keep meat, fruit, and foodstuffs of all descriptions for an indefinite length of time after they have been removed from the cooling chamber.
This subject is of vital importance to Queensland, and, for that reason among others, I have been deeply interested in all developments in connexion with it. I realize that if we can improve the general condition of Queensland and the other States, we shall also be able to improve the general condition of the working classes. If the Government decides to carry out experiments, it is only right that those who consider that the De Raeve process is the better, should have an opportunity to witness the tests by the new process. In these days, when it is essential to take advantage of every forward stop in the development of scientific methods for the treatment of our export products, the Government would be fully justified in expending a few thousands of pounds in this direction, because, if the new process proved successful, its adoption would enable Australian exporters of beef and mutton to compete on even terms with the Argentine.
[8.53]. - Senator Hardy mentioned the subject of exchange in relation to the cost of Australian representation in London and New York. I direct his attention to the item under Division 102 - Exchange on remittances to London and New York, £692,000. The cost of exchange last year was £713,537. The provision for exchange this year is £21,537 less than was expended, and £175,000 less than was voted for the financial year 1932-33. The drop in the estimated requirements is due to the reduced cost of remitting to New York moneys due for interest and other commitments, consequent on the fall of the value of the dollar in terms of sterling. Further provision is made elsewhere in these Estimates for exchange in respect of war services payable out of revenue, Commonwealth railways and the departments of Defence and the Postmaster-General.
Senator Sir WALTER KINGSMLLL (Western Australia) [9.0]. - In this somewhat zig-zag discourse, the fish has become mixed up with the joint to an extent which is quite unusual in a properly conducted dinner. In most dinners the fish precedes the meat; but the courses have now become inextricably mixed. It has been said by the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Senator McLachlan) that when the trawler Endeavour was lost, all its reports went down with the vessel, but that is not so.
– Only the reports relating to the last two years’ operations were lost.
– But, prior to that time, investigations had been carried out along the southern coast of Australia which proved the existence of a bank from 20 to 50 miles off the shore, and at a depth ranging from 60 to 160 fathoms, which yielded several new varieties of the best classes of edible fish. The existence of these fish was reported on by Captain Pym, of the Endeavour, who realized the importance of the discovery, and left to his chief, Mr. Dannevig, the work of completing the investigation of this bank, which was some hundreds of miles in length. It is one of’ the largest fishing-grounds in the world, and, I believe, one of the richest. The existence of this source of wealth is known, but the existence of pelagic, freeswimming fish is merely suspected, and I think that we should not drop the substance for the shadow. The experiments made regarding pelagic fish have been small in extent, and inconclusive in result. Therefore, the prosecution of trawling experiments is much more important, at the present time, to Australia, and to the fishing population of this country than the pursuit of what may prove to be a shadow. I do not utter a complaint so much as express my regret that more money has not been provided for this work, and that more attention has not been given to it by the Government. Trawling operations, if carried out on an extensive scale, might contribute greatly to the prosperity of the Commonwealth. In view of the improvements made in methods of preserving fresh foodstuffs, I share with Senator Brown his anxiety that these experiments should be vigorously prosecuted. This is a matter of applied science, not pure science. One of the first things that the Fisheries Conference endeavoured to do, at the instance of the university men who attended it in large numbers, was to separate pure science from the icthyological stations in various parts of Australia. The investigation of this matter is a problem which belongs, not to applied science, but to the pure science universities of Australia. It has always been carried out by them in other parts of the world. I again ask that the important subject of fisheries should receive attention, no matter what particular government happens to be in power, because everybody in. the community is interested in it. For many years Labour governments have been just as keen as have Nationalist governments to have scientific investigations- carried out, and they have done much, more than the Nationalist governments to promote, for instance, afforestation.
– What has been done in- regard to .afforestation in the federal arena, is due to the action of a Nationalist government. I refer to the establishment of the Australian Forestry School, and the appointment of Mr. Lane-Poole as its director.
– But with what result?
– With good- results; but some States have not co-operated with the Commonwealth.
-That is not true -of Western Australia or’ New South . Wales ; possibly it applies to Victoria and Tasmania. No matter what, government- may be in power, there is no political, obstacle to prevent it from taking greater interest than has been shown- in the past in this most im portant subject. The discovery of new processes for preserving foods practically annihilates distance because the speedy vessels now used make it possible for Great ^Britain to get fish from Iceland in the north to well down the coast of Africa in the south. Why should Australia not try to emulate that example? We are expending money on much less desirable objects. I promise the Vice-President of the Executive Council that if he will promise that he will help in this matter, I shall not bother him further. During the time I have been in this Parliament, I have drawn attention to the importance of forestry and fisheries development on many occasions, and I am afraid that honorable senators will regard me as a sort of monomaniac. I am prepared to support any government, irrespective of its political colour, that will pay attention to these two subjects, which are of the utmost importance to Australia.
– The practice of detailing the expenditure of the High Commissioner’s office in terms of sterling leads to a false impression of the expenses actually incurred. This is particularly noticeable in the Estimates, which are given to honorable senators for the purposes of comparison, because all other estimates are shown in Australian currency. There is nothing on the page on which the expenditure of the High Commissioner’s office is detailed to indicate that the figures given are in sterling, and, necessarily, in the absence of an explanation, the figures would be accepted as representing Australian currency. ‘It seems to me that this practice is’ definitely wrong. Who can say that, when stable financial conditions have returned, the Australian pound will not be devalued as the American dollar has been?
.- Again our courses have been mixed; but I think that we all enjoyed the fish course. Has the Council for Scientific “and Industrial Research given attention to the two oldest exporting industries in Australia? I refer to the sandalwood and the sealing industries. The former was established 123 years ago, and has been exporting its product to China ever since. The sealing industry is almost as old as the sandalwood industry, and both are likely to disappear unless attention is given to them. The sandalwood industry is conducted both in Western Australia and Queensland.
– In Western Australia steps have been taken to place it on a permanent basis.
– I understand that the seals obtained in the southern waters of Australia are equal to the best in the world; but, as the cows are not being protected, there is danger of the extinction of the industry.
– What about the development of this industry in our new possession in the Antarctic?
– I am dealing with waters nearer Australia. If proper protection were given to the seals, an industry of great value to this country could be developed.
– I have been unable to find any vote for one of the chief industries in the Pacific possessions of the Commonwealth. I do not wish to assume the role of a prophet.; but I submit for the consideration of the Government that it will meet with serious trouble if money is not set aside for the help of the copra industry. Whale oil has been found satisfactory for the manufacture of margarine, and the planters in Papua, the Mandated Territory of New Guinea, and adjacent islands, fear that their industry is threatened with disaster. Further research should be made to discover new uses of copra and its oil. I regret that Senator Kingsmill is temporarily absent from the chamber because he would support my suggestion that greater activity should be displayed by the Council for Scientific andIndustrial Research in suggesting means by which the smaller fish caught in Australian waters could be utilized, particularly by canning. When in Western Australia I devoted some time in endeavouring to catch fish from the Busselton pier, but the only varieties I saw there were yabbies, mussels, blue-eyed sharks and blonde mermaids. Residents on the gold-fields would appreciate a regular supply of fresh fish, but the only means they have of obtaining supplies is through the 450 miles of pipe line which supplies Kalgoorlie with water. Although thousands of tons of edible fish are to be found in the waters off the New South Wales coast, no attempt seems to be made to utilize them. Hundreds of artisans in Balmain, where I was reared, are capable of building trawlers if given the opportunity! In New Guinea waters there are thousands of tons of small fish suitable for canning, and with the assistance of trawlers they could readily be netted. I understand that it costs the New South Wales authorities 14s 9d. a week to regulate the temperature of the water in the shark tank at the Taronga Park Zoo.
– The honorable senator must connect his remarks with an item in the proposed vote.
– Shark meat is used for chicken food, and shark skins are manufactured into ladies’ handbags. The Government should provide a trawler to replace the Endeavour to conduct researchyork in Australian waters and thus assist to rehabilitate the fishing industry, which is of great importance to Australia.
– I understand that annually, fish to the value of £250,000 is imported. Most of the fish is obtained from foreign countries, and Australia exports annually only about £3,000 worth. It cannot be denied that there is an adequate supply of fish in Australian waters.
SenatorMcLachlan. - The importations are valued at £1,000,000.
– That makes the position even worse. Although an adequate supply of edible fish is available, there are serious deficiencies in the handling methods, particularly with respect to curing. Ample supplies are available in Western Australia, and many of the varieties could be cured if the Government would render some assistance. At Dongara, a small port north of Perth, two men commenced curing fish, and while engaged in the business their product was pronounced to be superior to the New Zealand blue cod. Unfortunately they did not receive any encouragement and eventually went out of business. If the Commonwealth or State authorities subsidized men who embarked upon this class of business, it would eventually become an important Australian industry.
– That is what this money is being voted for.
– The two men who commenced operations at Dongara, although not now engaged in the fishcuringbusiness, are still available, and could be employed to advise the Government as to the methods which they so successfully applied.
– I regret that Senator Hardy is temporarily absent from the chamber, because when Senator Brown was suggesting that better methods should be employed for supplying frozen and chilled beef to Great Britain, the honorable senator interjected that there was difficulty in finding a profitable market. It is true that under the Ottawa agreement our market has been someAvhat restricted, but I do not suppose the present export restrictions will continue indefinitely: The Queensland people are intensely interested in the export of meat, particularly beef, and are anxiously awaiting the discovery of a satisfactory chilling process. If the De Raeve process mentioned by Senator Brown should prove successful, it would receive the support of the Queensland people on whose behalf he spoke. A thorough trial should be made as early as possible. The Government is, of course, conducting tests on its own behalf, but the matter is so important thatany private or semi- private effort should be encouraged. I h ope that the Government will obtain a report as speedily as possible, and that any suitable recommendations made will be promptly adopted. The cost of such investigations should not trouble the Government, because the discovery of a suitable chilling process will mean millions of pounds to Australia.
Reference has been made to the utilization of the large quantities of edible fish to be found in Australian waters. It is scandalous that such large quantities of imported fish are consumed in Australia. Two Queensland companies have had their representatives in Canberra giving members all information with a view to placing the business on a’ commercial basis. I was pleased to learn earlier in the session that the Government proposes to purchase or build a trawler to engage in research work in an endeavour to deter mine the best source of supplies. In the warmer waters of Queensland, large quantities of small fish suitable for canning are available. I was glad to hear Senator Lynch and others urging that the desirability of Australia supplying its own fish requirements should be kept to the fore.
Reports issued by the Public Service Board from time to time have stated that the discontinuance of recruiting during recent years is likely to have a serious effect on the Public Service by causing a shortage of trained officers. In the Public Service there are a number of positions for which only highly-trained men are suitable. The position is already serious, and, in the opinion of those competent to judge, it will become more so as the years pass. I am informed that, unless the Government takes action to ensure a regular supply of highly-trained officers for the Public Service, the position will be desperate in about fifteen years’ time.
– The matter is now under consideration.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Department of the Treasury.
Proposed vote, £692,150.
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to reduce the amount by £1.
I do so to draw attention to the necessity for a different policy in connexion with invalid and old-age pensions. Under division 19, salaries and allowances are set down at £53,461, and payments to temporary and casual employees at £5,256. Other payments to officers bring the total to £59,321. Under the heading “ General Expenses,” £5,000 is set down to meet the cost of medical examinations. Many applicants for pensions get a raw deal from the medical referees appointed by the Government. Cases have come under my notice of aged and invalid persons who have paid several guineas to a Macquarie-street specialist, and have been told that they are eligible for pensions, only to find later that Dr. Ludowici, the departmental medical referee, reported otherwise, I should like to know how much of the £5,000 set down for medical examination is paid to each of the depart- mental doctors, and whether they are paid a flat rate, or according to the number of cases with which they deal. I understand that Dr. Ludowici, who is a keen member of the New Guard, attempts to bully applicants for pensions. If my dear old f ather were to be treated by him as some of the pioneers of this country have been treated, I am afraid that Dr. Ludowici would’ not get off lightly. I am prepared to give to the Minister specific instances of the bullying methods of this man. He may think that, because he obtained a university diploma which enables him to style himself a doctor, he can claim to have put out the big fire in China. So long as I remain a member of the Senate I shall endeavour to obtain fair treatment for the workers, whether they belong to the black-coated brigade or are classed as navvies. No medical referee has any right to bully an unfortunate applicant for a pension, who perhaps assisted to build up the country and to make it possible for Dr. Ludowici and other referees to obtain big fees. The only crime of the old people is that they are white-haired.
The present so-called National Government, which sends its representatives to Geneva to attend the meetings of the League of Nations, has set up in business as a glorified estate agent, and is “scabbing “ on the estate agents throughout the Commonwealth. By an act of constitutional burglary the Government seeks to take away the shack of the old people after they nave gone to their long rest, irrespective of the claims of their sons and daughters to the old home. Surely the children of Australia’s pioneers should not be penalized for keeping a roof over the heads of their parents. The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) promised that the sections of the act relating to the confiscation of a pensioner’s property would be repealed before Christmas ; but already both Houses of Parliament are rushing legislation through in the hurry to get into recess. Were it not that my language would be regarded as unparliamentary, I should say that the Government adopts mass organization methods, and resorts to acts of political brutality in order to get its legislation through Parliament. Many applicants for pensions have been given a rough spin by Dr. Ludowici. He is not going to be allowed to employ any of the Fascisti methods with applicants for old-age pensions.
.- I protest against the speech we have just been compelled to listen to from Senator Dunn. On this question he seems to be actuated by spleen and vindictiveness against a medical man who is not here to defend himself, and of whom I know nothing except that he is on the list of registered doctors in Sydney. To show the absurdity and shallowness of Senator Dunn’s statement, I would remind him that no doctor has anything to do with the applications of old-age pensioners.
– I said invalid pensioners.
– The honorable senator never mentioned invalid pensioners. He ought to know - and if he does not know, he is not fit to be a senator - that no doctor has anything to do with old-age pensioners. Yet he, in thi3 chamber, vilified a medical man for no other apparent reason than that he happens to have as a friend Mr. Eric Campbell, chief of the New Guard. Senator Dunn ought to be ashamed of such a speech. He has made statements showing that he is entirely ignorant of the administration of the Old-age Pensions Department, and of what applicants for pensions are required to do. He knows now that he failed badly in his attempt to injure a medical man. A senator, by virtue of his position, ought, at all events, to behave as a gentleman.
Senator Sir HARRY LAWSON (Victoria - Assistant Treasurer) [9.50]. - The Prime Minister made a promise regarding the amendment of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act. Notice of a bill has been given in another place, and I can give an assurance that the measure will reach this chamber before wo adjourn for the Christmas vacation, and that there will be the fullest opportunity provided to discuss every aspect of the charges that have been made, and the clauses that are objected to. I, therefore, suggest that honorable senators should refrain from anticipating the debate on that bill.
Regarding the administration of the old-age pensions law, the Government is not concerned with the political opinions of its officers. All men should enjoy the full freedom of citizenship, and the Government would not oppress or condemn an officer because of the political opinions he might hold. It does not seem proper to take the opportunity provided by a debate in the Senate to discuss the association of a medical referee with Mr. Eric Campbell, or any one else, in promulgating certain political views. The honorable senator knows that there are degrees of propriety, and conventions that ought to be observed by senators in attacks on public servants who are not here to reply for themselves. “We have .great privileges, but they carry corresponding responsibilities, and the surest way of taking from representative institutions the confidence and respect of the people is for honorable senators to abuse their position of privilege in this chamber, by making unfounded attacks, based perhaps on the political opinions or associations of the persons they are attacking. “We are concerned with the administration of the department. The policy of the Government is not to concern itself with the political opinions of medical referees. In the administration, and also in the inquiries by magistrates, it endeavours, tq see that applicants for old-age pensions, who are probably not well educated, and not accustomed to judicial surroundings, are treated with the utmost courtesy and .consideration. I have myself had a good deal of experience with pension applicants, and I have not heard from any of them charges of inconsiderate treatment by public servants or magistrates. On the contrary, I have met people who have been before magistrates,, and have spoken highly of the courtesy, kindliness and understanding extended to them.
– The Assistant Minister does not represent New South “Wales, and has no acquaintance with the conditions there.
– I am speaking from the limited experience I have had in the districts I know well. Inquiries by officers in those districts are characterized by kindness, tolerance, courtesy, and consideration, and I have no reason to doubt that that is the general attitude. It is the policy for which the Go vernment stands. The Government tries to remember the class of persons with whom it is dealing, and to give them a full measure of consideration. If the honorable senator will make specific charges - and I do not suggest that he should make them on the floor of the Senate - they will be carefully investigated. I suggest to him that these .matters can best be dealt with administratively, by reference to the Minister concerned. That method is more effective, less expensive to the country, and more economical of time than the bringing forward of such matters in the Senate. If honorable senators will employ that method, they will get better ‘results, and will be doing nothing to detract from the confidence and respect in which the Senate should be held by the people. I ask Senator Dunn not to persist in his present method of attack. These Estimates cover merely administrative machinery, cost of administration, and so on. If there are complaints against the administration, they can be more properly made on the amending bill which is to be introduced later. Honorable senators’ rights will not be taken away by adopting my suggestion. The fullest opportunity for discussion will be given when the legislation, is introduced, and I promise that it will be introduced before Christmas.
– I would remind the Assistant Minister (Senator Lawson) that the Senate is a” political battle-ground, and it is here that we can bring people to book and unmask maladministration. I appreciate the words of the Minister, but I reply to him that I have been elected just as he was. If I think that I have any arguments to advance within the standing orders of this chamber, I do not feel under any obligation to him or any other Minister to refrain from advancing them.
As to Senator Payne’s remarks, I spoke of old-age and invalid pensions.
– The honorable senator never mentioned invalid pensions.
– I am mentioning, them now. Senator Payne admits that he knows nothing about Dr. Ludowici, but I have intimated to the Government that we can. produce specific evidence of the browbeating of applicants for invalid pensions, and of ungenerous treatment and bullying tactics by Dr. Ludowici. Even one of my own flesh and blood, if he acted as Dr. Ludowici does, would get the lash of my tongue unsparingly.
– What I say-
– It does not matter what the Assistant Minister says. I respect him as a Minister, hut no further. He is a party follower of a political machine. In this chamber there is no friendship politically between us, and the sooner he understands that the better for both of us. There will never be any political friendship between us. It is a fight to a finish. I definitely and clearly place on record that I do not wish to receive the friendly advice of the Assistant Minister in respect of any criticism of this character that I may make. I accept the Minister’s statement that the provisions relating to the property of pensioners will be debated in this chamber before the Christmas recess. If now the honorable gentleman will give me an assurance that he will call for a departmental report concerning the complaints made against Dr. Ludowici I shall withdraw my motion.
Senator Sir HARRY LAWSON (Victoria - Assistant Treasurer) [10.2]. - The department is not aware of any browbeating tactics employed by Dr. Ludowici, and it will not be j>ossible to hold an inquiry unless definite complaints are formulated. The honorable senator wishes me to regard his statement as a general complaint. He must see that, in the absence of specific charges, the department is definitely at a disadvantage. A general charge is answered by a general denial. If the honorable gentleman will take the responsibility of making specific charges, the Minister will, in accordance with the regular practice of governments, order an investigation. A specific charge will call for a detailed reply. This, I suggest, is the method which the honorable senator should adopt if he has any definite complaints to make against the doctor mentioned.
– I should not have taken part inthis debate if the Assistant Treasurer (Senator Lawson) had not delivered a lecture to my colleague (Senator Dunn) as to the proper method of presenting his case. I have no personal knowledge of Dr. Ludowici, but I have heard, in a general way, charges of the nature mentioned by Senator Dunn. I agree that the proper course, if an inquiry is desired, is to make a specific charge. Whenever I have had complaints to inquire into, I have interviewed the Minister in charge of the department concerned, and have ventilated them with the full intention that, if I did not get satisfaction, I would mention them on the floor of Parliament. I have one or two which I will mention in this way very shortly. As I have said, there have been general complaints against Dr. Ludowici. One of the defects of human nature is that certain persons in authority treat with more orless contempt those who are socially beneath them, and are, to some extent, at their mercy. Some aTe extremely arrogant and unpleasant in their dealings with the poor, while others go to the other extreme and are very careless. Perhaps I can better explain what I mean by citing my own experience. I have never had the bad luck to require an invalid pension, but many years ago, when I was working for the Sydney City Council, I was injured as the result of an accident, and had to report my condition in order to receive compensation. I was then told that I must first see my private doctor. As I had not had an illness for about 40 years, I did not have a private doctor, so I had to find one, and, incidentally, fee him. He ordered me to pull off my coat, and then, without any further preliminaries, merely felt my shoulders to determine the nature of the injury. I then reported to the City Council doctor, to whom I presented the certificate issued to me by my private doctor. The City Council doctor then instructed me to go to the insurance company for examination by its doctor. When I saw this gentleman he said to me, “Have you seen the city doctor?” I replied that I had, and he said, “ Oh that will be all right”. Thus I was obliged to go through the farce of being examined by three separate doctors, not one of whom really took the trouble to examine me at all. What I have said illustrates my statement that, in many instances, medical’ men carry out their duties in the most perfunctorymanner. Others, it is well known, are as disagreeable as they can possibly be to those who happen to be in the humble position of pensioners, and treat them as dirt beneath their feet. Senator Dunn knows more than I do about the complaints which have reached him.[Quorum formed.] Those unfortunate people whose economic position is such as to force them to make application for the invalid or old-age pension should be treated decently and with respect, because most of them are just as good as other people in more prosperous circumstances. I am satisfied that we shall have an opportunity to deal with all these matters in another measure that will come before the Senate shortly, and as the Minister has given us an assurance that, if specific charges are levelled against Dr. Ludowici, inquiries will be made. I think my colleague should, in the circumstances, withdraw his motion.
– As the Assistant Treasurer (Senator Lawson) has given me an assurance that, if specific charges are made, an inquiry will be held, I ask leave to withdraw my motion.
Motion - by leave - withdrawn.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £157,500.
– I should like to know what the Government intends to do with reference to the 900 adults employed in the Public Service at rates of pay below the basic wage?
– The honorable senator should raise that question when the Department of the Postmaster-General is before the committee.
– I direct attention to the delay that takes place in connexion with bankruptcy proceedings. The position was bad enough before the passing of the federal law relating to bankruptcy, but it is infinitely worse now. Surely it should be possible to speed up the proceedings. As there is an increase of the vote this year, I hope all proceedings in bankruptcy will be expedited. Most business people wipe off debts rather than seek redress through the Federal Bankruptcy Administration, as they know that the costs incurred will wipe out any collections made.
.- The increase of the personnel of the Court in Queensland is due to the fact that the Federal Bankruptcy Administration has replaced that of the State, and one extra employee has been employed in both Victoria and South Australia. During the last two years the work of the court has increased enormously. If the honorable senator will inform me privately in what respect delay has occurred, inquiry will be made, because the Government desires to speed up the administration.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Departmentof the Interior.
Proposed vote, £338,370.
.- Under “Division 42- Works and Buildings the amount of £800 is provided for repairs, maintenance, fittings and furniture at Parliament House. I draw the attention of the committee to the following criticism which was published in the Perth Sunday Times of the 26th November last: -
By interrogation it waselicited in the House of Representatives on Tuesday that the total expenditure on the Federal Capital Territory, including national buildings, is now £i 3,627,31 7; the total receipts to June 30th last, £1,673,220.
Therefore the loss is £11,954,097, a huge sum, which has been wrung from the people of Australia who produce the national income. Canberra produces nothing but politicians.
The money has been spent to provide a luxurious club for “ elected persons “. At one time they had over a hundred gardeners, who attended to lawns, bowling greens, avenues of trees, flowers, and tennis courts. The cost was £60,000 a year.
The Government built a swimming pool that cost £10,000 and provided elegantly fitted and plentiful billiard rooms. The members have free gold passes all over Australian railways, and if they serve on any of the many commissions they get £2 2s. a day for expenses.
And some of them owe £17,000 to the refreshment buffet.
That statement was made by a newspaper which is proudly displayed from time to time by Senator Johnston. The billiard tables at Parliament House may be well fitted up, but. the representatives from “Western Australia have more than a fair share of their use ; but this newspaper has told a direct lie in saying that members of this Parliament receive £2 2s. a sitting for attending meetings of commissions and committees. The Parliamentary Standing Committees on Public Works and Public Accounts have not been in operation for over two years, and members give their services on select committees without fee. It ill becomes this sausage-wrapper of a newspaper to make such statements.
– An honorable senator may not on this vote make lengthy references to newspaper statements.
– Honorable senators representing Western Australia enjoy the privileges of gold passes, billiard tables, lawns, bowling greens and cricket pitches, and the swimming pool in Canberra. Senator Sir George Pearce. - -The matter which the honorable senator is discussing does not concern the Department of the Interior.
– The parliamentary dining-room is not situated in Queanbeyan, but in Canberra; yet this lying journal-
– I have already informed the honorable senator that he may not make lengthy references to newspaper statements.
– I am prepared to divulge the source of my information. According to the Perth Sunday Times, some members of this Parliament owe £17,000 to the Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms !
[10.25]. - The President stated on Friday last that members do not owe one penny to the refreshment rooms. I do not intend to reply to the remarks of Senator Dunn, because they relate to matters under the control of the President and Mr. Speaker.
Senator Collings last week referred to the settlements at Molonglo and Causeway, and I brought his remarks under the notice of the Minister for the Interior, who has furnished the following reply : -
The tenements at Causeway were erected for the temporary accommodation of workmen engaged in the early construction of Canberra. At that time it was the intention to demolish the settlement immediately construction work finished, but up to the present it has not been found possible to accommodate the tenants of these houses elsewhere. This settlement has, therefore, been allowed to remain and there is every indication that it will be necessary to retain it for some years to come.
The Government is anxious to demolish certain tenements at the earliest possible moment, but it does not admit that the housing provided at the Causeway can be described as slum conditions, or that the occupants of these houses suffer any indignity or endanger their health by residence in the settlement. In fact -the Causeway houses are keenly sought after by intermittent workers and others of moderate means, so much so thatmany tenants of cottages in Canberra have voluntarily transferred to the Causeway and have subsequently expressed their satisfaction with the. conditions prevailing in that settlement.
The cottages at Causeway are in a very fair state of repair. All the houses were painted two years ago, and work on interior renovations is being commenced this week. Moreover, approval has recently been given for the provision of additional rooms in 26 of the houses where the size of the families justified such additional accommodation. Arrangements have also been made to plant the area surrounding the settlement with a belt of trees for the beautification of the area and to afford much needed protection against the weather.
It is probable that the Causeway settlement will be required for the housing of workmen until such time as the transfer of the remaining departments to Canberra has been completed. It will then be possible to formulate a scheme for the provision of permanent homes for all workmen required for the maintenance of Government services in Canberra.
It is the policy of the Government, therefore, to continue to maintain the cottages at Causeway in a habitable condition, and in their present state of repair, and to transfer occupants of other tenements to this settlement whenever vacancies occur.
I think that Senator Collings admitted that the conditions at the Causeway are better than those at Molonglo. The Minister’s reply continues -
The tenements at Molonglo are situated about 5 miles from the centre of the city, and were originally erected as a concentration camp during the war period. They were subsequently reconstructed to provide temporary accommodation for workmen, and were never intended to be the permanent homes of residents. The Government is anxious to demolish these buildings, but the demand for accommodation of this type is so keen, and the housing shortage so acute, following on the cessation of construction work during the depression, that it has been loath to authorize the demolition of any building which might offer even temporary shelter to a family in necessitous circumstances.
The Molonglo tenements are served with electric light and sewerage, are connected with the Canberra water supply, and are maintained in a habitable condition by the department. The health inspector periodically inspects the tenements, and any complaints brought under notice by that officer are given immediate attention.
Approval has been given for the supply of paint to the majority of the tenants at Molonglo for the purpose of brightening up their homes for Christmas, and the honorable senator has been misinformed in this connexion.
At present there are 89 tenants at Molonglo, and 23 applications are held from persons desirous of obtaining a house in the settlement. It will, therefore, be seen that it would be necessary to construct over 100 new workmen’s cottages in Canberra before the demolition of the houses at Molonglo could be effected. Provision has been made on the current year’s Estimates for the erection of 32 workmen’s homes, and this will meet the present shortage of houses of this type. “When these houses are completed, a number of tenants from Causeway, who are in regular employment, will be transferred thereto, and vacancies thus occurring at Causeway will be filled by the transfer of tenants from Molonglo. By a continuation of this policy, it is hoped gradually to demolish the Molonglo settlement.
The general question of providing accommodation for workmen in Canberra is to some extent involved by reason of the fact that a great many tenants are unemployed or receive only intermittent work.
The amount of arrears of rent due in connexion with the Causeway settlement is £4,533, owing by 92 tenants, and the number in arrears at Molonglo is 71, who are in arrears to the extent of £2,607.
– Senator Dunn had a good deal to say concerning a report which appeared in the ‘Perth Sunday Times.
– The honorable senator is entitled to quote only such portions of the report as refer to works covered by the proposed vote for the Department of the Interior.
– I shall observe your ruling, Mr. Chairman, much closer than the honorable senator upon whose remarks I wish to comment. The article states -
By interrogation, it was elicited in the House of Representatives on Tuesday that the total expenditure on the Federal Capital Territory, including national buildings, is now £13,627,317; the total receipts to June 30th last, £1,673,220. Therefore, the loss is £11,954,097, a huge sum which has been wrung from the people of Australia who produce the national income. Canberra produces nothing but politicians.
I disagree with the statement that Canberra produces nothing but politicians. It is true that they come to Canberra; but this city produces and sustains only public servants. A huge amount of money has been wrung from the Australian taxpayers in order to construct this artificial city, and, as the article states, most of the money has been wasted. The report continues -
Tlie money has been spent to provide a luxurious club for “ elected persons.” At one time, they had over 100 gardeners, who attended tho lawns, bowling greens, avenues of trees, flowers and tennis courts. The cost was over £00,000 a year.
That is correct, so far as I know. Wherever we look we can see the result of useless expenditure incurred in Canberra, and in many respects the article is true. In travelling around Canberra one can see miles and miles of unnecessary streets and footpaths and also extensive gardens provided for the residents of Canberra, but paid for by the Government. Heavy expenditure has also been incurred on sewerage and water supply systems, but those works are not visible. Had Canberra been designed with its suburbs more closely situated, residents would have been better served and unnecessary expenditure would have been avoided. This city should have been designed and built on lines somewhat similar to other capital cities which are more convenient from every view-point. I believe in town planning, but not on the lines adopted in Canberra, which is most inconvenient, particularly in the matter of transport. The article further states that -
The Government has built a swimming pool at a cost of £1.0,000 and luxuriously fitted billiard rooms are provided for the use of members of this Parliament who are supplied with gold passes which enable them to travel free of cost over every Australian railway. If they serve on any of the commissions appointed from time to time they receive £2 2s. a day to cover their travelling expenses.’
That is substantially accurate. There is one reference to Canberra which is wrong and which, of course, was noticed by Senator Dunn, who apparently peruses every issue of this newspaper. The statement to which I refer, is that some members of this Parliament owe to the Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms £17,000. In all other respects the language used by this estimable family journal is accurate and justified.
– I regret that I was in the Library when the Leader of the Senate (Senator Sir George Pearce) read a statement supplied by the Department of the
Interior, concerning the housing conditions at Molonglo and Causeway. I have since had the opportunity to peruse the statement, and desire to offer one or two comments upon it and to make some suggestions. The Minister said that I was misinformed concerning the applications made by some of the tenants for paint, to enable them to brighten up their homes before Christmas, because such applications have been granted. I am not in a position to say that the Minister’s statement is inaccurate, but when I visited those settlements I was informed by one lady tenant that her’ husband’s application for paint to renovate the place so that it would look presentable at Christmas time had been refused. Obviously both statements cannot be correct. I regret that the Minister is satisfied with the statement he made on behalf of the Government with respect to these two settlements.
– The departmental report agrees with much that the honorable senator said.
– The Government is satisfied, because provision is made for 32 workmen’s cottages.
– The Government is not satisfied.
– But it ‘expects me to be satisfied. Although I am powerless to alter the position, I protest against provision being made for only 32 workmen’s homes in Canberra.
– That is all the Government has money for.
– That may be; but if the Government had not remitted taxes payable by the wealthy interests in this country, it would have had sufficient money for this purpose. The Minister said that conditions at the Causeway were nOt so bad as at Molonglo, because trees which are being grown will provide shelter from the weather.
– I said more than that.
– The reason why the Causeway cottages need a windbreak is that they are so rottenly built that they cannot withstand the weather. I have seen these buildings, and know how impossible it is to keep the wet and cold out of them. Women and children are living in unhealthy dwellings while the trees which will form a windbreak are growing. In some of these dwellings newspapers have to be stuffed into the cracks and openings to make them habitable. - The department admits that 100 workmen’s cottages are required in Canberra. Why does it not go ahead and build them? It is useless to say that money for the purpose cannot be found. If war broke out to-morrow, money would be found within 24 hours for the purpose of destruction. It would then be a matter not of a few thousands of pounds but of millions of pounds, and no one would be permitted to complain. Since I spoke on this matter a few days ago, a medical man came to me and volunteered to give me further information regarding the danger to the health of the community from the unhealthy conditions existing in these settlements. I approached four doctors, and obtained written information from three of them, and the fourth very kindly gave me the opportunity to see things for myself. In the face of evidence from four doctors that these settlements are a source of danger to the health of the community, I am expected to remain quiet merely because provision is made in these Estimates for 32 workmen’s cottages. The departmental statement which seeks to cloud the issue concludes with a number of uncalled for statements regarding the rent owing by some of the tenants of these cottages. The non-payment of rent is no excuse for the Government’s inaction. If I were a tenant of one of these cottages, I would not pay any rent for such miserable shelter. I shall lose no opportunity to urge that something be done in regard to these settlements. I do not want less beauty or less town planning in Canberra; I do want these unsatisfactory habitations removed as early as possible.
– I should like some information about the item “ Special Canberra allowance, £1,500 “.
– The amount has been decreasing each year, and will disappear at the end of this financial year.
– -The Government ought to be ashamed of itself for taking it away.
– Public servants who are privileged to work in Canberra are fortunate compared with the federal public servants who live in the States. The former do not pay State income tax, State unemployment tax, or any hospital tax; and, apparently, as compensation for that relief from taxation, they are given a special allowance for living in Canberra. A federal public servant living in Western Australia pays State income tax, a tax for the relief of unemployment, on a graduated scale running as high as 9d. in the £1, and a -special hospital tax of 4½d. in the £1.
– There is a hospital tax of 6d. a week on all wageearners in Canberra.
– That is not much from men in receipt of £1,000 a year or more.
– Why worry about an allowance which will disappear at the end of this year?
– If any allowance of this kind is to be granted in future, it should be given to those public” servants who are transferred to outlying States, where the people have to do everything for themselves. Although they are the people most worthy of consideration, they are subjected to the heaviest impositions.
– We were told that, as the various departments were transferred to Canberra, the amount to be paid for the rent of buildings in the capital cities would gradually decrease ; but, instead, an increase over last year’s expenditure is proposed. For the rent of buildings, £45,363 was voted last year, and £45,588 paid. The estimated expenditure this year is £46,710. Those figures do not indicate that the transfer of departments to Canberra has effected any saving in respect of rentals.
Under division No. 44 the sum of £5,277 is set aside for payment to the State Government of Victoria for the lease of the building in Melbourne previously occupied by His Excellency the Governor-General. I understand that the lease has almost expired, and I should like to know when the last payment will fall due. This is heavy expenditure, for which the Commonwealth gets no return.
The sooner the lease is terminated, the better.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for Defence) [10.59]. - During tho last financial year, considerable savings were effected in rents payable by the Government, by reason of departments in Melbourne having ‘been transferred to buildings owned by the Commonwealth. These savings wore offset by increased rentals in Sydney, where certain departments, notably the taxation branch of the Treasury, were transferred from their old location to the Commonwealth Bank building, which offered more suitable accommodation, and was more centrally situated. The liabilities in respect of rents payable in the various States and territories amount to £48,191 ; but the proposed appropriation of £46,710, although smaller, should be sufficient to meet the expenditure during the year, after allowing for further anticipated savings. The increased cost compared with last year is due to the expansion of the taxation branch of the Treasury, to cope with sales tax and other legislation. Apart from that, there has been a saving. The whole of the additional expenditure has been incurred in Sydney.
Senator Grant also referred to the cost of the Governor-General’s establishment, particularly in respect of the building in Melbourne previously occupied by the Governor-General. This is the principal item of expenditure under the division, and provides for the payment to the State Government of Victoria of the sum of £5,277 that being the annual amount agreed upon as compensation for the surrender of the unexpired portion of the ten years’ lease of the building. The total amount of compensation involved is £42,865, and payment at the rate of £5,277 per annum will be made until the agreement expires on the 31st December, .1938.
– In view of the remarks made by Senator Johnston regarding the Canberra allowance, I would direct the Minister’s attention to tho following questions asked by me on the 30th November: -
The reply given to me was -
No such inquiry has been made for some time; but the question of conducting one is at ] ireson t under consideration.
I hope with the Minister that it does not remain under consideration too long. I voiced my protest when provision was made to take the allowance off, and I trust that before it finally disappears an inquiry will be held and some substantial relief given.
That brings me to another matter which vitally concerns the Department of the Interior, and should be borne in mind by honorable senators who, like Senator Johnston, object to the good times enjoyed by public servants who live in Canberra. For the life of me I cannot see why we should object to people allegedly having a good time. We should, on the contrary, see that increasing numbers of them have a good time. People who live in Canberra have no vote. They cannot make their ‘ political power felt. To the extent to which they escape taxation they have no representation. They contribute a relatively small amount to the hospital, but there also they have no representation. It is time we stopped talking of the wonderful opportunities public servants have, because they happen to live in Canberra. They certainly have delightful surroundings, but they should be given every advantage we can afford to give them. The time is fast coming, when we must consider the granting to thom of full political, municipal, and other rights.
– Under the division - GovernorGeneral’s Establishment - there is an item “Fuel, light and power, £1,000.” Seeing that His Excellency the GovernorGeneral and Lady Isaacs are often away from Yarralumla, £1,000 seems an extraordinary amount for fuel, light and power.
Even if public servants in Canberra are a little favoured, J am pleased to know that some people in these hard times get some advantage. We do not want to see every one on or below ihe bread line. I am satisfied that I know the source of the jig-saw puzzle - Senator Johnston’s speeches in Hansard.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Senate adjourned at 11.14 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 December 1933, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1933/19331205_senate_13_143/>.