13th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. P. Lynch) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Sent of Government (Administration) Act -
Ordinances of 1933-
No. 25 - Instruments.
No. 29. - Cemeteries.
– Has the VicePresident of the Executive Council seen a report in to-day’s Sydney Morning Herald which states -
The Minister for Mines (Mr. Vincent)said last night that Professor F. A. Easthaugh, of Sydney University, who would leave to-day ona health trip to England, would make inquiries on behalf of the State into the methods for the extraction of oil from coal. It was anticipated that the information gathered would be of value to New South Wales, in view of the proved richness of the Greta seam coal in oil.
Will every facility be offered to the professor in making his inquiries in Europe and, if necessary, in the United States of America ?
– So far as lies within the power of the Government all facilities will be afforded. Probably before the Senate rises for the Christmas vacation, 1 shall be able to make, at all events, a tentative statement regarding the Newnes shale deposits.
– On Tuesday, the 28th November, the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce said that he hoped soon to have an answer to my question dealing with trade and industrial conditions generally in Japan. When may I expect a reply?
Senator Sir HARRY LAWSON.I am informed that the information is being collected, but is not yet available.
– In view of the apparent inability of the Department of Commerce to supply the information, despite all the resources at the command of the Government, is it not advisable for the Government to reconsider the matter of sending a delegation to Japan until it is well equipped to understand the commercial and industrial conditions of that country ?
– It is not usual to make statements of Government policy in reply to questions.
– Will the Minister for Defence inform me whether military cadets from New Zealand are to be trained at the Royal Military College, Paddington Barracks, Sydney, and, if they are, will the cost be a charge upon the Australian or the New Zealand taxpayers?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.New Zealand cadets will be trained at the Paddington Barracks, but the cost will be defrayed entirely by the New Zealand Government.
– Will the Leader of the Senate say whether it is a fact, as reported in certain Sydney newspapers yesterday, that the Prime Minister stated in the House of Representatives that he did not know that wheat was so cheap as to warrant a reduction of the price of bread? If that statement is correct, will the Prime Minister and the Minister for Markets be informed of the fact that it is difficult at the present time to obtain 2s. a bushel at country railway sidings for wheat?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.I have not seen the statement referred to; but, if it has been made, I do not think it is a correct report of what the Prime Minister said, because he has absolute knowledge of the price of wheat at railway sidings. This information is conveyed to him through the Department of Commerce.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Senator Barnes has given notice of a series of questions regarding the assistance granted to primary producers. The information is being obtained, as far as possible, and will be furnished to the honorable senator at an early date.
asked the Minister representingthe PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
With reference to the Minister’s statement, in reply to question by Senator E. B. Johnston, that the reduction of £1 per annum granted in the rental charges of metropolitan telephones will not be granted in the rental charges of country telephones, but that other concessions have been made in regard to the telephone services in the country districts, will the Minister state - (a) What are the other concessions made to telephone users in country districts; and (b) what is their value as compared with the £1 per annum concession granted to telephone users in metropolitan areas?
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question : -
The most sympathetic consideration was given to the question of tariffs for telephones in country districts; but, in view of the unprofitable nature of those services at their existing rates, it was found impracticable to make any change. The honorable senator is reminded that in the metropolitan areas the charge is as high as £5 10s. per annum, whereas the rates in the country are as low as £3, and are limited to £3 15s. in the areas having as many as 2,000 subscribers. Ninety per cent. of the subscribers situated outside the capital cities are paying £3 5s. or less per annum. With the object of. conferring special benefits on country users, the basis of charging on route mileage was abandoned, in favour of radial distances, on trunk line services, and unit-fee areas were created to allow subscribers to communicate without extra fee with other subscribers on exchanges within a 5-mile radius. In addition, a unit fee of only1d. has been imposed for application in extensive rural areas, in place of the lid. charge which applies in metropolitan centres. Further, in 1929, when the rates were increased in the capital cities, no such additions were made for country areas; but, on the contrary, reductions equivalent to £15,000 per annum were made. If the country rentals had been treated in a similar fashion to those of the metropolitan areas, the excess charges would have amounted to £50,000 per annum.With a view to still further improving countrytelephone facilities, increased hours of service are being arranged at a considerable number of places, and, in addition, orders are being placed for automatic equipment to be installed in selected areas, thus affording continuous service in circumstances where this would otherwise have been impracticable. The total estimated value of the tariff alterations which have been made primarily in the interests of country users is, roughly, £230,000 per annum. If the revised rates for residence telephone service in the capital cities do not result in a variation in the calling rate, or lead to additional services being connected, the loss of revenue consequent upon the change will be approximately £35,000 per annum. There is every reason to suppose, however, that, under the new conditions, there will be an expansion of business which, within a reasonable time, will result in increased revenue,
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
In view of references in the Victorian press to the probability of certain units of the Citizen Forces being authorized to wear the Scottish kilt, will the Minister, before arriving at a decision, consider - (1) The extra cost that will be involved; (2) whether it is advisable to abandon the Australian style of uniform with which are now associated very highly-prized traditions; (3) the effect upon the even flow of recruits as a result of permitting distinctions in dress amongst units ofthe same arm of the Service?
American dollar. Inquiries arebeing made and a reply will be furnished as soon as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The Minister for External Affairs has supplied the following answers: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
What has been the total number of British subjects who have been issued with passports to leave Australia, and who have sailed from Australia to the United States of America and other countries bythe American steamships of the Matson Line during the last two years?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answer: -
During the period from 1st January, 1932, to 31st October, 1933, 810 British subjects have left Australia for the United States of America, and 3,200 for other countries (total 4,010) by vessels of the Matson Line. It would involve a considerable amount of work and expense to ascertain how many of these travellers obtained passports in Australia as against those who already held valid passports issued outside Australia.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– If an account was sent to Mr. O’Leary by the Kellerberrin Branch of the Agricultural Bank, as set out, it was not on behalf of the Defence Department, as the following facts will show: - In response to a request, with which the State Government was associated, by settlers in certain districts in Western Australia, I agreed in November, 1932, to allow three members of the Permanent Military Forces to go to the district with machine guns to aid the settlers in their endeavours to protect their crops against emus on the understanding that no cost to the Commonwealth was to be incurred. The military personnel received no extra pay; the State Government undertook to find the railway fares of the military personnel, and to guarantee payment of the value of the ammunition expended. From information which the Base Commandant received from various sources, it is evident that the operations of the military party were successful, and the cause of much satisfaction to the farmers concerned.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers: -
£16,647,000 CONVERSION LOAN.
[3.15]. - by leave - Yesterday, I informed honorable senators that negotiations were approaching finality for a conversion loan of £16,647,000 in London, and it was expected that the loan would be underwritten that day. The Prime Minister(Mr. Lyons) has now received advice from Mr. Bruce that the underwriting arrangements were completed yesterday on the terms indicated .by me, namely, 3-$ per cent, at 99 for 15 years, with the option to the Government to repay after twelve years. On these terms, theyield, to the investor, allowing for redemption at the end of fifteen years, is £3 16s. 9d., as compared with £3 17s. lid. for the last operation, and £4 ls. lOd. m respect of the previous conversion carried out in July. The saving of interest on the present conversion will amount to £243,000 a year. In addition, there will be a saving in exchange, calculated at the present rate, of £61,000, or a total saving of £304,000. The whole of this saving will accrue to State Governments.
Since October of last year, loans bearing high rates of interest and totalling £78,589,000 have been converted to loans at lower interest rates. The annual saving on all these operations now aggregates £1,523,000 for interest, and £381,000 for exchange at the present rate, or a total annual saving of £1,904,000. The balance of loans bearing interest at 5 per cent., over which we have optional rights of conversion, is now £17,850,000, and it is hoped that a further operation will be carried out in due course to reduce the interest rates on these loans. The press reception of this latest conversion loan, the Prime Minister has also been advised, has been most favorable.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act to amend the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1922-1932.
Bill brought up by Senator Sir George Pearce, and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator McLachlan) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act to amend the Extradition Act 1903.
Bill brought up by Senator McLachlan, and read a first time.
Motion (by Senator McLachlan) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act to repeal the Industrial Peace Acts 1920 and for other purposes.
Bill receivedfromthe House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended and bill (on motion by Senator Sir Harry Lawson) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended and bill (on motion by Senator Sir Harry Lawson) read a first time.
[3.25]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This is a simple measure. Provision is made in the Estimates for £125,000 to assist the fruit-growers, who have experienced difficulty in marketing their crops at reasonable prices, and this bill will give effect to that provision. The average amount returned to the apple-growers of Tasmania has dropped during the last three years from 5s. a bushel case to 1s. 8d. a bushel case. This collapse of prices is due to three main causes - record crops in some States, imports of oranges into Great Britain, and good seasons in Great Britain. Distribution of the grant will be on the basis of export, this being considered the most equitable method of distribution among the States. Any other method wouldnot return so great a proportion to the Tasmanian growers, who are in most need. Details of the amount allocated to each State are set out in the bill, which is recommended to the Senate as a measure of assistance to put the industry on its feet for the coming season.
.- I have no desire to delay the passage of this bill. Like many other bills, it is brought forward ostensibly to give people who are having a hard time some help in the form of a grant. There would be no objection to that in some circumstances, but in this class of bill no attempt is ever made by the Government, while being generous to others in need of relief, to safeguard the interests of workers in the industry. I am strongly of opinion that when the Government is giving relief of this kind, the workers in the industry should be looked after also. There is no provision in this bill to ensure that those who receive the grant shall pay the wages provided by State determinations or Federal awards. Unless such provision is made, I object to the granting of this money. There are awards governing the employment of labour in the fruit industry. My union - the AustralianWorkers Union - is particularly interested in the matter, because, in Victoria, and I think in Tasmania, certainly in Western Australia and South Australia, and in parts of New South Wales, it covers a large number of workers engaged in the industry. Many orchard ists, while taking advantage of everything given to them by governments, avail themselves of every opportunity to escape their responsibilities to the people they employ to gather their crops. It has cost my union quite a lot of money to police awards in the fruit-growing industry. The fruit-growers introduce sweated labour of any description and of any nationality whenever they can. I regret very much that provision is not made in this bill to safeguard the workers’ interests, and I shall try to have an amendment made to that effect when the bill is in committee. Subject to that criticism, I do not object to the Government giving to the fruit industry the help that is considered necessary.
– I congratulate the Government upon the introduction of this measure to provide financial assistance to fruit-growers on the basis mentioned by the Assistant Minister (Senator Lawson). Although the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Barnes) raised an objection concerning the rates paid to employees in the industry, I am pleased to learn that the measure will receive the support of the Labour party. The Government has decided to assist the fruit-growers on the basis of export, which is sound, and the relief to be afforded will be welcome to many fruitgrowers who have experienced considerable financial difficulty owing to the low prices they obtained for their products. I also congratulate the Government upon the fact that this measure does not contain the objectionable restriction which I understand is to be applied to those engaged in another important Australian primary industry, the wheat industry. We cannot overlook the manner in which the Government proposes to assist this industry as compared with the way in which it intends to afford relief to the wheat-growers. The fruit-growing industry is of value to Australia and should be assisted, and I am glad that those engaged in it will not be placed in the humiliating position of proving that they have not any taxable income before they will be entitled to relief under this measure, as is proposed under another bill to afford relief to those engaged in another important primary industry.
– If the honorable senator will peruse the bill, he will see that some of the fruit-growers must be in a bad position before they will be entitled to relief.
– I hope that the congratulations which I have offered to the Government are not premature. The apple and pear-growers will be assisted as provided in clause 4, provided they made a loss on their export operations last year. . Although the population of Western Australia is small in comparison with that of some of the other States, I am pleased to find that some of the fruit-growers in that State will receive a considerable measure of relief. I hope that we can assume that the principle embodied in this measure will also be adopted in others of a similar nature, and that the stigma of mendicancy will not be applied to wheatgrowers by the measure which will shortly be under consideration in this chamber.
SenatorRAE (New South Wales) [3.35]. - I endorse the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Barnes) as to the necessity to include in the bill some provision to assist the employees in the fruitgrowing industry, many of whom are paid less than arbitration award rates. The position of many of those engaged in fruit-picking in various parts of Victoria during the last season was most deplorable. Many of them were not only forced to accept less than award rates, but were also so intimidated that they were almost afraid to be seen speaking to ‘the union organizer, quite apart from becoming members of the industrial union.
– Where was that ?
SenatorRAE. - In the Shepparton district. Unemployment at present is so prevalent that it is difficult to enforce arbitration court awards, and certain employers have been paying ridiculously low rates of wages. When labour is plentiful it is difficult to police awards, and I trust that the Minister will accept an amendment to be moved by the Leader of the Opposition to ensure that those who receive financial assistance from the Government shall pay fair wages. I have not had an opportunity to study, the bill closely and, consequently, I do not know if any provision has been made to meet the objections raised yesterday on another measure to prevent grants to settlers from being claimed by creditors. Fruit-growers should be safeguarded from those legal sharks who attempt to grab every penny paid to assist deserving primary producers. Provision should also be made to ensure that, in the event of the death of a fruit-grower before this legislation becomes operative, the grant which would have been paid to him. under this bill shall go to his dependants who may have to carry on the industry. I support the bill.
– I wholeheartedly support the principle incorporated in this bill and congratulate the Government upon its introduction. Clause 4 provides that any money granted under this act shall be for the benefit of fruit-growers who satisfy an authority nominated by a State that they have suffered losses in the export of apples or pears grown by them during the 1932-33 season. I trust that in another measure shortly to come before this chamber, the Government will not lay itself open to a charge of inconsistency. It has been rumoured that the basis on which other primary producers are to be assisted differs from that embodied in this bill, and that a certain amount of discrimination has been exercised by the Government.
. - In supporting the second reading of this bill, I should like to inform the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Barnes) and Senator Rae, who referred to the non-observance of Arbitration Court awards, that the fruit-growing industry is carried on largely with the assistance of the growers’ families. Award rates may not be paid in every instance, but the fruit-growing industry is indirectly responsible for the employment of a large volume of labour in the timber industry, which provides the material for box-making, on the waterfront and in connexion with motor and other transport services. From 40 to 50 large overseas vessels visit Tasmania during the apple and pear season. The wages of the employees engaged in the industries I have mentioned are governed by Arbitration Court awards arid, in view of the special circumstances surrounding this industry, I hope that the Leader of the Opposition will not move the amendment he has forecast. Its adoption would have a serious effect upon other industries in which large numbers of unionists are employed.
– I referred more particu larly to the wages paid to fruit-pickers.
– In many instances that work is done by the members of the grower’s family and, consequently, award rates are not paid. Apple and pear-growers have experienced great difficulty, and I trust that no attempt will be made by any honorable senator to harass them further. Even when prices are low, the whole of the work of the orchard must be carried on as in normal circumstances if the orchardist is to continue in the business.
.- I also support the second reading of the bill. As the Minister has pointed out, the price this year will not average more than1s. 8d. a bushel. That represents an absolute lossto the grower. I am pleased to know that the Apple and Pear Council in Sydney decided to recommend a reduction in the quantity of fruit exported, and will also exercise some control over the variety and sizes of the fruit to be sent overseas. The bulk of the fruit exported to England last year, especially towards the end of the season, did not return to the grower sufficient to pay even the freight. The Government can assist the industry by bringing pressure on the shipping companies to induce them to reduce freights. I understand that action in this direction is being taken, and I trust that, before next export season starts, a substantial reduction of overseas freight on fruit will be announced. Shipping companies have suggested that the freight could be reduced during certain months of the year. That would mean the landing of Tasmanian fruit on the London market in the flush of the English berry-fruit season, with disastrous results to the growers. I am afraid we must admit that the season for export of Australian apples and pears to England and the continent is limited,’ and that it is useless to export outside the seasonal limits. I welcome the bill, and approve of the proposal to limit the assistance to those growers who suffered an actual loss in connexion with last year’s1 export trade. A number of growers sold their fruit at a reasonably good price f.o.b., and, therefore, they should not be entitled to assistance under this bill.
– Queensland being only slightly interested in the fruit export trade is receiving a small portion of (the money provided under this bill. The bulk of it goes to Tasmania, and I am pleased to be able to support a proposal to assist fruitgrowers in that State. I hope that, on future occasions, the Tasmanian representatives in this chamber, and especially Senator Payne, will reciprocate by supporting measures for the assistance of Queensland industries.
– They have not done badly under the Commonwealth.
– The sugar industry, which is so often criticized by Tasmanian senators, pays a fair’ wage to all its employees- That cannot be said of the Tasmanian fruit-growing industry. I am informed that some of the orchardists in the island State are the biggest sweaters in Australia. If this is true, I shall support an amendment to be proposed by the ‘Leader of the Opposition (Senator Barnes) to insert in the bill the necessary provisions to protect the employees of the industry. I expect that Senator Payne will have something to say about this proposal, and, doubtless, he will combat what I am saying. We are supporting the measure, but with a certain amount of diffidence, because of the allegations of sweating on the part of
Tasmanian fruit-growers. Senator Grant expressed the hope that, before next export season, there would be a reduction of the overseas freight on export fruit. I expect that that honorable gentleman and other Tasmanian’ senators now regret that the Government sold the Commonwealth line of steamships.
– That line did not provide cheaper freights than its competitors.
– It is, however, significant that immediately the- Commonwealth steamers were sold to a certain gentleman who subsequently spent several months in a British gaol, freights from Australia were increased.
– The ships are not paid for yet.
– That does not occasion any concern to a Nationalist Government, because the ships were sold to its friends, and what are a few ships among friends.? Senator Grant mentioned a proposal that had been made to reduce overseas freights during certain months of the year, and pointed out that if shippers took advantage of the concessions, their fruit would reach the London market at the flush of the English berry fruit season, with the result that prices would be unprofitable. Yesterday, in the discussion on another bill, I directed attention to the De Raeve process for the chilling of meat, and added that I was reliably informed that fruit, subjected to this new process, could be kept indefinitely. If this process were adopted, it would benefit the Tasmanian fruit-growers, because then they would be able to regulate their supplies to the English market. This is a proposal to subsidize the fruit industry, and of course it is being well supported by Tasmanian senators. On other occasions when we have been considering the protection to be afforded to secondary industries, the representatives of Tasmania have strongly opposed what they termed the support of uneconomic industries. I am not questioning the wisdom of this scheme, but I remind the Senate of the stupidity , of the existing capitalistic system under which, apparently, it will soon be necessary to subsidize every industry. Time 1 after time Senator Payne has protested against the granting of Government assistance to what he termed uneconomic secondary industries. Apparently the Tasmanian fruit industry is now on an uneconomic basis. I am, however, willing at all times to assist any section of the people who are in need of help. On practically every occasion when governments have brought down proposals to assist industry, they have received the full support of Labour senators. But we do not forget the disabilities of the wageearners, and in connexion with the fruitgrowing industry, if it can be shown that the employees are being sweated, we shall take the necessary steps to ensure fair working conditions and wages for them.
.- I welcome the bill. The only fault I have to find with it is that the £125,000 to be provided,’ of which Tasmania is to get £63,000, is totally inadequate. Other honorable senators, have mentioned that the gross return for the last season’s export fruit was ls. 8d.’ a bushel case. That is not nearly adequate, and, in any case, I do not think that they received anything like ls. 8d. clear. Senator Brown described the industry as uneconomic. I remind him that Tasmania has be’en exporting fruit for 30 or 40 years, that the industry was established without the aid of tariffs or bounties, and that, until this year, it had never been given any assistance. The higher costs in allied industries, such as sawmilling and transport, due “ to the operation of the Arbitration. Court awards, have been largely responsible for compelling the growers to appeal to the Government this year for assistance. Senator Brown also said that the fruit-growers in Tasmania were the greatest sweaters in Australia. That is not true.
– I said that I had been informed that they. were sweating their employees. I am glad to know that my information was not correct.
– The honorable senator should make sure of his information before he makes such sweeping charges about such an important industry. If we follow the process through, from the growing of the apple until it is s.old to the consumer, we find that the only person who is not protected by Arbitration Court awards is the grower of the apple. It has been said that the growers reaped a net profit of ls. 8d. a case on. last year’s crop, but that is not so. Had that been the position, there would probably not have been any demand for governmental assistance. It is difficult to get accurate costs of production in any industry. For instance, I have seen figures which show that it costs from 2s. 6d. to 5s. to produce a bushel of wheat. The cost depends a great deal on circumstances. On an average the selling price of apples in London must be 8s. 4d. a case to enable the grower to meet expenses and live. That includes exchange. Before any money is sent to Australia, the 8s. 4d. a case obtained for the apples in London is subject to a consolidated charge of 10d.; commission accounts for 5d.j and other charges bring the expenses to ls. 4d. That leaves ,7s. If we add ls. 9d. for exchange we reach 8s. 9d. Out of that 8s. 9d. freight takes 3s. 6d. ; but as the shipping companies demand a large portion of the payment in sterling, the 3s. 6d. really represents about 4s. l-Jd. Previously, freight cost from 2s. 4d. to 2s. 6d. a case, but arbitration awards payable to wharflumpers, ship-builders, coal-miners and others have increased the rate. Shipping charges amount to about 2½d. a case, and railage represents 5d., leaving 4s. for the grower. These figures have been supplied to me by a grower of apples, who keeps accurate cost accounts. Shed charges, cases, wood wool, paper, packing and branding cost another ls. 6d, leaving only 2s. 6d. for the grower. Out of that return he has to pay rent or interest, meet cultivation costs, and pay his living expenses. Irrespective- of the’ price received for the apples - whether it be 5s. or 10s. a case - the work of the orchard must go on. In that respect the orchardist is at a disadvantage compared with the wheat-grower, who can also keep a few sheep. A return’ of 2s. 6d. a case barely pays the orchardist for growing apples. That is his return when the fruit brings 8s. 4d. a case in London ; but when it realizes only 2s., 4s., or 6s. a case, as has happened this year, his losses are considerable. This year a Tasmanian fruitgrower showed me a debit account which he had received in respect of a consignment of good apples which sold for from 2s. to 4s. a case in London. When men incur such losses, it is impossible for them to pay arbitration awards. Senator Brown desires the insertion of a clause to provide that workers engaged on orchards shall be paid Arbitration Court awards.
– I believe in a good price for the grower and good wages for the worker.
– If such a clause is inserted in this bill, the growers will be unable to pay the rates, and these workers will be thrown out of employment. As things are, the fruit-growers have all they can do to buy the necessaries of life. I resent the charge that they are sweaters, and that their industry is an uneconomic one. For many years the apple-growers have sought a bounty on evaporated apples, but notwithstanding that other industries have been granted bounties, these growers have not been given one penny. I compliment the Government on having introduced this bill to give the apple-growers the first measure of assistance they have ever had. I hope that the bill will not be loaded with impossible conditions. The orchardists of Tasmania are among the most important of our primary producers. The fruit-growing industry is of great importance to Australia, particularly to Tasmania, and those engaged in it well deserve this assistance, and have certainly not merited the disparaging remarks made by certain honorable senators.
– In rising to support the second reading. I wish to disabuse the mind of Senator Collings of certain wrong impressions. The honorable senator said that I had always been an opponent of Queensland industries. That is not correct, as the honorable senator will realize if he reads the Hansard report of measures designed to assist the industries of that State. He will find that so far from being an opponent of Queensland industries, I have always done what I could to help the industries of that beautiful State. Senator Brown also was unjust to the fruit-growers of Tasmania when he said that they sweated their employees-
– I said that I had been so informed.
– The conditions of the employees in the fruit-growing industry of Tasmania are not bad, but good. My knowledge of the -fruit industry in that State dates back to its inception. I remember the Huon district when it was a wilderness, containing no orchards at all. The industry has succeeded only because of the energy and devotion of the orchardists and those in their employ. ‘ I have never heard one word of complaint regarding the sweating of the employees of . the orchardists. It is not correct to say that because there are no award rates operating in an industry, sweating methods are adopted. If the fruitgrowers of Tasmania could be guaranteed a sufficient price for the fruit consumed in Australia, to cover their losses overseas, they would be on a footing similar to that of the sugar-growers of Queensland.
– -The Labour party believes in a fair deal for all - primary producers as well as workers.
– The fruit-growing industry of Australia has developed to huge dimensions without any assistance from governments, but kelp is now necessary if it is to survive. I am glad that in this time of difficulty the Government is coming, to its rescue. The export trade in fruit involves the’ expenditure of large sums of money before the fruit is allowed to leave Australia. A careful examination is made of all fruit before it is placed on shipboard, but, despite the precautions taken to ensure that only sound fruit is exported, it sometimes happens that on arrival in England, the fruit is not in good condition, and is scarcely marketable. I do not know whether the cause is to be found in the ships which carry the-fruits, but the fact remains that unless the fruit is in sound condition on arrival in England, it does not bring good prices. I do not think that Senator Brown’s suggestion that the fruit should be chilled, would meet the case. Moreover, it must be remembered that Australian fruit has to compete with fresh fruit from California. .What chance would chilled fruit have of competing with fresh fruit? At no time can fruit taken out of storage compare with fruit marketed straight from the trees.
– Is itnot a fact that Tasmanian apples bring lower prices in England, than do apples from other parts of Australia.
– That is not so. I appreciate fully the assistance which the Government proposes to give to this industry and I trust that, as a result, the fruit-growers of Tasmania will do better this season than in 1932-33. This measure of assistance will enable a number of orchardists to keep on their feet and share in that overseas trade which we all are desirous of cultivating.
– In these days, when so much is done for so many industries, no one will deny that the apple growing industry is far more deserving of support than are some others which have been assisted by governments. While I do not oppose the bill, I should like to know on what basis the grant is to be distributed.
– On the basis of the fruit exported.
– Obviously the basis is not that the fruitgrowers shall be in necessitous circumstances; nor is the grant to be confined to those fruit-growers who have made losses on the whole of their transactions during the year. It is conceivable that an orchardist who incurs loss on the fruit he exports, may by sales of apples within Australia, or by other forms of production, be able to show a profit on his operations during the year.
– This year the price of fruit in the interstate market has been low.
– The fruit growing industry is an export industry which should be encouraged. For a number of years it has carried on without any assistance from Governments. It would be a happy thing for Australia if our secondary industries could do the same. It may be that this industry is in need of assistance because its costs of production have been raised by the tariff, or its present condition may be, and probably is, due to the fact that the growers of fruit have recently had bad seasons. I see no good reason why such a valuable industry should be neglected while others less valuable are assisted.
-What about high prices for land and heavy interest rates ?
– Those things have their influence, but, after all, the grower of apples does not usually own a large area of land. Moreover, it will be found that many owners of the land on which apples are grown had it for years before the recent rise in land prices. In 1927, when I was a member of the House of Representatives, the Fresh Fruits Overseas Marketing Bill and the Fresh Fruits Export Charges Bill were passed, and I think that the then honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Seabrook) and I were the only members in that House who opposed them. When a poll’ of the growers was taken, however, we had the great satisfaction of knowing that they had endorsed our opinions, and had declined to avail themselves of the services of an export marketing board. In other words, they have carried on their operations upon an independent basis. It is pleasing to hear that the Minister in charge of the bill in the other branch of the legislature statedthat the Apple and Pear Export Council have not greeted with any enthusiasm the suggestion that an export control board be appointed.
– The conditions in the industry have altered since 1927.
– That may be, but even at that time the Parliament was told that the measure would be gladly availed of by the growers. The fact that this industry has carried on without Government assistance until this year, although many other industries have been helped during many years, seems to indicate that its affairs have been satisfactorily conducted:
Regarding the point raised by Senators Barnes and Brown, it need not be supposed that sweating of employees could occur as the result of this measure. Grants will be made only to those who have suffered losses, and how can it possibly be suggested that any great benefit will accrue to” the growers if this assistance is only to recoup their losses? It is imaginable, I suppose, that a grower may be recouped to an extent greater than his losses, but the chances are that he will receive a gre’at deal less. Therefore, the fear of sweating is groundless.
Senator Sir HARRY LAWSON (Victoria - Assistant Treasurer) [4.18]. - This measure does not provide for a bounty to apple and pear-growers, but, as its title indicates, the object is to provide relief to necessitous fruit-growers who have suffered losses. The subject of wages is not relevant or appropriate to the discussion of this measure. The Government is endeavouring to give some assistance to those who have been so hard hit through losses on last year’s operations that they are scarcely in a position to make preparation for next year’s work. The .distribution of £125,000 amongst the apple and peargrowers of Australia is not an excessive grant. The information that has come to the Government officially, and which many of us have from our own experience, is that some growers have suffered tremendous losses, and after all their year’s efforts, have been presented with debit notes instead of cheques in respect of the fruit which they have sent abroad. The 1932-33 season opened auspiciously, a record crop was gathered, and highly satisfactory returns were expected. Some growers sold their fruit in advance’ to agents and received good prices. Others, having the expectation of satisfactory London prices, exported it on consignment, and many of them did not receive even the average return of ls. 8d. a case nett; instead, they received debit notes. The bill proposes that the Government shall make a grant of £125,000 to be distributed among the States on an export basis, and the States are to set up investigating authorities to insure that the assistance is given where it is most needed. The last clause of the bill provides that those who have suffered losses on their exports during the 1932-33 season may be granted assistance. The whole spirit and intention of this measure is that help shall be given to those growers who need it. The Government is advised that if this assistance is not granted, many of the growers will be unable to continue their operations. If they do carry on as heretofore, work will be provided - I speak of the districts with which I am acquainted - for this industry gives a considerable amount of employment which is well remunerated. Last year’s record crop of apples and pears in Victoria was a Godsend to many who were looking for work, and assisted greatly in relieving unemployment in the fruit-growing districts. I urge the Leader of the Opposition to realize that his proposal to make part of the grant available to the workers is inappropriate. In committee. I shall ask honorable senators to insert the word “ necessitous “ before “ fruit-growers “. Therefore, I cannot accept the congratulation which Senators Johnston and Hardy offered as if the bill provided for a bounty to fruit-growers, lt does not make a grant or give -a bounty to the in- , dustry ; it i3 designed to relieve those who have suffered losses and need assistance if they are to carry on their operations next year.
– This help is to be given to any grower irrespective of his income from other sources.
Senator Sir HARRY LAWSON.Certain growers are well able to carry on and do not need Government assistance. Others will probably have to go out of the industry if help is not given to them. I hope that the. Leader of the Opposition will not persist’ in his suggestion. I may inform Senator Rae that the Shepparton district produces, not apples and pears, but soft fruits; there- ‘ fore his information from that locality does not apply to those growers who “will benefit under this proposal. I remind Senator Brown that Queensland exports only 10 per cent, of the apple crop.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 -
Amendment (by Senator Sir Harry Lawson) proposed -
That after the word “ of,” first occurring, the word “ necessitous “ be inserted.
Senator E. B. JOHNSTON (Western amendment has not been submitted because Senator Hardy and I have remarked upon the merits of the bill as passed by the House of Representatives, in which form it received a good deal of approval from those associated with the growers in the industry. The result of our approval of the measure as introduced is, apparently, a last minute desire–
– That is not so. I had a draft of this amendment in my possession before the Senate met to-day.
– I am pleased to hear that. I should be sorry if our congratulations to the Government should result in a measure of assistance being withdrawn from some of the growers.
– The Government desires to make the assistance serviceable.
– I prefer the clause in its original form. Help should be given to those growers who, by exporting fruit, have helped Australia to rectify its trade balance overseas ; but the Minister’s amendment can result only in limiting the number of growers who will receive assistance.
– It will result in giving to those growers who need help a greater measure of it.
– I feel inclined to agree with Senator Johnston, in the absence of a fuller explanation by the Minister why benefit will accrue from the insertion of the word “ necessitous “. I believe that difficulty would arise from the interpretation of that word. No doubt the onus of deciding its meaning would rest on the State authorities, and I can well imagine undesirable happenings if the ordinary dictionary interpretation of the term were placed upon it. A grower may be in necessitous circumstances, not so much because he made losses on his exports last year of apples or pears, but because of inefficiency in carrying on his operations generally. Other growers may have made greater losses on last year’s export, but because of efficient production in previous years, and the husbanding of their resources, they may not actually be in want to-day. I do not see why the grower who is actually not in want because of his industry, thrift, and the husbanding of his resources, should be denied this assistance. The only reason for granting the assistance is that losses were made on the export of apples and pears last year. Some of the grants will have to be paid by levying on the thrifty, efficient fruit-grower to provide for the inefficient, thriftless, and lazy grower. The bill, as it stands, is logical. It recognizes the difficulty in which growers have been placed because of the catastrophic drop in world prices, and grants consideration to them on that account to the amount of £125,000 distributed on an export basis. I hope that the Minister will not press the amendment.
– I am afraid that the congratulations of Senator Johnston and myself to the Minister regarding this bill were premature. The insertion of the word “ necessitous “ will change the basis on which the relief will be given. I understand that the policy of the Government is to hold the export industries together. That is why it is attempting to save the export producers, and is proposing to give financial relief to fruit-growers engaged in exporting. While the Government holds that it is necessary to maintain export production, and to keep export industries together, it says to those who are able to continue in the industry because they are financial, “ We are going to give the benefit only to growers who are in necessitous circumstances.” What will happen? To-day we have on the one hand fruit-growers who are reasonably financial, and on the other hand those who are destitute. Let us leave out of consideration the reason for their destitution. The Government proposes to say “ to the necessitous grower, “ We will pay you a grant on your export losses.” Will not that have the effect of driving every financial fruitgrower out of the industry? It will place a premium on inefficiency.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that only the inefficientfruitgrowers made losses?
– No; but it is possible for the lazy and inefficient fruitgrower to be kept in the industry by the grant made by the Government, and it is also quite possible for the Government to drive out the financial fruit-grower by differentiating between those who may and may not receive the grant. The more efficient a grower is, the less relief he will receive. The bill would be better in its original form. I recognize that the fruit industry plays an important part in providing necessary trade balances abroad, and that the Government must keep export industries on their feet and give relief to those who have suffered financial losses. The Government, however, should not make fish of one person and flesh of another in the same industry.
– I have listened to the arguments of Senator O’Halloran and Senator Hardy, and I suggest that there is another side to the question., Unless they can produce stronger arguments than I have yet heard from them, I shall support the amendment. I suppose that the Government knows the number of apple and pear growers in the States. Whatever the number, it is fairly evident that the average amount of relief provided in this bill to growers will not be very extravagant. If the Government could afford to pay twice as much, it would be all the better. It appears to me, therefore, that by the use of the word “ necessitous “ the purpose of the bill will be more effectively achieved. Some growers, no matter how well off they were, would be greedy enough to claim the grant, so that there would be less for others. By the exclusion of those who can well afford to stand the fluctuations of the market, there will be more money left for those who really need assistance. I admit that there are lazy, thriftless, inefficient people in every industry; but there is only a very small proportion of them in the fruit-growing industry. I say this after an experience of seventeen years. Perhaps I may be permitted to relate an incident from my own experience. A heavy hailstorm swept over my orchard and nearly ruined it, but missed the orchards on both sides of mine. Many of my trees were spoiled for three years. Clearly, it was not a question of inefficiency or efficiency as between me and my neighbours. If the grant had then been available, I would have required it, and my neighbours would not. It is stated that some fruitgrowers will not be able to prepare for the export trade next year unless they receive this relief. Clearly that statement applies only to necessitous growers. Senator Hardy knows, as well as I do, that fruit-growing is a continuous industry.. A man cannot suddenly change from growing apples and pears to some other crop, as the wheat farmer can. Growers in fairly prosperous circumstances will be able to weather the storm, and continue their export business next year.
– What would the honorable senator say if his neighbour received relief which was denied to him ?
– If I did not need it, and he did, I should say, “ Hear, hear.” Why should I object? Some persons grumble about having to pay income tax. I have no objection to paying income tax if I have the income. The larger and more prosperous fruit-grower must do something with his fruit. If he sees that his neighbour, who is more necessitous and less fortunate than himself, is able, with the aid of the grant, to get fruit to market, he will send his fruit to market, too. Instead of loafing on the Government, he will send his fruit to market and accept the price fluctuations as part of the game.
– I do not think that it was ever intended that relief should be given to fruit-growers who sold all their fruit f . o.b. and made a profit. The bill states that only those who suffered losses on the export of fruit out of Australia shall participate. The Government would be well advised to leave it at that. The word “ necessitous “ which the Government proposes to insert in the definition is capable of a very wide interpretation, and it will certainly hamper the State authorities when they are distributing the grant. One person might say that a necessitous fruit-grower must be below the bread-line; but another might say that he could have an income of £200 or £300 a year. Discretion might very well be left to the State governments, which have their agricultural departments, with officers who know the condition of the growers. They will know, also, that the grant is limited to those who made losses on the export of fruit. I do not like the word “necessitous,” and I hope that it will not be inserted,
I wish to reply to a suggestion that Tasmanian apples, because they are sometimes sold at a lower price, are of inferior quality. Apples from Tasmania are occasionally quoted at lower prices because Tasmania exports 95 per cent, of its crop, whereas other States export only from 30 to 40 per cent., comprising only the best of their crops. Tasmanian apples for export, whether interstate or overseas, have to pass inspection. For the Sydney market, the standard of inspection is as severe as for any other market. The excellence of the Tasmanian apples has always been recognized.
[4.45]. - I strongly urge honorable senators to support the amendment. I have already stated that this is a relief measure, and that the amount to be appropriated is not excessive. The bill provides for the payment of a grant to those engaged in the export of apples and pears. If it were a bounty, it would be paid to all growers regardless of exports.
– It is to recoup losses.
– Yes. It is a salvage measure to assist those who have suffered losses, and who need financial relief, and not a bill to assist a largo number of well-established growers who suffered losses on last year’s exports, but are able to carry on because they have done well in previous years. As many growers are in a thoroughly sound financial position, there is no reason why the Government should come to their aid. They have not asked the Government for assistance. Wealthy companies, which have capital invested in orchards, would, no doubt, be able to prove that they suffered a loss on last year’s operations, but they should not be assisted. If we do not restrict assistance, we shall be limiting the amount available to those needing relief. Senator O’Halloran said that the Government’s proposal is a premium on inefficiency, and that statement was endorsed by Senator Hardy. Some growers who are inefficient would benefit, even if the word “ necessitous “ were not inserted. I know of a number of growers in Victoria who are trying hard to become established. Many young orchardists are paying for their orchards, and cannot stand up to the losses which they have been compelled to bear. The Government wishes to render substantial aid so far as is possible; but if it is to be available to all exporters, some of those whom the Government wish to assist will not benefit to the extent desired. The responsibility of distributing relief will rest upon the State officials who will inquire into the financial circumstances of the growers seeking relief, and who will have to prove that they have incurred a loss on their exports. Those who can stand up to their losses should do so in a spirit of sturdy independence, but those who need aid should receive it. I trust that the committee will support the amendment.
– I am glad that the Government proposes to assist apple and pear growers who are in financial difficulties, but’ this is not the best way in which to afford relief. This is only tinkering with the business, and, by expedients of this kind, we do not get down to root causes. What is needed in this industry and other primary industries is proper organization and planning in the matter of production and distribution. If such a system were adopted, these continued appeals would not be made to the Government for financial assistance, and fruit-growers and other primary producers could not be classed as mendicants. I hope that the word “ necessitous “ will be embodied in the clause. This measure is not comparable with other similar propositions that have .come before the Senate, but as the Assistant Minister definitely explained it is to assist those unfortunate growers who are unable to stand the losses they have incurred in exporting their products during the present season and to enable them to carry on their undertakings during the coming season. The sum of £125,000 should not be handed over willy-nilly to those who are not in need of such relief.
– The honorable senator would change his tune if assistance to the sugar industry were under consideration.
– If there is one subsidized industry which is an advantage to all the people of the Commonwealth it is the industry mentioned by the honorable senator. The sugar industry is well organized in every phase of its activities and there would be no need for appeals of this nature if fruit-growing and other industries were equally well organized. The amendment is necessary, and I hope that it will be carried.
– I entirely agree with the views expressed by Senator Hardy, Senator Johnston, and I am glad to say on this occasion, by Senator O’Halloran, who has expressed what will certainly be the dominant feeling in South Australia. A grower may be in necessitous circumstances due to inefficiency, or to the fact that he is carrying on his operations on unsuitable land. The money to be appropriated should not be distributed to persons or industries simply because they are in necessitous circumstances.
– The distribution will be the responsibility of the States.
– Yes ; but Commonwealth money will be employed and distributed as prescribed by this bill. If we insert the word “necessitous “ in the bill why not render assistance to necessitous storekeepers, bananagrowers, or land brokers to mention only a few?
– Hardship is recognized by the Land Tax Act.
– I do not like the hardship sections of our taxation legislation ; in certain cases, they no doubt apply equitably, but they are exceedingly dangerous, particularly when any official can exempt certain persons from the payment of large sums of money which they are liable to pay. If assistance is to be given to an industry it should be given to the industry and not to the growers who, perhaps, not through their own fault, but owing to the poorness of their land or by sheer hard luck are in financial difficulties. If we are to grant assistance to necessitous apple and pear growers, what of the needy manufacturer, if such a person exists ? Why should he not receive assistance ? Perhaps a manufacturer could not readily say that he was in. necessitous circumstances. If the amendment is to be ‘ adopted, a grower should be required to show that he is conducting his operations on suitable land, and that he is capable; otherwise the proposal is uneconomic and cannot succeed. I was elected to this Parliament as a Liberal, and to encourage individual enterprise as far as possible. Under the Government’s proposal individual enterprise cannot be encouraged. It is a thoroughly socialistic proposal. I made my position clear when speaking on the second reading, and I intend to vote against the amendment, because in so doing I shall be carrying out the pledge which I and other honorable senators made to our constituents. We were not elected to this chamber to give money to apple and pear growers, because they incurred certain losses on their exports, and are in necessitous circum- stances.
Senator Sir WALTER KINGSMILL (Western Australia) [4.59]. - There is one reason which few honorable senators have mentioned, and which prompts me to support the amendment; it is that by, doing so we shall not be giving money to those who do not need it.
Question - That the word proposed to be added be so added - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator the Hon. Herbert Hays.)
Majority . . . . 9
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That after the word “ growers “, the words “ and/or their dependants “ be inserted.
The clause would then read -
Any money granted to a State under this act shall be so granted upon condition that it is applied by the State for the benefit and assistance of necessitous fruit-growers and/or their dependants. …
– The amendment is unnecessary. Under the clause as it stands, the States will be able to make the necessary provision.
– My concern is to see that the clause is so drafted as to ensure that a State Government will be obliged to do whatever may be required by the act for the dependants of deceased fruitgrowers.
Senator Sir HARRY LAWSON (Victoria - Assistant Treasurer) [5.5]. - The purpose of the bill is to make grants to the States, which will set up the necessary authorities to distribute the money and determine claims that may be made. There is already ample provision in the clause to enable the legal or personal representatives of a deceased fruitgrower to take whatever action may be required.
– I indicated in my second-reading speech that the bill should contain provision to safeguard the interests of the dependants of deceased fruit-growers. I fail to see that the insertion of the words proposed by Senator Dunn, would be an impropriety. On the contrary, it would compel State authorities to do what is right in such matters. The Minister might well accept the amendment; if he has any objection to the language employed, he may alter it. I take it that the intention of the committee is that the bill should provide for necessitous fruitgrowers and also for the dependants of deceased fruit-growers.
– The Government is in sympathy with the amendment but considers it unnecessary.
– In its present form the clause clearly expresses the intention of Parliament. I am sure that every State Government will deal sympathetically with the dependants of all deceased fruit-growers.
Senator Sir WALTERKINGSMILL (Western Australia) [5.10]. - I assume it to be the wish of the committee that all legislation passed by it should be in dueform. This being so, I should like to know whether the comparatively modern and, to me, objectionable form of words “and/or “ is usual in parliamentary drafting. I have not seen it in any documents other than business letters, and I think that we should observe standard language in parliamentary drafting in order to present our legislation in a dignified form. I do not intend to support the amendment. I accept the word of the Assistant Treasurer, who is also a competent legal authority, that itis unnecessary.
– I thought that I had clearly indicated that, if the Government accepted the amendment, we should raise no objection to an alteration of the words provided our intention was clearly expressed.
Senator Sir HARRY LAWSON (Victoria - Assistant Treasurer) [5.13] . - It is not usual, in parliamentary drafting, to employ the words “ and/or “, and the Government does not intend to adopt that practice. I would also point out that the amendment, as drafted, might have quite different consequences from those intended by the mover. His purpose is to provide for the dependants of deceased fruit-growers, but, as I have already explained, provision can be made to enable State authorities to deal with cases of that kind.
– And will be made.
Senator Sir HARRY LAWSON.Yes; therefore, the amendment is unnecessary.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator Dunn’s amendment) be so inserted - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator the Hon. Herbert Hays.)
Majority . . . . 23
Question so resolved in the negative.
– This clause refers to fruitgrowers who “have suffered losses in the export from Australia of apples and pears grown by them during the 1932-33 season.” I should like the Minister to tell us whether there is any carry-over of apples and pears in cool storage. Apples and pears grown during the 1932-33 season might be exported eighteen months later.
– Fruit grown in the previous season is never exported.
– If apples grown during 1932-33 were exported later, a claim could be made under this bill. I should also like, to know whether apples grown during the 1932-33 season,and subsequently canned, would come within the scope of this measure, if exported in a later year. It is because I do not claim to have any knowledge of the industry that I am seeking this information.
Senator Sir HARRY LAWSON (Victoria - Assistant Treasurer) [5.20]. - There is no export carry-over. Any apples and pears which are taken from cool storage are sold locally. There are no canned apples, and a grower who has parted with his pears to a canner has been paid for them.
.- I move -
That the following proviso be added to the clause : - “ Provided that such growers have complied with the terms and conditions of either State or Federal awards applicable to the fruit industry.”
Although this may not be the most appropriate measure on which to propose such an amendment, an important principle is involved. No government is justified in providing large sums of money for persons who deliberately flout the laws of the country. Persons who attempt to evade the awards of the arbitration courts are law-breakers, and should not be given sympathetic consideration by any government. I have no sympathy with the granting of subsidies to industries or people who have not sufficient regard for the welfare of their fellow citizens to pay the rates of wages stipulated in awards of the courts of the land. I regard the principle contained in the amendment to be so vital that, on every possible opportunity, I shall move that award rates be paid in all industries which receive government assistance.
Senator Sir HARRY LAWSON (Victoria - Assistant Treasurer) [5.25]. - The matter covered by the amendment was dealt with in my second-reading speech. I remind the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Barnes) that the grant herein proposed is in respect of losses on the operations for the year 1932-33. While it would be competent for us to provide for the payment of a bounty in the future, so that money would not be paid to those who did not comply with certain conditions, it is scarcely fair to make such a provision retrospective. The Government cannot accept the amendment.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator Barnes’s amendment) be so inserted - put. The committee divided. (Chairman: - Senator the Hon. Herbert Hays.)
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved inthe negative.
.- I move-
That the following new sub-clause be added: -
Any monetary assistance given in accordance with the provisions of this section shall not be attachable for debt.
I submit the same argument in support of this proposal as I advanced in regard to the money to be paid under the Migrant Settlement Agreement Bill. The Minister indulged in window-dressing on behalf of the Government to induce the people to suppose that it was doing much to assist fruit-growers. I am just as anxious as is the Government to help those growers; but, as was pointed out by Senator Elliott, immediately assistance is given by this or any other Government, certain private interests are prepared to take advantage of it.
Senator Sir HARRY LAWSON (VictoriaAssistant Treasurer) [5.34]. - The money cannot be attached in the hands of the Government, and, as thisamend- ment would cause administrative difficulties, the Government cannot accept it.
– I am more than astonished that the Government does not gladly accept the amendment. Certain migrant settlers to whom compensation is to be granted have been approached by private persons, and asked to assign their interests to creditors. Since the professed object of the bill is to help necessitous farmers, it is logical to propose that they should not be deprived of the assistance which is to be granted to them. If other persons could obtain possession of the money to be paid to fruit-growers by the Government, the objects of the measure would be defeated. The refusal of the Govern ment to support this amendment indicates mere obstinacy on its part, and an assumption that the slightest improvement of measures submitted by it is impossible.
Question - That the amendment (Senator Dunn’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. ( Chairman - Senator the Hon. Herbert Hays.)
Majority . . . . 21
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause as amended agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Dunn) proposed -
That the following new clause be inserted: - “ 5. Any fruit-grower qualifying for assistance who can prove to the Government that he or she paid award rates of labour, such grower shall be paid the grant first, on application for assistance.”
– It seems to me that the principle involved by this proposal has already been rejected by the committee, although the language differs from that in the earlier amendment. What does the honorable senator mean by the phrase “ on first application “ ?
– The object of the proposal is to ensure that those growers who observe union conditions shall receive first preference.
Proposed new clause negatived.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill brought up by Senator McLach- lan, and read a first time.
[5.49]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill is an annual one for fixing the rates of income tax, and relates to the income tax proposals of the Government for the current financial year, and, in particular, gives effect to the three principal budget proposals in respect of tax alterations. The first of these principal proposals deals with the reduction by 15 per cent. of the rate of tax payable by individuals, whether they be residents of Australia or absentees, on income derived from personal exertion. The second deals with the reduction of the rate of tax payable by companies, from1s. 4.8d. to 1s. in the £1; and the third relates to the reduction of the rate of special tax on income from property, from 10 per cent. to 6 per cent. With these exceptions, the bill repeats all the Other provisions as to rates in the Income Tax Act 1932.
The reduction of the rate of tax on income from personal exertion is set out in the first schedule. The fifth schedule deals with the reduced rate of1s. in the £1 which will be payable by companies in respect of assessments for the present financial year. Clause 5 of the bill provides for the reduced rate of 6 per cent. to be imposed as a special tax on income from property. “ There will not be any alteration of the amount of the general exemption of £250 allowable to each taxpayer, which was granted by Parliament last* year for the purpose of the assessment of the special tax on property income. That exemption is a fixed amount for each taxpayer, and not a diminishing amount like the exemption allowed for purposes of the normal tax.
Sub-clause 2 of clause 5 repeats last year’s similar provision so as to avoid double taxation of dividends from companies in the hands of taxpayers. Subclause 3 of clause 5 also repeats last year’s law. It eliminates the averaging arrangement in respect of the special property tax. It is not proposed that the special tax on property income shall be other than 6 per cent. of the taxable amount, nor is it intended that the new rate of 6 per cent. shall be averaged with the preceding rates of 71/2 per cent. and 10 per cent., as would be necessary if that sub-clause were not included in the bill.
– As on the previous bill,I compliment the Government on the reduction of taxation that it is able to propose. The reduction will have a good influence in increasing employment in Australia. Also, as before, I congratulate the Government on its first thought rather than on the alteration it has made. In his budget speech, the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) said -
I have shown that remissions in taxation can be made. It only remains to determine what form these remissions shall take, and in what way the objectives the Government has in view can be achieved. These objectives are -
1 ) Stimulation of employment.
Lightening the burdens on industry by reduction of (a) interest, and (b) costs of production.
Seduction of the cost of living.
The proposals divide themselves naturally into two main groups -
The figures that I shall now give to honorable members show the annual loss of revenue, or increase in expenditure, as the case may be, which will result from the proposals made. It is necessary to appreciate the significance of these figures if a true picture of the position in the current year and the financial year 1934-35 is to be obtained.
It is the proposal regarding direct taxation that we are dealing with now. Mr. Lyons indicated reductions in income taxation on companies from1s. 4.8d. to 1s. in the £1, involving a remission of taxation estimated at £585,000. This bill proposes to make that remission, so that the budget proposal in this respect is being carried into effect. Mr. Lyons also indicated “ adjustment of the taxation in respect of life assurance companies so that the taxation will only be charged on the excess income afterallowing a deduction of 4 per cent. on the’valuationof liabilities as at the end of the relevant financial year ‘.” The amount of that remission was estimated at £710,000. The people of Australia can congratulate themselves on the way in which a large proportion of this remission was passed on to the mortgagors by the, Australian Mutual Provident Society, which set a wonderful example to all the financial institutions of Australia. I hope that, if other financial institutions have not yet passed on the relief given to them to the same extent as that society has done, the Government will take the matter up, and see that borrowers from them receive the same relief as borrowers from the Australian Mutual Provident Society. The third proposal of Mr. Lyons was the reduction of the personal exertion rate by 15 per cent., ‘ involving a remission of £200,000. That remission, I am pleased to say, has been granted. The fourth proposal was the reduction of special tax on income from property from 10 per cent. to 5 per cent., involving a remission of £1,100,000. It is this proposal that the Government has altered to a reduction to 6 per cent., instead of to 5 per cent., to provide relief for wheat-growers. Every one knows that assistance for wheatgrowers is necessary.
– Is the honorable senator a wheat-grower?
– Oh, at the end of a cheque ! The honorable senator is creating a false impression when he says that he is a wheat-grower.
– Senator Dunn can have his opinion, but I am a representative of the wheat-growers of my State and the owner of a wheat farm. The flour tax proposed in the budget will terminate on the 30th June next. To obtain an extra £220,000, the Government has decided to limit the reduction of taxation on income from property. I suggest that the Government would be wise to substitute for the alteration proposed in the bill an extension of the sales tax on flour until the 31st July. This would save £230,000, which is £10,000 more than the Government will save by making the proposed alteration of the super tax. Unless the Government does that, it will take away 20 per cent. of the advantage that Mr. Lyons said would be obtained from the budget proposals concerning this item. In other words, 20 per cent. of the desire of the Government to see a stimulation of employment, a lightening of the burdens on industry by a reduction of interest, lower costs of production, and reduced cost of living, will not be realized. It would have been wiser to adhere to the carefully considered remissions of taxation embodied in the budget. In submitting proposals for the remission of the super tax, which should never have been imposed, the Prime Minister directed attention to the proposed amendment of the law with respect to companies taxation, and particularly to the reductions of the tax paid by those companies which lent money to primary producers and others. The original proposals in that respect have been adopted, but the super tax is not to be reduced to the extent originally intended. In committee I propose to move an amendment so that the super tax shall be at the rate mentioned by the Prime Minister in his budget speech.
– I should like the Minister in charge of the bill to give the Senate some information concerning the policy of the Government with respect to the undistributed earnings of companies, which, as honorable senators are aware are an important factor in the restoration of industry. The total earnings of companies, whether distributed or undistributed, are taxable and a reference to the balance-sheet of an average company will disclose that in most cases one-fourth of the earnings is distributed, and the remaining three-fourths used in the purchase of plant or stock or in providing working capital for the company; but immediately they are utilized in that way taxation is levied on the total earnings regardless of whether they have, or have not been distributed. Perhaps the Minister will be able to say what would be the loss of revenue if the undistributed earnings of companies were exempt from taxation. When distributed as dividends, or as bonus shares, they should be taxable, but it is very debatable whether a company’s earnings, when used for the expansion of industry, should be taxed.
– On this occasion, as on others, Senator Johnston has an axe to grind. I presume that the honorable senator is endeavouring to gain additional publicity in the Perth Sunday Times, and that as a property owner is somewhat concerned at the introduction of this measure, which, if passed, may have the effect of “ tickling “ his rent roll.
– I have not a rent roll.
– I have been told that “ blind Freddy “ could not jump over the rent roll of the honorable senator.
– Order !
– Senator Johnston also mentioned the position of the wheatgrowers. He is not a wheat-grower. If the honorable senator reads Life of the Bee, which is in the Parliamentary Library, he will find a description of how drones are treated. Senator Johnston tries to create the impression that he is a wheat-grower, but he only sub-lets his land, and is a wheat drone.
– That is untrue.
– The honorable senator engages others to grow the wheat on his land.
– What has this to do with the bill?
– Senator J ohnston endeavoured to buttress his arguments against the measure by suggesting that a sales tax on flour should remain operative for a longer period than the Government proposes.
– Why does not the honorable senator debate the bill ?
– Is not the honorable senator opposed to the bill because it affects him personally ?
– That is a lie.
– I ask that that statement be withdrawn.
– The honorable senator must withdraw the words objected to.
– I withdraw them, but I ask that Senator Dunn withdraw the statement to which I took exception.
– To what statement does the honorable senator refer ?
– I cannot remember the exact words, but it was one of the honorable senator’s usual falsehoods and misrepresentations.
- Senator Dunn must withdraw the words to which Senator Johnston objects:
– Senator Johnston said that he could not remember the exact words.
– The imputation was that I was opposed to the bill because it would affect me personally.
– As those words are offensive to Senator Johnston, I ask Senator Dunn to withdraw them.
– Senator Johnston cannot recall what I said, and I am now asked to withdraw and apologize.
– If the honorable senator imputed improper motives, he must withdraw the remark.
– I withdraw it. The honorable senator has an axe to grind because the bill now before the Senate may affect him.
– I ask that those words, . which are most offensive to me, be withdrawn.
– I ask the honorable senator to withdraw them, and to refrain from expressing personalities.
– I withdraw them, but I will qualify my statement by saying that Senator Johnston, in opposing the second reading of the bill, has a motive.
– I object to the imputation and ask for an unqualified withdrawal.
– The honorable senator must withdraw the words objected to and refrain from qualifying them in such a way as to aggravate the offence.
– I withdraw and apologize to Senator Johnston without any qualification.
- Senator Johnston must now withdraw the words “ That is a lie. “
– I withdrew them some time ago.
– Senator Johnston is opposed to this measure because he thinks that it will affect certain wheat-growers and property owners in Western Australia who, in their wanderings about the Australian continent, spend much of their time in Canberra.
.- The introduction of this measure, which provides for a reduction of income tax will be welcomed by a large section of the community. The proposed remissions will benefit those who earn salary or wages by the sweat of their brow, a certain proportion of whom pay income tax.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– In this section of the taxpayers honorable senators opposite profess to take a lively interest ; yet members of the Nationalist party take just as keen an interest as those honorable senators in the welfare of the working man, and are glad to give relief wherever possible to those who depend for their living upon wages and salaries. The bill provides- for a considerable reduction of the rates of interest to be charged to taxpayers on income derived from personal exertion, namely 15 per cent., and that is an indication of the Government’s desire to relieve taxpayers to the utmost possible extent. The rate of taxpayable on income derived from personal exertion has always been much lower than that paid by persons whose income is derived from investments. The latter section includes a large proportion of elderly persons who, by dint of thrift and hard work, have been able to make provision for their old age, and have invested their savings in such a way as to ensure to them a small income which makes them independent of government assistance; but the bill contains noproposal to reduce the burden of taxation which is borne by this class. The following figures indicate the amount of tax which will be payable on income from personal exertion: -
The average reduction of the rate of tax is 15 per cent. I welcome this proposal, and no doubt it will be gladly received throughout the Commonwealth; but I think that honorable senators generally would have been pleased if some measure of relief could have been given to those whose income is derived from property. The latter have always paid a higher rate, and they will receive no relief under the bill. On a perusal during the dinner adjournment of the various taxation measures that have been passed, I noticed that federal income tax legislation has had five distinct phases, during which additional, special super, and then still further taxes have been added to the original tax. I do not suggest that these increases could have been avoided. Most of them were necessary to enable the Commonwealth’s liabilities to be met; but the imposition of the special property tax of 2s. in the £1, on top of the exceptionally heavy imposts already levied on income from property, placed a burden which was inequitable in the extreme upon an important section of the people. I am glad to find that’ provision is made in the bill to give some relief to thissection, by a reduction of the rate of this tax from 10 per cent. to 6 per cent. Senator E. B. Johnston remarked that the Government had deviated from the proposals outlined in the budget speech, and I agree with him. In my opinion any departure from the original proposal was a mistake. The experience of the last couple of years has shown conclusively that the imposition of the extra tax of 2s. in the £1 contributed in a considerable measure to the severity of the unemployment problem. The wiping out of that exceptionally heavy impost is desirable, and I agree with Senator Johnston that the Government would have been acting in the best interests of the people, as well as in its own interests, if it had adhered strictly to its original plans. I hope that even now it is not too late for the Government to reconsider this matter, particularly as Senator Johnston has pointed out that any revenue that would be lost by reducing the special property tax to 5 per cent. instead of 6 per cent. could be obtained by extending for one month the period for which the sales tax on flour is to be imposed. If a proposal were made that the budget plans should be altered in some other direction it might be defensible; but the whole object of the reduction of the special property tax is to release a large sum of money which will inevitably be used in the development of industries and the provision of employment. I do not suppose that any member of the Ministry approves of this particularly burdensome impost.
.- I join in the congratulations that have been extended to the Government on account of the reductions of taxes announced in the budget. People of Australia are among the most highlytaxed in the world, and it is well to remember that reductions of taxes lead to increased employment. The relief spoken of in regard to the taxation of companies, and in regard to taxpayers with large incomes from companies, is more imaginary than real. In fact, these taxpayers will have to pay more tax than at the present time. Individual taxpayers are assessed in accordance with their personal incomes, included in which are dividends received from companies. The taxation department now allows a rebate of1s. 4.8d., but under the present proposals the taxpayer will still be charged the same amount of tax on his dividends as before, but the rebate will be1s. instead of1s. 4.8d. Thus he will pay a higher amount of tax on the same property income.
A direct reduction of 15 per cent. is to be made of the tax on income derived from personal exertion, and that will bring the tax to practically what it was before the financial emergency legislation was passed. When the special 10 per cent. flat rate tax on income from property was first introduced, it was rightly regarded as one of the most cruel imposts imaginable. It operated with particular harshness on widows who were dependent on small incomes from property, and who had young families to support. I have in mind the circumstances of a widow with a large family, whose income amounted to £240 a year. That income was exempt from the ordinary federal income tax, as it was less than the minimum taxable amount, but under the additional income tax provisions introduced by the Scullin Government, she was required to pay tax to the amount of £24 a year.
When the budget speech was delivered, the Government made it clear that the reduction of the special tax on property income from 10 per cent. to 6 per cent., was to be passed on by the large insurance companies, banks, trustee companies, and other lenders of. money by a reduction of the interest charged, principally on mortgages, and advances to customers. The companies may now claim that they need not make the reduction of interest rates because the Government has broken faith with them in this matter. It was always understood that the reduction was to be from 10 per cent. to 5 per cent., and a great mistake was made, in my opinion, in departing from the budget proposals which were accepted gladly by all parties. In the main the Government’s financial proposals are sound. I only hope that the present proposals of the Government will not result in financial companies informing their customers that they will not be able to reduce interest rates to the extent that they had anticipated.
Senator Sir HARRY LAWSON (Victoria - Assistant Treasurer) [8.15]. - I have noted all that has been said about the alteration from 5 per cent. to 6 per cent. in the proposed reduction of super property tax, and I agree with the contention that it is highly desirable to remove as far as possible the excessive burden of taxation. The Government, in making these taxation remissions, was actuated by a desire to revive trade and commerce, and to relieve and cure, as far as possible, unemployment. It felt that burdensome imposts were preventing the extension of business activity, and were hampering trade. The Government, much as it desired not to reopen any of the budget proposals, had to fall back on the proposal to reduce the super tax on property income from 10 per cent. to 6 per cent. instead of 5 per cent. as proposed in the budget. Information has been sought from various quarters, and it is believed that the increase on the budget proposals will not in any way arrest the downward tendency of interest rates. The Government cannot consider the proposal to continue the sales tax on flour for another month, and so recoup itself for the loss of income which would be involved in reducing the proposed rate from6per cent. to 5 per cent. now. The Government regrets very much that the original proposal has had to be altered, but it was inevitable. It hopes that honorable senators will accept this alteration with as good a grace as they can. I can promise on behalf of the Government that the matter will be watched closely, and if there is an opportunity subsequently to reduce still further the burdens of the taxpayer, no one will be more happy than the Government to give the relief.
I understand that Senator Hardy desires that a company shall be taxed only when it actually distributes its profits in cash or bonus shares. This suggestion, if adopted, would represent a complete breakaway from the established principles of taxation of income without deduction in respect of capital expenditure or the accumulation of profits. It would enable companies to refrain from distributing their income, and instead apply it in capital expenditure, or hold it in reserve free of income tax. This question is one that rightly belongs to a debate on the assessment bill, but I may here assure the honorable senator that such a course as I understand him to propose would be, in effect, an exemption of companies’ profits applied in building up the business either by way of capital expenditure or by transfer to reserves. If such a course is to be applied to companies it should with equal force apply to all taxpayers - individual and other - so far as their profits are used for capital expenditure or to build up reserves. So far as profits used to recoup past losses are concerned, all taxpayers, including companies, are permitted to set off those losses against subsequent profits within a period of five years from the date of those losses. As the honorable senator is aware, double taxation is avoided by allowing a rebate in the shareholder’s assessment in respect of dividends paid out of income previously taxed in a company’s hands. There are no statistics to show what amount of income was earned by companies and not distributed to shareholders, but the actual taxable income of companies for the last financial year available, viz., 1931-32, as stated by the Taxation Commissioner, was £38,999,459. Of course, no amendment or suggestion can be considered in connexion with this bill, but I give the information to honorable senators, so that they may peruse it at their leisure in Hansard.
– Will the Minister say whether my contention is correct that the larger taxpayers will have heavier burdens because of the reductions of the company tax?
Senator Sir HARRY LAWSON.Their rebate will be less, but they will pay less than last year because the rates are less. Where a rebate is allowed in respect of income derived as dividends from a company the practice has always been to allow that rebate at the taxpayers or the company rate, whichever is the less. If the individual taxpayer’s rated assessment is higher than the company rate, as it is in many cases, then the amount allowed by way ofrebate will be so much less.
– Therefore he will pay more.
Senator Sir HARRY LAWSON.It may be so.
– It will be so.
Senator Sir HARRY LAWSON.The honorable senator may put it that way if he likes, but I do not think he would suggest that that is an argument for increasing the company rate.
Senator Sir HARRY LAWSON.It is one of the consequences of the application of the principle, but the honorable senator would not urge that the rebate should be higher than the company pays in respect of its income.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 (Rates of income tax).
– This clause says that the rates shall be as set out in the schedules of rates. My education having been neglected in these matters, I should like to know what the figures really mean.
– I will explain to the honorable senator when we are dealing with the schedule.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 -
– (1.) In addition to any income tax payable under the preceding provisions of this act, there shall be payable upon the taxable income derived by any person -
.- This clause deals with further taxation of income from property. I must again bring under the notice of the Government a very grave anomaly which exists in the collection of taxation from some individuals. A large number of people - I do not know how many - of very small means, who are not, because of their small incomes, taxpayers under the Income Tax Act, contribute 2s. in the pound on income from savings that they may have invested in preference shares in companies. Their dividends may amount only to £5, £10, or £20 a year, and yet 2s. in the pound is deducted by the company and paid to the Taxation Department before they receive their dividends. Section 9 of the Income Tax Assessment Act, 1931, provides that -
Where a company has paid or is liable to pay, in addition to income tax payable at the rates fixed for companies, further income tax of a specified percentage of its taxable income which is derived -
by way of interest, dividends, rents or royalties, whether derived from personal exertion or from property; and
in the course of carrying on a business, where the income is of such a class that, if derived otherwise than in the course of carrying on a business, it would be income from property, the company may, notwithstanding anything contained in the memorandum or articles of association of the company, or in any other document or agreement, deduct from any dividends payable to the preference shareholders of the company an amount equivalent to the amount of that further income tax which has been paid or is payable by the company upon taxable income which has been distributed to its preference shareholders.
That means that if James Brown and Company have issued preference shares, they can exercise the option of paying 2s. in the pound special property tax direct to the Taxation Commissioner, and deducting it from the dividends payable to preference shareholders. If John Smith is a shareholder, and his dividend is £20, he will receive from the company only £18, and the. company will pay to the Taxation Commissioner £2. He will not get any rebate because he is not a taxpayer. A number of people in Australia in the last two years have been mulct 2s. in the £1 in this way. The Income Tax Act says that no one is liable to pay income tax if his income is less than £250 a year. John Smith may have an income of only £150 a year, of which £50 may be derived from his life’s savings invested in preference shares. Instead of receiving £50,. he receives only £45, the Taxation Department having been paid the difference.
– He would know the company rate before he invested.
– He mayhave invested ten or fifteen years ago. Only a few companies have exercised the option. Messrs. Gordon and Gotch do not deduct the 2s. in the £1, but United Provisionsdo. If John Smith had invested in United Provisions, and his next door neighbour in Gordon and Gotch, he would not receive the full dividend whereas his neighbour would.
– The quarrel is with the company.
– It is not. The company is given power to exercise the option.
-We ought to take the option away.
– The Taxation Department receives these sums of money to which it is not entitled. The money belongs to people whose incomes are so small that they are not taxpayers. There is another injustice regarding the £250 exemption. A person whose taxable income may be very small would not get the full advantage of the exemption because the company paid the tax.
– Does not that relieve the company to a corresponding extent?
– I do not see how it can relieve the company financially. The company has to pay the 2s. in the £1 to the Commissioner, whereas if the dividend was sent intact to a small shareholder, whose income was less than £250, the Commissioner would not receive it. He is not, in fact, entitled to receive it,
– Does the honorable senator think that the taxpayers would pay the tax if the Commissioner had not power to enforce its payment.
– I do not know whether the Commissioner can enforce payment. The point I raised is one of equity, and not of law.
– It is one which the companies concerned should adjust. How can they identify particular taxpayers?
– That difficulty could he overcome by the taxpayers making a statutory declaration as to their income, as is done in many other instances.
– Did the honorable senator bring this matter under the notice of the Royal Commission on Taxation ?
– I felt disposed to do so, but. as I would probably be discussing the finding of that commission in Parliament, I thought it better not to appear as a witness. This is the only opportunity I have to bring the matter under the notice of the Government, and I hope that during the forthcoming recess the Government will give consideration to the matter, in order to afford some relief to a very deserving section of the people.
[8.32]. - I have made a note of the points raised by Senator Payne, and I shall see that they are brought under the notice of the Government. I remind the honorable senator that the income to which he refers is derived from preference shares. Preference shareholders were not affected by the reductions made under the Premiers plan.
– Some were.
Senator Sir HARRY LAWSON.Debentureholders may have been. Certain preference shareholders were not affected by the deductions, and were receiving 8 per cent. while other shareholders receiving dividends or interest were subject to a deduction. Parliament decided to meet the position by leaving the collection of the tax on dividends on preference shares in the hands of the companies.
– I can quote a company that was paying only 4 per cent., and whose shareholders were affected.
Senator Sir HARRY LAWSON I am passing on the information supplied to me, which is to the effect that the impost was passed on for the reasons I have already given. Briefly the position may be stated as follows: - A company earns so much income which is subject to special property tax. This tax reduces the amount of income available for distribution. Preference dividends must, however, be paid in full in accordance with the terms of the articles of association. Thus the ordinary shareholders in effect bore the full extent of the special property tax. The section complained of allows the company definitely to allot to those persons the special tax, that is really applicable to the income distributed to the preference shareholders.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the clause by leaving out the word “ six “ with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ five “.
In my second-reading speech I mentioned that the original proposal of the Government was to reduce the tax to 5 per ‘cent., which met with the approval of the supporters of the Government and of the community generally. I also mentioned that if the term during which the flour tax is to operate were extended by one month, the Government could recover, not. only the £220,000 which it expects to collect, but also an additional £10,000. This tax was reduced in order to afford relief in the direction anticipated when the budget was introduced. I have before me a copy of the Sydney Morning Herald, in which appears a letter addressed to the Prime Minister by the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales, protesting against the decision to increase the super-tax on income from property from 5 per cent. to 6 per cent. in order to supplement the amount to be received by means of a sales tax on flour. The Real Estate Institute expresses the opinion that the retreat from the first announcement may retard the movement towards the restoration of confidence. The letter to the Prime Minister reads - “ No one has felt the depression more acutely than real estate owners. Their losses were accentuated a hundred-fold by the Lang regime, with the outrageous legislation which practically paralysed for the time being the real estate business of this State, .and made the State itself the financial Ishmael of the Commonwealth. The Stevens Government has rendered yeoman service in its efforts to restore confidence, and (place real estate in a position of improved security. Your own Government has given evidence of its grasp of some of the essential requirements for the restoration of the prosperity of the State, and the announcement of the proposed remission of taxation has had a beneficial effect in helping the movement towards the establishment of confidence. The announcement that your Government may not now carry out its- full programme of remission as foreshadowed in regard to tlie property super tax and federal land tax will be received with great disappointment. “
It is pointed out that if the Government does not adhere to its original proposal, it may give an opportunity to some financial institutions to refrain from following the example set by the Australian Mutual Provident Society which reduced interest rates by 1 per cent. It will be serious if many private money lenders and holders of mortgages use this increase as an excuse for declining to reduce interest rates.
Senator Sir HARRY LAWSON (Victoria - Assistant Treasurer) [S.40] . - This subject has been exhaustively debated in the House of Representatives, and the information which the Government has received confirms the opinion that an increase of the super tax on income tax from property from 5 per cent, to 6 per cent, will not justify companies in declining to pass on benefits to their clients, and that it should not arrest the downward tendency of interest rates. I do not propose to discuss the matter further at this stage, except to say that the additional obligations which have been cast upon the Government render it necessary to protect Commonwealth revenues in this way. It was desired to make this concession as originally proposed, and the Government regrets as much as does any honorable senator that it is unable to adhere to its original proposals. In these circumstances, I trust that the committee will reject the amendment.
– I concur to a large extent in what Senator Johnston has said, but I do not propose to support * the amendment he has moved. I rose more particularly because the Assistant Treasurer (Senator
Lawson) said that companies paying preference dividends have not made reductions, but I can assure him that many companies took, advantage of the full 22$ per cent, and also of the 10 per cent, super tax. It is most unfair that those who made these investments at a time when there was no mention of a compulsory reduction, as it actually was, or a compulsory additional tax of 10 .per cent., should be treated in this way. The holders, of company debentures were in the same position in that their dividends were compulsorily reduced my 22$ per cent. Some companies made a reduction of only 20 per cent., but 6 per cent, debenture issues were altered to 5 per cent., and also had to pay an additional -10 per cent. It is unreasonable that preference shareholders should be taxed and that the companies should be allowed to deduct the amount from the shareholders’ dividends. This is a matter that should be adjusted.
– I have promised that the matter will have consideration.
– I also trust that the Government will give consideration to the fact that a shareholder, even if he is not a taxpayer, has to pay a tax of 2s. in the £1 on his investments.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 agreed to.
Schedules 1 to 9.
[8.43]. - Senator Rae asked if I would explain the formula contained in the schedule. I am told that it is very simple to those who thoroughly understand it. The present rate of tax on the first £1 of taxable income derived from personal exertion 2.55531d. in the £1, which is increased on a graduated scale to 39.20625d., until the amount of taxable income reaches £6,900. The rate on incomes exceeding that amount is 76. 5d. In the department this is described as the Giblin formula.
– Is it not possible to have the rate of tax described in simpler language, so that the average person may know what he has to pay?
– - The amount will be 15 per cent, less than was paid last year.
Schedules agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without requests.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
[8.51]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
There are in operation two Commonwealth acts and four State acts relating to the control of the marketing of dried vine-fruits, namely, currants, sultanas, andlexias. The State acts provide for the regulation of trade within the respective States of Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, and Western Australia. Of the two Commonwealth acts, one provides for the regulation of interstate trade, and the other for the sale and distribution overseas. The Commonwealth DriedFruits Act, relating to interstate trade, was passed in 1928 at the express wish of the governments of the four States which were vitally interested in the dried fruits industry; but it did not empower the Government to exercise control over fruit passing from one State to another. The main object of the Commonwealth legislation, coupled with the powers exercised under the State dried fruits acts, was to ensure to all growers of currants, sultanas and lexias a fair share, and not more than a fair share, of the advantages and disadvantages respectively of selling within Australia and overseas, and at the same time to eliminate any possibility of disorganization resulting from an over-supply on the Australian market.
Experience has shown that, under control, growers have received no more than a reasonable cost of production. Any attempt to raise unduly the price of dried fruits within Australia would have the immediate effect of reducing sales, which would react to the detriment of the industry. There is power, under each of the State acts, to bring by proclamation, additional varieties of dried fruits within their provisions.
No such power exists in respect of the Commonwealth law relating to interstate trade.
It was decidedsome months ago, at a conference of representatives of the various State Dried Fruits Boards and other dried fruits interests, to ask the Commonwealth Government to introduce legislation with the object of extending the existing system of regulating interstate trade, so as to include dried treefruits, namely, prunes, apricots, peaches, pears and nectarines. This request was strongly supported by the Governments of the States of Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia, which are the only States producing these varieties of dried tree-fruits.
Action has already been taken by the Governments of Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia to proclaim dried tree-fruits as dried fruits under the provisions of the respective State acts, and determinations have been issued by those governments declaring the maximum quantities of dried tree-fruits which may be marketed within each of. the three States during the 1933 season.
It is proposed in this bill to give effect to the representations made to the Government, and, although there is little doubt that a substantial majority of the growers concerned are in favour of dried treefruits being brought within the provisions of the act, the Government considers that a poll of such growers should be taken in order that they might be given the opportunity to decide this matter for themselves. Any grower of fruit from which not less than 10 cwt. of any one or more of dried prunes, apricots, peaches, pears, or nectarines, was producedduring the season preceding the poll, will be eligible to exercise a vote.
As intra-state control will be ineffective to a great extent until federal legislation is passed empowering the State boards to exercise control over the movements of dried tree-fruits from one State to another, in a similar manner to those of dried vine-fruits, honorable senators are asked to give their support to the bill now before the Senate.
– Will the poll be decided on a simple majority basis?
– The measure, as amended in the House of Representatives, provides for a simple majority.
Debate (on motion by Senator Barnes) adjourned.
[8.57]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Ashmore and Cartier Islands are uninhabited British possessions, and consist of four small islands between Timor andWestern Australia, about 200 miles from the north-west coast of that State. The islands contain deposits of low-grade guano, and beehe-de-mer, trochus shell and tortoise shell are found on the reefs.
In July, 1924, the Government of Western Australia informed the Commonwealth Government that, for the purpose of dealing with illicit fishing, it considered that the islands should be brought underthe State fishing laws, and as the result of the representations made to the Government of the United Kingdom, the dominions office informed the Commonwealth that the Government of the United Kingdom would be prepared to transfer these islands to the Commonwealth Government.
It was considered that the Colonial Boundaries Act 1895 no longer authorized the King to alter the boundaries of Western Australia owing to the provisions of section 8 of the Common- wealth Constitution Act, and an order was therefore made by His Majesty in Council on 23rd July, 1931, placing the islands under the authority of the Commonwealth. This order is not to come into operation until after legislation has been passed by the Commonwealth Parliament providing for the acceptance of the islands, and the government thereof.
The Government of Western Australia has already intimated its willingness to undertake full responsibility for the control and administration of the islands. The hill makes provision for fixing the date for the coming into operation of the abovementioned , order in council. The islands are declared to he accepted by the Commonwealth as a territory under the authority of the Commonwealth under the name of the Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands. The Governor of Western Australia is empowered to make ordinances having the force of law in the territory, and such ordinances are to be notified in the Western Australian Gazette. Commonwealth law is not tobe in force in the territory unless expressly extended thereto.
– What is the area of the islands 1
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Only a few square miles. The bill has been introduced because of the desire of the Government of Western Australia to police the fishing activities in those waters.
– The bill proposes that the Commonwealth shall accept and be responsible for the Ashmore and Cartier Islands, situated in the northwest of Western Australia, in the Indian Ocean, just west of the Timor Sea. It is possible that, in time to ‘come, particularly with the development of aeroplane services to the various ports in the north-west of Western Australia and to Europe that the islands may have considerable strategic value. I am glad to know that the British Government has placed them under our control. In future they will be known as the Territory of Ashmore and Cartier Islands. In view of the extravagance which has characterised the administration of other federal territories, I hope that the Government will not take direct control of these islands at any future date. If these islands are to he under Australian control, they should be included in the State of Western Australia, and not given a grandiloquent title as a new territory of the Commonwealth. I should like the bill to be amended accordingly.
– How far are they from -the mainland?
– They are about 200 miles from the Western Australian coast. I understand that, although small, the islands would provide a safe landing ground for aeroplanes. Next to placing these small sea-girt islands, inhabited only bybirds, hut visited occasionally by fishermen or pearlers either from Western Australia or the Dutch East Indies, under the control of Western Australia, the Government is adopting the. best course possible in placing them under the control of the Government of Western Australia under ordinance. If, at any future date, the Government of Western Australia asks for their inclusion within the boundaries of that State, I hopethat no objection will be raised by the Commonwealth authorities.
Senator Sir WALTER KINGSMILL (Western Australia)[9.2]. - I am somewhat puzzled to understand why, in addition to Ashmore and Cartier Islands, this bill does not provide for the inclusion of theRowley and Amphinome shoals, which are just about as much above water as they are. In each case the area of the land varies materially according to the state of the tide. Senator Johnston said that these islands may be of con- siderable strategic value in the future, If regarded only from that point of view, they should be controlled by the Commonwealth rather than by the State of Western Australia. Should it be found desirable at some future date to place them under the control of Western Australia, I have no doubt that arrangement could be made to cede them to the State.
– In effect, they are to be controlled by Western Australia.
– In the past a good deal of trouble has arisen through other nations poaching on the pearl-fishing, beche-de-mer and trochus fishing grounds of islands which are the property of Australia. I should like to know why the other two sandbanks which I have mentioned were not included in this bill.
– Are they in the same vicinity?
– They are within a couple of hundred miles. Under this bill Australia will acquire a territory which is probably the smallest in the world. I shall await with interest the result of the acceptance of this new territory, particularly the complications foreshadowed by Senator Johnston.
.- When I first saw this bill I thought that it was a matter of little importance, but the speeches which have been made suggest that there is a serious aspect of this extension of Empire. Those who believe that mere size is an advantage will agree that every acre we add to our possessions make3 us a more magnificent nation. It is a matter for serious contemplation that these islands are to he handed over to the control of Western Australia which has recently voted in favour of secession from the Commonwealth. What would become of these islands if Western Australia actually seceded? Would they automatically become a part of the seceding State ?
– That is covered by clause 5.
– I fear that a dangerous precedent is being established. Why should we allow Western Australia to add to her territory, and then secede from the rest of. the Commonwealth? Senator Johnston referred to the strategic importance of these islands. I agree with him that the growth of any empire is attended by increased obligations.
– This is one of those bills which, in the excitement of the rush to get into recess, are being put through in a way which makes the Parliament resemble a sausage machine. The Senate is entitled to a great deal more information regarding this bill than has been given by the Minister. We are told that -
By an Order-in-Council, dated the 23rd July, 1921, made by His Majesty … it was ordered that the said Ashmore Islands and Cartier Island should be placed under the authority of the Commonwealth of Australia.
I should like to know whether that transfer wasordered before the Commonwealth Government was consulted.
– This Parliament was not consulted. The first we hear of this transaction is that an agreement has been made. Apparently, the British authorities have decided to hand over these territories to the Commonwealth. The preamble continues -
And whereas the Parliament of the Commonwealth is willing that the Ashmore Islands and Cartier Island should be placed under the authority of and be accepted as a territory by the Commonwealth.
When did the Parliament of the Commonwealth state its willingness to accept these islands?
– Its authority, is now being sought.
– Apparently the whole thing is cut and dried. Last night I endeavoured to show that the Commonwealth could not control its own Federal Capital Territory properly. I complained of the conditions under which people only a few miles from Parliament House are forced to live. Not long ago a serious debate took place in the House of Representatives regarding Australia’s inability to control its mandated territory. Last session we had beforeus a bill to authorize the acceptance of certain territory in Antarctica. The Commonwealth is constantly in trouble in regard to the administration of the Northern Territory; at one time the persons concerned are school teachers; at another time’ Japanese pearl-shell fishermen; or, again, it may be a dispute with natives who have been interfered with by the police.
I emphatically protest against the way in which legislation is sprung on the Senate. The Opposition has no proper opportunity to acquaint itself with the contents of the bills which come before the chamber. Unfortunately for me, the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) explains measures in -an undertone, which I hear only with difficulty. We are supposed to open our mouths and shut our eyes and take what comes. I protest also against the statement in the bill that the Parliament of the Commonwealth is willing to accept these islands, and then hand them over to Western Australia. Clause 8 provides -
Subject to this act, the Governor of the State of Western Australia, acting with the advice of the Executive Council of that State, may make ordinances having the force of law in, ‘and in relation to, the territory. (2) Every such Ordinance shall -
bc notified in the Gazette of the State of Western Australia, and
take effect from the date of notification or from such date whether before or after such date of notification as is specified in the Ordinance.
Where does the Commonwealth come in? The State of Western Australia may do what it likes with a territory which, allegedly, will belong to the Commonwealth. As has been pointed out, it is proposed to hand over a territory to a State which openly admits, and whose representatives glory in admitting, that it wants to secede from the Commonwealth.
– Some of its representatives hold that view.
– The authorities in Western Australia will not have to consult the Commonwealth about what it shall do with this territory. Senator Johnston’s remark about the strategic value of these islands has an unpleasant flavour. Does he suggest that they may be used as a naval base to assist the secession movement; or is our taking possession of them another inflammatory action on the part of the Commonwealth which may incite opposition by other nations, and intensify the “ yellow peril “ ? If an agreement has been entered into between Great Britain and the Commonwealth, I suppose that I can do nothing, but I shall vote ‘ against the acceptance of this territory, and the handing of the control of it over to a State. At least, the ordinances which are passed by Western Australia should he ratified by this Parliament.
– Should ‘the islands be administered from Canberra?
– The Government is not administering as it should the territory in which this Parliament House is situated. It cannot administer the Northern Territory or the Mandated Territories without getting into trouble. Last session it added a portion of Antarctica to the possessions of the Commonwealth, and now it proposes to hand over the adminstration of a couple of islands off the north-western coast of Australia to the secessionists of Western Australia. We are reducing the proceedings of this Parliament to a farce.
– I request the honorable senator to withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 (Continuance of laws).
. -What laws are in force on these islands at the present time?
– Being British territory, British laws operate.
– It is now proposed to repeal those laws by ordinances to be promulgated under this measure. Will these ordinances be made by the Commonwealth or by Western Australia.
– By the Government of Western Australia.
– Therefore, they will not be subject to disallowance by this Parliament.
– The object is to prevent illegal fishing. The islands have no inhabitants.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 7 (Commonwealth acts not in force).
– What acts are in force in this territory?
– Since the islands have no inhabitants, no laws now operate there, but State laws will be sufficient to prevent illegal fishing.
– For what distance from the mainland of Australia can control be exercised over fishing rights?
– Only within 3 miles of the coastline, but the 3-mile limit will apply to the islands also, as it does to all. Commonwealth territories.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 8 (Laws for Ashmore and Cartier Islands).
– If no laws operate on the islands at the present time, and the Commonwealth authorities have no jurisdiction beyond the 3-mile limit, why include this clause?
[9.22].- The whole object of the bill is to make possible the policing of fishing laws to prevent poaching in the waters surrounding these islands. Commonwealth laws will apply within the 3-mile limit. Vessels that carry on poaching activities are at a disadvantage unless they have land from which to operate, and the only suitable place is the mainland in that part of Australia. Western Australia has fishing laws, and it also has police in the north-west to enforce them ; but the. Commonwealth has no police in that region.
Senator Sir WALTER KINGSMILL (Western Australia) [9.23]. - If these islands remained British property, the Commonwealth authorities could not’ issue licences to fish there. It is not nowpossible to prevent poaching except by international action, and proceedings have been taken under international law. On the coast immediately opposite Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Western Australia has a large pearling ground, and, if this bill is passed, it . will be able to apply its laws to those islands. Personally, I fail to see why the Rowley and Amphinome Shoals, which occasionally rise above the waters, have not been included. They are within a couple of hundred miles of the islands. This measure is likely to prove of benefit to Western Australia, and, through that State, for a long time, I hope, of benefit to the Commonwealth as a whole. A settled plan of action should be adopted. Britain looks to Australia to administer these islands, and the Commonwealth is to enlist the help of Western Australia. I regard the bill as providing a commonsense way out of the difficulty.
Clause agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
[9.29]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this measure is to appropriate £10,0.00,000 for the payment of war pensions. Similar appropriations have been made from time to time. Of the last appropriation in May, 1932, £640,345 was unexpended at the 30th November last, and this amount is insufficient to meet the payments for the remainder of the financial year. The usual practice of asking Parliament to vote a lump sum has been followed. The bill does not deal with rates of war pensions, or the conditions under which they are payable.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or’ debate.
[9.32]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Among the subjects discussed by the delegates to the Monetary and Economic Conference in London in June last was the necessity for an improvement of the economic and financial position of the silver-producing industry, and of silverusing countries as such. The agreement was arrived at by the delegates of the countries interested - Australia, Canada, the United States of America, Mexico, Peru, India, China and Spain - acting on behalf of their respective governments. It is necessary that the agreement should be approved by Parliament.
The object of this bill is to validate two agreements - first, the agreement tentatively arrived at by the delegates of the silver-holding countries on the one hand, and the producing countries on the other at the Economic Conference in July, 1933; and, secondly, an agreement with the Australian Refining Companies, this being a corollary to the principal agreement. The main agreement is designed to mitigate fluctuation in the price of silver. Two classes of silver are covered -
The agreement limits the sale of the first class of silver and provides that the silver-producing companies shall absorb certain quantities of silver annually to offset such sale. As far as Australia is concerned, the agreement calls for the withdrawal from the market of 652,355 fine ounces of silver each year for four years, commencing in 1934. India, at the present time, holds very large stocks, part at least of which it desires to sell. At the same time, China and Spain, to a very much smaller degree, have certain stocks available for realization. The International agreement limits the extent to which these countries can continue to realize on their stocks.
India agrees not to dispose by sale of more than 140,000,000 fine ounces during the period of four years, commencing the 1st January, 1934. Silver sold by India to any government, after the date of the agreement, for the purpose of transfer to the United States in payment of war debts, is excluded, provided the total over-all sales do not exceed 175,000,000 ounces. China binds itself not to sell silver resulting from demonetized coins during the same period of four years, while Spain undertakes not to dispose 3by sale of more than 20,000,000 fine ounces during the period in question.
On the other hand, the producing, countries bind themselves to withhold from sale out of current mine production a total of 140,000,000 fine ounces during the period of four years. The Australian proportion of this is 2,609.420 ounces, an average of 652,355 ounces per annum. This will be stored out of the average yearly production of approximately 9,000,000 fine ounces.
The agreement sets out that failure by any country to ratify before the 1st April, 1934, and/or observe the terms, will result in the automatic cancellation of the agreement. It is, however, provided that should one country fail to ratify by the date mentioned, the remaining countries may, by agreement, take up pro rata proportions of that country’s quota. In any case, every provision of the agreement will terminate on the 1st January, 1938. It is also provided that none of the countries concerned shall debase their silver coins below a fineness of 80 per cent, during its currency, and that silver coins shall be issued in place of low value paper currency. Neither of the two last-mentioned provisions affects Australia, the fineness of the Australian silver coinage being 92.5 per cent., and no low value notes heing on issue. The terms of the International Agreement, and the undertaking given by Mr. Bruce in connexion therewith, are schedules to the bill.
The companies concerned at the present time with the treatment of Australian ores for the production of refined silver, the Broken Hill Associated Smelters Proprietary Limited, and the Electrolytic Refining and Smelting Company of Australia Limited, have between them agreed to lodge with the Commonwealth of Australia this amount of silver from the market each year, and so long as this is done, no other obligation in fulfilment of the agreement is required of Australia. All mining operations in which the production of silver and the shipment of ore and concentrates containing silver are involved can proceed in the normal way.
The second agreement, that with the refining companies, is of a machinery nature, relating to the withdrawal from production, storage and safe keeping of the Australian quota. The Broken Hill Associated Smelters .contracts, on behalf of itself and the only other refining company in Australia, the Electrolytic Refining and Smelting Company of Australia Limited, to withdraw the whole of the 652,35.5 ounces. The silver will be Stored at the- company’s smelters under proper safeguards as to lodgment, inspection, and custody. In every way, the interests of Australia have been considered and protected. The bill has already received’ the endorsement of another place, and can be safely recommended to honorable senators, for their approval.
Question, resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its .remaining .stages without amendment or debate.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This measure relates to two matters. First, to proceedings consequent on the death of applicants for patents, and, secondly, to -the extension of the Patents Act to Norfolk Island. The effect of a recent interpretation of the High Court relative to sections 67 and 68 of the Patents Act has been to make it impos sible to grant a patent on certain appli cations in cases where the original applicant has died. Section 67 of the act provides that a patent shall be sealed as soon as may be, but not after the expiration of sixteen months from the date of the application, or such further date as is prescribed - by regulation - or, as the High Court or Supreme Court allows. It is evident, therefore, that there is full power to grant extensions when thought proper. It is generally imposed as a condition that no action for infringement shall be brought during the period of the extended time beyond that provided in the statute, so that the interests of other parties will not be unfairly prejudiced. Section 68 of the principal act lays down the procedure in the event of the death of the applicant, and provides that if an applicant dies before the expiration of the period of sixteen months, the patent may be granted to his legal representative, and may be sealed at any time within twelve months after the death of the applicant. I may illustrate the manner in which these provisions operate. In one case an applicant, “ A B,” applies for a patent, but finds that. an extension of time is necessary. He has the full sixteen months allowed him, after which the time may be extended under the 1 Call.lations. If that is insufficient, he may then apply to the High Court for a further extension. Another applicant, “ X Y,” is, at the beginning, in the same position as A B, but he dies one month after making the application. As he died before the expiration of sixteen months, the patent may be granted to his legal representative, but may be sealed only within twelve months after the death of the applicant, which, in the case I have cited, would be thirteen months after the making of , the application! Obviously, there is no reasonable ground for this distinction. Accordingly, it is proposed in clause 4 of the bill to amend section. 68 of the principal act-, by omitting certain words and inserting other words, the effect of which will be to deal with the case that I have mentioned. With regard to the extension of the act to Norfolk Island, it is desirable that, in order to provide for inventors in the island who wish to apply there for a patent, the protection afforded by the act shall be available to such persons. Further, Australia is a party to certain international conventions affecting patents, and it is desirable that those conventions should be extended to Norfolk Island.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and reported from committee without amendment.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This measure is to amend section 26a of the High Court Procedure Act. In all State acts there are provisions prescribing the rate of interest chargeable upon a judgment debt. At present section 26a provides that every judgment debt shall carry interest at the rate of £7 per centum per annum from the time of the trial or inquiry, or, if there has been no trial or inquiry, from the time of entering the judgment. The object of the bill is to amend that section to provide that, while the rate of interest in respect of past judgments shall be 7 per cent., the rate in respect of future judgments shall be 5 per cent. This reduction is in accordance with the genera] downward trend of interest rates. Honorable senators will recognize that, as a judgment debt is an unsecured debt, the proposed reduction is reasonable. It is only in rare instances that the Commonwealth Parliament deals directly with interest rates, and in conformity with the general policy of the Government to reduce interest rates, it has been thought proper in this instance to propose that the charge upon a judgment debt recovered under judgment of the High Court, instead of being 7 per cent, as hitherto, shall, in the future, be 5 per cent. This legislation has been introduced pursuant to a promise given when the Seat of Government Supreme Court Bill was under consideration.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and reported from committee without amendment.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Senator Sir HARRY LAWSON (VictoriaAssistant Treasurer) [9.55]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill is to appropriate from the Consolidated Revenue Fund the sum of £10,000,000 for the payment of invalid and old-age pensions. Prom time to time Parliament makes appropriations of a similar nature, and the amounts provided are transferred under the authority of the appropriation acts to the trust account from which payments are made to the pensioners. The total amount previously appropriated is £151,250,000, of which £146,972,000 had been expended up to the 30th November last. The balance under previous appropriations is therefore, £4,278,000. As expenditure for the remaining seven months of the year will approximate £6,700,000, it will be seen that the balance will be insufficient to meet this amount. The bill is for the usual amount of £10,000,000, and has no relation to the rate of pensions or the conditions under which they are payable.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and reported from committee without amendment or debate.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
In committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ message) :
Clause 5 (Definitions).
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - After the definition of “ matter “, insert the following definition : - “ ‘ Ordinance ‘ means an ordinance made by the Governor-General in pursuance of the Seat of Government L Administration) Act 1910-1933.”
– I moye -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Reference is made to the term “ ordinance” in clause11, which describes the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. It is desirable that the meaning of the word should be precisely defined, and the definition proposed to be inserted simply makes it quite certain that the term mentioned in the bill refers to ordinances passed under the power of existing legislation.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 45 -
When any cause or matter has been , heard at a sitting of the Supreme Count held at any -place . . .
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - After “ place “ insert - “ , being a place at which the court is empowered to sit, “.
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Honorable senators will perhaps remember a controversy . between Senator Brennan and myself regarding the clarity of the language employed in this clause, and clause 46. The addition of the proposed words make it clear that the place of sitting intended in these clauses is the place fixed by the Governor-General, pursuant to clause 9.
Motion agreed to.
The Supreme Court or the judge may . . direct that the trial shall be had or continued at some, particular place . . .
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - After “ place “ insert - ‘* , being a place at which the Court is empowered to sit, “.
Motion (by Senator McLachlan) agreed to -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Resolutions reported; report adopted.
Debate resumed from the 28th November (vide page 5041), on motion by Senator McLachlan -
That the bill be -now read a second time.
.- I secured the adjournment of the debate on this bill yesterday in order to have an opportunity to examine it. I have since done so, and as I am satisfied that there are sufficient members of the judiciary to do the work required of them. I offer no opposition to the measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
In Committee: Consideration resumed from the 5th December (vide page 5488).
Department of Defence.
Proposed vote, £3,522,820.
– I am opposed to any increase of the Defence vote for reasons which I gave partially in the debate on the first reading of the bill. The public outcry, a few months ago, in favour of what was termed the- more adequate defence of Australia was really responsible for this proposed increase of defence expenditure. A number of persons urged from the public platform, and in the newspapers that stronger defence measures were necessary to guard Australia from the menace of the growing populations of nations comparatively near to our shores. When I was a young man I heard similar complaints about our defence unpreparedness. In those years we were told that Australia’s sparse population made it the envy of other nations that were suffering from congested populations, and that, unless we vastly increased our numbers, we could not expect to hold this continent for the white race. All sorts of catastrophic happenings were predicted by the war mongers of that time. We were assured that if we doubled our population we would be comparatively safe. Although the population of Australia has increased threefold since those years, we are still being warned of the imminent danger of invasion by some hostile power which, while not being directly specified, is always being hinted at. One of the favourite arguments of present day war mongers is a comparison of our defence expenditure per head of population with, the defence votes of the Mother Country. But that is comparing things which are not alike. Great Britain is an empire, and must shoulder all the responsibilities of an empire. The Im- perial Government must be ready at all times to repel attack upon its most remote or desolate possession. Australia is not in that position, although by recent legislation we are adding to our possessions, and, consequently, increasing our responsibilities -by .becoming what is virtually an empire within an empire. Therefore, this comparison of the defence expenditure per head of population in the United Kingdom and Australia respectively, carries no weight. The fact that some of the great powers are increasing their armaments to an alarming extent makes them a source .of danger to each, other, but not necessarily to Australia. Obviously, it would be impossible for this country to incur the expenditure necessary to preserve it from any and every possible danger of attack. If we continue in this way, we shall pile up a mountain of debt that will be a greater menace to the future of this country, heavily mortgaged as it is, than any potential enemy is likely to be. I do not wish to speak at great length tonight, because we are passing legislation so rapidly that no one in this chamber would have the patience to listen to anything like a detailed discussion of the Government’s defence proposals. I protest against the proposed increase, ‘ and shall vote against each item.
– While I agree with Senator Bae that no one in this chamber would have the patience, at this stage of the sitting, to listen to a long discussion of the Government’s defence proposals, every honorable senator should have an opportunity at least to state his opinion, and emphasize the attitude of the party to which he belongs. With other members of my party I stand for the adequate defence of Australia. I do not believe in aggression of any kind, and lately there has been a good deal of warmongering on the part of certain individuals in this country. That is not a healthy sign. We should hesitate before embarking on huge defence schemes, because, however up-to-date our defences may be to-day, they will be obsolete to-morrow, owing to the advance in scientific war methods. Australia’s most vulnerable point is-
– The poverty of the people.
– I agree that a nation’s best defence is a contented people. Men with a stake in the country are more likely to fight enthusiastically for it than are wretched shivering people who cannot be . other than dissatisfied, with their lot. Disraeli once said that there were always two nations in every country - the rich and the poor. The poor see no necessity to fight an enemy when their energies are devoted to fighting for the necessaries of life. Australia’s danger point is in the Northern Territory. In my opinion we should organize the native population there, and by the utilization of their scouting and tracking abilities, assist in the establishment of a sound defence. Despite what has been said regarding them, the aborigines of Australia are capable of assisting in the defence of this country. If treated properly they could be of great value to us. The Australian Year-Booh for 1910 contains an interesting article on the Australian aborigines, which describes them as intelligent people. For many years they have been generally regarded as belonging to a very early stage of development, but the latest theory is that they belong to the Caucasian race, and though one of the original stocks are related to the European peoples. There is ample evidence that among the Australian aborigines are many splendid specimens of humanity. Their average height is equal to that of the Englishman, and they are capable of performing work in the Northern Territory in districts unsuitable for white men. Instead of allowing the natives of the North to be contaminated by every Asiatic who desires to exploit the wealth of this country, we should take an interest in them, and treat them, not as savages, but as intelligent beings. One way by which we could make them contented and willing to assist in repelling any possible invasion would be by giving them representation in this Parliament. I do not suggest a full-dress ultra-democratic election in the latest style; but some of the most intelligent of them could be selected as representative of the whole. Some of the missionary societies in the Northern Territory are doing good work among the aborigines. The missionaries have considerable knowledge of the natives and they should be consulted in the matter. They may bo; able to put their hands on an aboriginal Einstein or Shakespeare who could enlighten this Parliament as to the best way to deal with the native people, and to act as an intermediary as is done in other countries. As a means of defence, my suggestion is worthy of the consideration of the Government. Recent newspaper reports indicate that the natives of Arnheim Land would be willing to negotiate with any foreign nation which contemplated an invasion of the Northern Territory. It is well that these things should be borne in mind, because some parts of Australia are so far away from the settled districts as to appear to be as far distant as Greenland. Our aim should be a contented native race in the Northern Territory living on friendly terms with the white population. I hope that there will not be any invasion of Australia by an enemy. There will not be, if we act wisely and do not develop imperialistic notions. In the school books of my earlier days the wars between England and France in the time of Edward III. were ascribed to the desire -of the King to extend, his possessions in France, where he already held more territory than he did in England. Later historians have told us that the rivalry between those engaged in the wool trade of Flanders and the merchants of London was the real cause of those wars. It is now generally admitted that the wars between Britain and Spain; Holland, France and) Germany had a trade origin. Australia is expanding its territory to include certain islands off the west coast of Western Australia. Every time a nation extends, or seeks to extend, its. territory, there is a danger of international complications Not many months ago we had before us a bill for the acquisition of certain territories in Antarctica. Some day that land may be valuable. It is hoped that gold or other precious metals may be found there, and it is known that coal-fields exist in the region of the South Pole. Australia’s acceptance of that territory. and now of the islands to which I have referred, may render us open to the charge of having an. imperialistic ambition, notwithstanding that we are really a peaceful people. We hear a good deal of the possibility of trouble with Japan because Japanese manufacturers cannot find in their own country a market for all their manufactured goods and’ are seeking newmarkets elsewhere for their surplus. That kind of thing leads to war.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be Toquested to amend the bill .by reducing the vote by fi.
I shall not labour this subject, because I dealt with it fully the other night. On that occasion, the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) refused to grant me an extension of time. An increase of £1,509,470 in the Defence vote is provided for, yet 500,000 persons in Australia are on the dole. Senator Hardy, who has been described by Smith’s Weekly as the Cromwell of the Riverina, tells us that the farmers are practically on the dole. It is even, suggested that the manufacturers are in a similar predicament, and the Canberra Times assures us that a delegation is to be sent to Japan in order to promote friendly relations between Australia and that country because the Australian manufacturers have been hard hit by the competition, of Japanese goods. An additional cordite factory is to be established at Maribyrnong, but, if it is needed at all, why should it not be built in Canberra where employment is urgently required for hundreds of youths, who, on leaving school, cannot find jobs? I wish to know who will get the benefit of the expenditure_of the major portion of the extra £1,500,000 to be spent on defence - the people of Australia or the great armament firms overseas? I cannot support the proposed increase of the Defence vote, because I have in mind the sad predicament of the thousands of returned soldiers and sailors and other citizens who are suffering untold hardships to-day. This money would be better expended in providing useful employment for the people.
The sum of £180,000 is allocated for the importation of fuel oil from foreign countries, and I am reminded that an eminent Trench statesman stated in a conference in Paris, that the country which had oil had an empire. Yet no provision is made in these Estimates for the encouragement of oil production at Newnes, or for making a start in the extraction of oil from shale by the hydrogenation process, despite the fact that Australia has some of the, richest coal seams in the world. Certain sums are provided for the maintenance of military barracks throughout Australia. Victoria Barracks, at Paddington, should be pulled down, for ‘they are unhealthy and in other ways unsatisfactory. They occupy 67 acres of valuable land in the heart of Sydney. The institution has outgrown its usefulness, and should make room for dwellings for city workers. I do not know why the training of military cadets is not carried out at either Liverpool or Duntroon, rather than at Paddington. The sum of £115,000 is provided for ammunition factories, and this, no “doubt, will benefit the fat’ commercial pigs of Melbourne. No doubt the Government will use its brutal majority to pass these Estimates, and I am afraid that it will be impossible to have an ammunition factory established in Canberra even if it is desired.
When I am invited to vote for an increase of the Defence vote by over £1,500,000, 1 think of my two dead’ soldier brothers. I have another brother whose right eye was shot out, and a sister who is a wreck on account of war - service. Another brother with a record of active service is a world wanderer. My dear old father, who was employed in the marine transport service of the Empire, went to .a premature grave. Thousands of returned soldiers and sailors cannot get a job to-day, and they will shortly be going to the benevolent institutions to obtain a Christmas dinner, offered under the guise of charity, to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of the Christian Redeemer. In view of the assurances of the leading statesmen of the world that the last war was waged to ensure future peace, I cannot vote for additional expenditure on warlike preparations. I take this stand in the interests of tens of thousands of men and women who are walking the streets in search of work.
[10.42]. - If this request is made, and confirmed by the House of Representatives, the Government will regard it as a direction that the increased expenditure provided for the defence of Australia is not desired. I note that the request is submitted by Senator Dunn, who is a member of the Lang party in New South Wales. Part of the increased expenditure is proposed for the building of a sloop, probably at Cockatoo Island Dockyard. Those who support the request will indicate that in their opinion this sloop should not be built. The Estimates also provide for increased expenditure at the Lithgow Small Arms Factory amounting to slightly less than £10,000, and those who intend to vote for this reduction presumably consider that that amount should not be expended, and that the additional employment, which the Defence vote would provide in Lithgow and Sydney, is not desired. I shall await with interest the vote on this request.
– I expected to hear something of this nature from the right honorable gentleman. On grounds similar to those advanced by him one could justify the expenditure of £20,000,000 for war purposes. The Minister said that those who support the request will intimate to the people of Sydney that they do not desire the sloop mentioned by the Minister to be built there. If those in power in this country had sane and democratic ideas they would spend much more money than is proposed to be devoted to the building of a sloop in providing a line of steamers that would give improved communication between Tasmania and the mainland, and they would see that the Lithgow .Small Arms Factory was used for the (manufacture pf material for constructive rather than destructive purposes. It is true that expenditure on warlike equipment provides employment, but it is shameful for the Leader of a professedly democratic government to use an argument of that kind. The Minister might as well say that, “unless you Labour men are prepared to spend- this money’ for warlike purposes it will not be expended at all.” The argument is a shameful one. If it had any validity it would justify the expenditure of unlimited sums for warlike purposes. Yet it is wasteful expenditure, which helps to bring this country, as well as others, into the state of desperation and poverty in which they now find themselves. In Europe, France wants security against possible German aggression and claims that as justification for building up military, naval and air strength. Great Britain, America, and Japan similarly claim that the expenditure of this or that country in building up armaments is a. menace to their future safety, and that they must do likewise. In the United States of America, on the eve of the great crash that closed thousands of banks, and added between 15,000,000 and 17,000,000 unemployed to the (population, the newlyelected President signed a contract for the construction of more than twenty cruisers and battleships. Recently, Japan has followed- suit. Great Britain is doing the same thing, and claiming that its forces have been depleted to such an extent that it, too, must build enormous additions to its cruiser and battleship fleets. The money involved comes from the people, and, although expenditure on armaments provides employment, the same amount of money could be expended in other directions to employ even more persons in doing work of a reproductive character - work which would not add to the colossal burdens which are crushing the white population of the world. If the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) cannot make out a better case for the proposed increase of armaments, he ought to hide his head in shame. The money has to come from the people in some shape or form. If it is borrowed they have to pay interest until it is refunded. If it is raised by taxation, they have to find it. The money could be used to employ labour to makethis country a fitter home for those who are here, and for others whom we wish to see here in the future. If we are in the state of immediate danger which has been painted by the war-mongering element in our midst, this proposed expenditure is all too little; moreover, it is of no practical value, because before the armaments can be provided the crisis will have arrived or the danger will have passed. If the money was expended to provide employment of a productive character it would increase trade and commerce, and would put the country in a better condition to defend herself. It is all very well for people to talk of the danger to Australia constituted by its empty spaces. Australia was practically empty for thousands of years before we came to it. Nobody seemed to want it, and there is no clear evidence that any one wants it very badly now. More people are leaving Australia than are arriving here, and but for births our population would be decreasing. Consequently, the danger arising from empty spaces is being accentuated by the policy we are- pursuing. “We are expending money on defence which should be used to rehabilitate the country and make it fit for decent people to live in.
– Does not the honorable senator consider that 96,000,000 people cooped up in a country the size of Japan are a menace to Australia?
– To hear Japan discussed one would think that it was a country of unlimited means. As is generally known, it is in a bad condition financially, and- its enormous naval and military expenditure is dragging it down to destruction. The measures it has taken to increase its power are directed away from Australia. It is obtaining a stronger hold on the Asiatic continent, and in that undertaking all its energy and available funds are being absorbed. The menace of Japan is a bogy. The transportation of a sufficiently large Japanese military contingent to invade Australia would involve a sea journey of much more than 2,000 miles, although ‘ that is the shortest distance between Australia and J apan. If Japan desired to invade Aus- ‘ tralia it could only do so with any satisfactory result to itself by coming to the main centres of population. It would not pay a Japanese force to land on the nearest point in- Australia to its own country, and then have to travel troops and supplies across this continent. It would have to come direct to the inhabited centres. Therefore, instead of having to, face a journey by sea of 2,000 miles, it would have to travel nearly twice that distance. The transport of large bodies of troops, and supplies and ammunition, which would be necessary to give the invader a position of security when it arrived here would not be easy. The talk about Japan is based largely upon the assumption that it would only have to land a few people at the nearest point, that we are a nation of cowards, and that we would abjectly surrender at the first threat.
– By pursuing a policy of economic isolation and nationalization the honorable senator’s party does more to encourage war than any other party.
– It does not. The party to which I belong tries to bring about friendly relations with every power. Building up our local industries is one means of defence, and a very essential means.
– Was it not a Labour Prime Minister who sent the message across the seas about Australia giving the last man and the last shilling ?
– I am not responsible for what a former Labour premier might have said.
– We have not yet paid the first shilling.
– We have just voted £10,000,000 for war pensions and have spent many millions of pounds on attempts to repatriate returned soldiers. Our total expenditure on the war, directly and indirectly, has been something like £800,000,000 or £900,000,000. Consequently the assertion that our war debts are not of any trouble to us is a fallacy. Direct debts to Great Britain were something over £90,000,000, and are now between £70,000,000 and £80,000,000. We are not paying interest just now, but it is accruing. The Minister has explained that the amounts due by some nations to the League of Nations are only delayed payments. Is that not the case with every debt? Interest remissions by Great Britain will have to he dealt with whenever the time for general settlement arrives. The intimidation that is attempted by pointing out that the electors to whom we look for support will he aghast at our attempt to reduce this amount because some of them will receive employment by the spending of the money is shameful, and. is done with the object of making the people believe that if the money is not applied in this way it will not be expended at all.
– I am surprised at the attempted intimidation by the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce), and at his challenge. Insofar as Senator Rae and I come within the scope of that challenge, we accept it graciously and cheerfully. I remind the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) that Cockatoo Island is adjacent to Balmain where I have lived, since I was fifteen years of age. I worked at the Cockatoo Island Dockyard for many years, and I know hundreds of the artisans now employed there. When I return to my home at Balmain, I am prepared to explain the attitude which we have adopted, and I know that the rank and file of the Labour party will support our action in moving to reduce the proposed vote. We have been informed that it is proposed to build a sloop at the Cockatoo Island Dockyard, but the construction of that vessel will benefit private enterprise, as that dockyard, which has cost the Commonwealth about £2,000,000, has ‘ been leased to a private company at the nominal rental of £1,000 a year. The artisans engaged by the company are getting a very raw deal, and the establishment can only be regarded as a “ Slave pen “, or “ sweat shop “. Senator Rae suggested that it would be better to expend the money which the Government proposes to appropriate under thi3 vote on constructing a fleet of three steamers to serve in the Tasmanian trade. A similar proposal, when submitted some time ago, swept through Tasmania like a bush fire, but, up to the present, nothing has been done. If £500,000 of the amount to be expended on defence were utilized in constructing at least two vessels for the Tasmanian service, the expenditure would be reproductive, and of some use to the community. As mentioned on a previous occasion, the Government is also controlling the Lithgow Small Arms Factory, where there is a modern plant capable of producing all the finer types of machinery, but unable to be used to produce one nail, nut, or screw for use in tlie commercial world. This Government, has deprived the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow of the right to manufacture sheep-shearing machines and combs, and hundreds of other commodities required by the postal department and other Commonwealth departments. The Lithgow Small Arms Factory could be employed working three shifts a day in producing many articles for which the Government pays exorbitant prices to overseas manufacturers. Senator Rae and I are prepared to accompany the Leader of the Senate either to the Cockatoo Island Dockyard or to the Lithgow Small Arms Factory, and in his presence convince the artisans of those two establishments that our action in this respect is fully justified. In opening the proceedings of this Parliament with prayer, our worthy President uses these words “ Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven “. Within a fortnight, the clergymen of all denominations will be preaching “ On earth peace, goodwill toward men “ and singing “ Glory to the new-born King “. The prayer to which we listen each day continues “and forgive our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation “. An .attempt is being made to lead us into temptation by asking us to support the proposed unnecessary heavy expenditure on defence. I again invite the Leader of the Senate to accompany me to a gathering of workmen, who he says will be benefited under these proposals, and to stretch his tonsils in an endeavour to justify the action which the Government proposes to take. I can assure the right honorable gentleman that no attempt will be made to attack him with bottles or with bricks, but he would find it extremely difficult to justify this heavy and unnecessary expenditure for destructive purposes.
– I feel some interest in the speech just delivered by Senator Rae, and also that of Senator Dunn. Whether we agree or disagree with Senator Rae, we must admit that he puts his point of view very clearly, but it is apparent that he is out of touch with realities. He has a double objection to expenditure in armaments. First, he says that
We are not in .any danger. That is a matter of opinion. Similar statements were made 25 years ago, and before the Great War-. But events proved that we were in danger. Senator Rae said also that, if we are in danger, the preparations we are making are inadequate. The preparations made beforehand - whether adequate or- not - certainly enabled Australia to make the splendid stand it did when war broke out in 1914. The honorable senator also referred to bereavements. Bereavements, sad as they are, are not limited to’ any particular country, or to any section of the community. During the war I remember reading in the London Times a series of obituary notices, and I think that out of thirteen officers whose deaths were reported on that day, six were only sons. That meant sadness and irreparable loss, to the parents. Preparedness to defend ourselves is a condition of our continuity. It is just as essential for a country to be prepared to defend itself, as it is for the parent to protect, clothe and feed his or her child. If Senator Rae will study the present international situation, he. will surely realize, as every fair-minded man must, that opinions and conditions have changed considerably during the last twelve months. I do not look upon the position with such pessimism as some do. I do not think that there is need to, although a considerable number of important countries are in a very difficult and inexplicable position. Compare the position of Germany to-day with what it was a year ago. We must regard Germany as a power more menacing to the interest of other countries than it was twelve months ago. Austria has been on the verge of a revolution, and the position in Spain is very disturbed. Generally speaking, the countries which are most unsettled to-day are those which were defeated in the Great War : That is a point that is constantly overlooked. ‘ Their unsettled condition is due to the poverty following defeat, and generally to the aftermath of war. Senator Rae referred to the recent agitation as having been caused by warmongers associated with the Commonwealth Ministry, but I suggest that the Government has acted only in response to public opinion. The League of Nations, to which many people were pinning their faith, is less likely to afford protection than at any time since it was established. It may be able to exercise greater power later on, but at present it is a very slender reed on which to lean.
– We always said it would be.
– That is not so. I can remember representatives of the Labour party saying continually after the termination of the war that we should trust the League of Nations. I particularly remember the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Fenton) speaking to that effect in the House of Representatives.
– Customs protection is the only subject he knows anything about.
– At that time he spoke of the protection to be afforded by the League of Nations, and urged us to abandon all defence, measures, and rely entirely on that body. Although the honorable member may be a strong advocate of protection by tariffs, I prefer to rely on protection by arms. The World Economic Conference, which was the pinnacle of the League of Nations scheme, has broken down completely. In view of all the happenings within the last year, it behoves us to make some preparation to defend ourselves. I am glad that the Government has taken steps in that direction by substantially increasing the vote for defence purposes in an attempt to protect this country adequately. It is the duty of the Government to protect the country, and if it fails to do so it will be held responsible for anything that may happen. There are three directions in which greater protection might be afforded, and not one of those is new. In the first place, it is advisable to revive compulsory military service in Australia.
– There would be a revolution if that were attempted.
– I would not care if there were, but I do not believe that the re-introduction of compulsory service would have the result which Senator Rae suggests. The young men of this country are quite prepared to shoulder a rifle, and to engage in drill.
– If they were willing they would do so without compulsion.
– It is not fair to place the responsibility on the volunteers and allow others to shirk, especially in view of the fact that a very large number of people who are entirely without employment would benefit tremendously by the application of some discipline. In this respect I think that Herr Hitler is right. He believes in applying to the youth of Germany discipline in conjunction with a certain amount of healthy sport. This is a time when it is eminently desirable that we should revert to the well-tried and successful system of compulsorily training the youth of Australia - a. system which was established if not’ by the old Labour party, at all events, with its full support. Reversion to an old and proven system would not be a revolutionary step. In our present economic position it would enormously benefit a great number of young people who have nothing to do by employing portion of their leisure and keeping them out of mischief.
Secondly, I should like to see more substantial provision made for the maintenance of rifle clubs. I know that a considerable number of men living in country districts desire to practice range shooting, but are unable to do so because sufficient money is not available for the provision of the necessary facilities. The sum required is relatively small, but the provision of it would have an important influence on the extension of the rifle club movement, which I regard as most desirable.
Another suggestion which I offer is that the military college should be returned to Duntroon at the earliest possible moment. It is the central pin in the defence structure of this country, and it should not be situated in the unsuitable environment of a big city. It was moved from Duntroon in order to effect a saving of about £10,000 a year, which is an infinitesimal sum in comparison with the scale of expenditure now contemplated. It would make all the difference in the world to the officers and cadets to be returned to Duntroon, which is rich in military traditions, and where they would be near the heart of the Commonwealth. I sincerely hope that the military college will be re-established at
Duntroon before the buildings there go absolutely to rack and ruin. I am convinced that this view is widely held in Australia.
Generally, I congratulate the Government on the sound and thoughtful way in which it is dealing with the defence problem of this country. I fully believe that an increase of the Defence vote was forced upon Ministers; because of the disturbed world condition they had no option. But that does not take away from them the credit for having made a start in the right direction. I hope that they will continue as they have begun, always realizing that Australia is isolated from other parts of the Empire, except New Zealand, and must, according to its capacity, be prepared to defend itself.
SenatorRae spoke of the defence expenditure per head of population and went on to say that because Great Britain had an Empire, its duty was to protect it. It is no more the duty of the British Government to do that than it is the duty of the Australian Government to protect itself and: also assist to defend the Empire generally.
SenatorRae. - The honorable senator has misunderstood me. I said that Australia had only itself to defend, whereas Great Britain, being an Empire, had possessions in all parts of the world, and that, therefore, a comparison of expenditure per head of population in Great Britain with expenditure in Australia Was not fair.
– Since Australia is part of the Empire surely it is the duty of the Commonwealth to play its part in the defence of the Empire?
SenatorRae.- I do not think it is.
– Surely the honorable senator will agree that we cannot enjoy the advantages accruing to us as part of the Empire without also bearing our fair share of the expenditure required for its defence?
SenatorRae.- I think we might very well keep out of Great Britain’s quarrels.
– Being a component part of the Empire, we can hardly do that. If the Empire is at war, Australia also is at war. That is the legal position. The honorable gentleman might think that, in the event of Great Britain being involved in war, Australia could evade its obligations. Even if such a declaration were made, Britain’s enemy could - quite properly regard the people of this country as its enemies. Therefore Australia also would be at war.
– I desire to make quite clear my position with regard to this vote. To me war is anathema. I am prepared to support every practical step taken to make international agreements for the abolition of war, but while holding this definite view, I do not overlook the fact that some things are worse than war. One of them is the invasion of a defenceless country by a warlike nation. Holding this belief, the party to which I belong has, for many years, espoused a policy for the adequate defence of Australia, while at the same time strenuously opposing every movement likely to embroil the country in war. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Barnes), in the debate on the first reading of the bill a few days ago, clearly stated the attitude of the Australian Labour Party. I am not in a position, because of my limited knowledge, to say whether or not an increase of this defence vote is justifiable, but it seems to me, looking through the Estimates, that there is little fault to find with the Government’s proposals. Of the increase of £500,000 proposed for this year, the greater portion is to be expended on necessary capital works, which are an essential feature of any adequate defence scheme. The money is not to be expended for the purpose of making belligerent gestures to the people of any other country. A great proportion of it, approximately £250,000, is to be disbursed in salaries and wages, or payments in the nature of salaries and wages. This, I take it, is because of a contemplated increase in the naval personnel following the loan of six destroyers from Great Britain, which are to be manned with Australian naval ratings, and because of the extension of the munitions factory, the cordite factory, and other defence establishments in the various States. The Scullin Government, of which I was a humble supporter, was responsible for a material reduction of the Defence Estimates, and also for . the distribution of a large amount of surplus military stores to the unemployed, who, at that time, were in. urgent need of assistance. A fairly substantial sum is provided for military stores. I presume some portion of this expenditure is due to the depletion, of stores, and to the. rigid economy exercised by the Government at that time.
– That is so.
– The increased expenditure will provide employment for Australian operatives in woollen mills, clothing factories, and in many other directions. Consequently I have no fault to find with it. The Scullin Government was also responsible for the abolition of compulsory military training in favour of the voluntary system; and for that distinctive policy, its name will live in the history of Australia, for all time. I am convinced that our people, in order to uphold the traditions of this country and preserve the benefits which they enjoy under the existing system of government, would defend Australia to the last man on the voluntary basis. The whole of the manhood in this country would respond to . the call. For this reason, I disagree with Senator Duncan-Hughes’s suggestion that we should re-institute . the system of compulsory military training. Any movement in that direction will have my uncompromising hostility. Having set out what I believe to be . the view of members of the party to which I belong, I am content to let the matter rest there.
.- As Senator O’Halloran has pointed out, the Scullin Government abolished the system of compulsory military training, and established in its stead the voluntary system, which, I remind the Senate, was the one under which Australian soldiers took part in the Great War, in which they more than held their own with the soldiers of other countries. We are proud of the voluntary system, and trust that it will never be discarded for the compulsory system. As members of the Australian Labour Party we believe in adequate home defence against foreign aggression. All industrial peace-time establishments should be so organized as to be readily convertible for the manufacture, in time of war, of munitions, small arms, and aeroplanes. Some people hold the view that submarines and aircraft are the best means of defending Australia. I agree with them, but lack of local supplies of oil fuel is our weakness. At present, we have to depend upon supplies from overseas, principally from the United States of America. Those aeroplanes and submarines will require petrol. What is the use of Australia building aeroplanes and submarines if there is no petrol for them ? I do not think that aeroplanes can be manufactured in Australia; it is time that we were able to do so. I question whether it is possible to manufacture a motor car in this country. Such a state of affairs should not exist in any country which hopes to be able to defend itself in the event of war. Within a few weeks, we shall be hearing the old message of “ On earth peace, goodwill toward men,” but that is no guarantee of peace. Japan is ready for war.
– How does the honorable “ senator know that?
– Did not Japan send armed forces into China without provocation? If the League of Nations had had any courage it would have said to Japan, “Hands off China, or the League will- deal with you.” If it had done that once, the League would have justified its existence.
– Any person with intelligence knows that the League of Nations is only a hollow mockery.
– If peace is to take the place of war, that can come about only through some body such. as the League of Nations. There cannot be peace without international agreement. The constitution of the League depends upon the constitution of the parliaments of the world. I once thought the League of Nations to be a useless body; but now I believe it to be an institution which is destined to do great things for the world.
– Why does it not do something now ? “
– It lacks courage. There would be no war were it not for the influence of the newspapers. Newspapers, by inflaming public opinion, set nation against nation, and lay the foundations of war. Their shareholders are also shareholders in the armament firms of the world. If the League of Nations could say that the newspapers should not publish anything of which it did not approve, wars would -cease. Instead of seeking peace and pursuing it, the newspapers of one country fill their columns with lies concerning the atrocities committed by other nations ; and the newspapers of those countries retaliate with similar lies. Instead of preaching peace, the newspapers stir up the hatred of the people of different nations.
SenatorRae. - How are we going to dethrone the newspapers ?
– The greatest power for peace should be the League of Nations. It will not always be as it now is. As the world becomes more democratic, the personnel of the League of Nations will become more peaceful. The principle underlying the League’ of Nations is sound.
SenatorRae. - So is the principle underlying the Lord’s Prayer.
– It is of little use to pray for peace when an enemy is on the way to attack us. Every nation that participated in the Great War claimed to have God on its side; but that did not prevent millions of men from being destroyed. If the League of Nations did its work properly, no individual would receive profit from the sale of munitions, nor would wars be instigated by the newspapers. To-day, as in the past, men are devoting their energies to the construction of vessels of destruction, and other men are applying their minds to destroying them. “’ We hear a good deal about defending this country against a possible invader; but the problem confronting many of the people is that of protecting their homes from the bailiff. Of what use is it for one nation to decide to throw down its arms, and say “Away with war,” when another nation is preparing to destroy it? Unfortunately, some nations which profess to desire peace do not appear to be sincere. In order to gain a commercial advantage, a strong nation is not above taking advantage of a weaker nation. No doubt Senator
Rae is pleased that Russia appears to be well able to defend itself. Should not Australia be able to do the same? What is good for the people of Russia should be good for the democracy of Australia. If there is one thing for which I would willingly fight it is the White Australia principle. Mr. HenryFord, of motor car fame, once said that he would like to visit Australia, not because he desired to see its great industries or scenery, but because he wanted to see the great white race which has been built up as a result of the White Australia policy. That principle is worth defending. Halfbreeds are the scorn of the world. It is the duty of every Australian to keep his country white. So long as other nations are preparing for war, it is useless to talk of peace.
– An honorable senator who is absent from the chamber desires to speak on the subject of defence. I shall hold the fort until he returns. I again protest against the debate being continued and listened to by tired senators. Members of the Labour party regard war as a bloody and obscene thing, and every honorable senator should do his best to prevent it. I sympathize with the members of the Lang party in this chamber in their anti-war agitation. Of course, they are pacifists.
– I do not believe in peace at any price.
– The members of parties which aspire to control the destinies of Australia should express the same opinions when in Opposition, as those which they would advance if in office.
– I would not trust the present Government with the expenditure of £1 on defence, but I would trust a Labour Government with millions.
– I am inclined to agree with the honorable senator. The present Government says that it desires to increase the expenditure on defence in order to make Australia safe against aggression. The Labour party advocates the -provision of a defence system sufficient to enable Australia to resist attack by a foreign power. I recently heard an economist in Brisbane say that he would support any government that would place a ring of cannons round Australia, if only for the reason that work would assist in giving employment to a large number of our workmen. It seems that, under the present economic system, waste is incurred in providing employment for the people. On the Clyde bank in Scotland not long ago, an agitation took place for the building of more ships, so that unemployed ship-builders might be given work. -If there were no waste and all nations were thoroughly efficient, three-fourths of the people would he unemployed.
While the idealist looks forward to the time when universal peace will prevail, other men are to he found who would not hesitate to plunge the world into war. An article published in The New Era of the 23rd November last, entitled The Blood Traffic, states that, in the last war, German soldiers by the thousands were killed, with grenades to which were attached Krupp patent fuses. British regiments were shattered by the shells containing gunpowder provided by trusts in which British firms were partners. British crews were sent to the bottom of the seas by submarines made in the dockyards of British firms. Armament manufacturers will stop at nothing. German armament firms control Trench newspapers, and French armament-makers govern German, newspapers; thus the agitation for armaments is maintained. The first sub-committee of the Temporary Mixed Commission of the League of Nations reported in 1921 -
Bloody-minded imperialists, who are to be found in every country, are willing to increase their private bank balances by forcing nations into war-like preparations. The Labour party believes in a White Australia policy: it supports a strong tariff policy, and, logically, it advances a programme of adequate defence,
TheCHAIRMAN. - The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– The Labour party stands solidly for the adequate defence of Australia, and it seems to me that the provision of an extra £500,000 for defence purposes cannot be seriously cavilled at by the Labour movement. It is only a small increase, 16 per cent, on a vote of £3,000,000 last year. Any one who argues that we are voting for a large increase of expenditure on a Avar mongering scheme, must be very dense. I cannot understand why Senator Dunn, with whom I agree on many other matters, desires this reduction. A large portion of the increase will go in increased salaries and wages to defence employees, with whom I have a certain amount of sympathy. They are entitled, like other sections of the workers, to some measure of restoration of what they have lost during the depression. As a means of relieving unemployment, this expenditure by itself would be only tinkering with the problem. Unemployment should be the subject of a far larger scheme than anything that has been placed before this chamber. I shall vote against the requested amendment, because the increased expenditure will mean a reduction of unemployment. Also, it cannot be said that we are yielding to pressure by those who talk of the possibility of another war. If we were attacked by an Asiatic country, I am certain that thecolour-line would he raised throughout the world. Any Asiatic country that attacked any part of this continent would have against it the armed white forces of the world. Japan is fully occupied in Manchuria, and if it wanted to start a quarrel it would start it on the question of who shall own Siberia. Not within the next 50 years will Japan think of attacking Australia directly. It might attack us’ as part of the disturbance if another big war occurred.
If we had to fight for Australia in another world war, we would certainly fight as part of a world alliance, and take our share of the trouble, as we did in the last war. The increase will bring defence expenditure up to what it was before the Scullin Government started reducing it. Speaking for the workers of Australia, I say that we are not prepared to stand with our arms folded in the event of invasion. “We would regard any attack on this country as an attack on our homes, and would resist it by every means in our power. If Australia were invaded, there would be no need for conscription, which we opposed, during the last war. Every man and woman would stand to arms and show the invading nation that there were no weaklings amongst us, and I have ho doubt that we would receive support from other parts of the world.
Thursday, 7 December 1933
– My excuse for talking on this subject is that of its importance. There are only two ways to look at it. If we are so secure as to be immune from attack from any quarter, the logical thing is to tear down our defence, and reduce ourselves to the same helpless state as the islands of the Pacific. I doubt whether any of the critics of the defence vote would’ advocate that course. If we are not safe, or if there is any suspicion that our position is not secure in the immediate or distant future, we must do as other nations are doing. They are looking to their own safety. On moral grounds I agree that those who have designs on this country have no moral right to it. This country slumbered until about 140 years ago. Our countrymen, by virtue of their inherent qualities of grit, enterprise, courage, and determination, discovered this land, and set about working it vigorously. Marvellous progress has been made in the short time that has elapsed since Australia was first settled by a few people. Let us examine the speculations of critics . who tell us that our title to this fair land may be disputed. Attack, they say, is expected to come from the north. It is realized by these people that there are at least sixteen countries in Europe in which the density of population is greater than in any country in Asia, pot excepting India, Japan, and China? There is no greater myth than “ the teeming East.” It is the “teeming West” that is the grim reality. Therefore, on the score of congestion of population, this island continent has, so far as moral reasoning is concerned, the strongest case that could be put forward. It was discovered by Europeans, and developed by Britishers. Those who came here, invaded the country, and colonized it, have as good a right to hold it as those, who have designs upon it have to hold theirs. But, realizing that moral influences have little to do with the causes of war, let us look at the practical side. We have noticed lately that the navy vote of the United States of America has been vastly increased because of the strong activity of a power to the north of Australia. . The fact that the warship Mutsa was built, at a cost of millions of pounds, with money subscribed by the inhabitants of Japan, discloses at once the spirit that exists in Japan, as compared with the spirit in this country. If some one started a movement here to raise funds for building a warship, how would it be regarded ? It is quite safe to assume that it would not be treated seriously by the vast majority of our people, but in Japan, as every one knows, the warship was built by public subscription. It has 16-inch guns, and other armament the equal of which were not used in the Battle of Jutland. It was paid for by the citizens of Japan, without compulsion. I ‘ask, “ What is that ship for “ ? Is it for protecting Japanese commerce? It may or may not be, but at all events the ship -is there, and was exempted from the partial disarmament provisions at the Washington Conference because the susceptibilities of Japan were not to be trifled with.
If we cast a glance back at the distribution of the world’s population,- we find it has been one of the driving forces in causing wars. Men, where populations have, been crowded, have sought an outlet to vacant spaces where food has been plentiful. They have done this rather than remain in their own circumscribed areas. In other words, the desire to go out and have a fight is largely because people are looking for an advantage. A burglar would never dream of entering an empty house. He applies himself to a house with something in it. A foot-pad would never dream of tackling a man who obviously had no money in his pockets. So it is with the overcrowded populations of the world. “Why did we dispossess the native Australian race and thrust it aside? We were only obeying the inexorable law of the spread of population down the centuries. When other crowded populations see us with an empty continent, there is an incentive to them to come here and share in our good things. If we give them the opportunity, they will force themselves into this country, and rightly so. The blacks who were in possession of this country had as much right to it as we had, except that they were putting it to such little use, in comparison with what we have been able to do. We came and dispossessed them, and by the same rule, any power is entitled to say that it has as much right here as we have. When that occurs we shall have to defend ourselves, and if we neglect our defence system, we are courting disaster and our own ruin by making this fine country more tempting to others. I should like to refer to several statements made by Senator Rae, who has a most logical mind on the subject of defence. The honorable senator has been associated with the pan-Pacific organization that has very little respect for our White Australia policy. If he still believes in the doctrines of that organization, he is a most logical and consistent opponent of our defence system. He referred to the drilling and the preparation of men to fight, and said that there would be a revolution in Australia if an attempt were made to compel Australian citizens to undergo military training. If honorable senators refer to the book which I have before me, they will find that in Russia, the country that is supposed to set an example as to how a country should he ruled, and how peace should be preserved, the authorities are compelling the citizens to undergo two weeks of military training in each year. Why have the Soviet authorities done that? What was in their minds when they passed this law? Were they occupying their idle time or doing this merely for fun? The obvious reason is that they believe that sooner or late, an attack will be made upon their country.
– They have good reasons for protecting themselves, because fourteen nations invaded Russia at the one time. That is not likely to happen to Australia.
– For the same reason as the people who rule Russia believe in defending themselves, we should defend ourselves. What is wrong with Australia having the same state of mind and the same beliefs? If we hold- the same beliefs, we should act. Let us establish a defence plan and supplement it from time to time, in the same way as the people who own and inhabit Russia are protecting their country against external aggression. We should have the same state of mind ; but ‘it should be a thousand times stronger, because we have greater liberties here than the Russians have ever possessed. We should be more ardent, more determined and more steadfast in our resolve to protect our country than are the people of any other country.
Question - That the request (Senator Dunn’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (‘Chairman - Senator the Hon. Herbert Hays.)
Majority … . . 20
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed votes - Department of Trade and Customs, £498,700; Department of Health, £100,800; Department of Commerce, £313,340 - agreed to.
Proposed vote, £1,177,970.
– I should like some information from the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator McLachlan) in regard to the Commonwealth contribution- to the cost of the Secretariat of the League of Nations. Last year, the vote Avas £20,000 and -the expenditure £50,323. This year, the estimated expenditure is- £54,000. Every one knows what has been happening lately in connexion Avith the League of Nations. The other day the Minister quoted the number of members of the League which have defaulted in respect of their contributions, and also the number of countries that may withdraw from the League. Information was recently given in the press as to the enormous salaries paid to the huge staff at Geneva, and I think that it is time that the Commonwealth called a halt in its contributions to the League. They appear to be increasing annually, and I submit that the proposed “expenditure of £54,000 this year could be more effectively used in relieving unemployment.
– This amount is increased owing to the fact that it was decided to pay our contribution to the League of Nations in full, including arrears up to June, 1933. The league’s financial year is the calender year, and the £54,000 mentioned is sufficient to meet our contribution to December, 193.3, and also for the first six months of 1934, at a similar rate. Negotiations are proceeding between the other dominions on the subject of making a united effort to reduce the cost of contributions, and it is hoped that at -the forthcoming assembly, reductions will be effected involving contributions at a lower rate as from the 1st June, 1934.
– Under division 101, Council for Scientific and Industrial
Research, appear a number of items representing Australia’s contribution to various bureaux and associations. Perhaps the Minister (Senator McLachlan) can give to us some information about the work that the council has been doing for for some years. “When the council Avas reconstituted in 1926, the Government set aside, I think, the sum of £500,000 for its activities I understand that the vote has been exhausted, and that the council is now dependent upon annual grants. No one doubts that it would be able to do more, and perhaps better, work if the grant were larger. There is a definite fear that, unless the contributions from the Commonwealth are kept up, Ave may lose some of our most valuable scientists. In the nature of things, as the work being done by the council develops, the expenditure on it is likely to be larger. I do not wish to criticize the Ministry on the vote, but I do think that our contributions are tending to become smaller rather than larger. Nobody who knows anything about the facts can doubt that the council has done extraordinarily valuable work for Australia in the last six or seven years. It has co-operated in a most useful/ way with the State councils, and it wouldbe deplorable if, by not supporting this scientific body, which is really our chief intellectual assistance in the business of production, we were generally to weaken production itself. Perhaps the Minister, under whose aegis the council is, can re-assure us about the future work of that body.
– Yesterday we had a very full discussion about the work of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research when the vote for the Prime Minister’s Department Avas before the committee. The expenditure in connexion Avith the council is about £114,000 per annum. This year, owing to the exhaustion of the original fund, Ave were obliged to get a vote of £72,000, and th, balance of the money required for the council’s work is being made up by contributions from various outside sources. Our contribution this year to the Imperial Bureau of Entomology is £250; to the Imperial Bureau of Micology, £100; to the International Institute of Refrigeration, £25; to the Australian Commonwealth Association of Simplified Practices and Standards, £3,000; and to the British Woollen and Worsted Association, £100. I assure honorable senators that we are getting good value in return for that expenditure. Before the close of the present financial year, I expect to submit some proposals to the Government with respect to the future work of the council.
.- Under “Miscellaneous,” division 102, there appears the item, “ Exchange on remittances to London and New York, £692,000.” I do not desire again to criticize the very doubtful practice of treating exchange in a separate item, in view of the way that world monetary policies are shaping; but I hope that the Minister representing the Treasurer (Senator Lawson) will be able to give us some information about this item. I do not query our London indebtedness, because every one is satisfied with the excellent work which Mr. Bruce has done in connexion with the conversion of those London debts in respect of which Australia has had optional conversion rights, and we derive comfort from the knowledge that our favorable trade balance for the last three years amounts to between £79,000,000 and £80,000,000. The Government has been repeatedly congratulated upon the series of successful conversion loans issued in London, but, up to the present time, there has been no mention of the Government’s intentions with regard to our New York indebtedness. The New York position is really very serious, because, apart from its size- the debt is £47,079,523- our adverse trade balance with the United States of America for the last three years has been approximately £39,000,000. The interest charge on the debt, expressed in sterling, is £2,365,852. A disturbing feature is the fact that the rate of interest is 5.6 per cent., and that we have optional conversion rights in respect of only £10,185,000. Can the Minister inform me if the Government has considered the possibility of exercising its rights over that, portion of the debt, and if it will do so at an early date? With the assistance of Treasury officials, I have investigated the position, and I have discovered that if we take advantage of every opportunity to convert the debt, providing we honour our contractual obligations, it will be 20 years before it is brought down to a flat rate of 4 per cent. Because of the uncertainty of the dollar exchange, I should be glad to hear of the Government’s intention to convert, to securities carrying a lower rate of interest, at least that portion of the loan over which we have optional rights.
[12.40 a.m.]. - At an earlier stage in the debate I explained why the amount referred to by Senator Hardy appears as a separate item. I am advised that this is the practice of all governments. I also mentioned that provision was made in the Estimates for exchange in respect of war services paid out of revenue, Commonwealth railways and the Departments of Defence and the Postmaster-General. During the last few weeks, questions have been addressed to the Treasurer with regard to the New York indebtedness and the possibility of conversion. The answer has been that the Government is watching the position, and that, if a favorable opportunity presents itself, appropriate action will be taken. I am afraid that I am unable to elaborate that reply, but I give honorable senators an assurance that the position is beiug watched very carefully.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed votes - Refunds of Revenue, £1,150,000 ; Advance to the Treasurer, £2,000,000; War Services Payable out of Revenue, £1,011,500 - agreed to.
Part 2. - Business Undertakings.
Proposed vote - Commonwealth Rail-‘ ways, £583,300 - agreed to.
Proposed vote, £8,881,650.
– Can the Minister representing the Postmaster-General inform me if provision is made in the Estimates for improving the postal buildings in Brisbane? I refer to the General Post Office, Queen-street, the South Brisbane post office and the post office at Fortitude Valley.
– Provision is made in the Estimates for new works and buildings which were passed about a fortnight ago.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Part 3. - Territories of the Commonwealth.
Proposed vote - Northern Territory - £132,734.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior in a position to make a statement with reference to the proposal to develop the Northern Territory by the chartered company system? I asked a question on that subject about a week ago, and was then informed that the Minister hoped to be able to make a statement before the end of the session. We have read a good deal in the newspapers lately regarding a proposal to develop the Northern Territory by chartered, companies, but so far no statement has been made to Parliament - at least to the Senate - on this subject. Is the Leader of the Senate in a position to give us any information? After all, Parliament is the proper place for such information to be given. Without disclosing anything confidential the Minister should tell us whether any negotiations are in progress, or whether what we see in the newspapers on this subject is merely press propaganda-
[12.47 a.m.]. - Some time ago the Prime Minister announced the conditions under which the Government was prepared to consider offers from private enterprise for the development of the Northern Territory. There have been some inquiries for further information, but they have been of an indefinite character. Apparently, the people concerned have wanted to know what the Government had in mind. A Cabinet committee, comprising the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator McLachlan) and myself, and two Ministers from the House of Representatives, was appointed, and, after studying the correspondence, it came to the conclusion that very little is known about the Northern- Territory in Australia, and less outside Australia. Consequently, the committee thought that it would be wise to prepare a prospectus setting out various facts concern ing the Northern Territory - its water supplies, climate, soil; and geological features, as well as a map showing the stock routes, water supplies, and so on. That publication is now in the hands of the Government Printer. When ready it will be distributed to members of Parliament and other persons who desire information about the Northern Territory. Copies will also be sent to the High Commissioner in London and to the Trade Commissioner in New York. By that means the potentialities of the territory will be made known to those who are seeking there an investment for their money. Should the Government receive any practical proposal, it will, as I have already said on a number of occasions, inform Parliament. Any draft agreement will have to be submitted to Parliament for ratification. Nothing.will be done behind the back of Parliament. I am not in a position to say that a definite proposal has been made by any company, although a number of inquiries have been received. Whether any of them will subsequently lead to a definite proposal it is impossible to say at this juncture. Another matter awaiting consideration by Cabinet is a geological and geophysical survey of the north of Australia. Negotiations have been in progress “with the Governments of Western Australia and Queensland in this connexion, and the matter is now awaiting the decision of Cabinet. . The Government is not concealing anything.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed votes. - Federal Capital Territory, £233,734; Papua, £65,652; and Norfolk Island, £3,000 - agreed to.
Schedule agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Repre sentatives, and (on motion by Senator McLachlan) read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till this day at 11 a.m.
Senate adjourned at 12.57 a.m. (Thursday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 6 December 1933, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1933/19331206_senate_13_143/>.