13th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the attention of the Leader of the Senate been drawn to the following statements which appeared in the Sydney Truth newspaper: -
When Dr. Earle Page, M.H.R., was Treasurer in the Bruce-Page Government,he was responsible for the following: -
The mad extravagance of the tragic Treasurer
ThePRESIDENT.- Order !
– Is he the same Dr. Earle Page, M.H.R., who has been sitting in daily conference with Mr. Lyons, the Prime Minister, to bring about an election pactbetween the -United Australia party and the United Country party?
– My attention not having been directed to the newspaper article referred to, I have not read the allegations contained in it.
– In a question directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, of which notice has been asked, Senator Dunn has read somewhat lengthy quotations from a newspaper article containing expressions of opinion with regard to the attitude of the Argentine Republic to the international wheat agreement. As the honorable senator must know from experience, this practice cannot be. allowed in questions addressed to Ministers. To permit this would be to confer on persons outside this Parliament rights which are not enjoyed by honorable senators. Therefore, that part of the honorable senator’s question is disallowed.
The following papers were presented : -
High Commissioner for Australia in London - Report for 1933.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 75.
Commonwealth Railways Act - By-laws - No. 66 - No. 67.
Excise Act- Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934. No. 70.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired in Parish of Cambridge, County of Monmouth, Tasmania - For Defence purposes.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Northern Territory (Administration) Act - Ordinances of 1934 -
No. 3 - Public Service.
No. 4 - Mining.
No.5 - Workmen’s Compensation.
No.6 - Brands.
No. 7 - Licensing.
No. 8 - Crown Lands.
No. 9 - Dingo Destruction.
No. 10 - Crimes.
No. 11 - Supreme Court.
No. 12 - Alsatian Dogs.
No. 13 - Crown Lands (No. 2).
War Precautions Act Repeal Act - Regula tions - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 13.
New Guinea Act - Ordinances of 1934 -
No. 1- Customs Tariff.
No. 2 - Judiciary.
No. 3 - Ordinances Interpretation.
No. 4 - Deserted Wives and Children.
No. 5 - Legitimation.
No. 6 - Laws Repeal and Adopting.
No. 7 - Dogs.
No.8 - Administrator’s Powers.
No. 9 - Explosives.
No. 10 - Compensation to Relatives.
Will the Minister for Defence lay on the table of the Senate the written application for positions in the Australian Navy forwarded to him during the last two and a half years by Senator Dunn? Will he also state how many, if any, such applications have been successful ?
I am now in a position to inform the honorable senator that he has sent to me six applications for entry and re-entry to theRoyal Australian Navy, and two applications for positions at the naval establishment at Garden Island. The files in regard to the applications above referred to, for entry or re-entry to the Royal Australian Navy, can be inspected at my office in the Senate.
-Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior make available to senators who wish to peruse them, before the debate, the special opinions recently obtained from King’s Counsel, with reference to the proposed reduction of South Australian members of the House of Representatives?
– I shall ascertain whether the opinions are available, and answer the honorable senator later.
– I have received from Senator Hardy an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the Senate this afternoon for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, “ The reported decision of the Government to hold a general election on the 15th September, 1934.”
Four honorable senators having risen in support of the motion,
.- I move-
That the Senate at its rising’ adjourn till 9 a.m. on Thursday, 12th instant.
I have taken this course to enable honorable senators to discuss what I consider an unprecedented act of political expediency by the Lyons Government to hold the federal elections on the 15th September, approximately five months before the date on which they would ordinarily be held. There is neither rhyme nor reason in abandoning a national work of reconstruction and plunging the nation into a welter of uncertainty. There is no excuse for any government substituting political strategy for a policy of national progress. The decision to appeal to the people six months before the constitutional term of Parliament will expire is inexplicable not only to the general public, but also to members of this Parliament, and it is evidence of the control by certain political strategists which has characterized the whole of the Lyons administration. It cannot be denied that two and a half years ago the present Government was elected by an overwhelming majority. It was then felt by the people that the Government would undertake fearlessly the national work of reconstruction needed, showing favour to none, and governing for the benefit of the whole of the people, regardless of class or creed. The electors who have watched the progress of this Government, with varying feelings, are astounded to learn that after a recess of seven months Parliament is to be dissolved at the voluntary request of the Prime Minister. Is it any wonder that people are asking - and the question is likely to remain unanswered - why an appeal is being made to the people when the work for which the Government was elected remains incomplete? Is there any excuse for abandoning a programme of national legislation merely in order to gain a tactical advantage over other political parties? Is there any excuse why vital legislation should not be dealt with during the next six months instead of playing ducks and drakes with the political stability of this country? Surely it is the duty of any government, regardless of its political creed, to carry its responsibility through to the end of its term rather than to sidestep the difficult problems that lie ahead. When the Leader of the Senate was asked last week to state the reasons which actuated the Government in this matter, he said that the Prime Minister would announce the reasons in the House of Representatives. The date of the election was announced, but the Prime Minister has not yet explained to Parliament the reasons for such an irresponsible decision. The National Parliament has had to be content to read a statement issued by the Prime Minister through the press, and which, for all practical purposes, is about as useful as a ship in dry dock. In that statement which, I presume, must represent the official views of the Government, the Prime Minister said -
The Government obtained u mandate at the last election to balance the budget and restore confidence and credit. This mandate lias been fully carried out. The country now faces the problems of rural rehabilitation, markets for our produce, trade treaties, prevention of the restriction of exports of our primary products, adequate defence and Empire co-operation.
It is true that at the last election the Government obtained a mandate to balance its budget and to restore confidence. That was one of the greatest assets of this “ prosperity “ which still persists in hiding its head around the corner. The Prime Minister, with the aid of a rise in export prices of about 40 per cent. - a fact which he does not mention - has balanced his budget, but whether confidence has been restored is debatable. The Tasmanian electors did not think so, as a Nationalist Government in that State has been thrown out of office. Perhaps the matter of confidence is worrying the Prime Minister, and that may be his real reason for the early appeal to the country. I admit that conditions are improving. Why, it is even reported that the farmers in the Riverina are taking their bills out of the envelopes. Still, the Prime Minister may find that his confidence is misplaced. It is cheerfully and thankfully admitted that the budget is balanced, but it is not my purpose on this occasion to say at what cost. I dismiss the first part of his statement, and allow the credit - if there is any - to go to the Government, but it is the next sentence in his statement to which I direct attention. It is -
The country now faces the problem of rural rehabilitation.
The intention is clear; the words allow no misinterpretation. It is a simple, bald statement by Australia’s first citizen that the country now faces the problem of rural rehabilitation. This shows the difference, clearly and sharply, between the United Australia party and the United Country party. The members of the Country party have been under the impression, for the past three years, that unless the primary industries are given a policy of rehabilitation, all engaged in such industries must become bankrupt o* remain on their farms as tenants for vested interests. We have argued and pleaded for these measures both in season and out of season, and there have been instances in this chamber where our appeals for rural rehabilitation have fallen on deaf ears And now the Prime Minister ‘(Mr. Lyons), as a reason for this election six months before it need take place, states that the country is crying out for a policy of rural rehabilitation. Rip Van Winkle! It is a pity this cry was not recognized three years ago. The Parliament has over six months of its constitutional term of office yet. to run, and the Government, if it is sincerely desirous of effectuating a rural policy, has still ample time to do it by postponing the election till the proper date, and getting down to solid constructive work for the next six months. It would then be able to refute the statement that it has been like a taxi driver, going through life just missing everything. It is admitted in the statement that, on all matters including visionary rural rehabilitation, the Government has a vital policy, but requires these questions to be submitted to the people. Why ? That is a logical question, and one the Government can attempt to answer. Surely, if a policy has been formulated during the life of the Government, one may logically ask, “ Why has this policy, in view of the urgent need of .the men on the land, not been put into operation? Why let it hibernate, while a harassed nation mills around like a flock of sheep?” Is this the policy of the political strategists? If so, it is one that sacrifices the advancement of the nation on the altar of party tactics. In the work that remains undone by the present Government, the tariff and assistance to primary industry rank foremost. I shall not weary the Senate by a repetition of the Lyons Government’s tariff record, but it is pertinent to inquire why over 60 reports by the Tariff Board, which have been received by the Government, have not been released for the consideration of this Parliament. The Government has’ always claimed that it should be guided by the Tariff Board’s recommendations. Surely the Government does not contemplate, in order to defeat the purpose of this pledge made in the policy speech of the Prime Minister, that those reports shall be allowed to lie undisturbed on the Cabinet table, and to become covered with dust. What do these reports contain? Are they all in favour of those who advocate low duties, irrespective of the effect on Australian industries, or do they advocate the retention of present duties? Obviously, a serious change must have been recommended ; otherwise the reports would not be withhold by the Government. Are they being suppressed in view of the coming election? The release of the reports would cause a re-action in the ranks of those government supporters who advocate a manufacturing Australia. Election or no election, the obvious fluty of the Government is to table the reports, and not allow the allegation to be made that the election will be fought under false tariff colours. Rumour is, of course, a lying jade, but sometimes rumour is correct, and rumour hath it ,that the political strategists are determined to keep the reports an unknown quantity until after the election.
Again, I am not prepared at this stage to detail the many sins of the Lyons Government in connexion with the wheat industry. I shall not stress the fact that the previous budget contained no reference to wheat relief, but I do emphasize that the Government has no right to appeal to the country until it has solved this problem. Repeatedly, it has avoided the issue with an agility worthy of an acrobat. A commission has been appointed to investigate tho wheat industry. There is no doubt that the report will be wide in scope and effect. Its fulfilment will either usher in a new era of prosperity for the wheatgrower, or throw the whole industry into chaos. Why not defer the election until the report is tabled? The plain duty of the present Government is to stay in office and place the wheat industry on a sound footing, instead of rushing to the country with a pyramid of promises as to what it will do if returned. The Government can remain in office, if it so desires, for another six months. It should do so, and cope with the wheat problem. If the Government seeks election without placing this great industry on a sound basis, it will be adding the last straw that will break the camel’s back. I am frequently in touch with the primary producers, and I know that they will not tolerate any government that offers only a mass of promises, and has no record of achievement.
Will the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) state the intention of the Government regarding the Petrol Commission? Is this also to be a post-election policy, as well as’ rural rehabilitation, the necessity for which Mr. Lyons appears to have just discovered? Are we to apply the famous “wait and see” policy to this important subject as well as to wheat and the tariff? In regard to subsidized foreign shipping, 1 am astonished that the Government has done nothing to deflect this attack on British vessels. Mention could he made of the various constitutional arn end ments proposed in the policy speech of Mr. Lyons, but these matters only tend to widen the difference of opinion that exists between, those people who think that it is high time that the Lyons Government should get something done, and those who .think that the Lyons Government has done enough. Frankly, I have never believed that the Lyons Government has had any sympathy with the primary producers of this country. It is not a friend of the man on the land, and has never given adequate assistance to our great exporting industries. I protest vigorously against the decision of the Government to hold an election on the 15th September. Unless the Government were defeated in the meantime, the proper time for it to account to the electors for its administration would be after the 17th February, 1935.
[3.31]. - One wonders why the honorable senator moved the adjournment of the Senate, because everything that he said to-day he has said on many other occasions since he was elected to this chamber. I emphasize that only since his election has he spoken in this strain.
– The right honorable gentleman would do well to read my preelection utterances.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.An astonishing feature of the motion is the quarter from which the mover received support. In addition to Senator Johnston, support was forthcoming from the two members of the Lang party and the members of the Scullin party.
– I received the support of all the Country party members in the Senate.
– Both members of that party, as well as both members of the Lang party, gave the honorable senator their support. 1 congratulate bini, as a New South “Wales senator, on having obtained the support of the Lang party. Had “Senator Hardy, before submitting his motion, taken the trouble to make inquiries, he would have ascertained that the House of Representatives, as at present constituted, will expire by effluxion of time on the 16th February, 1935, and that the invariable practice lias been to hold an election before the actual date on which the Parliament would ordinarily expire.
– Was that so in 1926 when the Bruce-Page Government was in office?
– Lf the practice of the past were followed on this occasion, the election would need to be held in December or January next. Do honorable senators think that either is a suitable month in which to hold an election? I admit that elections have been held in December; but the campaigns have been fought in October and November. Senator Hardy poses as the champion of the primary producers. If he knows anything at all of primary production, he must know that December and January are the months when it is most difficult for wheat-growers to get away from their farms. The Australian wheat crop is reaped during December and January, and there is always the risk of storms and fire destroying the work of months; yet the honorable senator would take the primary producers off their farms at that season and subject them to those risks. I suggest that he shows a callous disregard of their interests.
Another reason for an early election is that we are to be favoured with a visit from a member of the Royal family. His Royal Highness, the Duke of Gloucester, will arrive in Australia in October, and will romain in this country until December. Surely it is most undesirable that he should be here during the turmoil of a general election. Is it not better that he should come during the calm before the storm, or that which follows the storm?
– Would he be here in March ?
– A consideration of these factors proves conclusively the wisdom of holding an election in September or October.
The honorable senator introduced into the discussion the differences which exist between the United Australia party and the United Country party. There have always been some differences between the two parties; but I have never regarded them as serious. The honorable senator himself, when he was seeking to he placed on the joint ticket of the hyo parties at n previous election, did not regard them as vital.
– That was before the pact was broken.
– Of so little consequence did the honorable senator regard those differences then that he could speak to the electors from the same platform as did members of the United Australia party. Now that the honorable senator has been elected to the Senate, it may not matter to him that in New South Wales .the United Country party does not regard the differences between the parties as sufficiently great to prevent it from agreeing with the United Australia party for a joint ticket at the forthcoming election. If Senator Hardy is the real voice of the Country party, the other members of the organization must be out of step. The honorable senator oan see nothing good in the United Australia party or the Government which represents it.
– I want the Govern- “ ment to get on with its job.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Government has done its job -too well for the honorable senator ; it has removed from office the Lang Government, which was the beginning, and end of the honorable senator’s policy. The reasons for holding an election in September were given by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) recently, when he said -
In going to the country in September the Parliament ia only anticipating by two, or, at the most, three months thy time when the elections would have been held iu any case. Generally, .Federal elections have been held in November or December.
The Government obtained a mandate at the last election to balance the budget and restore confidence and credit. This mandate has been fully carried out. The country now faces the problems of rural rehabilitation, markets for our produce, trade treaties, prevention of the restriction of our exports of primary .products, adequate defence, and continuance of sound finance and Empire cooperation. On all these vital questions the Government has a definite policy, but the proposals which the Government has formulated on these matters have not been submitted to the people.
The Government desires once more to obtain a fresh mandate from the people to enable it to carry out its policy in respect to those mutters. All the subjects mentioned need urgent attention and action. An early election is, therefore. ‘ gi the interest of the people, in order that a Parliament duly authorized by the people to deal with these vital and important questions may be elected as soon as possible. It would obviously be undesirable to have an election during the Royal visit. To postpone the election until after the departure of the Royal guest would mean that the election would have to be held in January or February, when harvesting is proceeding in some States, a period which, from a climatic point of view, is the most unsuitable time of the year.
The members of the Parliament who may not he re-elected suffer a pecuniary loss by. an early election, but the people will reap the benefit of being given a voice in determining how these Policies are to he shaped, and by whom thev are to be given effect to.
If the Government had so poor an opinion of itself, it would not make a declaration such as that, or take the proposed action, which is the clearest possible indication of its confidence in the verdict of the people. It has no doubt at all that its record in the last two and a half years, together with the policy which it will place before the people, will ensure its return to office and guarantee stable government in the federal sphere for another three years. <
Certain aspects of the problems upon which the Government proposes to seek a fresh mandate had not arisen when this Parliament went to the country on the last occasion. Take, for instance, the marketing of our rural products. The
Ottawa Conference had not then been held and since that gathering the acute nationalism, which has developed in some countries has created serious problems in connexion with the marketing of their products, and to those problems the Ottawa agreement does not supply a complete answer. The finding of new markets and the making of trade treaties have become acute problems, and the Government must have a policy regarding them. It is equally important for the Government to know that it has the authority of the people, to put such a policy into operation.
The honorable senator declared that the Government is holding back reports by the Tariff Board. It is a fact that some 60 reports are available, but it is eminently desirable that they should not be tabled until the Government is able to say what action it proposes concerning them, and to implement that action with the consent of both branches of the legislature. In those reports certain rates of duty are recommended by the board. If the reports were tabled, and action were not taken on them immediately, clever importers, and, for that matter, manufacturers too, could gain an advantage by gambling on the possible action to be taken by the Government. As the election is to be held in September, it will be impossible for both Houses to have a full discussion on the board’s reports on 60 items, and legislate on them, as well as deal with all the matters that will arise out of the budget proposals of the Government. It is clear that if the reports were laid on the table in the House of Representatives, all that Parliament could do would be to pass an act validating the new duties, but would that be satisfactory? Honorable senators know that on one occasion we had to validate a whole host of duties upon which this Senate had had no opportunity to express its opinion. Surely that is not a proper exercise of the legislative power of this chamber. Therefore, to those who would safeguard the interests of the Senate, I suggest that, as the elections will be held in September, it is far better that each House should have an opportunity to discuss freely and vote upon the proposals of the Tariff Board regarding all those items. I desire to correct Senator Hardy. I do not know whether he deliberately tried to misconstrue the Prime Minister’s remarks, but 1 challenge him to produce any statement ever made by my leader, at any time and in any place, that he would always accept the recommendations of the Tariff Board. What he did say was that the policy of the Government was to refrain from altering duties without first obtaining a report by the board, but the Ministry has never pledged itself to accept every recommendation submitted by the board. It must make up its own mind regarding any duty in the light of the board’s report and recommendation. But, obviously, it cannot commit itself to accept, every such recommendation.
The honorable senator went on to say that the Government has no right to go to the country until it has announced its policy. Of course, it will announce its policy when it goes to the country. Surely no democrat can object to that procedure, which amounts to placing the people, in a sense, before the Parliament. The matters awaiting immediate attention were not under consideration by the people at the last election, and consequently, they have never expressed an opinion regarding them; so the Government, in taking its policy to the country, is showing that it believes in the rule of the people.
The policy of the Government regarding the wheat industry was also questioned by the honorable senator. The Government has already announced that the royal commission that has been inquiring into the position of the wheat industry will submit an interim report before the end of the present session. The chairman of the commission has informed the Prime Minister that this will be done, so I suggest to Senator Hardy that after the receipt of the interim report will be the appropriate time for the Government to state what action it proposes to take upon the matter. The Government does not know any more than does the honorable senator what that interim report will contain. Obviously, it would be foolish on the Government’s part to anticipate the report, and it is unreasonable on the part of the honorable senator to ask it to commit itself regarding a report which it has not yet seen.
– The Government has seven months ahead of it.
– The honorable senator has the assurance that the report will be presented before the close of the session. I was surprised to hear him say that the Lyons Government had shown no sympathy with the rural producer. I cannot understand the motive for that statement. Does the honorable senator wish to see Labour in possession of the treasury benches in the Commonwealth Parliament, and a repetition throughout Australia of that state of affairs which existed in New South Wales and was responsible for his return to this chamber? Let him not think that his remarkable capacity as a speaker and an organiser was responsible for his appearance here. His election was due to the revulsion of feeling in New South Wales against the Lang Government. On that wave of public feeling, and with the Assistance of the organisation of the United Australia party, he came into this chamber. But his remarks to-day are not calculated to help this Government or the party that assisted him into this Parliament. They will rather serve the ends of the party that is the greatest danger to Australia - the Lang Labour party.
Let us examine the accusation made against this Government. In its two years and a half of office, it has done its utmost, within the limits imposed by the financial condition of the country, to afford relief to wheat-farmers, whose desperate plight was due to the catastrophic decline of the overseas market, and, on each occasion, notwithstanding the taunts of Senator Hardy and some others, it acted in sufficient time for the harvest. It refused to be stampeded then, as it refuses to be stampeded now, in regard to its policy for the relief of rural producers. It also introduced and passed last year a measure providing for the payment of a bounty on the purchase of fertilizers required by primary producers other than wheat-growers. Its action in this respect has been appreciatively referred to by many primary producers, who declared that it was of the greatest assistance to them. The Government also, last year, brought in a bill for the assistance of growers of apples and pears in a number of States. I would further remind Senator Hardy that its proposals for relief from taxation - the remissions in respect of special customs and primage duties imposed by the Scullin Government, as well as the sales tax - were brought down in the interests of primary producers, the desire being to remove, as far as possible, the burden which had been placed upon rural industries by the previous Administration. Those measures benefited the primary industries of this country to the amount of millions of pounds. Yet this gentleman, who pretends to represent the rural interests, has the audacity to say that during its two and a half years’ term of office this Government has done nothing for primary industries. It will- need more than the eloquence of Senator Hardy, more than the frothy mouthings of this platform orator from the western districts of New South Wales, to hide from the people the actual Achievements of the governments. Apparently, the honorable senator submitted his motion without regard to the actual facts, but with the sole desire to injure, not only the United Australia party, but also the United Country party at the forthcoming election.
– The right honorable the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce), in his reply to Senator Hardy, made several references which call for some comment. I am not, at the moment, concerned with the domestic quarrel that has taken place between the Government and members of the United Country party. These differences of opinion are aired for the purpose of persuading the -people that those who indulge in them really mean what they say. We all know that, when the time comes, the two sections will become united for their individual and collective gain. But when the Leader of the Senate takes to the Government full credit for the improvement that has taken place in the financial and economic conditions of Australia during the last two and a half years, it is as well that the actual facts should be placed before the people.
The right honorable gentleman said that it was the desire of the Government to present to the electors certain proposals for dealing with the major problems that confront Australia at the moment. He emphasized that it was taking this course now because it believed in the democratic principle of asking the people for a new mandate. But if the Government really believed that the people should be unfettered in their choice of representatives for this Parliament, why have the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), the Leader of the Senate, and other Ministers, been negotiating during the last few weeks with Dr. Earle Page, the Leader of the Country party, and Mr. Paterson, the Deputy Leader of that party? Is it not a fact that these conferences have been held for the purpose of restricting the choice of the people in certain electoral divisions for the House of Representatives, and also determining what candidates shall offer themselves for election to the Senate? Is it right that a small coterie, which may be described as a preselection committee, should decide these important issues? If the Government really believes in freedom of choice by the people, why does not it allow all the candidates to face the electors, irrespective of the parties to which they belong? Why is it necessary to conduct these negotiations, and why should the parties in conference order the retirement of certain candidates in order to ensure the return of others? It should be remembered that during the whole of these negotiations, which have received a great deal of publicity in the newspapers, we have not heard one word about public policy; there has been no reference to those vital problems with which this Parliament should have the opportunity to deal. Apparently the whole of the discussion has centred in the question whether, for the Senate election in certain States, three United Australia party candidates or two United Australia party candidates and one Country party candidate should constitute the ‘antiLabour team. Some illuminating comments on this subject appeared recently in a leading article in the Melbourne Age. I take from it the following: -
The negotiations in progress between the leaders nf the United Australia and the Federal Country party are likely to inspire self-respecting Australians with a sense of shame, which the participants seemingly do not share.
That expresses the view of hundreds of thousands of Australian citizens who are dissatisfied with the subordination of the interests of the country to the interests of parties or individuals which have characterized the negotiations to which I have referred. The Age continues -
Nothing affecting the high destiny of Australia has been at stake. All that has been taking place is that a handful of political intriguers have been plotting how best to ensure personal and party success at the next general election.
Apparently the negotiations have not been quite so successful as some people hoped they would be, but a stage has been reached when something definite must be done in order to cement the contending political forces. Accordingly, the Government ha3 determined on a last desperate throw. It has resolved to appeal to the people, hoping, perhaps, that the fear of defeat- may force the refractory elements within the ranks of the respective parties to cease their hostility so that the two clements may become united and stave off the defeat which the Government’s record merits.
The Leader of the Senate quoted extensively the Prime Minister’s statement of the reasons for an early appeal to the people. “We are told that the Government is seeking a mandate to do certain things, especially in relation to primary industries. Has the Government any effective policy for the rehabilitation of the rural industries of this country - any scheme to rescue our wheatfanners, butter producers, and meat exporters from their present desperate position? All sections of primary industry, with the exception, perhaps, of the woolgrowers, are in difficulties. The improved position of wool-growers is due entirely to a very opportune increase of wool values during the latter portion of the last selling season. The higher prices received were mainly responsible for the healthier condition of Australian trade, and for the improved financial position of this country to-day. The relief received by the wool-growers may not be maintained, because the disquieting reports received from overseas have already resulted in the postponement of wool sales here, with a consequent collapse of prices. It may not be long before the whole of Australia’s primary industries are in the same unfortunate position as in the first two years of this Government’s period of office. During that time honorable senators on this side of the chamber repeatedly pleaded with the Government to evolve a definite plan to afford immediate and effective relief to those engaged in primary production, but to such requests the Government turned a deaf ear. It was not until the last moment that it was stampeded into assisting the wheat-growers, and then only by paying them a bounty. If the Government has a practical policy to afford real relief to the primary producers, it does not require to go to the people for a mandate. It can receive a mandate from this Parliament. I am safe in asserting, on behalf of honorable senators on this side of the chamber, that any practical policy submitted by the Government for the relief of primary producers will receive our unanimous support. If the Government is assured of the asssistance of its own supporters and of ours, why is it necessary to hold a general election ? Why should it reduce the life of this Parliament? Why does it not shoulder its responsibilities instead of postponing what it proposes to do, and thus compelling those engaged in primary production to face further uncertainty? If the Govern ment requires any assistance in resisting proposals to restrict exports from Australia, it will have the support of honorable senators on this side of the chamber.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– Although Senator Hardy is a representative of a different school of political thought to that with which I am associated, I do not think that the cheap “ Billingsgate “ of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Pearce) concerning the honorable senator was justified. Senator Hardy should be congratulated upon having exposed these political “ Mutts and Jeffs” with respect to the proposed agreement between the United Australia party and the United Country party. Apparently, it is the intention of the Government to suggest that some assistance will be afforded to the farmers if only in the sweet by and by. The policy of this Government in that regard would put to shame a crowd of American gangsters. Regardless of what may be said by some, it is true that a political treaty has been entered into between the representatives of the members of the United Australia party and the United Country party. A paragraph, which appeared in the Perth Sunday Times under tho heading “ Senate Elections.” will enable honorable senators to determine the attitude of this Government towards the Country party. I also direct the attention of honorable senators to other newspaper paragraphs containing statements by representatives of the United Australia party concerning the United Country party. In the Adelaide Advertiser of the 2nd March, 1934, the following paragraph appeared : -
Senator Hardy (Country party senator, N.S.W.), speaking at the Western Divisional Conference of the Country party at Orange, N.S.W., in vigorously attacking the Lyons Government, said it was “ a government blinded by the dazzle of vested interests.” It was a monument of the people’s bad judgment.
That statement was made by Senator Hardy some weeks before Parliament reassembled this year, and it is a complete reply to the cheap sneers of the Leader of the Government in this chamber. The honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Hunter), who is a member of the Country party, is reported in the Argus of the 2nd January, 1932, as having said -
The Country party will rightly be afraid to trust any Nationalist promises. The Country party had been sold a “ pup “ by a man who had been on the anti-socialist side less than a year after a life-time with socialists.
Does that gentleman refer te the Prime Minister or to the Leader of the Government in this chamber? According to the
Age of 2nd August, 1924, Mr. Walters, a member of the Country party in Victoria, said -
The nation has had only one thing at heart, and that was city interests.
Mr. W. J. Watson, speaking at a Country party conference held at Daylesford, Baic -
The party had been discredited by its alliance with the United Australia party.
In the Age of 15th March, 1934, Mr. Allnutt, a member of the Country party in Victoria, is reported as having said -
A majority of the Parliamentary (Country) party is definitely under the control and die.tatorship of the United Australia party. The
Parliamentary (Country) party cannot be relied upon. My advice to conference ls not to trust the political leaders any longer.
On resigning from a composite ministry in Victoria, Mr. Crockett, M.L.C., a member of the Country party, said -
Mr. Allan (leader of the Country party) has apparently made a promise to the Nationalists that, in return for the Premiership, he will not press the policy of the Country party. He has never opened his mouth in Cabinet to press the policy of his party.
That paragraph appeared in the Sun on the 30th June, 1925. According to a report in the Melbourne Herald on the 21st April, 1925, the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) was asked, “Are you a good protectionist?” He replied, “ I certainly am.” Notwithstanding that admission, the right honorable gentleman has been going about the country calling the Prime Minister all sorts of names because this Government believes in protection of our secondary industries - only a. limited protection, .in my opinion. In the Argus of the 17th March, 1934, the Prime Minister is reported as follows : -
The Country party made a change of policy behind the back of the people a condition of ita co-operation with the Ministry.
Notwithstanding that assertion, the members of the two parties are now to share the same political bed. On the 9th September, 1933, Sir Stanley Argyle, the Premier of Victoria, said -
The Country party has done nothing for the general development of the State. It has merely bargained for whatever it can get for itself at the expense of the community.
The present, Minister for Trade and
Customs (Mr. White) is reported in
Hansard of the 23rd July, 1931, as follows : -
The Country party being a sectional party, places the interests of the primary producers first, last, and always, without regard to the claims of others. So long as it can further the interests of the farmers, it is prepared to disregard the consumers.
The Minister for Trade and Customs, who is responsible for that statement, will support the agreement reached at a conference between the two parties within the last 24 hours. - Mr. Menzies, the Attorney-General in the Victorian Government, who has been mentioned as the successor to the present Federal AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Latham), also made some interesting comments. While representing the taxpayers of Victoria, Mr. Menzies has also been appearing before the Royal Commission on Petrol on behalf of large petrol and oil companies. On the 17th March, 1933, he said-
I intend to hit where I see the head of an opponent or erstwhile colleague.
Sir Stanley Argyle, when Chief Secretary of a Victorian government, said -
If the people want stable government, they must elect a party capable of carrying on independent of outside forces. Do not give us a mongrel government incapable of doing useful work.
But apparently Sir Stanley Argyle is to support a mongrel coalition, which will endeavour to bulldose the taxpayers of New South Wales. Senator Pearce, who is to act as back-stop to the right honorable the Prime Minister during the forthcoming election campaign, has had a good deal to say concerning the members of the Lang party; but the right honorable gentleman should remember that he and his colleagues were glad to have our support of the tariff proposals of the Government. This is what the Sunday Times says of Sir George Pearce -
Who is Pearce that lie should control our affairs! He himself is a useless member so far as this State is concerned. He was a member of several Labour party Governments, and followed Hughes when that astute individual jumped John Forrest’s claim to the National Prime Ministership. When Hughes was played out and Bruce came into the picture Pearce followed the new Hyperion and remained six years under him until he was fired out by his electorate in 1929. When Lyons deserted Labour as Pearce had done, Pearce joined him and is still enjoying the emoluments of office. Altogether he has been about eighteen years in office out of 33 years in the Federal Parliament. No member lias such a record - it is unique and suggests a keen sense of opportunities. His first speech in the Federal Parliament was on the external principles of freetrade. He never repeated it, but clinched his arguments by supporting every increase in the federal tariff from its first modest scales to its present toppling attitude. In 1920 he got in by subscribing to an inter-party pledge to support a low tariff, and honored his pledge by sticking to a Ministry that put 40 per cent, on mining machinery and farming implements !
Senator Pearce is not prepared to face the people of Western Australia during the coming election.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - In what way is this relevant to the subject?
– I am showing the character of the right honorable senator who employed choice “ Billingsgate “ against Senator Hardy, who he said was a supporter of the Lang party. If Senator Hardy were a supporter of the Lang party, that would show that he at least had political wisdom and courage. Such courage has prompted him to put up a fight this afternoon in the interests of the Australian farmers. The Government, which has been backing and filling, has at last decided to rush to the country several months before the due date. It has tried to get the ears of the press, but I can assure the Leader of the Senate that he will have his work cut out to convince the farmers of New South Wales that the promises of this so-called “ prosperity Government “ have been fulfilled. I shall be right on the heels of the right honorable senator throughout his electioneering rambles in New South Wales.
– He will be after you now.
– I wish that Senator Pearce were one of the United Australia party candidates to face the electors a few weeks hence, either in New South Wales or Western Australia. Senator Sampson aspires to become the Government Whip in this chamber, but I warn him that, although the present holder of that office will probably be defeated, his ambition will not be realized, as the indications throughout Australia are that Labour will occupy the treasury bench after the appeal to the people of Australia on the 15th September. I advise Senator Sampson to go back to Tasmania and there challenge the newly elected Labour Government that is led by Albert Ogilvie.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
.- The object of Senator Hardy’s motion was clearly to urge the Government to put on the statutebook, before the election, the useful legislation that has been promised to the primary producers. That object has my wholehearted support. Whenever anr member of the Country party desires to move the adjournment of the Senate in order to discuss an urgent matter of public importance, he will have my support, regardless of what government is in power. The issue to-day is not so much the date of the election as the legislation to be enacted before the Parliament is prorogued. It is the duty of this Government, possessing an overwhelming majority in both chambers, to put on the statute-book as much as possible of the legislation required to give effect to its policy, and to help the primary industries, while it has the power to do so. If the Government does that, and retains control of both chambers, it will still have the power to decide the date of the election, but it has no right whatever to permit this Parliament to be prorogued until its promise to enact, before the next harvest, wheat-marketing legislation to provide for a home consumption price under the control of the growers, has been translated into legislation. I hope that the Country party will fight to the last ditch to prevent the prorogation of Parliament before such proposals have been carried into effect. In advocating this course, Senator Hardy was acting in accordance with the resolution passed unanimously yesterday by the Country party conference at which every State of the Commonwealth was represented.
– Was Tasmania represented ?
– Of course Tasmania was represented.
– By Senator Elliott and Mr. Nock. Who appointed them ?
– Certain gentlemen in Tasmania sent telegrams asking those two members of the Country party to represent the State as they themselves were unable to attend. All the great primary industries represented there demanded that the Government should honour its promise to introduce legislation for the protection of the wheat industry before the next harvest, and before the elections.
– When were the promises made?
– I shall come to that. Before I left Perth a few weeks ago, the president of the
Primary Producers Association of Western Australia, said to me, “Whatever you do, see that the wheat legislation promised by the Government is passed before the election “. In the course of a leading article The Wheatgrower, of the 24th May, 1934, the official organ of the wheat-growers of Western Australia, stated -
It is not surprising that an Australian Government has dishonored yet another undertaking, although it had been hoped that the serious position of the wheat-growing industry would have urged the Federal Government to give effect to its promises to enact relief legislation during the final session of the present Parliament - relief measures which had been promised as soon as the Wheat Commission’s report had been received. That report will be delivered in good time to allow the Government to give effect to its recommendationsbefore leaving office. But whatever that commission recommends - and in view of the position of the industry, it is certain that it will recommend comprehensive relief measures - the growers, as represented by the Australian! Wheatgrowers’ Federation, were definitely promised marketing legislation at its conference in Canberra in November last. In response to> the federation’s requests, the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Stewart) then stated that, although time did not permit of such legislation being enacted to deal with the 1033 harvest marketing legislation which would enable all primary industries to so handle their production as to preclude annual pilgrimages to Canberra for securing assistance, would be enacted by the Government early in the next session.
That passage gives the name of the important delegation which received the promise - the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation - and the name of the Minister by whom it was made - Honorable F. H. Stewart. The article continued -
As far as the wheat-growing industry was concerned, this promise meant that the Government would set up a marketing organization - presumably a Commonwealth wheat pool - and empower that organization to fix a payable price for home consumed wheat.
So much for the Government’s promises. Now Prime Minister Lyons announces that the Government will go to the country in September next, making the final session of the present Parliament of only a few weeks’ duration. During that session the budget will be dealt with, but on the question of assistance to the wheat industry the Government is maintaining a silence so discreet that it is sufficiently obvious that it intends to ignore the question. “ Instead, farm relief may be expected to figure conspicuously on the Government’s electioneering platform, its old promises to be superseded by a fresh batch, to be honored only if the Government is re-elected.
The Government’s promises are there recorded in black and white and should be honoured before the election. Legislation for the marketing of primary products, particularly wheat, which was promised by the Minister for Commerce in Canberra in November last, should be placed on the statute-book, and the assistance promised thereby to the wheat industry should be made permanent before this Parliament is prorogued. During the past fortnight I have taken advantage of every opportunity afforded by the Standing Orders to urge this matter upon the Leader of the Senate and the Government generally, but so far no indication has been given that this legislation will be enacted before the election. The assistance of the Leader of the Country party in this matter has been invoked by the president of the Wheat-growers Association of Western Australia, Mr. I. G. Boyle, who telegraphed to Dr. Earle Page on July 3 -
The Wheat-growers Union of Western Australia, representing the vast majority of wheat-growers’ opinions in this State, urges you to stand firm for legislation ensuring a minimum home price for wheat consumed in Australia to cover the costs of production and a reasonable profit; Federal Government advances to assist farmers into wool production; federal assistance to remove the crushing debt from farmers, estimated in this State at over £32,000,000; amendments to the Commonwealth Bank Act to enable the Rural Credits Department to function in the interests of fanners and not marketing alone. My organization wishes to thank you and your party for services rendered to farmers, and emphatically urges you to secure the necessary legislation during the present session of the Federal Parliament.
The Government has a big majority in both Houses of this Parliament, and can do practically what it likes. If it chooses, it may remain in office for another seven months, and if it desires to do so, it can place on the statute-book legislation to assist the wheat-growers. I cannot understand why it does not do so. Doubtless, it will promise to assist that industry after the election, but why does it not go to the people with a record of something accomplished, something done, for the stabilization of the wheat-growing industry. In making his message public, Mr. Boyle said -
It was necessary to let readers of federal political parties know what farmers were demanding. The Federal Country party appeared to gauge the position correctly, and Dr. Earle Page should be strengthened in his demands by the knowledge that the Wheatgrowers Union of this State was behind him.
The Primary Producers Association of that State is also unanimous in urging this reasonable request. Mr. Boyle went 021 to say -
The Lyons Government seemed to have so far failed to realize the tragic position of the industry, but even political death-bed repentance was welcome, and, with Dr. Page in political attendance, the patient might live long enough to do something legislatively for the men who had kept the wheat-growing industrial flag flying over the last four years.
By doing what the wheat-growing industry of Australia expects of it, the Government will go a long way towards restoring prosperous conditions throughout the community.
– Has not the Government introduced legislation each year to assist the wheat-growers ?
– Yea; but it has not fulfilled its promise to introduce legislation for the fixing of a home consumption price for wheat. Last November, when urged to do something in that direction, it said that it could not do so then because the time before the adjournment of Parliament was so short. Unless legislation is passed before the election, it is unlikely that a further opportunity to pass it will occur before November; and if November, 1933, was too late to do anything for last year’s harvests, November, 1934, will probably be too late for this year’s harvest. “ Now is the accepted time “ ; the Government has a majority, and there is nothing to prevent it from placing on the statutebook legislation to stabilize the wheatgrowing industry. Mr. Boyle continued -
The Wheatgrowers Union was non-party political, but with the Labour party out of office and its previous knowledge of the Lyons Government, it looked with confidence to the Federal Country party, which appeared now to hold the key position in federal politics.
The Country party is not in that fortunate position because, with the assistance of the Independents, the Government has a majority in both Houses of this Parliament. Mr. Boyle is, however, a good prophet; after the election the Country party will hold the key position in federal politics. It will then act wisely in the interests of the man on the land, and if our tariff policy is accepted it may co-operate again with the United Australia party.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
SenatorBRENNAN (Victoria) [4.41]. - I dislike prolonging a discussion which will carry us nowhere, and which, indeed, is not intended to get us anywhere. However, I place on record my dissent from the view that there is some right in this Parliament to run the full term allowed by the Constitution. Senator O’Halloran said that, by holding an election in September, the Government proposed to shorten the life of Parliament, and Senator Dunn spoke of Parliament being dissolved seven months before its time. Nowhere in. the legislation of the Commonwealth is there any provision that the life of a Parliament shall be a full three years.
– The Bruce-Page Government continued in office for three years, less one day.
– That does not meet the point which I have raised. The only law on the subject is that contained in section 28 of the Constitution, which provides -
Every House of Representatives shall continue for three years from the first meeting of the House, and no longer, but may be sooner dissolved by the Governor-General.
On numerous occasions the House of Representatives has been dissolved before its full term has expired. In terms of the Constitution, the House of Representatives may not subsist beyond the 11th February next, and, consequently, an election must be held not later than February or March next. The Government, recognizing that, had to consider the most suitable time for holding an election. I understand, from the statement of the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) to-day, that one reason for an early election is the- promised visit of a member of the Royal family who will arrive in Australia in October, and remain here until December. All parties are agreed that it would be unseemly that we should be in the throes of a general election when the royal visitor is here. Similarly, every one is agreed that an election campaign should not be in progress during the Christmas holiday season. Moreover, an election campaign during the late spring or the early summer would not be in the best interests ofour rural industries. It seems to me, as one not in the counsels of the Government, that irrespective of the effect of the date on the several political parties, the Government could not have chosen a better time for the election than that which has been chosen.
– The Government has a majority in both Houses of Parliament, and can pass any legislation it desires.
– Surely Senator Johnston understands that the main principle of democracy is that it is the duty of a government to give effect to the wishes of the people, and to ascertain those wishes by placing before them a programme containing its policy and asking for their endorsement of it. It has been indicated that the mandate which the Government received at the last election has been exhausted. I challenged Senator Johnston to say when a home price for wheat was promised, and I am not at all satisfied with his answer. The Government has carried out its mandate.
– It has not provided work for the unemployed, as it promised to do.
– The Government has indicated that it proposes to hold an election with a view to obtaining a further mandate from the electors. Whether or not it has, in fact, exhausted . the mandate it received at the last election, is unimportant. The Government holds the view that it has substantially exhausted that mandate, and it now desires a mandate in respect of new and important matters of policy, affecting, chiefly, those electors for whose welfare Senator Johnston is so anxious. My only objection to the date chosen for the appeal to the people is that an election for the Senate will take place at the same time as that for the House of Representatives, and that, as there will no doubt be a clearing out of certain members of the Senate, those senators will retain their seats in the Senate, and take a part in shaping the policy of the country for nine months after their rejection. Senator Dunn has called special attention to the position of Senator Foll. I call attention to the position of Senator Dunn himself. It is one of the weaknesses of the Constitution that we may have an election at any time within twelve months of the expiry of the tenure of office of certain honorable senators, and that those senators who are rejected still retain their voting power, until the 30th June.
– I cannot compliment Senator Brennan on the strength of the case that he has made out to-day. If I were under a charge of murder, and had to depend for my acquittal on a case no stronger than that made out by the honorable senator, I should certainly fear for my life. The honorable senator quoted from the Constitution to show that the Parliament may not subsist for more than three years; and he has argued that it is within the power of the Government in office to determine whether that period should be shorter. I admit that, with the consent of the Governor-General, the Government can arrange for a dissolution of Parliament whenever it chooses; but that is not evidence of the desirability of such action. Obviously, when three years was fixed as the duration of the House of Representatives, it was believed that that period would best suit the convenience of the electors, and at the same time be a compromise between the old system of parliaments with a long life and the more expensive and disturbing system of parliaments of short duration. The point at issue now is whether the Government is justified in asking the people for a fresh mandate. Before that is sought, the Government should attempt to exhaust the mandate upon which it was returned to power. It would be colossal audacity on the part of Ministers or any of their supporters to claim that they have carried out their last mandate. The two most urgent matters on which the Government received instructions from the electors were the abolition, practically, of unemployment and the restoration of the financial stability of the country, which includes the rehabilitation of the wheat industry. The concessions made to the wheat-growers in recent years have been part of a hand-to-month, stop-gap policy; there has been no orderly plan of assistance. When harvest time drew near, two million pounds or more was handed out to tide the’ farmers over their immediate troubles.
– The position in regard to wheat often changes quickly.
– Undoubtedly; but in recent times no rapid changes have occurred. The fact that the price of wheat may rise considerably within a limited period is no justification for the absence of a well-defined policy for assisting the industry.
– Let the growers make their complaint, and ask the Parliament for legislation regarding their industry.
– I am not concerned about that aspect, of the matter. The obvious duty of the Government is to have a planned policy, instead of giving the farmers assistance almost on the eve of the harvest when they are in despair as to how the industry is to be maintained. The mere fact that the difficulties of the farmers would largely disappear if the price of wheat rose quickly, is no justification for neglecting to establish a wellordered plan of relief.
Reference was made by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) to the fact that the members of my party and other honorable senators on the Opposition side rose in support of the motion which is now under discussion. I would always be prepared to rise in support of an honorable senator desirous of discussing a matter of public importance, even if I utterly disapproved of his views regarding it, provided the motion was not submitted deliberately for the purpose of wasting time. Although the right honorable gentleman jibed at Labour senators for rising on this occasion, I expected that he would make a personal attack on Senator Hardy judging by the violence of his utterances, and his apparent excitement. I challenge anybody to prove that this Government has carried out its mandate in any way. Take its claim that unemployment has diminished by a fairly large percentage since the Government assumed office. Admitting that statistics show that the percentage of unemployment has decreased considerably since the peak period, the Government has adopted the mean policy of paying men engaged on relief work a mere fraction of fulltime wages. The unemployed in my State, who go on the roster for unemployment relief work, are immediately counted as “ employed “, and if that practice is meant to deceive the public it is a wickedimposition. Yet that is why the unemployment figures have been reduced. 1 attended a recent deputation to the Minister for Labour in New South “Wales who stated that the unemployment relief tax collected in that State was paid into the Consolidated Revenue, and that all the relief works were financed from funds advanced by the Loan Council. Thus all the “prosperity” is due to the expenditure of loan money, and in 99 cases out of 100 the relief work is not of a reproductive nature. This is a handtomouth policy which can result only in a greater collapse ultimately than that already suffered, because we cannot continue to float loans on the strength of the confidence allegedly restored by the present Government. In one year about £3S,000,000 has been raised by loans, and these have piled up the national debt and increased the interest burden. It is claimed that great relief has come from the conversion of some of our overseas loans at lower rates of interest; but, while some saving in interest payments has thus been made, so much additional money has been borrowed that the aggregate interest bill has increased and is gradually absorbing the whole of the revenue. With such a Micawber-like policy, there could not be a. return to real prosperity. It i3 a matter for concern that an attempt is made to solve one problem by creating another. This policy mint eventually plunge the country into a state of more dire poverty than has ever previously been experienced.
The Leader of the Senate must admit that during the regime of the Scullin Government, when Mr. Parker Moloney was the Minister for Markets, considertion was given to the provision of a system of orderly marketing of primary products, and that the subject was discussed in Parliament by members of the present Government. So it cannot truthfully be said that this is a new problem. The suggestion that a fresh mandate from the people is required to enable the primary producers to be given markets for their produce is unadulterated humbug. As to the date of the general election, the Leader of the Senate remarked that we could not have it much later than September without interfering with the Royal visit, and it could not be held before Christmas because His Royal Highness would not like to see Australia in the throes of a political wrangle. Senator Brennan, stated that the election should not take place at Christmas time. It was further pointed out that in January, although most of the harvesting would then have been finished, the wheat had to be carted to the silos and railway sidings. After the bush-fire danger had passed, the farmers, of course, would be busy ploughing and sowing the next crop. When the ploughing has been done and the winter has set in, nobody wants an election, so no time of the year is convenient for it. An excuse can always be found for either holding or not holding an election.
– The honorable senator has exhausted his time.
– My reply will be brief, and, I hope, characterized by restraint, which was lacking in the vindictive and personal attack made on me by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce). I have no desire to say anything that might be regarded as unparliamentary, but I tell the right honorable gentleman that, while I am in this chamber, I do not intend to dot the “ i’s “ or cross the ‘ t’s “ for any member of it, because I am not a political lapdog. When I believe that I am right, I intend to say what is in my mind without fear of any party. I resent the suggestion of the Leader of the Senate that I have anything in common with Mr. Lang, or that I am in any way associated with a sinister conspiracy against this Government. I moved the adjournment of the Senate this afternoon to discuss a matter of urgent public importance. The Leader of the Senate said that no member of the Country party rose in support of my motion. I am afraid, that the right honorable gentleman’s sight must be failing, because every member of the Country party in the chamber at the time rose to support me. I repeat that this
Parliament has still seven months of its term to go, covering the whole of the export season, and the Government, if it so desired, could, with the co-operation of the Country party, deal with many of the problems that confront this country. If it wishes to tackle these complex matters, it will have the support of country members. It is all very well for the Leader of the Senate to say that it is impossible to hold an election in Decem.ber, That objection was not raised in connexion with the election that led to the defeat of the Scullin Government.
– Mr. Scullin fixed the date of that election.
– It has been urged that there is no precedent for this Government continuing in office till the end of its term. There is. The Bruce-Page Government went its full term, Parliament being dissolved the day before the expiration of its period. This Parliament could continue its work until the 16th February, 1935. So many serious problems demand the attention of this Parliament that it is the duty of the Government, which came into power with a great majority, to remain in office until it has completed its job. I ask leave to withdraw the motion.
Leave granted. .
Motion - hy leave - withdrawn.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.the right honorable the Prime Minister has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The right honorable the Prime Minister has supplied the following answers : -
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Is he yet in a position to say when the new steamer, now under construction for the Launceston-Melbourne Bass Strait ferry service, will take up her running?
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answer : - a definite date cannot yet be given; but it is anticipated that the new steamer will be placed in the Bass Strait service early in 1935.
asked the Minister representing . the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
What is the estimated cost of the desired telephone line between Wiluna and Geraldton, Western Australia?
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the followanswer : -
The estimated cost was £20,000, but a special study is in progress with a view to determining whether the connexion could be established by some alternative technical means, which would substantially reduce that figure.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Minister for the Interior has supplied the following answer: - 1 and 2. A number of offers has been received from institutions and individuals to undertake the care and upbringing of the children in question. These offers are now receiving consideration.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following answer: -
Broadcasting of Policy Speeches: Press Propaganda
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Will Mr. Beasley, M.P., be given the same rights that will be given to other political party leaders to broadcast his policy speech over the A class stations of New South Wales?
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answer : -
So far as is known, there is no intention on the part of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to depart from the practice which has hitherto been in force.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
In view of the favorable trade balance between Australia under the Government led by Mr. Lyons, and Soviet Russia led by Mr. Stalin, will the Minister give the Senate an assurance that the press favouring the United Australia party will not raise the question of Russian communism during the forthcoming federal elections.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The right honorable the Prime Minister has supplied the following answer : -
Neither I nor the Government is in a position to give any such assurance, the matter being one for determination by the managements of individual newspapers.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice - la it a fact that Doctor Louat, a member of the executive of the Constitutional League of New South Wales, in a broadcast address over K class station 2UW on Sunday evening, 1st July, urged the Federal Government to enter into a trade treaty pact, on the same lines as the proposal of the Graziers Association, between Australia and Soviet Russia?
– The right honorable the Prime Minister has supplied the following answer: -
Inquiries have been made and it has been ascertained that Dr. Louat did not advocate the agreement suggested, but he has explained that, in dealing with the possibility of finding fresh markets for Australia, he mentioned the Russian market, amongst others, as one that had been proposed by the graziers federal council, and that he briefly examined the nature of Russian and Australian requirements.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The Minister. for Commerce has supplied the following answer : -
It has been the policy of the German Government for some years to encourage local cereal production by various means, with the result that importations have progressively declined. The quantity of Australian wheat imported into Germany has not been substantial, in recent years, compared with our total exports.
Germany is a valuable market for Australian fresh fruit (apples and pears) and the trade over the last few years has been fairly well maintained. It is possible that the exchange difficulties and reduced purchasing power of the German public will reduce imports of fresh fruit, in common with other commodities.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What are the nature and names of the decorations and titles bestowed on Mr. Latham and members of the delegation to Japan by the governments of the countries, including Japan, through which the delegation passed?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The right honorable the Prime Minister has supplied the following answer: -
None was bestowed.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
In the interpretation of the letter and spirit of the Ottawa compact, will the Government give consideration to the advisability of consulting the State sovereignties with regard to the rights, obligations and consequences thereunder?
– The right honorable the Prime Minister has supplied the following answer: -
The Government of the Commonwealth is responsible for the interpretation of the agreement, and it is not practicable to 6tate in a general way, and in anticipation of problematical questions arising out of the agreement, what steps the Government might take for the purpose of arriving at its interpretation. These would have to be determined according to the nature of any question that might arise.
[5.15]. - by leave - I move -
That the Senate approves of the distribution of the State of South Australia into electoral divisions as proposed by Messrs. G. P. Howie, J. H. McNamara, and G. E. Willson, Commissioners for the purpose of distributing the said State into divisions, in their report laid before Parliament on the 28th day of Juno, 1934, and that the names of the divisions suggested in the report bc adopted.
This is the first of three redistribution proposals, the adoption of which I propose to move. The other two- relate to the States of New South Wales and Queensland.
I desire, in the first place, to explain to the Senate why this proposed distribution is being dealt with first. As honorable senators are aware, the Representation Act 1905 provides for a quinquennial determination of the number of members to be chosen by each State of the Commonwealth. The determination takes place after each census, and also at a date approximately intermediate between the census dates. The determination made recently was based upon the figures disclosed by the census held on the 30th June, 1933. The application of the provisions of the Representation Act to those figures has the effect of reducing, from seven to six, the number of members to be chosen by the State of South Australia. This is the only proposed redistribution which provides for a variation of the number of members to be chosen by a State. Some of the proposed redistributions of other States might be adopted. If they were taken first, and subsequently the proposed redistribution of South Australia were rejected, an amendment of the law might in certain events become necessary. lt is, therefore, highly desirable that the proposed redistribution of South Australia should first be dealt with.
This is the first occasion on record in the history of the Commonwealth Parliament, upon which it has been necessary for consideration to be given to redistribution proposals involving a loss of representation by one State without a corresponding gain by another State. For this reason the Government has given long and anxious consideration to the proposal, with a view to endeavouring to find another method of distribution which, consistently with the Constitution, would permit of the retention by South Australia of its seventh member. When the number of members is large, the loss or gain of one member does not appear to be of quite such moment as is the case when the number of members is already small, as in the case of South Australia. I regret that, although the Government has given careful consideration to the subject, it has not been able to discover any method by which, consistently with the provisions of the Constitution, the retention may be effected.
I propose now to deal shortly with the operation of the provisions of the Constitution and of Commonwealth legislation relating to the determination of the number of members to be chosen in each State. As honorable senators are aware, section 24 of the Constitution contains two guiding principles in relation to the number of members to be chosen to represent a State. They are -
The section then goes on to provide a method of determining the number of members to be chosen by each State, this method to remain in force until Parliament otherwise provides. The Parliament has “ otherwise provided “ by the Representation Act 1905. The only alteration made by the Representation Act of the method of determining the number of members is the - substitution for the number of the people as set out in the statistics of the Commonwealth, of the number of people as set forth in a certificate to be issued by the Chief Electoral Officer. For the purpose of the preparation of such a certificate the Chief Electoral Officer must obtain the necessary statistical information from statistical officers of the Commonwealth. Broadly, the method of determining the number is as follows : -
This method of determining the number of members is expressed in the Representation Act as being subject to the Constitution - a provision which was, no doubt, intended primarily to safeguard those States which, under the Constitution, were entitled to the minimum representation of five members. Under section 26 of the Constitution the number of members to be chosen at the first election was as follows: - New South Wales, 26; Victoria, 23 ; Queensland, 9 ; South Australia, 7 ; Western Australia, 5 ; Tasmania, 5, making a total of 75 members. The operation of the foregoing provisions of the Constitution and of the Representation Act has .resulted in the following changes : -
In 1907, New South Wales gained a member at the expense of Victoria.’ In 1913, Queensland gained a member at the expense of Victoria. In 1923, New South Wales gained another member at the expense of Victoria. The representation of the States in the present Parliament is, therefore, as follows : - New South Wales, 2S; Victoria, 20; Queensland, 10; South Australia, 7; Western Australia, 5 ; Tasmania, 5.
The total membership of the House, has, however, remained constant ever since the establishment of federation. As already stated, the operation of the Representation Act upon the population figures disclosed at the recent census has had the effect of reducing from seven to six the number of members allocated to South Australia. The figures upon which this reduction is based are as follows : -
I now propose to refer to a suggestion that has been put forward that consideration of the approval of the distribution should be postponed pending an amendment of the Representation Act. That act now provides that, if on the division of the number of people of a State by the quota, there is a remainder greater than one-half of the quota, one more member shall be chosen in the State. It has been suggested that the law should be amended so as to provide that, if on such division, there is in the case of a State having less than ten members a remainder greater than .3 of the quota, and in the case of a State having tcn or more members, a remainder greater than one-half of the quota, one more member shall be chosen in the State. It is claimed that for the purposes of determining equal representation regard should be paid, not only to the actual population, but also to the electoral population. As applied to the actual population of the States, this would produce the. following result: -
The existing method provides for the following variation on a population basis : -
The application of these two methods to the electoral population produces the following results: -
For the first time, Western Australia becomes entitled to five members on the basis of population.
From the foregoing it will be seen that, so far as population is concerned, the existing method provides a range of variation per member in the States other than Tasmania, of 9,429; i.e., between South Australia and Western Australia, while the proposal referred to provides a range of 11,429, i.e., between Queensland and South Australia. On the other hand, taking the electoral population instead of the whole population, the existing method provides a range of 11,304, i.e, between South Australia and Western Australia, while the proposed new method provides a range of 7,672, i.e., between Victoria and Western Australia. Thus, on the basis of the whole population, the existing method provides a closer approximation . to equal representation than does the proposed new method. But on the basis of the electoral population, the new method provides a closer approximation to equal representation than does the existing method.
The question arises as to which population should be chosen as a basis, the whole population or the electoral population. On the one hand, it is suggested that the electoral population only should bechosen, while, on the other hand, there is the suggestion that both should be taken into account. A study of section 24 of the Constitution will, however, establish that it is only the total population which should be considered. That section, as has been pointed out, contains two guiding principles -
Honorable senators will note, from the second of these principles that it is the numbers of the people which must be taken, and the number of members must be in proportion to the numbers of the people, not the numbers of the electors.
Thus, while the proposed new method does actually give a closer approximation to equal representation of the electoral population, it does not conform to the second of these principles, inasmuch as it does not provide representation in proportion to the numbers of the people. It should be noted, also, that it does not conform as closely as the existing method to the first principle, in that it provides for a House of 75, while the existing method provides for a House of 74. In accordance with the first principle of section 24 of the Constitution, the number of members of the House of Representatives must be as nearly as practicable twice the number of senators, viz., 72. It is true that for the purpose of the distribution of a State into divisions it is the electoral population which is taken, and not the whole population. The Parliament, however, has a free hand in this matter, and is not limited by the terms of the Constitution to basing its distribution on the numbers of the people. Such a method would, in fact, ‘bo impracticable, except after a census; for, while the Commonwealth Statistician can estimate the population of a State, it would be impossible for him to estimate with any degree of accuracy the population of any particular division.
The question then arises as to whether there is any method by which the State of South Australia couldbe allowed to retain a seventh seat, seeing that no other State is entitled to an additional seat. One method which may be thought available to Parliament is the rejection of successive proposed, redistributions providing for six members, with a view to the continuance of the existing distribution of the State of South Australia into seven divisions. For this . purpose reliance is placed on section 12 of the Representation Act 1905, which reads: -
When in pursuance of a certificate under this act an alteration takes place in the number of members of the House of Representatives to be chosen in any State the alteration shall not affect -
In the opinion of the Government, the adoption of this course would be fraught with serious consequences. It may be that the duty imposed upon the Parliament by the Constitution, the Representation Act, and the Commonwealth Electoral Act, is a duty of imperfect obligation, that is, a duty for the enforcement of which there is no legal provision. On the other hand, it may be that the effect of the continued disregard of the provisions of the Constitution, and of the acts in question, would lead tothe holding of an invalid election. Whether there are or are not legal means for the enforcement of the provisions of the Constitution and of the acts in question, the Government feels that a matter of principle is involved, and that no justification exists for the rejection of a proposed redistribution merely on the ground that it provides for six members only, whereas under existing conditions a State has seven members. As previously stated, very careful consideration has been given ‘ to the whole subject, with a view, if possible, to retaining the present membership for the State of South Australia, but the Government has not been able to discover any method consistent with the
Constitution and the laws of the Commonwealth by which that result may be achieved.
Apart from the foregoing constitutional objections to the proposal, there is another strong objection. The existing method of determining the representation of States in the House of Representatives has been embedded in Commonwealth legislation for nearly 30 years. It is in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, and it accords also with the very general practice, adoptod in making calculations, of treating a fraction in excess of one-half as a whole number. To make a change in the method of determining the number of members, not on general principles, but merely in order to suit the circumstances of some particular State, would be to create a very undesirable precedent, and on this ground also I ask the Senate not to give countenanceto the proposed alteration of the method.
The matters which distribution commissioners are required to consider in determining their distribution are set out in section 19 of the Electoral Act, which reads - 19.In making any proposed distribution of a State into divisions., the distribution commissioners shall give due consideration to -
The number of electors in the State of South Australia was ascertained to be 342,019, and the quota therefore is 57,003. The margin of allowance of onefifth more or one-fifth less, amounting to 11,400, accordingly made the minimum permissible number of electors in any division 45,603 and the maximum permissible number 68.403. The numbers of electors enrolled for each of the existing divisions at the time of the last distribution in 1922, and im mediately prior to the present redistribution were: -
The numbers of electors in each of the proposed new divisions, together with the extent to which these numbers differ from the quota are as follow: -
Under the proposals the average number of electors in each of the three metropolitan divisions will be 61,499, while the average in each of the three extra metropolitan divisions will be 52,507. I ask the Senate to approve of the proposed distribution.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Halloran) adjourned.
[5.44]. - by leave - I move -
That the Senate approves of the distribution of the State of Queensland into electoral divisions, as proposed by Messrs. J. E. Stewart, J. V. Harvey and R. Anthony, the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of distributing the said State into divisions, in their report laid before Parliament on the 28th day of June, 1934; and that the names of the divisions suggested in the report be adopted, with the excep tion that the name “ Griffith “ be substituted for the name “ Oxley “.
Immediately prior to the proposed redistribution the enrolment in each division was : -
The numbers of electors in each of the proposed divisions and the relation of the number, in each case, to the quota are; as follows : -
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Halloran) adjourned.
Proposals for Redistribution of New SouthWales.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for Defence) [5.47]. - by leave - I move -
That the Senate approves of the distribution of the State of New South Wales into electoral divisions as proposed by Messrs V. F. Turner, H. B. Mathews, and C. H. U. Todd, the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of distributing the said State into divisions, in their report laid before Parliament on the 28th day of June, . 1934;and that the names of the divisions, including the substitution of the name “ Watson “ for the name “ South Sydney “, suggested in the report, be adopted.
The distribution commissioners having furnished their report, and the report, in pursuance of section 23 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918-1929, having been placed before Parliament, the present motion is now submitted, in pursuance of section 24, for the purpose of enabling the Senate to pass a resolution approving of the proposed divisions.
The distribution does not involve an alteration in the number of members to be elected in the State. Section 25 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act provides that a redistribution may be undertaken -
The following shows the enrolment in each division in New South Wales immediately prior to the proposed redistribution, and the relation of the enrolment to the quota : -
In no less than eleven divisions the enrolment varies from the quota’ to an extent of more than 8,000. It will be seen that the growth of population has created disparities, and that the proposed new distribution makes for a more even distribution.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Halloran) adjourned.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill relates to two matters in respect of which it seems very desirable that the Designs Act 1906-1933 should be amended. Section 17 of the act provides for the registration of any new and original design within the meaning of the section. The corresponding section of the imperial act - section 49 - uses the phrase “ new or original “ and the English courts in construing the section have expressed the view that, while all original designs are new, a design may be new without being original. It. is desirable, therefore, that the phrase used in section 17 should be amended to read “ new or original “. This amendment is proposed in clause 2.
The other amendment relates to section 29 of the act, which requires the owner of a registered design to cause each article to which the design is applied to be marked before delivery for sale with the prescribed mark to denote that the design is registered.
The imperial act imposes a similar obligation, but empowers the Board of Trade to make rules dispensing with, or modifying, the requirements with respect to any class or description of articles to such extent and subject to such conditions as the board thinks fit. That dispensation is prescribed under the imperial act in respect of all textile goods which are cut after leaving the factory, and it appears to be desirable that provision should be made for granting similar exemptions in the Commonwealth.
The bill is practically a machinery measure, and I confidently commend it to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Primage duties were first imposed as from the 10th July, 1930, with the object of producing additional revenue. The rate of primage duty, which at that time was 2½ per cent., was increased in November, 1930, to 4 per cent. In July, 1931, the principal rate was made 10 per cent., in accordance with the Premiers plan, while the rate in respect of certain raw materials, machines, and goods affecting the primary producer remained at 4 per cent. Since then many exemptions have been made, and the rate on various goods, mainly those used by our primary industries, has been reduced to 4 per cent. The primage duties proposals of the 4th October, 1933, reduced the primage duty on goods eligible for admission under the British preferential tariff, and subject to protective duties under the Customs Tariff, from 10 per cent. to 5 per cent. The two main reasons for this action were - (1) To give effect, as far as the finances would permit, to the Tariff Board’s recommendation on the protective incidence of primage duties; and (2) to carry out, as far as could be done under the then financial conditions, Australia’s obligations, under article 14 of the United Kingdom and Australia trade agreement, in respect of primage on British goods. Relief to the amount of approximately £585,000 has ‘been given by the reductions in primage duties made in connexion with the budget for 1933-34. The revenue derived from primage duties forms a substantial item of the Commonwealth’s receipts; in 1932-33 it amounted to over £4,500,000. Practically the whole of the imported goods directly affecting the primary industries have been either exempted from primage duty or made subject to the low rate of 4 per cent.
It will be seen that the Government, since it assumed office, has gone as far as it can in providing relief from these duties, and that any future alterations must depend upon the state of the Treasury. The bill merely confirms what has already been done, and I ask the Senate to expedite its passage.
– Although I do not ask the Senate to reject this bill, I am not prepared to allow it to pass without registering a protest, on behalf of the Opposition, against the disturbance of the basis of sacrifice demanded of the people during the early days of the depression. All honorable senators are familiar with the desperate financial straits in which the Scullin Government found Australia when it assumed office in 1929, and with the circumstances which led to the position becoming steadily worse - circumstances entirely beyond the control of any government at that time. The conditions then prevailing forced that Government to examine every possible means of raising revenue in order to meet the commitments of the nation as they became due. Now that the worst of the depression is, apparently, behind us, some honorable senators supporting the Government appear to forget how serious was the position when the Scullin Government took office, and blame that Government for making these imposts at all. On the other hand, they give credit to the present Government for the removal, or partial removal, of the imposts. I remind honorable senators who may be disposed to think and talk along those lines that every impost placed on the people of Australia by the previous Government had the approval of the Senate, which could have prevented any such legislation from being placed on the statute-book had it so desired. Realizing, however, that, in the then existing circumstances, there was no other course open, the Senate did not reject the proposals of the Scullin Government. In addition to surveying the field with a view to finding additional sources of revenue, the previous Government set about curtailing expenditure, wherever possible. It reduced considerably the disbursements from the public purse to every section of the community which had either a statutory or a moral right to receive moneys from the nation. It sought throughout to make the sacrifice equitable; it demanded sacrifices on the part of the people, only in order to maintain the solvency of the Australian nation.
At that time there was a general understanding among all political parties - an understanding voiced by their leaders and prominent members in both chambers - that, as soon as the financial position of the country permitted, the load of taxation would be lightened, and that, in making disbursements from the Treasury, the poorer section of the community would be considered first. I regret that the present Government has not carried out that undertaking. Members of the Opposition have repeatedly had occasion to criticize the action of the Government in reducing taxation imposed upon the comparatively wealthy sections of the community and failing to restore the former payments to pensioners and the lower-paid public servants. Some of the amendments contained in the schedule will, in some small degree, reduce the present burdens of the primary producers, but the relief will not be so substantial as has been alleged, because most of the farmers have had their buying power lowered almost to vanishing point.
– A reduction of 2s. in the £1 is fairly substantial.
– The Minister said the reductions ranged from 10 per cent. to 5 per cent., and 5 per cent. is only1s. in the £1. The complicated nature of the schedule makes it necessary to refer to the clauses of the bill to ascertain precisely what the proposals mean. It was agreed that, when circumstances permitted, the claims of the poorer sections of the community for the restoration of the payments previously enjoyed by them, would be made a first charge on the revenue, but the bill departs from that principle.
– It is interesting to hear that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator O’Halloran) opposes this bill.
– I did not say that I opposed it.
– I have no desire to misrepresent the honorable senator, but I thought his final remarks were condemnatory of the Ministry for its action in this matter. Therefore, as a member of the Countryparty, I rose to congratulate the Government upon the introduction of the measure. I shall compliment it upon any action it may take to reduce the tariff, for I regard every primage duty as a particularly objectionable form of tariff increase. Australia now has the highest and most oppressive tariff ever ratified by both Houses of Parliament since the inception of federation, and the sooner primage duties are abolished the better it will be for the whole community, and particularly for those engaged in the primary industries. I have received serious complaints about the unjust and inequitable incidence of primage upon many of our industries, and upon many citizens. The higher the customs duty is, the greater is the amount of the primage. These Shylock-like imposts are most undesirable.
– These reductions have been in operation for nine months.
– Of course they have; since last October. I am glad that a start has been made in the direction of removing primage duties, and I would advise the Government to bring down a measure before the coming election to eliminate them. I should like this bill to be amended, if possible, in such a manner as to achieve that object.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without requests or debate; report adopted.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
In committee (Consideration of House of Representatives, amendments) :
Amendment No. 1 -
After clause 10 insert the following new clause : - 10a. After section one hundred and thirtyone of the principal act the followingsection is inserted : - 131a. Fish and other goods the produce of the sea which are caught or gathered by a vessel which -
was fitted out for the voyage during which those fish or goods, were caught or gathered . at a port or place in Australia, shall not, when brought into Australia by that vessel, or by a tender (which is registered in Australia) of thatvessel be liable to any duty of customs, or be subject to the control of the customs.
. - I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Trawlers and othervessels which are registered and fitted out in Australia engage in the gathering of fish and other sea products, and for this purpose sometimes proceed outside the territorial waters of the Commonwealth. These vessels make their base at a Commonwealth port, from which they set out and to which they bring the products gathered.
Some of the products, e.g., pearl-shell, is free of customs duty, not being specified in the tariff, whilst in the case of fish, an item has been embodied in the customs tariff providing for admission free of duty. Apart, however, from ordinary customs duty the goods, if regarded as goods imported, require to be entered in accordance with section 68, and, on entry for home consumption, some are at present liable to primage duty. The question was recently raised as to whether goods brought to Australia in the circumstances are imported goods “within the meaning of the act. The SolicitorGeneral advised that the goods are imported goods, and are therefore required to be entered in accordance with section 68 The gathering of these goods really constitutes an Australian industry, and although at times the goods are gathered outside the territorial waters of the Commonwealth, it is considered that they should be relieved from compliance with the customs formalities which apply to goods brought to the Commonwealth from overseas in the ordinary way of import trade.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 2 agreed to -
Omit clause 11 and insert the following new clause: -
Section one hundred and forty of the principal act is amended by omitting subsection (2.) and inserting in its stead the following sub-section: - (2.) When the duty on the complete goods is specific only or either specific or ad valorem, according to whichever returns the higher duty, or both specific and ad valorem, the Minister may fix the proportion of the specific rate that shall be applied in . determining the amount of duty payable on any part of such goods.
Amendment No. 3, verbally amending clause 16, agreed to.
Amendment No. 4 agreed to -
After clause 21 insert the following new clause: - 21a. After section two hundred and fiftyeight of the principal act the following section is inserted: - 258a. - (1.) Where any convicted person has, whether before or after the commencement of this section, been released in pursuance of section two hundred and fifty-eight of this act upon his giving security for the payment of the pecuniary penalty adjudged to be paid by him, and the penalty has not been paid, or part only thereof has been paid, the prosecutor or plaintiff may apply to the court for an order committing the offender to gaol until the penalty, or the balance thereof, as the case may be, has been paid, and the court shall, if it is satisfied that enforcement of the security is impracticable or would occasion hardship to the surety, make an order accordingly. (2.) The provisions of section two hundred and sixty of this act shall apply to the imprisonment of an offender for whose committal to gaol an order has been made in pursuance of this section:
Provided that, in the calculation of the period at the expiration of which the defendant is to be discharged, there shall be taken into account any period of imprisonment served by the defendant prior to his release upon his giving security for the payment of the penalty:
Provided further, that where the penalty has been paid in part, the amount of penalty, for the purposes of the table contained in section two hundred and sixty of this act, shall be the unpaid balance of the penalty. (3.) Notice of an application under this’ section shall bo served upon the convicted person.
Amendment No. 5 -
Omit clause 22 and insert the following new clause : -
After section two hundred and seventyseven of the principal act the following section is inserted: - 278. Where, prior to the commencement of this section, the importation or exportation of any goods has been prohibited by proclamation, and the proclamation is in force immediately prior to such commencement, any such proclamation may be re-enacted, cancelled or varied by regulation, and until cancellation shall remain in force according to the terms in which it was issued, and, if varied, shall have effect according to its terms as so varied. Any such prohibition not reenacted by regulation, within six months after the commencement of this section shall cease to have effect.
– I move -
That the amendment be amended by leaving out the word “ prohibition “, proposed new section 278, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ proclamation “.
The object of the amendment is to bring the wording of the concluding sentence of proposed new section 278 into harmony with the wording of the rest of that section. Elsewhere in the section the reference is to the word “ proclamation “ and, although what is done by the proclamation is in the nature of a “ prohibition it is thought to be preferable, from a drafting point of view, to refer to the instrument by which the prohibition is imposed rather than to the prohibition itself.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Resolutions reported; report adopted.
Debate resumed from the 4th July (vide page 148) on motion by Senator McLachlan -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In committee :
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
Clause 5 (Certain imports from Papua and New Guinea to be free of duty).
– I should like some information from the Minister in charge of the bill as to the policy, if any, that has been decided upon by the Government with reference to the products of the Territories of New Guinea and Papua. I notice that the schedule contains a list of items which are to be admitted free of duty. Other products not mentioned in the schedule, will, I presume, be admitted under the present tariff, or some of them may be prohibited. Among the items in the schedule are cocoa beans and coffee, raw and kiln dried. Why is sugar excluded? Neither coffee nor cocoa is indigenous to these islands, but sugar is, and I understand that it can be grown very successfully there.
– Sugar of good quality?
– I believe it is. I am not expressing any opinion as to the items in the schedule, but I should like to know the reason for the discrimination. As many returned soldiers have been settled on the land in those areas, particularly in New Guinea, it is only reasonable to expect that there will be no unfair discrimination against their products. Are we to assume that if restrictions are imposed against the importation of certain products of Papua and New Guinea they will apply also to similar products of the Northern Territory? I have at my disposal a good deal of information concerning this matter, but, unfortunately, I missed the opportunity to speak on the motion for the second reading. I hope, therefore, that I am in order in discussing briefly the general policy of the Government with regard to the Pacific possessions of the Commonwealth.
– The honorable gentleman will be in order in seeking information, but not in discussing generally the policy of the Government with respect to Papua and New Guinea.
– I trust that whatever policy is decided upon will be permanent. The admission of cocoa beans, coffee, &c, free of duty is wise, but I should like to know why sugar has been excluded. When in New Guinea some time ago, a party of American experts, who were there with the consent of the Commonwealth Government, ascertained that over 100 kinds of sugar-cane were growing in their natural state in’ that territory. A few plantations are being started, but I understand that when sugar is produced it will not enter into competition with the Queensland product, as it is not permitted to enter Australia. I trust that the Minister will give me some information on the points that I have raised.
– Senator Johnston should know that sugar is not being produced in
Papua or New Guinea. I do not know whether coffee is produced in Queensland.
– Yes, but not in commercial quantities.
– If it were, I should oppose this clause. I should also like to know whether green ginger, spices and other commodities mentioned in the schedule are produced in commercial quantities anywhere in Australia, and if they are they should not be admitted from Papua or New Guinea free of duty.
– A certain amount of misapprehension appears to exist with respect to the items contained in the schedule of the bill. A similar measure to that now before the committee has been in operation since 1926, and included in the schedule of that act are such items as coffee, raw and kiln dried, dried fruits enumerated in item 52b and c, fresh fruits, green and ground ginger, nuts, coco-nuts whole and prepared, seeds and kapok. The free admission of the commodities enumerated from these territories was agreed to under the Ottawa agreement in March last, and in November, a new schedule was submitted in respect of Papua and New Guinea so that no injustice would be done to Papua and New Guinea which are under the control of the Commonwealth. Sugar is not produced in commercial quantities in Papua or New Guinea, although a certain quantity of sugar-cane is being grown on experimental plots. I can assure honorable senators that the majority of the items contained in the schedule have been there since 1926, and honorable senators are. now asked to agree to the addition of certain items, in order to place these territories in the same position as are certain colonial possessions under the Ottawa agreement.
SenatorCOLLINGS (Queensland) [8.23]. - Senator Johnston was anxious to take advantage of what, he thought, was an excellent opportunity to say something hostile to the staple industry of Queensland. I found at all the meetings I addressed during a recent visit to Western Australia, that if an interjector in that State wanted to say anything unpleasant about Queensland, he ejaculated “ sugar’”, about which he knew nothing. After all there is something in Senator Johnston’s request that the Minister should state the settled policy of the Government regarding the importations of these commodities from Papua and New Guinea, which are under the control of the Commonwealth. It is proposed that a number of commodities produced by colored labour shall be admitted into Australia free of duty, which means that the production of these commodities in Australia will be retarded. Coffee is not being produced in Queensland in commercial quantities, but before I left Queensland a few weeks ago, I saw 38 coffee trees, grown in a backyard in Brisbane, and tended by an aged man under the most primitive conditions, producing coffee beans which could not be surpassed in any country of the world. I saw the raw and the roasted beans, and also consumed coffee made from them. I believe that with adequate assistance from the Government we could produce all the coffee required in Australia. About ten days ago I asked for information regarding the . values of certain commodities, including some of the items mentioned in the schedule, imported into Australia. Other items in the schedule, including kapok and green ginger, could be economically produced in Australia, if the Government encouraged production. One question I asked related to castor oil, and the answer I received was that no figures have been tabulated.
We seem to be getting into a muddle. At one time we are restricted by the Ottawa agreement; on the next occasion it is the Colonial ‘ Empire ; and now we have to make a concession to the Mandated Territories, which are ours at the moment, although I do not know for how long. Thus it is difficult for an honorable senator who seeks assistance or desires to give it to know where he stands.
– I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the clause by adding the following words : - “ until such time as any of the items in the schedule are grown in commercial quantities in Australia “.
I am of the opinion, after listening to Senator Collings, that some of these items can be grown in Queensland, and in parts of Western Australia. As a Labour senator I always keep in mind the possibility that a commodity not now produced in Australia may be produced here in the future, and come within the scope of the White Australia policy. I do not wish to have my name associated with a decision in this Parliament which may re-act against me and my party in this chamber and, perhaps, be the subject of a bitter fight between a hostile Government and a Labour Opposition.
– In my second-reading speech, I pointed out that if we did not pass this measure, and support the attitude of the House of Representatives, it would place Papua and New Guinea in a more difficult position in regard to trade with Australia than the rest of the Colonial Empire. We have given the benefits of exemption in respect of the commodities mentioned to the Colonial Empire; so why not give them to what may be termed our own Colonial Empire also ? Why should there be any limitation or qualification in this particular matter ?
– Because we do not agree with it.
– The amendment would put us in a difficult and invidious position. I ask honorable senators not to pass the amendment.
– We know what commercial prices are, but what is a commercial quantity? Production might be small or great in quantity and yet be on a commercial basis. If Senator Dunn were to suggest that these products might be grown on a commercial basis or sold at a commercial price, his amendment would be worthy of notice. Even then I should be opposed to it, because I remember that some years ago there was a rule in the customs tariff administration relating to articles that were “ commercially manufactured in Australia “. Those words were stretched by the Customs Department to mean “ commercially manuf acturable “. If the exemptions proposed in the bill were quali fied; as suggested by Senator Dunn, by the use of the term “ grown in commercial quantities “, I think those words would probably be used as a means of excluding everything, whether or not it could be commercially produced in Australia.
Question - That the request (Senator Dunn’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator the Hon. Herbert Hays.)
Majority . . . . 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 4th July (vide page 148), on motion by Senator McLachlan -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– Unfortunately, I did not hear the Minister’s speech on the second reading of thisbill, and I, therefore, now ask for some information regarding the duties on Oregon logs. A duty was first imposed on Oregon logs by a government which I had the pleasure of supporting a few years ago, and it was maintained despite protests by honorable senators then in opposition, but now supporting the present Government. Eventually the matter was referred to the Tariff Board, and pending the receipt of the board’s report, no alteration of the duties was made. So far as I know, the Tariff Board has not yet presented a report on this subject. Timber merchants, timber workers, . ‘building contractors and others in South Australia have repeatedly asked that Oregon should be permitted to enter this country in logs, for milling here into suitable sizes for building purposes. I should like the Minister, when replying, to say whether this matter was considered by the Government when framing this bill, and also whether the Tariff Board has yet reported on this subject, and, if not, when it is likely to do so. If a report has been received by the Government, has any decision in regard to it been arrived at, and when is the report likely to be released to the public?
– This bill merely gives effect to an agreement which wasentered into by the Scullin administration and embodied in Act No. 30 of 1931. In the act the intermediate tariff rate applied to certain items, including timber; but as, under legislation passed last year, the intermediate tariff column of the previous schedule was discontinued, this bill is necessary to give expression to what is contained in the schedule to the agreement of 1931. This is merely a machinery measure.
– Is there any alteration of rates?
– No. The agreement with Canada cannot be altered without the consent of that Dominion.
– Canada would not oppose an extension of the timber duties.
– We are not concerned with that matter at the moment. This is merely a machinery measure to give effect to a decision already arrived at.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 7 agreed to.
Timber, viz. -
For use in the manufacture of plywood and. veneers, as prescribed by departmental by-laws - ad vol., 5 per cent.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, sub-item (c), ad val. 10 per cent.
In Sydney there are factories for the manufacture of plywood and veneers from Australian timbers. To-day, in the Parliamentary Library, I saw a number of samples of Australian plywood and veneers, which, in my opinion, are equal to any imported from Canada or elsewhere. They are certainly better than some of the oregon veneers used by speculative builders. It may be, as the Minister said, that these duties were imposed by the Scullin administration; but that is not a reason why those who supported the Scullin tariff three or four years ago should not seek an alteration of the duties now.
– These duties are the result of an agreement which cannot be varied without the consent of Canada.
– Were these duties arranged by Mr. Parker Moloney when he was Minister for Commerce?
– The existence of an agreement has not prevented Canada from refusing to allow further shipments of Australian flour into that dominion. Although Canada and Australia are both British dominions, Canada is prepared to exclude Australian flour. I may foe accused of being parochial in these matters, but one is forced to be so when thousands of Australians are walking the streetsin search of employment. In view of the policy of economic nationalism, which has extended even to Great Britain itself, we are entitled to ask for an increase of the duty on timber, despite the agreement entered into with the Canadian authorities at the instance of the Scullin Government.
– I regret that, on this matter, I cannot see eye to eye with my friend, Senator Dunn. His object, no doubt, is to increase the tariff protection given to the Australian timber industry. As the Minister has remarked, the duties embodied in the schedule accord with the trade agreement which was negotiated and signed by Mr. Parker Moloney, who was Minister for Markets in the Scullin Administration. So far as I am aware, that is the only agreement entered into by Australia with an overseas country that has produced tangible results. We have extended our markets in Canada for our dried and canned fruits, wine and other commodities, and if we interfere with this schedule, which deals with the preference extended to that dominion as a quid pro quo for the preference which Australian products receive on entering Canada, the whole agreement will go by the board. Although the suggested increase of duty might give employment to a few men in cutting logs, it might lead to hundreds of other Australians, now engaged in >the canned and dried fruits and viticultural industries, being thrown out of work. The duty to which the honorable senator has taken exception applies only to unsawn logs, so I assume that all the milling and other work connected with the production of veneers from this timber would be done in Australian mills or factories. I have no doubt that some of the logs from Canada are essential to the production of the veneers made in Australia, to the excellence of which the honorable senator has already referred.
– I realize that the agreement entered into with Canada implies reciprocal trade; but the Minister should have informed us how long the present agreement will last. I have witnessed the manufacture of plywoods on a large scale in the Dorrigo district of New South Wales.
– The agreement was made for a year, and either party has the right to terminate it upon giving six months’ notice.
– This debate seems like a recrudescence of that which took place on the tariff, when Queensland senators objected to the attitude then adopted by South Australia. The latter State has factories for the treatment of timber, and ap parently does not care a great deal whether it comes from Canada or Queensland. Senator O’Halloran maintained that it was better for South Australia that Oregon should .be imported in the log, because more work would thus he provided for Australian operatives.
– Order ! The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the item under discussion.
– Surely I am entitled to develop my argument ! Of course, under a reciprocal trade agree ment, we must give concessions as well as receive them; but I do not desire Canadians to imagine that every senator is satisfied with every item of the agreement. I have seen the stumps of large trees exported from the Atherton Tableland for the manufacture of veneers, and it is painful to me to observe a whole page of a bill devoted to duties on timber imported into Australia when we have much excellent timber, and many varieties of it, available in our own forests. The subject of timber is as important to me, as a Queenslander, as is that of butter–
– The committee is not dealing with the schedule as a whole, but merely with a particular item.
– Queenslanders are no more pleased with the timber concessions to Canada than they are with the importation of Fiji bananas. Queensland can supply an immense quantity of timber suitable for ply-wood. Already several factories are engaged in the manufacture of this product in Brisbane. I suppose it is useless to attempt to carry any request against the Government, because the Minister has told us that we have to accept the schedule, as it stands, but this will not prevent me from raising an objection to the importation of timber from any country under any agreement.
– Two difficulties at least I see about this request. The first is that apparently it will upset the whole of the commercial treaty with Canada made by the previous Government. That appears to be a radical step to take merely for the purpose of putting an extra 5 per cent, duty on oregon logs, not sawn, if the committee agreed to the request. What would be the effect on clause 6? I do not quite understand why we should ratify, in 1934, proposals which were introduced into the House of Representatives on the 13th October, 1932.
– Those proposals relate to the schedules brought down in the House of Representatives in order to comply with the requirements of the Constitution. We are now validating the annexure to the agreement.
– My question is still unanswered. Clause 6 states that all duties of customs demanded or collected on goods the produce or manufacture of the Dominion of Canada pursuant to the Canadian preference proposals of the 13th October, 1932, shall be deemed to have been lawfully imposed and lawfully demanded and collected. Does that mean that if Senator Dunn’s request is agreed to, the duty of 10 per cent, will be retrospective to the 13th October, 1932, or does it mean that the goods affected will be regarded as having been exempted up to this date, and that, henceforth, the duty will be 10 per cent. instead of 5 per cent.?
Question - That the request (Senator Dunn’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator the Hon. Herbert Hayes.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Goloshes, rubber sand boots and shoes and plimsolls, per pair,1s. 9d., or ad valorem, 30 per cent., whichever rate returns the higher duty.
.- I move-
That the House of Representatives be requested to make the duty, per pair, 2s. 3d.
Several Australian factories are manufacturing rubber goods of a high quality, namely, the North Australian Rubber Manufacturing Company, known as “N.A.R.M.”, in Queensland; the Perdriau and the Hardy shoe companies in Sydney; and the Barnet Glass and Dunlop rubber companies in Melbourne. Members of the Australian Davis Cup team consider the Australian-made articles good enough for them. Therefore, honorable senators should not hesitate to make the duty sufficient to ensure the continued employment of the large number of men and women employed in our rubber factories.
Question - That the request (Senator Dunn’s) be agreed to - put. The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator the Hon. Herbert Hays.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives, and (on motion ‘by Senator McLachlan) read a first time.
Export of Stud Sheep : Allegations by the Honorable Member fob West Sydney (Mr, Beasley) - Wheat Bounty-Captain Conway- Royal Australian Navy; Applications for Employment - Australian Broadcasting Commission : Queensland Administration.
Motion (.by Senator Sit George Pearce) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I should not have delayed the Senate at this late hour, but far the fact that this 13 the first opportunity I have ha,d to refute some extraordinary assertions made on the 5 th July, in the House of Representatives, by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley). Apparently this gentleman has suddenly developed into a prominent sheep and wool expert, and is to become the custodian of the greatest industry we have in Australia. It is pleasing to know that he is watching the interests of the Australian wool-growers, and in that connexion I shall co-operate with him to the best of my ability. It does not matter what he said concerning the Australian wool industry, because, in effect, he modestly admitted that he knew nothing about it. Such an explanation was entirely unnecessary. But I take strong exception to certain grossly inaccurate references concerning me personally, which reflect upon my honour. As we are all aware, some years ago a Labour government placed an embargo upon the export of stud merino sheep from Australia, and on that occasion I supported its action. I have always done so, because, in the interest of the greatest industry that we have, it is wise that some restriction should be placed upon the export of our incomparable merino sheep to other countries, where they may be used to build up a woolgrowing industry to the detriment of Australia’s wool trade. Even when a Labour government was in power, it was always possible to obtain permits to export other than merino sheep, because it was realized that all British breeds and Corriedales can be obtained in other countries, and that possibly sheep of better quality could be obtained in unlimited quantities in New Zealand. I was pleased to notice that the honorable member for West Sydney is taking a very keen interest in the welfare of the Australian woolgrowers, and the wool industry generally, He rightly said -
Apart from the mcn who obtain a living by the production, sale, shipping and manufacturing of wool, this industry is important to all citizens.
Had he left it at that, arid refrained from making insinuations against the honesty of the Government and certain qf its supporters, all would have ‘been well; but he went on to say that there had been a “stacking of the cards” by certain sheep men, in which Senator Guthrie and the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Nock) were prominent. He said -
It i3 common knowledge in Sydney that two prominent members of this Parliament have been associated with the negotiations with the Government for the lifting of the embargo on the export of stud sheep-1-! refer to Senator Guthrie and the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Nock).
He then, I understand, went on to say that “ the dogs were barking “ about certain alleged actions. I suggest that the dogs were barking up the wrong tree. Perhaps he meant the bleating of the goats. Ever since I have been associated with the wool industry, I have supported an embargo on the export of stud merino rams from Australia, and year after year, at the New .South Wales Sheep-breeders’ Association, of the council of which I have the honour to be a member. I have opposed resolutions asking the Government to remove the embargo. In doing so, I have made myself extremely unpopular with certain ram breeders, and have lost a lot of friends, and, incidentally, some business. I followed the course I did, because I have realized that because of its prepon-derating importance to Australia, the wo.q1 industry is of greater moment than the personal interest of a - few ram-breeders. There are 90,000 families growing wool in Australia, and their success has been due largely to the efforts of that great pioneer Macarthur, who laid the foundation of the Australian wool industry. Largely as a result of his efforts, we have been able to breed the finest sheep produced in any part of the world. The importance of the wool industry to Australia will be found in the fact that with only 16 per cent, of the world’s sheep, we have been producing 32 per cent, of the total value of the world’s wool, showing that per sheep Australia can annually produce wool of twice the value of that produced in any other part of the world. Merino sheep are the backbone of the great Australian wool industry. Owing to the preponderance of merinos, Australia is now growing nearly 60 per cent, of the merino wool produced in the world. When I first entered the wool-growing industry, South Africa was producing only 20,000 bales of inferior wool; but after the South African woolproducers had been given a free ha-nd in the purchase of our best sheep, the production in that country increased to nearly 1,000,000 bales of good merino wool per annum. A few years ago, Russia, which breeds only a. poor type, claimed to have 130,000,000 sheep. Large shipments of merinos were about to bc sent to Russia, and the Russian people could have produced wool of better quality if big shipments of Australian stud merinos had been permitted. For that and for other reasons, I have always supported a majority of the graziers who opposed the lifting of the embargo. The honorable member for West Sydney objected to Australian sheep being exported to New Zealand ; but as New Zealand is not a country suitable for merinos, few of that breed have been sent from Australia to the dominion. He also charged the Government with allowing Romney Marsh sheep to be sent to New Zealand, but those and other British breeds are always available from other sources. He attacked the export of Corriedales to New Zealand and to other countries, but New Zealand is the home of the Corriedale. Buyers in all parts of the world can purchase Romney Marsh, other British breeds of sheep, and Corriedales, in that dominion.
I have had the good luck to sell a few Corriedale sheep to New Zealand, but I had to buy many more sheep from the dominion than I have sent there, and that is the general trend of trade. Australia buys much more extensively from New Zealand than New Zealand buys from it. We have always been able to get permission, even under Labour governments, to export stud sheep from Australia to New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, India_ and other countries, although I think” it would be very difficult to get a permit to ship sheep to Russia. Nothing underhand has been done by either the Government or its supporters, and the insinuation that there is something to hide - that I have shipped Corriedale sheep to other parts of the world and must have used undue influence to get the necessary permission - is ridiculous. I am proud of the fact that some buyers think that my rams are worth purchasing. This year I had the honour to sell a Corriedale ram to a noted breeder in Fyfeshire, Scotland. Does Mr. Beasley, or any one else, suggest that there should be an embargo on that animal? Was the sale of it bad for Australia? I have also sold sheep to the United States of America, Canada, and New Zealand, but I. have imported probably more sheep than I have sold.
– What about Japan and Manchuria ?
– The Japanese Government is encouraging growers of mulberry trees, which provide food for the silkworm, to buy a sheep or two which can feed on the refuse leaves not eaten by the worms, and at the same time enrich the soil for the benefit of the trees. But the maximum number of sheep allowed to any farmer is five, and the total number in the country is only 30,000. So, I do not think that it can be seriously contended that by the shipment of a few Corriedale sheep to eat mulberry leaves in Japan, the Australian wool-growing industry is being jeopardized. Apart from that, honorable senators should remember that Japan is our second biggest customer for wool, its purchases amounting to between £10,000,000 to £12,000,000 per annum. Even when the export of my few Corriedales is set against the fact that Japan buys from us 500,000 or 600,000 bales of wool per annum, and hopes to buy a million per annum, the balance of trade is still very much in our favour. I have not exported any sheep to Manchuria or Manchukuo, nor has any member of the association of which I am president.
– Tf sheep are sold to Japan they will be sent across to those countries.
– That may be so, but as far as I have been able to ascertain from Britishers who have been there, and from Japanese connected with the wool industry, those countries are not suitable for sheep. Certainly they have a few million very rough sheep, but at seasons of the year the ground is frozen to a depth of three to four feet; the soil is saline, and the herbage is such that the pastoral industry there can never be developed to be a serious competitor with that in Australia. If I thought that I would he doing any harm by selling to Japan a few sheep that might ultimately reach Manchuria or Manchukuo, I would be quite agreeable to refuse such business. I speak not as a big squatter, such as Mr. Beasley described me, but as a man engaged -in a relatively small way. New Zealand has good Corriedales and a great number of them, and if the Government of the dominion, following the example of Australia’s embargo on the exportation of merinos, saw fit to prohibit the exportation of Corriedales, we might possibly with advantage do “the same. But the Commonwealth Government is alive to anything that might be detrimental to our wool industry, and it is very difficult for anyone to get a permit for the export of stud sheep. It is negotiating with the New Zealand Government at the present time, and if New Zealand were to put an embargo on the exportation of Cor.riedales, I would personally favour a similar embargo in Australia, simply to prove that I am sincere in my desire to place the wool industry before personal gain, though I do not think that such a step would be efficacious, as there are some millions of these sheep in South America, although the breed in that country is not so good as in New Zealand and the Commonwealth.
The Japanese Government has bought no stud Corriedale sheep this year, but only a few flock sheep that we were fortunate to dispose of. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Forde) seems to be better acquainted with the pastoral industry than is Mr. Beasley, because he says that every Australian enjoys some benefit from the prosperity of the industry, and that everything that can be done to protect it should be done. With those sentiments I agree. It is gratifying to know that such authorities as Mr. Beasley and Mr. Forde are joining with others to see that Australia’s great industry is protected. I thought that West Sydney was famous for producing goats rather than sheep. Although I recognize that the people of that constituency are political lambs, I did not expect their representative to take such an active part in protecting the wool industry, as he did when he made a speech for which he would have been applauded had he not made scurrilous insinuations against the Government, Mr. Nock, M.H.R., and myself.
– I desire to bring under the Minister’s notice the following telegram which I have just received from the Wheat-growers Union of Western Australia : -
Widespread indignation farmers this State action Agricultural Bank refusing grant from federal bounty to car owners irrespective their financial position, age of car, distance from siding, and purpose for which car ‘used. This action too arbitrary. Each case should be judged on merits. Please protest proper quarter.
It is not clear whether this complaint applies to the whole of the wheat bounty or to the £70,000 which has been withheld from general distribution by the Agricultural Bank for allocation to the most necessitous farmers in the State. But, in either case, I submit that to-day a motor car is a necessity to outback settlers and particularly for the women on the farm. The possession of an antiquated Ford car, which is probably unsaleable or subject to a bill of sale, should not preclude the owner from participating in the wheat bounty if otherwise he is entitled to it under the law of the land. The law lays down that a settler who applies for relief from this bounty shall not have had a taxable income for the financial year pre.ceding the date of his application, and that is the only test which should bo applied in these cases, even if there happens to be an ancient car on the settler’s farm. In this matter the Agricultural Bank is acting for the Commonwealth under conditions laid down by the Commonwealth” law, and I am sure that it is not the wish of this Government or the Agricultural Bank in “Western Australia to have this money distributed to wheat-farmers on a. basis different from that used in other States, or that any new discrimination should be introduced there. The telegram speaks for itself, and I ask the Minister to bring it under the notice of his colleague, the Minister for Commerce, with a view to seeing that uniformity in the distribution of this assistance is maintained in “Western Australia.
[9.57]. - I shall bring the matter under the notice of the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Stewart). No section of the Wheat Belief Act deals with the ownership of motor cars. The distribution of the bounty is left to the State authorities, and presumably the condition mentioned by Senator Johnston is one imposed by the State and is not a limitation suggested by the federal authority.
.- On the 28th June, I asked a question of the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) concerning the grievance of Captain Conway, and requested that it be referred to the royal commission which is inquiring into the retirement from the navy of LieutenantCommander Casey. This is a matter of long standing, and perhaps the Minister is fully cognizant of the circumstances. I have taken clown a statement from Captain Conway, and it seems to me that he has a genuine grievance for which, however, he can get no redress. Captain Conway’s claim may be summarized in this way: For many years he rendered efficient and meritorious service, for which, on his retirement, he received the thanks of the
Minister of the day. After his retirement, however, he was maligned by published statements, and, ultimately, succeeded in forcing an investigation, which was conducted by the Chief of the General Staff, General J. H. Bruche, who courageously exposed the misrepresentation. The following facts were disclosed by the investigation: - (a) That Conway efficiently, diligently and meritoriously performed his duty. (6) That the department had deprived him of the credit of his service. (c) That he had been publicly represented as having failed in the performance of his duty. These serious facts were established by General Bruche, and in due course Captain Conway submitted his claim for compensation for injurious misrepresentation. The department now adopts the attitude that the findings of General Bruche were not in accordance with the facts ; that the matter circulated concerning Captain Conway was true; and that General Bruche arrived at his decision by arrangement with Captain Conway and others. The Government cannot allow the matter to remain in this most unsatisfactory state. The integrity and ability of General Bruche have been impugned, and it is imperative that the whole of the matters mentioned should be investigated promptly and thoroughly by an independent . tribunal. Either Captain Conway was seriously misrepresented and injured, or General Bruche played the part of a political puppet. The issue is simple and plain; justice must be done, even though the department has to pay for its persecution of a capable and trustworthy officer, who rendered meritorious service to King and Country in every position in which he served. I should like the Minister to lay on the table of the Senate the report by General Bruche. Any man who renders faithful service to his employer is entitled to a reference. It is not right that an employer, having given a man a satisfactory reference, should afterwards say that what he said in the reference was not true, and that the employee is not what he represented him to to be. If Captain Conway did not deserve the thanks of the department, he should not have been thanked. This matter is sufficiently serious to justify a thorough investigation by an independent tribunal. I do not know what baa been done. When Captain Conway presented his case to me I felt that an injustice had been done to him, and consequently I have brought the matter before the Senate.
.- On the 5th July I asked the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) the following question, without notice: -
Will the Minister for Defence lay on the table of the Senate the written applications for positions in the Australian Navy forwarded to him during the last two and a half years by Senator Dunn? Will he also state how many, if any, of such applications have been successful ?
I have since received the following answer from the Minister: - 1 am now in a position to inform the honorable senator that he has sent to me six applications for entry and re-entry into the Royal Australian Navy, and two applications for positions at the naval establishment at Garden Island. The files in regard to the applications above referred to for entry and re-entry into the Royal Australian Navy can bc inspected at my office in the Senate.
It may be that the Minister is endowed with a sense of humour, and consequently has given me the reply mentioned ; but, a3 a representative of the people, I am not satisfied with it. I claim that I am entitled to a proper answer to my question, lu the heat of debate the Minister said that I had the distinction of writing more letters to him, as Minister for Defence, than any other honorable senator. One would imagine that I had sent to the Minister thousands of letters asking for jobs in the Australian Navy ; yet, on his own admission, he received from me in two and a half years only six applications for entry or re-entry into the Navy, and two applications for positions at Garden Island. When I asked how many such applications were successful, I got the usual “wipe-off.” I could forgive the Minister for a loss of self-control during a heated debate ; but I think that, on reflection, he will admit that honorable senators are only doing their duty when they send letters to Ministers on behalf of their constituents. I hope, therefore, that, even yet, the Minister will reply satisfactorily to my question. If members of this Parliament are to ,be impeached because they write letters to Ministers, I can only say that’ such condemnation savours of political bodyline bowling. The Mansard record will show the manner in which the representatives of the people are sometimes treated by Ministers when relations are strained in this chamber.
Senator Guthrie has seen fit to criticize the leader of the political group to which I belong - the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Beasley). Would the honorable senator deny to Mr. Beasley the right to criticize any happening calculated to injure Australia? Senator Guthrie knows that the honorable member for West Sydney is a son of the late Tom Beasley, a well-known farmer of Werribee, and that in his early life he was engaged in that form of primary production for which the Bacchus Marsh and Werribee district is famed. A few days ago the honorable member for West Sydney moved the adjournment of the House of Representatives to draw attention to the danger to Australia of the export of Corriedale sheep to Japan.
– I objected to his base insinuations.
– Every one must admit that Mr. Beasley is fair iu debate. With him it is not a case of wigs on the green; he fights for principles. At the end of his speech Senator Guthrie indulged in offensive innuendoes against the honorable member for West Sydney. Did the honorable senator mean that that electorate was represented in the House of Representatives by goats? At any rate, Mr. Beasley has severely butted the honorable senator, hence the squeal from him to-night. Senator Guthrie admits that he has exported sheep to Japan, notwithstanding the fact that Manchuria was won by Japan from China by force of arms. He also said that there were only five sheep, on the average, to every farmer in Japan.
– I said that five sheep is the maximum number allowed to a farmer in Japan.
– It is surprising that the honorable, senator did not ask the Attorney-General (Mr. Latham), who recently returned from Japan, how many sheep Japanese farmers have. Japan is under the rule to-day of the imperial junkers of that country, and the farmers and manufacturers have no voice. In support of his argument that successful sheep breeding is not practicable in Manchuria, Senator Guthrie remarked that for long periods the countryside was under snow and ice. But similar conditions are found in the Falkland Islands, Patagonia, and the country adjacent to the Magellan Straits, one of the waterways to the west coast of South America. In Patagonia millions of sheep arc depastured, despite the fact that for long periods of the year the countryside is under snow. The honorable member for “West Sydney remarked -
It is common knowledge in Sydney that two prominent members of this Parliament have been associated with the negotiations with the Government for the lifting pf the embargo on the export of stud sheep. I refer to Senator Guthrie, a very prominent grazier of Victoria, and to the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Nock).
It seems strange that members of the Lyons Ministry rushed in to defend “ comrade “ Nock from the Riverina, but said not a word about Senator Guthrie, who admits having exported Corriedale sheep to Japan.
– I did that when a Labour government was in office.
– I care not what Ministry was in power. When Senator Guthrie was sitting on the opposition side in this chamber, the Minister for Markets in the Scullin Administration placed an embargo on the export of stud sheep. The honorable member for West Sydney went on to say -
Senator Guthrie, as is well known in business circles, is closely associated with Dalgety and Company Limited, which handled n considerable number of those shipments as agents. It is further alleged that some of the sheep exported were actually obtained from properties owned by Senator Guthrie.
The honorable member for Cook (Mr. Riley) remarked -
I was interested to hear the remarks of the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr Beasley) regarding the part played by Senator Guthrie in the export of stud, sheep. I have in my hand a statement issued by Senator Guthrie, in the course of which he says- “ Australia’s most valuable asset, is her possession of the best merino sheep, producing the moat and best wool in the world. The maintenance of these studs is. not only essential to the national interest, but they are absolutely essential as the source of supply to the smaller growers, who must get their supply of rams from these high-class, old-established big studs “.
Evidently Senator Guthrie fully realizes the importance of our merino Hocks to Australia, and yet he is a party to the export of hundreds of stud sheep to Japan. He and others, associated with him are rendering a disservice to Australia.
Although Senator Guthrie states that he has exported stud sheep, he claims that no damage ha3 thereby been done to Australia. Years ago it was argued that wattle seeds could be exported to South Africa without injury to Australia, although our bush-workers were obtaining a livelihood by harvesting wattle bark. Yet much of the wattle bark recently used in this country has been imported from South Africa, which is also a formidable rival of Australia in the fight for the wool markets of Europe. The Minister for Commerce (Mr. Stewart) made this interesting statement -
The exports of Corriedale sheep were as follows: - to New Zealand, two rams, valued at fi 30; to South Africa, two rams, valued at £21, and eight ewes, valued at £84; to India, three ranis, valued at £90; to Japan, 14li rams, valued at £1,459, and 3,958 ewes, valued at £11,753; to the United States of America, two rams, valued at £57, and ten ewes, valued at £50. The total export of Corriedales during the period mentioned was therefore 155 rams and 3,970 ewes.
It will be noticed that Japan purchased 146 rams and 3,958 ewes. I suggest that these animals were purchased, not to he converted into curry or sausages, but to enable breeders in Japan to build up their flocks. Reference to various works in the Parliamentary Library shows that close scientific research is being undertaken by Japan for the purpose of building up its primary and secondary industries. Yet we are asked to believe that the exportation of stud sheep to that country will not prove injurious to Australia. I think that Mr. Beasley made out a good case. If Senator Guthrie will read the debate in the House of . Representatives, he will sense the fear, entertained by those who took part in it, that great damage was being done to the wool industry of Australia” by the exportation of stud rams and ewes.
– Nothing dishonest has been attempted.
– Senator Guthrie will, I think, agree that whatever criticism may have been offered by Mr. Beasley about those who were concerned in the export of stud sheep from Australia, he made no suggestion whatever that anything dishonest was done. Mr. Beasley is not that kind of man. Ho always presents his case on the facts before him, and with due regard to the record of his statements appearing in Hansard aud the press. He deals with every case on its merits. There was, therefore, no occasion for Senator Guthrie to get hot under the collar merely because Mr. Beasley represents an industrial constituency. The people living in West Sydney do not grow sheep, it is true, but they eat a great deal of mutton. In common with other electors, they pay their full share of customs, excise, and other taxes, and, therefore, are interested, though perhaps somewhat remotely, in the maintenance of the New South Wales stud farms at Wagga and on the Hawkesbury. How then can Senator Guthrie argue that Mr. Beasley is not within his rights in criticizing what Senator Guthrie or anybody else may have done in connexion with the export of stud sheep from thi3 country?
– I do not mind fair criticism.
– What Mr. Beasley said was fair criticism. Mr. Main, the Minister for Agriculture in New South Wales, speaking in the Legislative Assembly a few days ago, admitted that a certain number of Dorset rams had been exported from the stud farm at Wagga, and I believe he said that they had been sent to Japan. No one will deny that Japan is making a determined effort to build up its flocks, and there is no doubt that it is drawing largely on Australian studs. When I was a boy, it was generally believed that Japan, which was then giving its attention to the development of secondary industries, would never become a great industrial nation. As we now know, that country has made such astonishing progress industrially that its competition in world markets is giving a headache to the leading statesmen in all countries. It has become Britain’s most formidable competitor in dominion markets, and particularly in India, which is one of the lowest wage countries in the world. If Japan is so formidable, industrially, is it not likely that as a woolproducing country it will cause considerable trouble to Australia ? The stud rams and ewes which it has purchased from Australia for a few pounds may prove to be the nucleus of numerous flocks, the product of which may one day be in competition with Australian-grown wool in the markets of the world.
– At this late hour, I would not think of detaining the Senate but for the fact that if I did not now make the statement which I desire to make, it will probably be too late. I ask the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) if he will see that the inquiry into the affairs of the Australian Broadcasting Commission which was promised by the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Parkhill) last week deals not only with dismissals of the staff in Queensland, but also with administration and other matters in Queensland and New South Wales. Honorable senators will recall that I mentioned this matter last week. It was raised in the House of Representatives on the same day by the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson). I shall be grateful if the right honorable the Leader of the Senate will convey my request to the Postmaster-General, because I believe that good will come out of the inquiry if it is conducted on the lines that I have suggested.
– I was rather surprised at the attack made by Senator Guthrie on Mr. Beasley, the member for West Sydney, in the House of Representatives, in connexion with the motion for the adjournment of the House, moved by the latter one day last week to discuss the export of stud sheep from Australia. If Mr. Beasley inadvertently did Senator Guthrie an injustice, he would, I am sure, be the first to apologize. I think Senator Guthrie has, by his own words, gone far to cancel any claim that he might have had upon Mr. Beasley to rectify any harm which his remarks may have done to the honorable senator. It was certainly in the worst of taste for the honorable gentleman referring to Mr.
Beasley, to offer some weak witticism about “goats” in West Sydney. The avowed intention of Japan is to build up its flocks of high-class, wool-bearing sheep in the territory of Manchukuo, which is now under its control. It may be true, as Senator Guthrie has said, that Manchukuo is noteminently adapted for the production of high-class wool. The same may be said of many parts of Australia. It is, however, possible that, following scientific research, the quality of wool produced in Manchukuo may be improved to such an extent that, in time, it will be a strong competitor of Australian wools in the world’s markets.It is generally known that ifa particular class of country is not suitable for the production of highclass wool, it is necessary, from time to time, to import rams from the country where the best kind of wool is produced, in order to prevent the flocks from deteriorating. It is, therefore, clear that if we permit trading by Australian stud masters with Manchukuo through Japan, for the purpose of building up the flocks in that country, those concerned will make every effort to continue the business. The same remarks apply to the efforts made by Russia to improve its flocks. I cannot imagine that any very large area of the Soviet Republic, with, the exception of the extreme southern portion, is suitable for the production of fine merino wool; hut if suitable strains can he obtained from any other country, the Russian growers may be able to improve the quality of their flocks. If we permit inroads to be made into our wool industry, vested interests in other countries will see that there is a continuance of exports from Australia. I read in a Sydney newspaper a few days ago that a branch of the wool-growing industry passed a resolution requesting the Government to enforce the embargo on the export of Corriedales. Senator Guthrie said that New Zealand was a country in which merino sheep were not prominent. During recent years, large tracts of country formerly used for grazing merino sheep have been subdivided, and are now devoted to the depasturing of Lincoln, Leicester and Romney Marsh sheep. Although large numbers of long woolled sheep are now being bred in New Zealand, the merino is so adaptable that it can be successfully carried on millions of acres in New Zealand, even on country 5,000 feet above the sea level. I know of what I am speaking, because I have worked and shorn sheep in that type of country. Senator Guthrie may consider that he knows a great deal about sheep-breeding, but he is wrong in saying that merino sheep will not thrive in New Zealand. They do well on the plains, and also on country 5,000 feet above sea levety even during the severest winter. 1 have known of merino sheep to put their heads together during a snow storm, and, by the warmth of their breath, to melt the snow sufficiently to enable them to live until the danger had passed.
– But under such conditions fine merino wool could not be produced.
– That is so. But a class of wool much finer than that country is naturally adapted for can be produced by introducing fresh strains from the countries where the finest wools are produced. We should be very chary of allowing stud rams to he exported to other countries, because if the practice is permitted, an endeavour will be made to stimulate exports.
[10.50]. - The points raised by Senator Collings with respect to the Australian Broadcasting Commission will be brought under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Archdale Parkhill).
The case of Captain Conway, mentioned by Senator Dooley, is well known to me, and also to every Minister for Defence during the last ten years. I do not propose to go into that case to-night ; hut if Senator Dooloy wishes to study the file, I shall have it placed on the table of the Library, so that he and other honorable senators interested may peruse it. If they stagger through it, they will see that it is not quite the subject for an inquiry such as he suggests.
I do not propose to make any contribution to the long and learned discussion on merinos, Corriedales and various other breeds of sheep. It served to remind me of a letter I read in a Melbourne newspaper concerning the Centenary medallion. On one side of the accepted design is the skull of a sheep intersected by a head of wheat. The writer of the letter said that he was a sheep-breeder, and that he bad looked at the head, but was quite sure that it was not the merino upon which our great sheep industry had been founded. He said that it might be a Dorset, but whatever its breed, it was better dead. Probably some honorable senators who have been listening to the discussion on Corriedales, merinos and other breeds, have been thinking that the subject would bc better dead.
Senator Dunn objected to ray reply to a question he had asked concerning letters which he had written to me forwarding applications for employment in the Royal Australian Navy. Earlier in the session ho had asked other questions relating to alleged dissatisfaction and disaffection in the Navy. It seemed rather peculiar that the honorable senator, holding the views he apparently does concerning the Navy, should write a number of letters endeavouring to get for some of his constituents employment in that service. In one or two instances he asked that the applicants bo readmitted to the Navy. If Senator Dunn wishes to ascertain whether any of the mcn he mentioned have been provided with employment, the files are available in my office, and can be inspected by him.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.54 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 11 July 1934, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1934/19340711_senate_13_144/>.