14th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. P. J.Lynch) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
[3.3]. - by leave - I desire to announce to the Senate that, on the 9th November, 1934, certain additional changes were madein the composition of the Ministry, which is now constituted as follows: -
Minister of State for External Affairs and Minister in Charge of Territories. - Senator the Right Honorable George Foster Pearce, K.C.V.O.
Vice-President of the Executive Council, Minister of State for Health, and Minister of State for Repatriation. - The Right Honorable William Morris Hughes, K.C., M.P.
Minister of State for the Interior. - The Honorable Thomas Peterson, M.P.
Postmaster-General and Minister in Charge of Development and Scientific and Industrial Research. - Senator the Honorable Alexander John McLachlan
Minister without portfolio directing negotiations for trade treaties. - The Honorable Sir Henry Somer Gullett, K.C.M.G., M.P.
Minister without portfolio, assisting the Minister of State for Commerce and the Minister of State for Industry. - Senator the Honorable Thomas Cornelius Brennan, K.C.
Minister without portfolio, in Charge of War Service Homes and assisting the Minister of State for Repatriation. - The Honorable Harold Victor Campbell Thorby, M.P.
Minister without portfolio, representing the Postmaster-General in the House of Representatives. - The Honorable James Aitchison Johnston Hunter, M.P.
Honorary Minister in Charge of the Royal Visit. - The Honorable Charles William Clanan Marr, D.S.O., M.C., V.D., M.P.
The following papers were presented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Deter minations by the Arbitrator, &c. -
No. 27 of 1934 - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers Federation of Australia; Commonwealth Storemen and Packers Union; and Commonwealth Naval Storehousemen’s Association.
No. 28 of 1934. - Arms, Explosives and Munition Workers Federation of Australia; Amalgamated Engineering Union; and Australasian Society of Engineers.
Commonwealth Railways Act - Report on Commonwealth Railways Operationsfor the year ended 30th June, 1934.
Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 141.
Norfolk Island Act - Ordinances of 1934 -
No. 11- Standard Time.
No. 12 - Pounds.
No. 13 - Timber Licences.
Papua Act - Ordinances of 1934 -
No. 3 - Customs Tariff.
No. 4 - White Women’s Protection.
No. 5 - Supplementary Appropriation 1933-1934.
No. 6 - Auctioneers.
No. 7 - Appropriation 1934- 1935.
No. 8 - Sago.
No. 9 - Mining (Facilities for Development).
No. 10 - Petroleum (Mining).
River Murray Waters Act - River Murray Commission - Report for the year 1933-34; together with Statements furnished on behalf of the Governments of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia In respect of gaugings and quantities of water diverted.
Science and Industry Endowment Act - Auditor-General’s Report on the Science and Industry Endowment Fund as at 30th June, 1934.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act- Ordinance No. 23 of 1934 - Police.
Production of Oil from Coal - Report of Committee appointed to inquire into the question of establishing a plant in Australia for the production of Oil from Coal by theHydrogenation Process.
Australian Soldiers’ Repatriation Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 96.
Patents Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 134.
Patents Act, Trade Marks Act, Designs Act, and Treaty of Peace (Germany) Act - Herniations amended-Statutory Rules 1934, No. 132.
Trade Marks Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934, No. 133.
Canned Fruits Export Control Act - Eighth Annual Report of the Canned Fruits Control Board, year ended 30th June, 1934, together with Statement by the Minister for Commerce regarding the operation of the Act.
Colonial Light Dues Collection Act - Regulations Statutory Rules 1934. No. 128.
Dairy Produce Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1934 No. 131.
Wine Overseas Marketing Act - Sixth Annual Report of the Wine Overseas Marketing Board, year ended 30th June, 1934. together with Statement by the Minister for Commerce regarding the operation of the Act.
– by leave - After giving full consideration to the report of the Newnes Investigation Committee, which was appointed by the Governments of the Commonwealth and New South Wales, both Governments decided, on the 12th July, 1934, that they would be prepared to assist financially in the development of the shale oil industry in the Newnes-Capertee area, provided that a company or persons possessing the necessary standing and technical and engineering qualifications could be induced to operate the undertaking.
In reaching this decision, both Governments were actuated by a desire to see the industry developed along the lines recommended by the Newnes Investigation Committee, bearing in mind the importance qf the production of oil fuel from indigenous sources, and the effect which the development of the industry would have upon employment, particularly in connexion with miners.
In the view of both Governments, however, it is essential that the development of Newnes should be undertaken by persons possessing technical, engineering, and other qualifications, which are regarded as prerequisites of success and stability. The Governments felt that another failure in the Newnes area would be a serious retrograde step, and that if they sponsored the formation of a company on haphazard and ill-considered lines for the purpose of operating the deposits, they would be failing in their duty. Another failure in the Newnes area would also have serious repercussions so far as other fields are concerned, including Baerami, in New South Wales, and Latrobe, in Tasmania.
Following on this decision, the High Commissioner in London was asked to approach Imperial Chemical Industries Limited and Sir John Cadman, the chairman of directors of the AngloPersian Oil Company Limited, which is a partner with the Commonwealth Government in Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited. Imperial Chemical Industries Limited stated that it had no actual experience in the production of oil from shale, and would not be prepared to become associated with the proposal, although it would render any assistance possible without accepting financial commitments. Sir John Cadman intimated that he would visit Australia during October, and would discuss the matter with representatives of the Governments on his arrival.
At the invitation of the Governments of the Commonwealth and New South Wales, Sir John Cadman visited Newnes on the 22nd and 23rd October, for the purpose of enabling him to express views as to the possibilities of developing the shale oil industry in that locality. The visit was followed by discussions which took place in Canberra on the 25th October, at which were present the Prime Minister, the Minister for Mines of New South Wales, Sir John Cadman, and myself.
Sir John Cadman said that, in his opinion, the estimates of the Newnes Investigation Committee in regard to the CostS of mining would not be realized. He thought that the figures would be exceeded. He also expressed apprehension as to whether the Pumpherston adapted retorts, more commonly known as the Fell retorts, which are installed at Newnes, would be capable of efficiently treating the rich shale which is available in that locality.
In connexion with both these matters, Sir Herbert Gepp and I advised Sir John Cadman that -
Sir John Cadman intimated that, while he was not greatly impressed with the possibilities of developing the shale oil industry in the Newnes area, he would arrange for expert officers of his company to visit Australia at an early date to investigate the possibilities of the industry.
Since that discussion took place, the Governmenthas received a letter from Sir John Cadman, in which the following passages occur: -
AsI have previously assured you, my desire is to assist the Commonwealth Government in any way within my power, and it was with this object that I placed my technical experience at your disposal.
The Anglo-Persian Oil Company, of which I am chairman, and which is a partner of the Commonwealth Government in the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, can only have the same objective as the Commonwealth Government in desiring to sec developed in Australia any petroleum resources which can render Australia internally secure in respect of oil supplies on terms and conditions which are practicable and economically sound.
My company are in full sympathy with the policy of the Commonwealth Government, and, in order to assist them, I have arranged for two of the men at our disposal who arc most experienced in the mining, retorting, and refining of shale, to visit Australia. Mr. Robert Crichton, a director and the general manager of Scottish Oils (Shale) Limited, and Mr. H. R. J. Conacher, the manager, will leave England in time to intercept me at a convenient port on my return journey on their outward voyage to Melbourne.
I trust that their advice, after a careful survey of the situation, will contribute a substantial and authoritative addition to the knowledge of this difficult problem, and that the Commonwealth Government will, with such assistance, be the better able to determine the future policy- it should follow in this matter.
– Is the Minister representing the Prime Minister aware that owing to a serious plague of rats in Northern Queensland there has been an outbreak of Weil’s disease which is causing a considerable amount of sickness amongst cane-cutters, and that in order to eradicate the pest it has become necessary to use large quantities of rat poison? Is the Minister aware also that sales tax is imposed on rat poison, whereas no such tax is imposed on a similar poison used for the destruction of rabbits? Will the Minister arrange for rat poison to be placed on the exempt list at the earliest possible moment?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.I shall bring the honorable senator’s question under the notice of the Treasurer, who, I think, is the appropriate Minister to deal with the subject.
– I ask the Minister for Development and Scientific and IndustrialResearch, if Queensland is to be considered in the scheme of investigation by the coal oil committee? If not, has the fact been taken into account that there are large deposits of brown coal at Port Clinton, near fresh and salt water, bituminous coal of the Styx field, black lignite of Blair Athol, anthracite coal similar to Welsh coal, in the Mackenzie Valley, and semianthracite coal in the Dawson Valley, of which a government geologist once said the quantity was immeasurable, and that for oil production the central Queensland coals are regarded as amongst the best offering ?
– I am aware of all those things, and a great many others, in relation to the production of coal in the various States. After examining the report, which I have just tabled, the honorable senator will realize that the claims of all the States having deposits such as those mentioned by him will receive consideration.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs seen inthe Adelaide News of the 12th instant, a cablegram which reads -
The South Australian Agent-General, Mr. McCann, after his return from a visit to the Continent, said that a most favorable opportunity was now offering for South Australia to sell barley to Belgium. Poland, one of Belgium’s biggest suppliers, had produced only a small percentage of good malting barley this year. Belgian merchants, however, wore experiencing difficulty in making forward contracts to buy South Australian barley, because of the delay in settling the trade dispute between Belgium and Australia.
If the Minister has seen the cable, or, indeed, if he has not seen it, is he in the position to make a statement in regard to any trade treaty which may be made between Australia and Belgium?
– The Minister for Trade and Customs is, I am sure, fully seised of the importance of the matter raised by the honorable senator. Negotiations are almost complete, and it is hoped that a statement will be made shortly both in the Senate and in the House ofRepresentatives on the subject. For obvious reasons, I cannot carry the matter further at this stage.
– Has the Minister representing the Attorney-General any information to give to the Senate concerning Herr Kisch? Can he state the reason why he has not been allowed to land in Australia?
– The AttorneyGeneral has a good deal of information on the subject, some of which, I understand, will be made available to the Senate to-day by the Minister for External Affairs (Senator Pearce).
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - The resolution of sympathy passed by the Senate on the death of King Albert of Belgium was conveyed to the Belgian Government, and a reply has now been received expressing the sincere thanks of the Government and the people of Belgium, who deeply appreciate the action of the Senate.
I have also received from Lady David a letter expressing her appreciation of the resolution of sympathy and condolence passed by the Senate on the occasion of the death of her husband, Sir Edgeworth David.
asked the Leader of the Senate, upon notice -
– The compilation of the figures on unemployment is now nearing completion. It is anticipated that the figures in regard to New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia will be published in the near future, and those for Western Australia and Tasmania will follow shortly after.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
In view of the replies furnished to questions by Senator Col lings on the 4th July and 25th July last, relative to the importation of peanuts, will the Minister give the Senate the reasons for allowing peanuts to the value of £13,967 to be brought into Australia during the years 1930 to 1933 inclusive?
– The peanuts in question were imported solely for the reason that local production was insufficient to meet Australia’s requirements, and the imports were necessary in order to supply the shortage. These peanuts were admitted with the concurrence of the Queensland Peanut Board.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice - 1, Is it a fact -
) that the first arrivals, both boys and. girls, are now in Sydney?
– The answers to the honorable senators questions are as follow - 1. (a) and (b). A party of British boys and girls from the Barnardo Homes in England arrived at Sydney last month.
asked the Leader of the Senate, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follow -
Motion (by Senator McLachlan) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act to amend the Crimes Act 1914-1932.
Debate continued from the 31st October (vide page 78), on motion by Senator Collett -
That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s Speech be agreed to: -
To His Excellency the Governor-G eneral - May it Please Your Excellency:
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to Our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
Upon which Senator Barnes had moved by way of amendment -
That the following words be added to the motion:– and this Senate is of the opinion that, to provide for relief of unemployment, immediate action should be taken -
1 ) to extend the functions and activities of the Commonwealth Bank, increasing its power to make bank credit available, and utilizing such credit to finance public works:
to amend the. Arbitration Act to ensure that full and favorable consideration be given to progressive reductions in the working hours and increases in living standards commensurate with increased powers of production, due to mechanization and speeding-up of industry.
to restore in full pensions and social Services and to repeal clauses imposing charges upon pensioners’ property and relatives, thus increasing purchasing power and stimulating industry; and
to establish a national scheme for organized marketing, including the setting up of Australian-wide pools.
[3.25]. - I congratulate Senators Collett and Grant on the speeches which they delivered in moving and seconding respectively the Address-in-Reply. I was, however, somewhat pained that Senator Grant did not see all the virtues of the then Government; he seemed to think that there were some spots on the ministerial sun. In my opinion, some of his remarks were a little unfair as, for instance, when he said that that Government was quick to deal with tariff matters when secondary industries were affected, but was slow to come to the relief of primary industries. In order to show that that statement was not quite just, I remind the honorable senator of the action taken by the Government in respect of butter, hops, fruit, potatoes and timber, which he will admit are the products of primary industries. Moreover, if he will study the programme of the Commonwealth Government for the last two and a half years he will see that 75 per cent. of it affected primary industries. The honorable senator seems to have forgotten that the remissions of sales tax, primage duty, and other forms of taxation affected directly a number of primary industries. Those remissions of taxation were made by the Government with the special object of assisting primary producers. I remind him also of the legislation introduced in relation to wheat and butter. In the light of these facts, the late Government can scarcely be charged with having neglected the primary industries of the Commonwealth.
The honorable senator also asked what the Government intended to do in regard to the Navigation Act, and referred to a statement made by the Prime Minister just after the election. I have read that statement which was that, in the light of the result of the election in Tasmania, the Government would review its decision regarding the Navigation Act. That means, not necessarily that the Government will not carry out the promise made, but only that the matter will be reviewed.
– What does the honorable senator mean when he says “ in the light of the result of the election in Tasmania “ f
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The electors of Tasmania returned to the House of Representatives a number of members who, as members of the Labour party, will be bound to vote against any amendment of the Navigation Act, if the majority in Caucus so decides, irrespective of any promise they might have made to the electors.
– What has that to do with the Prime Minister?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Prime Minister saw in the election results what appeared to him to be an indication that a majority of the electors in certain parts of Tasmania, particularly Hobart, did not desire any alteration of the Navigation Act.
– The Prime Minister was getting ready an excuse for breaking his own pledge.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.That is not so. He merely referred to what, we must admit, is an anomaly, in view of the fact that the electors of Tasmania as a whole returned to the Senate men pledged to amend the Navigation Act.
I regret that Senator Grant should have criticized the Prime Minister as he did in regard to the new Ministry, and I do not propose to allow to pass unheeded bis statement that the right honorable gentleman acted at the dictation of the party organization, because I know that charge to be absolutely unfounded. There was no attempt on the part of the party organization to dictate to the Prime Minister in regard to Cabinet changes; and even had such an attempt been made, I am sure that he would not have accepted such dictation. I think that it is only fair to the Prime. Minister that I should say that.
As might have been expected, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Barnes) saw many defects in the Government and in its policy.
– He made out a good case.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.That depends on the point of view from which one regards the honorable senator’s speech. I am unable to congratulate him on the amendment which he submitted. In the first place, it is delightfully vague. It contains a number of high sounding phrases which, on analysis, are difficult to understand. For instance, it is urged that immediate steps should be taken -
To extend the functions and activities of the Commonwealth Bank, increasing its power to make bank credit available and utilizing such credit to finance public works.
The honorable senator did not enlighten us as to the nature of the suggested extension. The Commonwealth Bank is able now to make credit available to governments and private individuals and it does so ; but when the honorable senator speaks of extending its power to make credit available and utilizing such credit to finance public works, it is difficult to understand what is intended. Is it his contention that the Commonwealth Bank itself should not only find the money, but actually directly finance the particular work to be carried out ? And how is the money to be found ? Is it to be secured by way of loan ? When loan moneys are required the ordinary procedure is to invite public subscriptions, but this paragraph in the honorable senator’s amendment seems to suggest that this practice is to’ be departed from and that the Commonwealth Bank itself is to find the money. One might ask also on what terms the money is to be raised, and in what way are those terms to be fixed.
– How did the Bank find £470,000,000 for wheat pools, &c. ?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.There the honorable senator errs as nearly all his followers did during the election campaign. The Commonwealth Bank did not find £470,000,000. I read a statement by a member of another place that the Commonwealth Bank found the money to finance Australia’s part in the war. That is absolutely incorrect. The money was raised in the ordinary way, by public subscriptions, to the war loans. The Commonwealth Bank and other banks subscribed to those loans, but subscriptions were also forthcoming from thousands of people, whom no one could, by any stretch of the imagination term capitalists or money-lenders. The money was found by the people, by insurance societies, and various other institutions; yet honorable senators went up and down the country telling the electors that the whole of the money required to finance Australia’s part in the war was found by the Commonwealth Bank.
– Was not credit created by the private banks during the war?
– Credits were made available by the Commonwealth Bank, as well as by the private banking institutions, to their customers to enable them to subscribe to the loans. But in making that credit available they incurred no liability. The liability was that of the people who subscribed to those loans. I myself subscribed in that way, obtaining an advance from the Commonwealth Bank to enable me to do so. The liability was entirely mine, and I had ultimately to find the money.
We comenow to the next paragraph of the honorable senator’s amendment -
To amend the Arbitration Act, to ensure that full and favourable consideration be given to progressive reductions in the working hours and increases in living standards commensurate with increased powers of production, due to mechanization and speeding up of industry.
– Nothing vague about that.
Senator Sir. GEORGE PEARCE.On the contrary it is very vague. In every dispute that comes before the Arbitration Court the court itself has to give consideration to those factors, but they are all conditioned by the capacity of the country to pay. It is all very well to talk about increased powers of production, but that does not carry us more than half way to a solution of the problem. When wehave produced, we have still to sell, and while it is truethat mechanization has increased the power of production it is also true that, owing ‘to other economic causes, produce in many cases does not realize the cost of production.
– Why not?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The question involves too long a story for me totell at this stage. I venture to say, however, that before this debate is over, we shall have learned dissertations on the subject from Senators Brown and Collings. I could answer the honorable senator’s question., “Why not?”, but it would take too long to do so. It is idle to talk about “ increased powers of production,” and to assume that that is the only factor to be considered when dealing with a proposal to reduce hours of labour or to increase wages. It is only halfthe problem.
Then we come to the third paragraph of the amendment -
To restore in full pensions and social services, and to repeal clauses imposing charges upon pensioners’ property and relatives, thus increasing purchasing power and stimulating industry.
Let us analyse the affirmation that., by increasing payments for social services, we should increase the purchasing power of the people and stimulate industry. It must be borne in mind that every pound we spend on social services has to be taken from the pockets of the people. The money does not come from some magic source - it does not come from the clouds. It comes, as we all know, from taxation ; so that every increase in the payments for social services means that more has to be taken by way of taxation out of the pockets of the people. How can it be said, then, that in that way we should increase purchasing power and stimulate industry?
– It would decrease the purchasing power of the people.
– That must be the inevitable result of any such operation. It would lessen the amount of money available for industry, and therefore would not stimulate industry. As we take the money out of the pockets of the people, so we lessen their purchasing power. The affirmation, therefore, is opposed to the actual fact.
The speech of Senator Barnes was a repetition of the views expressed by him and his supporters during the recent election campaign, particularly with respect to the subject of credit. On this matter. I cannot do better than quote an article which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald of yesterday. The article which i9 headed, “ Finance - Purchasing Power - Fallacies of the Inflationist”, contains this passage: -
There could be no better example of the fallacy of the idea that then, is not enough money with which to transact business than that of the United States. Figures published on Saturday from the League of Nations World Economic Survey for 1933-34 showed that a phenomenal accumulation of credit resources in the hands of the federal reserve banks and the federal treasury has been accompanied by a drying-up of the demand for commercial credit. ]n other words, business has been given almost unprecedented opportunities for using bank credit, and yet fails to take them.
This survey, as honorable senators aTe well aware, is based on official figures submitted by every country, not only by those countries which are member « of the League of Nations, but also by nonmember countries, including Japan, Germany, and the United States of America. Thus this survey is world-wide. The article continues -
Vet the idea persists, and is constantly voiced, that some vast river of credit and currency is being dammed Hp, and that only its release is required to restore prosperity. The victory of supporters of the New Deal in Hit United States elections has been hailed in some quarters as the forerunner of further inflation or devaluation, apparently because President Roosevelt was given power by tho last Congress to bring about cither of these things. . . The National City Bank of New York, in the October issue of its circular, lias tome interesting comments on the plan to create purchasing power by inflating the currency. Thora who support the idea, it states, disregard the obvious truth that commodities and services are purchasing power in themselves, and that more than 90 per cent, of the trade of the country settles itself in tho busiest times without the USe of money. They also disregard the obvious disruption of trade relations between tho several sections of the productive system which fully accounts for iiic appearance of surpluses and the foll of prices, loss of purchasing power, and increase of unemployment
Moreover, the bank continues, the injection of more money or government credit into such a situation on a large scale introduces a new unbalancing influence. The basic principle of the economic system is the exchange of services. The trade of the country, left to itself, practically settles itself daily through more than 400 clearing houses. Each section ships out its own products, and receives practically corresponding values from the Test of the country or world. If now the Government enters the construction field with great expenditures for projects which are prompted largely by the motive to provide employment, and from which any other possible return must be delayed for many years, where is the compensating flow to the taxpayers, who must currently pay the cost, or, if that is covered by loans, must keep up the interest payments? The national economy must balance, as it normally does, in the exchanges between the different groups and sections of the industrial system; but to take capital from thebody of the people by taxation or loans for investment in works which will produce noincome in the near future must tend to aggravate rather than remedy the disorders of an unbalanced economy. It is evident that the temporary stimulus given to general business by the disbursement of capital funds would not compensate for sinking the funds per- ‘manently, with no expectation of return”; and so it is a fair question in each case whether the prospect of a return justifies the taxation or borrowing which supplies the funds. The emergency investments cannot go on indefinitely without producing returns, and the direct stimulus of disbursements will cease when they cease.
I propose to refer to the remarks made by Senator Barnes on the subjects of unemployment and pensions, and to that part of the amendment to the AddressinReply which deals with those matters. In regard to unemployment, I have had supplied to me officially by the department figures which show that at the peak period of 1932 unemployment in Australia stood at 30 per cent., whereas in September, 1934, it had dropped to 20.4 per cent. This decrease, when analyzed, reveals some very interesting facts. The figures show that in June; 1933, throughout Australia there were 394,453 persons in receipt of sustenance. Unquestionably, those persons were unemployed. In June, 1934, there were in the Commonwealth 131,074 people employed on relief work, and 89,755 people drawing sustenance. Adding together those two numbers, we get a total of 220,829, as compared with 394,453 in June, 1933. The figures disclose a very encouraging improvement of the unemployment position, showing, as they do, that, apart from relief workers, 173,b’24 persons who were drawing sustenance in 1933 have found employment, presumably in industry. These statistics refute the allegation that the decrease in unemployment has mainly been caused by placing men on relief work, and counting them as in employment. After allowing for those engaged on relief -work, there remains an actual reduction of 173,624 in the number of persons unemployed.
– And the latest figures for factory employment corroborate those figures.
– Yes. With respect to old-age pensions honorable senators opposite are never tired of trying to make it appear that the Government and the party it represents have in some way meted out harsh treatment to invalid and old-age pensioners, and that the Government is unsym- pathetic towards the aged and infirm, his contention can be refuted by a glance at the figures published in the budget papers for 1934-35, in which, on page 133, it is shown ‘that on the 30th June, 1934, there were 183,397 old-ago pensions current throughout Australia, whilst the corresponding total at the end of the previous year was 176,425. Thus, during the year when harsh and discouraging conditions were alleged by honorable senators opposite to have existed, the number of pensioners increased by 6,927. The figures relating to invalid pensions are to be found on page 135. They tell a similar story, the number of pensions current at the 30th June, 1934, being 77,282, as compared with 72,742 at the 30th June, 1933, an increase of 4,540. On page 140 are shown the amounts paid for invalid and old-age pensions in every year from 1910. In the peak year, 1931. the total payments to pensioners and benevolent asylums and hospitals was £11,710,953. In the present financial year provision is made in the budget for a total payment of £12,000,000, the highest amount ever paid in the history of this form of social legislation, being about £300,000 more than in the peak year referred to. I therefore suggest that, although honorable senators opposite may exaggerate the effects of recent legislation as they like, it is impossible to escape the logic of the figures which I have quoted.
I propose now to tell the Senate why the Government is taking action with regard to two persons who have recently sought admission to the Commonwealth. The facts are that two men - Egon Kisch and Gerald, or B. I, Griffin - have been prohibited from landing in Australia at Fremantle and Sydney respectively, under various sub-sections of section 3 of the Immigration Act. Section 3 provides that -
The immigration into the Commonwealth of tho persons described in any of the following paragraphs of this section (hereinafter called “prohibited immigrants “) is prohibited, namely : -
There follow a dozen or so classes of persons. The first, a, is -
Any person who fails to pass the dictation test- a proceeding of very obvious convenience for excluding persons whose entry is not desired.
Another, gd, is -
Any person who advocates the overthrow by force or violence of the established government of the Commonwealth or of any State or of any other civilized country, or of all forms of law, or who advocates the abolition of organized government or who advocates the assassination of public officials or who advocates or teaches the unlawful destruction of property, or who is a member of or affiliated with any organization which entertains and teaches any of the doctrines and practices specified in this paragraph.
A third, gh, is -
Any person declared by the Minister to be in his opinion, from information received from the Government of the United Kingdom or of any other part of the British dominions or from any foreign government, through official or diplomatic channels, undesirable as an inhabitant of, or visitor to, the Commonwealth.
Griffin was excluded by reason of his failure to pass the dictation test. His exclusion i3 a matter of ordinary national security. He is a man who came to the Commonwealth from New Zealand, but he has spent a considerable period of time in Russia. He is known to be an extremely vigorous communist propagandist, and no further explanation of his exclusion should be needed. Nor do I think it is seriously asked for.
Most of the interest aroused is directed, not to the New Zealander. but to Kisch, who has what is apparently the added attraction of a cosmopolitan origin, though it is doubtful what country claims him. Kisch has been excluded under paragraph gh of section 3. This paragraph was added to the act in 1925. Mr. Bruce, in a speech in the House of Representatives, set out two reasons for its addition -
The crux of the whole matter is not merely information from the British Government, but the fact that the British Government has itself excluded Kisch from landing in Great Britain. Great Britain is, and always has been, famous for its high degree of tolerance towards persons associated with continental political movements, even when they are of a revolutionary character. There probably is in England a very much stronger tradition of tolerance than we have here in Australia, so that, when Britain excludes Kisch, it must needs be for some strong reason. What is more, the Government of the United Kingdom excluded him after he had been allowed to land, and had spoken in England.
It is to me a curious thing that a considerable number of people immediately choose to impute wrong motives to those in authority in their own country, who obviously have sources of information not available to others. They are prepared to assume the worst against them, in favour of an unknown man from a foreign country.
Kisch waa, until the last few days, practically unknown. True, if one went to the trouble of examining the European Who’s Who, one would find the name of Egon Erwin Kisch, a German writer and journalist, whose address was in a Berlin suburb. But of the various people who have discussed the matter with the AttorneyGeneral, even some who were inclined to champion Kisch, every one, when pressed, had admitted that he, or she, had never heard of Kisch before. He has, as honorable senators know, received a great deal of publicity; but the descriptions of him have been of a vague kind - “ the Jewish writer,” “ the
Czechoslovakian journalist,” “ the German novelist. “ The Attorney-General has been spoken to about Kisch by many keen students of international affairs, and many pressmen; but not one had ever before heard of him, either to his credit or discredit. Many of the champions of Kisch are persons genuinely interested in international peace and goodwill and genuine lovers of liberty and freedom of speech.
I state quite definitely that the Government does not yield to the most ardent of them in its desire for peace in the world, without which there can be no secure peace in this country. It does not yield to the mo3t ardent of them in its love of liberty and freedom of speech. It stands for the complete freedom of opinion. But there are certain limits which must be fixed. The fact that a line has to be drawn somewhere will be admitted by members of all parties. In many cases a committee drawn from all parties would have no difficulty in saying unanimously : “ This man shall not enter, “ or “ This man shall enter.” Any one who advocates a peaceful change of government is free to say what he likes, but speech and writing calculated violently to overthrow the existing order cannot be tolerated in any community which claims to be democratic.
– Can you prove that against Kisch ?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.We shall see. It may be urged that Kisch was in possession of a passport with the visa of a British consular officer. Even assuming this to be so, permission to land still rests only with the Commonwealth authorities, who are the sole judges of whether he should be allowed to enter Australia. For very obvious reasons the grant of a visa can bc no guarantee of entry to another country, particularly to a country thousands of miles away.
Among their activities both Griffin and Kisch were to attend the conference at present sitting in Melbourne of what is known as the Anti-War Movement. This movement has a history which needs notice. In August of 1932 “an International Congress against war was held at Amsterdam. Previously it had been intended to hold it at Geneva, but tha
Cantonal authorities refused to allow it. This congress was organized to a large extent by Communists. It set up a permanent international committee consisting of representatives of most countries. Instructions quickly reached Australia, and the movement was launched here at the beginning of last year, 1933, not directly by the Communist party, but sponsored by bodies in close sympathy with that party. It also attracted to it at the outset many persons, sincere believers in peace, who had no connection or sympathy with Communism. Conferences were called in several of the State capitals for April 1933 and leaflets issued made much of the support of trade unions, professional men and returned soldiers. Several ministers of religion were connected with the movement. This is a good instance of Communist activity, an anti-religious society cloaking its works under the cover of religion. Shortly after this a delegation was announced as setting out from Europe to anti-war conferences to be held in Shanghai and Yokohama. These conferences were forbidden by the Chinese and Japanese authorities. A committee was to have been set up in Japan to direct the campaign in Australia and New Zealand.
The next step in Australia was the . holding of an anti-war conference in Sydney in June of last year. There were about 600 present, the majority of them being Communists. In May of this year an interesting letter from Sydney -reporting on the success of the movement in Australia appeared in the organ of the World Committee against War. This publication reported, among other things, that the Australian fleet was in revolutionary mutiny. The letter from Sydney showed quite clearly that the Australian committee was trying to carry out the directions of the World Committee. It reported having most difficulty in Victoria, where, it stated, the movement was directed principally towards pacifist bodies and the middle classes, and in particular the youth of the community, at the expense of the fighting character of the movement. “ In Victoria, “ it said, “ particular efforts are made to attract youth. “ It stated that the Australian rulers, and with them the Australian Labour party, were making use of the Victorian centenary in order to organize a defence week. I am sure that will be news to Senator Barnes. Elsewhere, it stated, attention was being directed principally to the industrial workers, the Labour party and trade unions.
Thus we come to the present Anti-War Conference in Melbourne, which Kisch and Griffin were to attend. Honorable senators will note that it is not sponsored by any reputable, constitutional body. Tho Government is genuinely anxious to assist any bona fide peace movement, but that term cannot be applied to what is a thinly veiled Communist demonstration.
– It would be interesting to know when this Government sponsored any peace movement.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.It certainly can claim to have done that. The Commonwealth is represented at. assemblies of the League of Nations, and on the Disarmament Conference, and the Government is opposed to the class war which is so diligently advocated by certain persons in Australia. But I wish to trace the connexion between this movement and Communism. The leaders of Soviet Russia perceived the use to which such a movement to further their general purpose could be put. Instructions were accordingly issued by the Comintern, head of the propagandist section of -the Soviet, and the Communist party of Australia in. due course received a document entitled “ The Attitude of the Proletariat towards War. “ The first All Australian Congress Against War was held in Sydney at the end of September, 1933. It was the culmination of the strenuous efforts on the part of the Communist party. In this connexion it may be noted -
The Government has literature indicating that the various slogans, propaganda, and lines of attack used by the Anti-War Movement are those of the Communist party and its manifesto, “ Tho Attitude of the Proletariat towards War, “ and are included, word for word, in the literature now being distributed throughout Australia. The movement condemns everything in the way of defence measures, issues vile slanders about mutinous conduct and disloyalty of our naval forces, attacks the boy scouts and girl guide movements, and, in fact, uses every means to undermine any measures taken for our legitimate defence. Its aim is to assist in paving the way for revolution by white-anting all defence measures. The ultimate object is to ensure that our defence forces shall be so weak and unreliable as to be unable to preserve peace, order and good government when the attempt is made to overthrow our existing form of government and substitute a Soviet system.
It is passing strange that the supporters of Kisch and the defenders of this movement belong to a party which clearly realizes that this Anti-War Movement is a Communist auxiliary. Its success has caused dissension in the New South Wales Labour party and the Sydney Trades and Labour Council, Well aware of its origin and real objects, has prohibited its followers from taking part in the Anti-War Movement.
It might be noted that Australia is not the only country which prevents foreigners connected with this movement from landing in their country. Prohibitions have been made in several countries and I would remind honorable sena tors that delegates were prevented from landing recently at Shanghai and Yokohama to attend the Anti-War Conference proposed to be held there.
The information at the disposal of the Government, which comes from an undoubted source, discloses that Kisch is a member of a recognized Communist organ, and he is, and has been for a long time, associated with its propaganda branch.
– The right honorable gentleman knows that Kisch denies that.
– I do not. In the interests of the safety of this country, and in order to prevent the. preaching of re.lutionary doctrines, the Government has prevented Kisch from landing in Australia.
– Despite the criticism which ons hears from time to time that a debate on an Address-in-Reply involves a waste of time, I contend that it has its uses. It is easy to criticize many customs, as honorable senators on this side of the chamber have done from time to time, and our criticisms have often been justified. There is little in the world that does not possess some satisfactory features, and the debate on the AddressinReply provides honorable senators with an ‘opportunity to give their views on various public matters. I should be sorry wore we deprived of this opportunity, because there are occasions, particularly when the administration is conducted on conservative lines, when we should have full scope to express our individual opinions, even if at times they may conflict with those with whom we sit cheek by jowl. Coming back from a general election honorable senators on this side could have a good deal to say concerning the manner. in which the campaign was conducted, but I shall defer any comments in that respect until later. The AddressinReply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General should be treated seriously. Having heard a number of similar speeches I must say that that with which the present Parliament was opened was one of the shortest and also one of the most ridiculous I have ever heard. The fact that the personnel of the Government has been changed within a few weeks after the speech was delivered makes its basis ridiculous, and no doubt those responsible for its preparation now regret that His Excellency was asked to deliver such utterances, lt is amusing to notice that the Country party, which was once a strong opponent of the United Australia party, has now fairly strong representation in a Coalition Cabinet. One of the first paragraphs in the speech reads -
My Ministers will adhere to the national policy of protection and will, in tar itf matters, follow the course which proved so successful during the life of the last Parliament.
Within a few weeks of that striking pronouncement, the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page) and the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Paterson), who, throughout the life of the last Parliament, we’re opposed to the Government on fiscal matters, have become members of the Cabinet. It has been stated from time to time that certain honorable senators on this side, including Senator Dunn and Senator Rae, actually saved the last Government from defeat by supporting its tariff proposals. It is said that governments can be made and unmade only in the House of Representatives; but, when the tariff was under discussion in this chamber, the Government had to submit to so many defeats that it became a question whether or not the Government would have to put up test bills to determine whether the majority of the Senate intended to support its tariff policy, or whether that majority proposed to proceed with a policy of obstruction, in which event there would have , been every possibility of a double dissolution. An adverse vote in the Senate could, in effect, bring about the defeat of a government, and, during the period of which I- speak, the votes of seven or eight honorable senators on this side of the chamber actually saved the Government from defeat. When the tariff was before this chamber, I supported the Government on so many occasions that I felt that my reputation as a Labour man was at stake.
– Honorable senators on the Opposition side helped to ensure the passage of only some of the items.
– The tariff would not have been passed by this chamber in the form desired by the Government, but for the support it received from this side. We were invited by certain members of the Country party in this chamber to join with them in defeating the Government.
– That was denied.
– I do not know by whom, but you will always get denials. It was the truth all the same.
– Is the honorable senator trying to prove that the party to which he belongs is sometimes right?
– On that occasion we assisted the Government to do what was right. I should like to have seen even higher duties imposed.
– The honorable senator does not suggest that there was definite obstruction.
– There was more than that.
– There waa opposition to some of the items; that is different from obstruction.
– It is .better to have straight-out freetraders than halfhearted protectionists, who, when an appeal is made to the people, can ride on two horses. There was so much opposition to the Government’s tariff proposals by certain government supporters that it amounted to obstruction. Prior to the general elections, the candidates of the Country party visited country electorates as representatives of the primary producers, and by so doing secured a substantial country vote; but, by winking the other eye, they also secured the votes of the United Australia party supporters. That is why the Labour party has been unable to win certain country seats. After the election campaign, during which the members of the Country party strongly criticized the United Australia party, the members of both parties are all in the one camp.
– That shows how we worked for peace.
– It shows how hard the Government supporters have worked for political peace; but internationally the shades of war are lengthening, and all the talk is of armaments. Moreover, ia man who came to this country to preach peace was not allowed to land. The Government has not only treated Herr Kisch in this way, but has also meted out similar treatment to British subjects. Under a bill presented to this Parliament some years ago, the government of the day sought power to deport persons not born in this country. Under that legislation, I might have been deported from this country because I am not a native of Australia. Not having studied the European Who’s Who, I do not know much about Herr Kisch, but I am concerned at his exclusion because of the possible consequences.
– Does the honorable senator know Mr. Griffin?
– No. We must not forget that there is, or should be, such a thing as the liberty of tho individual. To-day, the liberty of Herr Kisch is involved; to-morrow it might be the liberty of Senator Duncan-Hughes. Indeed, if the disciples of Lenin or Trotsky were to attain power in the Commonwealth to-morrow, Senator DuncanHughes would probably be one of the first persons in the community to receive attention at their hands. In that event, Senator Collings and myself, knowing that the honorable senator would not deserve tho harsh treatment which might be meted out to him, would feel called upon to defend him. There being no likelihood of war in the near future, there is no need to keep out men like Herr Kisch. It would be far safer to let him, and others like him, into this country than to drive them under-ground by illconsidered action. Every week on the Yarra bank, Melbourne, or in the Sydney domain, wild theories in regard to many subjects are propounded by people who generally arc regarded merely as foolish, and it is well known that Hyde Park, London, provides persons having all kinds of strange ideas with an outlet for their emotions. The freedom of speech allowed to those who teach strange doctrines has the effect of drawing tho rest of the community closer together.
The fusion of the United Australia and Country parties has made the GovernorGeneral’s Speech utterly ridiculous.
Dealing with unemployment, the GovernorGeneral said that a complete survey of the problem was proposed. Nearly six years ago, a Labour Government was prepared to grapple with the problem in a way which would have solved it, but, unfortunately, it did not have a majority in both Houses of the Parliament, and, consequently, was unable to give effect to its policy. The Labour party’s policy for the re-adjustment of the financial structure would, if put into operation, solve this and many other problems now confronting us. It may be news to some honorable senators that some time ago the Forbes-Coates Coalition Government of New Zealand appointed a committee to consider monetary and banking reform. The majority of the members of that committee were men with conservative views, but its report reads like a speech by a Labour leader. It supports all that I said during the election campaign - and I said some strong things. I am reported in the Brisbane Courier as having said that Australia would not be injured if all the private banking institutions were eliminated. I did not advocate stealing their funds, or confiscating the savings of the people, as my remarks might be construed to mean. I am reminded of what took place in New Zealand in 1896 when the government of the day, headed by the late Richard Seddon, came to the rescue of the Bank of New Zealand, proving what we on this side have contended all along - that, in the final analysis, the security behind any bank is the productive capacity of the people and a common honesty and desire to pay. The Government of New Zealand appointed to the directorate of the Bank of New Zealand a number of men who, it expected, would follow a course of action dictated by the Government, but, instead, they decided that the first function of the bank was to make profits for its shareholders. In view of the claim of the Labour party that the first duty of a bank is to serve the people and help industry, it is interesting to note that the committee to which I have referred reported that the private banks of New Zealand should be utilized for the benefit of the people, whereas they existed only to make profits for their shareholders. It pointed out also that as many of those shareholders resided in Australia the profits made by the bank were not retained in the dominion. What that New Zealand committee said regarding the Australian banks operating in that dominion, the Labour party says of a number of banks in Australia, the profits of which are paid to shareholders in England and elsewhere. The committee urged that the control of the banking institutions operating in the sister dominion should be in the hands of New Zealanders, and we of that Labour party claim that the control of banking in Australia should be centred in thi a country, and not in London or New York. Instead of prohibiting the entry into this country of men like Herr Kisch, action should have been taken to keep out men like Sir Otto Niemeyer. As I have said, the conclusions of the committee appointed to investigate the monetary and banking systems of New Zealand could not have been more condemnatory of the present system had they been written by Labour men.
A responsible, cautious Labour leader like Senator Barnes would certainly not go any farther than the New Zealand Monetary Committee of conservative members of Parliament did. I would advise every honorable senator who desires to obtain an accurate view of national finance to read this report.
The Labour party was beaten in the federal campaign because of its bold, uncompromising monetary policy-
– Because of its honesty.
– It can be said to the credit of the Labour party that it has suffered defeat more than once because of the boldness of the policy which it has submitted, although that policy ultimately has been adopted. During the last election campaign in Queensland, I spent two or three weeks in supporting a Labour candidate who was a graduate of the Melbourne University - a barrister about 45 years of age, who had served as a journalist and also as a minister of the Methodist Church. Because of his experience and academic distinctions, I naturally expected to hear from him a very excellent speech when he addressed the electors in one of the principal towns of a semi-rural constituency. I anticipated that he would give a great deal of attention to the desperate plight of (he farmers, and that any reference that he might make to the need for banking reform would be kept in the background by the conservative newspapers, as is the case with paragraph* about Labour matters. As a rule, a Labour candidate’s speech . is dismissed in a paragraph by other than the Labour journals. The candidate whom I supported spoke for an hour on what he picturesquely described as “ The international Jew and the need for banking reform in Aus. tralia “. In the speech with which I followed I thought it wise to emphasize the sins and omissions of our opponents by referring to the neglect of tropical industries by the Lyons Government and its lamentable tinkering with the oldage pensions system, particularly in regard to the property provisions of the amended act. I pointed out also that, whilst the Lyons Government had remitted millions by way of land taxation to the rich class, it had failed to make any adequate provision to cope with unemployment. I spoke for half an hour on these and other matters to which the candidate had not referred. Next morning the local daily, to whom the candidate had supplied a typewritten copy of his speech, devoted two and a half columns to his address, and about three-quarters of a column to my remarks, although I had not supplied it with a copy of them. But the report of the candidate’s speech covered only that part of it in which he dealt with banking and monetary reform. All other subjects were ignored. On the same page appeared a cartoon showing “ Jimmy “ Scullin and “ Jack “ Lang standing on a huge building bearing the words, “ Savings Bank,” and stretching clutching hands over it. At the side stood Mr. Lyons, who could not be better caricatured than as a koala or native bear. Instead of caricaturing him, however, the artist showed the Prime Minister as a commanding figure, standing four-square to the bank, with a warning finger pointing to these gentlemen and saying of them, “It is your money they will take “. That was only one of many attempts to make the people believe that the Labour party are thieves. I do not know Mr. Kisch, but I should say that he would be a more estimable citizen than the man who drew and the mon who authorized that cartoon. The Labour party does not stand for confiscation. It3 policy, extending now over a period of 40 years, has always been one of sound progress along just and fair lines.
It was by means of propaganda of this kind, however, that the Labour party was defeated. Our boldness in attempting to get into the heads of the people the fact that, as exemplified by tho depression, the time had come when we should curb the efforts of the money profiteers - the people who use the banks only to secure fat dividends for themselves - was responsible for our defeat.
The report of the conservative mcmbers of the New Zealand banking commission - I do not ask honorable senators to look at the minority report by Labour members- - urges that the banks should serve the people rather than be used merely to produce dividends for a few shareholders. That, too, is the view of the Labour party, and when next we fight this issue I hope we shall resort to the very best propaganda to convince the people that the time has come for the nationalization or socialization of banking, or Some such “ ization “ as will take out of the hands of the moneyed few the power to exploit banking and to extend credit for their own particular interests. The calling in of overdrafts, among other things; prevents the expansion of industry. Senator Pearce told us this afternoon that there is plenty of money available - that the banks are ready to advance as much money as is required. But on what terms? The banking institutions control the industrial situation. International finance rules the world. The conservative members of the New Zealand Monetary Committee support our view in that regard. They consider that the Dominion should be free from the control of the Niemeyers, Guggenheimers and other financiers in London and New York who control the dominions. We have the power to control our own financial economy, and the people should have the courage to use it.
T wish now to speak to some of the remarks made by Senators Collett and
Grant with regard to the basis of representation in the Senate. I agree with Senator Grant that the Electoral Act should bo amended insofar as it applies to the Senate. As a matter of fact, I pointed out before the election that such a reform was necessary. It is ridiculous to find that there is a growing opinion that the party that is able to put up a list of candidates headed by a man whose surname starts with “ A “ should be considered able to control an election. So advantageous is it held by a number of people under the group system to have some one with .a surname commencing with “ A “ to head the list on the ballotpaper that it would not be surprising to find such a man offering himself for sale. If he. were an Abbott or an Adams-
– Or an Aaron.
– Yes, there are among our public men a few Jews such as our respected Governor-General as well as others whom we meet in Melbourne, but they are not all prosperous. A Zudekiah would be a Godsend to a party if the voting started from the bottom of the ballot-paper instead of at the top.
– Does the honorable senator think the advantage of having a candidate whose name commences with “ A “ is as great as some people would have us believe?
– I do not, but there certainly are many people who think that the first three names on a ballot-paper are those for whom they should vote one, two and three. In 1928, Senators Foll, Crawford and Reid were the retiring members of the Nationalist party and Senator Cooper was the fourth candidate in the group. Our candidates were Messrs. Horn, Lawson, myself and Valentine. The Nationalist party in order to safeguard the position of the retiring senators - it thought it would be unfair that one of them should be elected for only three years - departed from the correct alphabetical order and put Senator Crawford first to be voted for on the ballot-paper, followed by Senator Foll and Senator Reid. Senator Cooper, the new candidate, was placed fourth. We, on the other hand, had the supposed advantage of arranging our group according to alphabetical order, but, strange to say, we were defeated by 86,000 votes, which was the greatest majority ever recorded against us in Queensland. This adverse vote averaged 8,600 votes in each constituency. That experience afforded us a guide to the advantages or disadvantages of the new practice, because at the previous election we were defeated by 50,000 votes, and three years earlier, when I was a candidate, by from 11,000 to 6,000. Thus the idea of ensuring the placing of one’s party group at the top of the ballotpaper, or having the party candidates voted for alphabetically, does not always work out in the way some people would have us believe. However, the problem is a difficult one. There are certainly a lot of people of foolish and careless habits whose votes can be caught by this method.
As an alternative’ to the present method, the position of the names of the party groups on the ballot-paper should be decided by lot after the names of the candidates have appeared. Senator Brennan, a lawyer, will agree that the casting of lots for such a purpose would not be illegal. That would be a. fairer way of allocating positions on the ballot-paper, and I would support any amendment to effect such an alteration, together with some others which I have suggested in previous speeches on the subject. The present basis of representation in this chamber is certainly unfair. At the next election, the Government parties will have the advantage of going to the polls with 33 senators to the Labour party’s three That is unfair, and the only way in which we could make the system fair would be to confine the candidates to the two largest parties. There is much to be said in favour of a system of proportional representation, but does any one want this Parliament to be cursed with seven or eight different parties? “With triennial elections, the people should be quite satisfied to choose between two parties; the average man does not want to be bothered with the intricacies of having to vote for more than two. It is not exaggerating the position to say that at the present time there is a great distaste on the part of the public for the parliamentary system. This revulsion of feeling has been accentuated by the many jibes and criticisms aimed at politicians by the so-called popular newspapers. An occasional deportation of journalistic iconoclasts would do no harm to the parliamentary system, and probably would be more advantageous than the preventing of men like Kisch and Griffin from landing in Australia. An improvement of the existing electoral system would be to allow in each State one senator out of three to represent the minority at the polls.
At present there is a third large party in the field - the Country party - which claims to receive a big vote, but the large number of votes recorded for Senator Elliott in Victoria was the result of a split in the parties, and was cast against the three Labour condidates, rather than for the political organization he was supposed to represent. The only fair way of approaching this problem would be to confine the candidates to the six representatives of the two main parties. One probable result of this would be to insure the election of a healthy opposition. A government cannot render the greatest service to the community, nor can it be wisely entrusted with the job of governing, without the aid of an active opposition. Democracy demands such an opposition, and this is the only way I can see whereby we can ensure such a check. There is a danger that if we start tinkering with the present system we shall have foisted upon us a wretched abortion of an Upper House, like the Legislative Council in New South Wales. The Lang Government must be held partly responsible for the bringing into being of a second chamber, whose constitution is a murder of democracy.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - I ask the honorable senator not to speak disrespectfully of a State Parliament.
– We do not want a murderous chamber of that kind in the Federal Parliament. If we are to progress on sound, cautious, lines, the New South Wales type of Upper House is the worst kind of chamber we could have in the federal sphere. Here we have some pride in pur chamber. I have, at least, because I was brought up to respect the principle of adult suffrage. As senators, we, equally with the members of the House of Representatives, have to face the electors; in fact, we have to wage a more extensive fight and cover more- ground than our colleagues in another place. But when a senator is chosen, he is the choice, not of an electoral college, or a State legislature, as in some other countries, but of the whole of the electors in a State, and for that reason he can speak with more authority and effect than can a member of the House of Representatives. Even in Tasmania, a senator must represent a large majority of the electors, whilst in New South Wales, Senators Dunn and Rae, although unsuccessful, polled a large minority of over 1,250,000 votes, and in Queensland about 547,000 decided that Senators Crawford and Foll should have another tenure of office. Thus it would be wicked to destroy the grand democratic nature of the Senate. Whilst I am a Labour representative and stand primarily for the interests of the workers, whether they be employed iu farm, field, or factory, it would be hypocritical if I, or any honorable member in this chamber, did not realize that we are also representatives of States. We have to ensure that no two States, such as Victoria and New South Wales, gain such a measure of control in this Parliament as would enable them to trample down the rights of the smaller States. If this Senate accepts any cheap scheme that would be detrimental to the interests of the smaller States, or undemocratic, it will be making a sorry mistake. The electorate for the Senate is the people, and political experience has shown, as instanced in Switzerland, that the bulk of the people are conservative and slow moving. Thus, we can always expect that the total vote of the people of a whole State will reflect the solid, sensible, opinion of the majority of the people. I agree with Senator Collett that we should consider very gravely any proposal to destroy the present system of electing members to this chamber. In my own experience as a reporter in the press gallery, I have seen only five representatives of my opponents in this chamber, the other 31 senators being Labour men. That composition of the chamber reflected the opinion of the majority of the electors at that time, and the Labour party was therefore quite entitled to rule. The people at that time apparently did not want a greater opposition, but rather sought to give the government of the day the right to rule without undue interference by the Senate. If two parties in a chamber are approximately equal in numerical strength, there is a tendency for members on either side to desert their pledges for some reason or another. Where there is a majority of only one to four members, there is a danger that the- will of the people will not be carried out. When the people speak with a decided voice on a situation that declaration should be respected. At the end of three years, the people may throw out the majority as they have done on numerous occasions.
I desire now to deal with Senator Grant’s remarks concerning the proposed amendment of the Navigation Act. Senator Grant said that the Prime Minister in his policy speech definitely promised an amendment of the coasting provisions of the Navigation Act, and he quoted from the Melbourne Argus which reported Mr. Lyons as having said that the Labour vote in Tasmania at the federal elections could be construed as popular antagonism to an amendment of the Navigation Act which would permit overseas ships to carry passengers between Tasmania and the mainland. The Argus suggested that the Government should take action without delay to amend the act in accordance with its promise. Senator Grant relied on that quotation, as though the Melbourne Argus were a great aid to him. I cannot understand a conservative member, like the honorable senator when called upon to protect the country’s interests, quoting the opinion of a journal that stands for free trade and black labour. As I understand it, the proposed amendment is intended to allow ships manned with cheap, coloured labour to engage in the Australian coastal trade. The Navigation Act requires that ships engaging in this trade shall pay Australian rates of wages and conform to prescribed conditions of employment. One of the essential conditions is the employment of white labour. If that requirement is broken down what will become of the White Australia ideal? The rich overseas owners of ships trading to Australia choose to employ coloured labour, aud to pay rates of wages which are much below those paid to Australian seamen. If such ships using cheap coloured labour of an inferior type are allowed to participate in our coastal trade, what will be the fate of our coastal marine? Honorable senators have received much correspondence on this subject. I have received a copy of the speech made by an English shipping magnate, Mr. Shaw, who has fairly argued that Australia should watch very carefully any attempt that might be made by the Matson line of steamers, which is subsidized by the Government of the United States of America, to cut into our coastal trade, this company is not competing fairly but is seeking to obtain business from Australian companies which are being carried on under Australian conditions. I think that Mr. Shaw made out a very fair case, and I agree with much of what he said, but I should not like to see the shipping trade between Australia and New Zealand and between Australia aud the islands under its control fall into the hands of a monopoly. This is the basis of the Labour party’s opposition to shipping combines. It is well known that although the various shipping companies throughout the world are apparently in active competition with one another, there is agreement as to freights and fares. Although a traveller from Australia to Great Britain might have the choice of vessels belonging to three or four different companies, the fares charged on all of them are approximately the same. Therefore, so far as the subsidized Matson line is concerned, while I sympathize with those who object to its unfair competition with the Australian shipping interests, I should be sorry to think that, as a result of representations that have been made to the Government, the travelling public were exploited and victimized by a shipping monopoly.
In conclusion I express the hope that when next we face the electors there will not be the same misrepresentation by our opponents of the Labour party’s financial and monetary proposals. There is not the slightest doubt that Labour owed its de- feat nt the recent election to this gross misrepresentation. The party was deliberately maligned and the electors were deceived about its objective by those people who now desire to prevent Kisch from gaining entry to Australia because they fear, perhaps, what he might say offensively about the Women’s National or Electoral League. There was a time when I had some respect for the Eight Honorable W. M. Hughes. Some years ago he was a good Labour man. His more recent achievements have somewhat revived my wavering belief in the idea of a resurrection. In the short time occupied by Captain Scott and his companion in the flight to Australia in the centenary air race, the Lyons Ministry was reconstructed and the right honorable gentleman succeded in staying in it, as did also Sir Henry Gullett, who it will be remembered, some years ago described Dr. Earle Page, now his colleague in the new Government, as the most tragic Treasurer in the history of the Commonwealth.
– Something has been said this afternoon about the unwisdom and danger of belittling our parliamentary institutions. I can think of nothing more regrettable or more likely to weaken the people’s faith in our system of Parliamentary Government than the small attendance of senators at this moment. It is obvious that Government supporters are not interested in the business of the country, or else their minds have become so obfuscated that they have no desire to be enlightened by anything that might be said in opposition to their crusted conservative ideas. For the last hour there has not been a quorum present. [Quorum formed.] The Leader of the Senate this afternoon, defending the Government’s action in refusing to allow Kisch to land in Australia, read a long document in which were set out the reasons for his exclusion ; but the right honorable gentleman did not quote his authority for the statements contained in it. Consequently I am not sure whether the official statement was the result of inquiries made by him or by the Attorney-General. I also resent his attempt to associate the Australian
Labour party with the Communist party. It was quite unworthy of.the right honorable gentleman.
– I rise to a point of order. Tho honorable senator has charged me with associating the Labour party with the Communist party. That is a misrepresentation. In my statement I distinctly dissociated the Labour party from the Communist party in connexion with this matter.
– I accept for the present the right honorable gentleman’s correction and denial of the charge, but I hope to have an opportunity to peruse the statement which he read.
– -The honorable senator must withdraw without qualification, the statement to which objection has been taken.
– I do so, but repeat that I should like to see the statement. The Australian Labour party has officially declared that no Communist can become or remain a member of the Australian Labour party. But that does not prevent Labour members of this chamber from declaring their abhorrence of every attempt to interfere with the liberty of the subject, n.3 has been done in this case. If this man Kisch, of whom, until the present controversy commenced, 1 had no knowledge whatever, after landing in Australia engaged in any subversive activities, the law i3 wide enough to enable the Government to deal with him without resorting to the dictation test. The Loader of the Senate mentioned with some pride the fact that Great Britain was admittedly in the forefront of those nations which gave sanctuary to foreign political refugees. Wc should not be far wrong if we followed the example of the Mother Country in this respect.
– That is what this Government is doing.
– I expected Senator Sampson would say that, and my reply is that this Ministry, while doing what tho Government of Great Britain did, is doing it in a different way. The British Government allowed Kisch to land; later it took steps to deport him. This Government knows that there are in the Commonwealth subversive organizations which are working in a way en tirely repugnant to Australian ideals and sense of fair play, but it is making no attempt to deal with them. I have not the slightest doubt that the Leader of tho Senate, who until recently was tho Minister for Defence, is aware of the activities of these subversive agencies. Ho knows, I feel sure, that there is an organization known as tho New Guard in New- South Wales, as well as another body known as the Australian Legion. He knows that members of these organizations are armed, that retired military officers are in command of their several units, and that they have definitely declared their intention to overthrow the Government of Australia if it exhibits characteristics objectionable to the people whom they represent. The right honorable gentleman knows all this, yet no action has been taken by the Government of which he is a member to deal with these organizations.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable senator has accused me of knowing that members of the organizations mentioned are armed. That statement is entirely inaccurate ‘and is offensive to me. I therefore ask for its withdrawal.
– I withdraw it. All I can say is-
– Why did the honorable senator make such an allegation?
– I made it because I hold in my hand an official document which proves it. The Leader of the Senate can have ‘access -to it if he wishes to inform his mind about what is happening. I accept his assurance that he had no knowledge of this matter, but I must say that, iu his position as Minister for Defence, he must have been lamentably ignorant of what was going on in the community. I have a detailed report of the activities of the Australian Legion. The right honorable gentleman may see it if be wishes to do so. It indicates where the arms are, from whom they were bought, and where they are stored.
– Who supplied the report?
– It is an official report submitted to a government department. The right honorable gentleman may see it.
We on this side of the chamber take, second place to none in a desire for liberty and freedom, but we have no intention of interpreting liberty and freedom to mean licence. We have some conception of what the freedom of the subject, and of the press should mean to every decent Australian. The Leader of the Government did not attempt to link up this man Kisch with any one of the activities of the organizations to which ho referred, and with which, as bo knows, members of my party have no sympathy. He gave no semblance of a reason why Kisch has been prevented from landing in this country. Kisch should have been allowed to say whatever he desired to say and then, if necessary, the Government could have dealt with him under the existing law, which surely provides it with ample power.
I regret that I cannot congratulate the mover and seconder of the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply upon the manner in which they performed their tasks. I am sure that they were perfectly honest and sincere in all they said, but I am unable to compliment them on their logic or their ability to dissect the document which is compiled in language that can readily be understood. Senator Collett commenced by saying that he was sure that we all are pleased with the improved conditions existing in Australia as compared with those which prevailed until a government similar to that now in office assumed control. I felt at the moment that it would have been most pertinent to have inquired from Senator Collett - “ Who are enjoying the improved conditions? “. Certainly the 800 unemployed in Canberra, and the tens of thousands of unemployed in the other capital cities are not. This afternoon the Leader of the Government quoted certain figures and we were told that the percentage of unemployed has decreased from 30 to 20.4. No one knows better than the honorable gentleman that those figures do not fairly represent the percentage of unemployment in Australia. We all know they are based on the returns supplied by registered industrial organizations in Australia, and that they do not adequately portray the degree of unemployment in this country at the time when they were compiled. The Minister knows that they do not take into account those only partially employed or the thousands of youths between the ages of 19 and 21 years who have never had a day’s work since they left school and whose prospects of obtaining employment under existing conditions are extremely remote. Consequently when the Minister attempts to persuade the unfortunate people still submerged in this economic pit of unemployment that their position has improved by 10 per cent., it is an insult not only to the intelligence of those whom he was addressing, but also to those who have not enjoyed any of the alleged improved conditions to which he referred, and who, in consequence of the inactivity of this Government, will be grey-headed before they receive any benefit.
The Governor-General’s Speech is a most indefinite document. I admit that it is a clever production, because it does not pin the Government down to any particular policy. We were told for instance that “ with this object in view employment and its associated questions ha ve been allotted as a special ministerial task to the Minister for Commerce “. Although the Speech was prepared only a short time ago that is not now a fact, as those duties have been delegated to a gentleman who is no longer a member of the Cabinet, but who has graciously undertaken the work in question without any ministerial allowance. We have to debate an Address-in-Reply to a Speech which, owing to political changes, is now inaccurate. We have also been informed that the Government proposes to make a complete survey of the unemployment problem in order to determine whether its root causes can be dealt with by direct Commonwealth action. If the Government responsible for the production of this document has still to go searching for the root causes of unemployment the position is pitiable, to say the least of it. The man in the street, who has not the same opportunities as members of this Parliament, can disclose the root causes of unemployment. He could explain what we on this side of the chamber have tried to submit as a remedy. For instance, Senator Pearce said that if the pensioners were given more money to spend the purchasing power of the community would be reduced. I suppose that I would be called to order if I said that the right honorable gentleman knew better than that when he uttered those words, but, I know, and I am sure the right honorable gentleman also knows, that his statement was most illogical. Let us examine his simple statement. A certain amount of money is being expended to provide invalid and old-age pensions. Our suggestion is that that amount shall be increased by 2s. 6d. a week, that some of the irksome regular tions made by this Government should be withdrawn so that a larger number of persons could become eligible for pensions, and that a number, who because of the conditions which prevail are refusing to claim a. pension should participate in this aid. If these objectionable conditions were removed the extra payments made to pensioners would increase, not decrease, the purchasing power of the community. It is an excuse or a subterfuge to say that the additional amount of revenue required to restore pensions to the original rate can be obtained only by increased taxation, and that if money is taken from the pockets of the people by means of taxation the amount available for spending must be decreased. That statement is not only illogical, but is also obviously untrue, because if 2s. 6d. is taken by means of taxation from those who have a surplus and given to pensioners the purchasing power of the people would not be decreased. Money collected by means of increased taxation would not be taken from those who spend all that they have, but when collected would be paid to those who because of dire necessity must spend every fraction they receive. In that way the purchasing power of the community would be increased. It has been contended that honorable senators on this side have said that this Government has no sympathy with the pensioners. I have never said anything of the sort. “We have said that this Government is bubbling over with sympathy for those who are powerless to help themselves, but it never goes beyond professions of sympathy. It is time that this sympathy developed into something concrete, and the Government made some attempt to assist to provide food, clothing and shelter for those so sadly circumstanced.
– A government which the honorable senator supported reduced the pension by 2s. 6d. a week.
– It is well that that interjection, which I expected, came from Senator Foll, because he does not always mean the hard things which he says. Whenever we speak on behalf of the poorer section, and particularly the pensioners who are entirely at the mercy of the community and utterly unable to speak for themselves, obstacles are raised by honorable senators opposite. If time permits I shall quote a list of other pensioners, with titles half a yard long, and every one of whom is bleeding the poor in our midst even whiter than they are being bled by the Government ; and yet no word of condemnation is uttered by honorable senators opposite. Discredit is brought upon uo when we raise the subject of invalid and old-age pensioners; but what of Mr. Justice Lukin who refused to have his salary reduced under the financial emergency legislation passed by this Parliament, and who receives a pension of £1,000 a year from the Queensland Government in addition to his salary as a judge, of the Arbitration Court? Protests in cases of that kind are made only on this side of the chamber. We are told in the Speech that a complete survey of the unemployment problem is to be undertaken. I wonder how long that survey will take and when the Government will make up its mind to begin it. I heard a rumour to-day that the Government will shortly introduce its proposals into Parliament, and I wish to assure it that we on this side will support anything which will alleviate the suffering caused by unemployment. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Pearce) said this afternoon that the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (‘Senator Barnes) was vague and indefinite. That charge is unfounded. If the right honorable gentleman wants an example of a vagueness and indefiniteness, he has it in the Governor-General’s Speech. From it, we learn that the rural industries of this country are to receive some attention at the hands of the Government; but nothing of a definite nature is indicated. Within the last few days, a deputation of wheat-growers waited on the Government, and I am in a position to know that it required the Government to do something which is not the policy of the Government. The wheat-growers of Australia are not represented in this chamber by the Government and its supporters, or by the alleged champions of the primary producers in the Country party. We on this side stand for the organized marketing of all primary products, with compulsory pools controlled by the producers themselves, whereas the Government stands for other interests. The deputation to which I refer told the Government plainly that it wanted the Labour party’s policy in regard to primary production put into operation, and that if the wheat-growers did not get what they wanted steps would be taken to bring the Government to a sense of its responsibility. As an example of indefiniteness, I quote the following paragraph from the Governor-General’s Speech : -
My Government wishes to express to all primary producers the indebtedness of the nation for the manner in which they have, despite low price levels, continued to maintain, and in many industries, substantially increase the measure of their production and export.
The Government knows that the primary producers of Australia have not grown wheat, w.ool or sugar from a sense of patriotism, but because the growing of these things is their means of livelihood. Having put their hands to the plough, they cannot afford to turn back. The Governor-General’s Speech does not contain one crumb of comfort for the unemployed or those worse than unemployed who to-day are engaged in various forms of primary production with price levels falling, seasonal failures and other difficulties always facing them.
Were it not tragic, the paragraphs in the Speech relating to secondary industries and trade treaties would be amusing. The document before us is the best evidence imaginable that the Government is deplorably ill-informed - I would say, ignorant were it not for the Standing Orders - regarding the relative value of primary and secondary industries. The Prime Minister and his colleagues of the United Australia party have just taken into partnership members of a party which during recent years has constantly twitted the Government with having been saved time after time by the Labour party when its tariff policy has been under review. The Governor-General’s Speech is again unreliable - and here again parliamentary procedure prevents the use of a stronger term - when it states -
My Ministers will adhere to the national policy of protection and will, in tariff matters, follow the course which proved so successful during the life of the last Parliament.
The man in the street knows that that is not so, but that, instead, a hybrid policy, of no value whatever to the man on the land, or to the employees in secondary industries, will be followed by the present composite Government. I suggest that the Government ask its statisticians to take out figures showing the relative importance to the Australian nation of primary and secondary production, and that those figures should recognize that, although the production of milk and cream on the farm is primary production, the manufacture of that milk and cream into butter is a manufacturing process, as is also the conversion of tobacco leaf into cigars and cigarettes. I do not suggest that there should be discrimination between primary and secondary industries, although I submit that there is discrimination now in favour of primary production. We on thi3 side contend that the interests of the producers in the country cannot be separated from those of the dwellers in our cities; economically, the people of Australia are one and indissoluble, and anything which affects one section adversely must have a similar effect on other sections. In its proposals for the benefit of the primary producers, -I hope that the Government will have in mind the men who are struggling to produce in face of great difficulties, not those belonging to the creditor class, who impose on the real producers a heavy burden because of high interest rates. Senator Guthrie knows of the unfair burden which high interest rates place on the wool-growing industry of the Commonwealth.
– I agree with the honorable senator.
– We must be careful that, in seeking to relieve the primary producers, we do not benefit mainly the interest-drawing section of the community.
This .afternoon the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) ridiculed the proposal to* issue bank credits, which the Labour party had put forward during the election campaign. He said that the suggestion was vague and indefinite, and claimed that the banks not only had the power to issue credit, but were, in fact, issuing credit where it was needed. The right honorable gentleman showed that he utterly failed to understand the Labour party’s sane policy of nationalization of banking and credit. He went on to say that real money, not credit, was provided to finance the war. There never was, there is not to-day, nor la there ever likely to be so much real money in Australia as the amount of credit made available by the Commonwealth Bank alone for the prosecution of the war. In this connexion, I refer honorable senators to an article by H. C. Brierley, F.I.C.A., F.F.I.A., dealing with a statement by Mr. Stevens, tho Premier of New South Wales, published in the Sydney Morning Herald, that the rate for the new loan of £15,000,000, although not finally fixed, “ would not exceed 3 per cent, at £99, equal to £3 ls. lOd. per cent, including redemption over fourteen years.” I now ask Senator Pearce the question asked by Mr. Brierley, “Where is this £15,000,000 to come from?” This afternoon the right honorable gentleman said that loans represented money provided by people in Australia. Nothing could be further from the fact. No £15,000,000 will be found. There will merely be a further credit structure erected to that extent. Mr. Brierley says -
Having examined the balance-sheets of the Bank of England, the Commonwealth Bank nf Australia, the Australian trading banks, the insurance companies, many of the trading companies and firms in Australia and .abroad, I am prepared to show definitely that such a feat as raising a genuine £15,000,000 loan in Australia is impossible.
I agree with the view expressed by this accountant, and am prepared to show honorable members opposite, and particularly the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Pearce), that it is impossible to raise a loan of £15,000,000 in Australia. All that can be done is to erect another credit structure. Mr. Brierley continues -
Yet we shall be told in bold newspaper headlines that the loan has been oversubscribed!
Lord Cunliffe’s post-war “ Committee on Currency and Foreign Exchanges,” consisted of Lord Cunliffe, G.B.E. (Governor of the Bank of England), Sir Charles Addis (Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation), the Hon. Rupert Beckett (Beckett and Company), Sir John Bradbury, K..C.B. (Secretary of the Treasury), G. C. Cassels (Bank of Montreal), Gaspard Farrer (Baring and Company), the Hon. Herbert Gibbs (Antony Gibbs and Sons), Mr. H. NT. Gaschen (Chairman of the Clearing Bankers Committee), Lord Inchcape of Strathnavar, G.C.M.G., K.C.S.I., K.C.I.E, R. W. Jeans (Bank of Australasia), A. C. Pigou, M.A. (Professor of Political Economy, Cambridge University), G. F. Stewart, R.L.. F.S.I. (ex-Governor of the Bank of Ireland), William Wallace (Royal Bank of Scotland), with G. C. Upcott, of the Treasury and Ministry of Reconstruction as Secretary.
It will thus be seen that these axe not the meanderings of a Labour man or even of a Kisch -
In order that there shall be no question at to the possibility of any misunderstanding of the effect of their statements, I have given the complete list of the committee.
This committee was appointed in January, 1918, and issued its first interim report on the 15th August, 1918. In that report it was definitely stated that the only way in which the war could bo, and was, financed, was by a series of “ boo*k entries “.
It is to be regretted that Senator Pearce is not present to hear what the Labour party really stands for in connexion with this question of finance and credit. Mr. Brierley goes on to say -
And I challenge Mr. Stevens, both as Premier and an accountant, to deny my statement that it will be only by “ book entries “ that Mr. Lyons’s £15,000,000 will be subscribed.
And in view of the fact that the Commonwealth Bank can make these “book entries” with no cost to the community, I ask why should the community be taxed for the benefit of what Mr. J. F. Darling, G.B.E. (a director of tho Midland Bank, England) calls “th« moneyed interests “.
There is no “ money “ to be subscribed to the £15,000,000 loan. Why should the Shylock, be paid even £3 ls. lOd. per cent, per annum for book entries which can be made by th« Commonwealth Bank without cost?
We are asked by honorable senators opposite what we mean by “ the issue of credit “. They know perfectly well what we have in mind. We mean the mere book entry which is always made by the banking institutions of this and every other country when a business man asks for an overdraft. Most honorable senators, like myself, probably have had some experience of banking business. There is no gamut to the fraud known as banking procedure of which I have not been an unfortunate victim during my commercial experience of 26 years - 22 years as an employee, and 4 years as an employer. No one can tell me more than I already know as to what the banks are capable of doing, because I have had experience of it all. Every one knows that when a man goes to a banking institution to arrange an overdraft he does not get a solitary coin from it. He gets nothing but an entry in a bank ledger. That is all that is ever done. A man arranges for an overdraft of, say, £10,000, but he gets nothing more than an entry of those figures in the bank ledger.
– What more would the honorable senator want?
– We do not ask for anything else.
– The honorable member’s party would surely not want cash over the counter.
– No, and if we did we could not got it. That is the point. The applicant for an overdraft gets nothing but a credit entry - nothing but figures in a bank book. The issue of credit being a social necessity, it should be for the benefit of the whole community, and the restriction of it is responsible for the depression, the horrors of unemployment, relief work, sustenance, the dole, the soup kitchen, and blanket clubs. The only difference between our policy and that of the banking institutions at present is that we say that the extension and restriction of credit should be the function of the nation operating through its national bank instead of being an opportunity for private financial institutions to exploit the whole of the people in the primary and secondary industries of this country by extortionate interest.
Senator Pearce, in his superior manner, charged us with indefiniteness - charged my leader with having been altogether too vague in the wording of his amendment, and went on to say in his super cilious style that he should like to know what we meant by “ the issue of credit “. It is either a tribute to his ignorance or to our incapacity to make ourselves understood that he should ask such a question. We know what we mean. There is no difficulty whatever in that regard. Without any desireto be unkind in my criticism of those who do not agree with the views of the Labour party on these various matters, let me say that we can never regard public opinion as a criterion of the wisdom or otherwise of any particular policy. I am very much afraid, having regardto statements made by Senator Collett, to some of those made by Senator Grant, and to most of those made by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, that honorable senators opposite base the theories which they so glibly express in this chamber on what they read in the public press. I saw the other day a statement to the effect that a newspaper editor was one who was guilty of the tragedy of besmirching with black lies nice white paper made from clean white rags.
– The honorable senator is not slow to quote from the press when it suits him.
– I take little notice of press statements when they support the policy for which the honorable senator, especially, and his party stand. I would remind Senator Pearce and his worthy substitutes in his absence, that Samuel Butler, who was not a Labour man, once said -
The public buys its opinions as it buys its meat or takes in its milk, on the principle that it is cheaper to do this than it is to keep a cow. So it is, but the milk is more likely to be wa tered.
That, perhaps, is why honorable senators opposite so often give expression to wellwatered political sentiments.
– Sometimes the milk goes sour.
– It is usually well churned before it does, and I have been subjected to such a churning process, in the shape of interjections, during my speech, that I am now giving free flow to a little of the sourness which my friends opposite are obviously not appreciating. It is a long-standing joke of vaudeville artists that when a political candidate is put into a tight corner by an interjector at a public meeting, he asks “ What did William Gladstone say in 1858 ? “ The candidate of course does not know what he said; but neither does the interjector, so the speaker feels that he is perfectly safe. I want, however, to give to the Senate, since I think it apropos of this discussion, something that William Gladstone actually did say -
In almost every one, if not in every one, of the greatest political controversies of the last 50 years, whether they affected the franchise, whether they affected commerce, whether they affected religion, whether they affected the bad and abominable institution of slavery, or what subject they touched, the leisured classes, these educated classes, these titled classes, have been in the wrong.
I submit that to the Government as a fair measure of the leisured and titled classes who promote its policy.
The Leader of the Government declared this afternoon that we were merely trifling with, the subject when we proposed in our amendment that it would be a wise Australian policy to progressively reduce hour3 of labour and progressively increase wages commensurate with the increased productivity of the nation. Such a declaration he said waa vague and indefinite. He went on to assert that these considerations were taken into account by the Arbitration Court whenever the claims of the workers in any industry were before it. I would remind him. that there has just come before the Commonwealth Arbitration Court a case which has taken seven years to reach it. Yet we are told that there is no occasion for the amendment moved by the Labour party since these matters of increasing wages and decreasing hours commensurate with increased productivity and national wealth can always be adjusted by the Arbitration Court. That statement was made in cold blood this afternoon by Senator Pearce, although he represents in this chamber a Government which only a few short years ago went to the electors with a proposal to remove the Arbitration power altogether from the Commonwealth Parliament. The sooner the Government, in the interests of the Australian” people and with proper regard to the progress of this great Commonwealth, realizes that the policy of shorter hours and higher wages is an economic necessity which must be attended to if national disaster is to be avoided, the better. The sooner the Government realizes that, instead of having a minister for labour, it would be good policy to establish a ministry for leisure, the better for all concerned. Thirty or 40 years ago, it was true that the only way to national salvation was to earn one’s living by the sweat of one’s brow, although a number of wealthy people earned their living by exploiting the sweat of the other fellow’s brow. But the Government must be brought to a realization of the fact that the greater the volume of work carried out, the greater the wealth produced in this country, the greater must be the number of unemployed, unless we perfect our distributing machinery to the same extent as we have improved our productive machinery. We have to realize as a writer has said, that -
Wo, the people of the present, are standing between two epochs, the grave of one world, and the cradle of another. What we have to do is to keep our eyes on the future while we break the last links that bind us to the present, a7id steadily advance.
In the words of Sir Harold Bowden, speaking at the annual banquet of the British Olympic Association, held at the Dorchester Hotel, London -
With more than 2,000,000 unemployed in the country-
Great Britain - and with the reduction of working’ hours-
I regret that Senator Pearce is not present - which must be the inevitable outcome of th« progress of machinery, the proper use of leisure is becoming one of our major national problems. Unemployment was not merely a problem of money; it was also a problem of idleness, and idleness in the mass was a danger to any nation.
There are 800 compulsorily idle men in Canberra, and there are 300,000 compulsorily idle men in Australia; with their dependants they represent 1,000,000 people in Australia who are always on, or below, the bread line. This cannot go on without presaging in the minds of all intelligent thinkers, in and out of this chamber, national disaster, unless something on a national basis is attempted in the direction of decreasing hours and increasing wages, commensurate with the increase of the productivity of the nation. When our opponents tell us that we cannot create more employment by the nationalizing of bank credit, they know that what they are saying is incorrect. They know that this nation has the most acceptable security that any debtor can give to a credit-issuing authority; and that on the strength of that security the Commonwealth Bank Board could do as the Labour party desires. We do not propose to alter the personnel of the board any more than we would propose to alter the personnel of any Commonwealth government department after a change of government. All we propose to do is to lay down a new policy for the bank to follow. And that policy would be followed by the bank board if a government were in power that was prepared to accept the responsibility for it.
– Mr. Scullin said that he wants to abolish the Commonwealth Bank Board, and place the bank under the control of a governor.
– Labour’s policy would not necessarily mean a change of the personnel of the board so long as the board was prepared to carry out the Labour policy. Of course, if the board sought to obstruct that policy, the Government would have to devise ways and means to counteract such opposition. What I desire to impress, most forcibly, upon honorable senators is the simplicity of our proposal. Any one would imagine from the remarks made by the Leader of the Senate that our plan was some indefinite, complicated and intricate scheme which nobody could understand. All we propose to do is to ask the Commonwealth Bank Board for an issue of credit - in other words, to write credit figures in a hook. The board might ask, as it would be entitled to ask of any borrower. “What security have you to offer?” Do honorable senators think the’ Labour party is so barren of ideas as to be unable to foresee that the bank would want security? And is it thought that the Labour party is so ignorant of financial procedure that it would not have the security ready? What security would the nation have to offer the bank board for an issue of credit in order that large armies of unemployed might be put to useful and productive work? We would tell the board, as we have told our creditors abroad when we have gone to them in the past for loans, that the security we have to offer is the capacity of our people to produce wool, meat, sugar, flour, butter and fruit and other products; and to that we would add the power of the Parliament to tax the people. That is the security this nation has to offer in return for an issue of credit. We would not be asking the Commonwealth Bank Board to give more than what the banks ordinarily give their clients when they allow overdrafts by placing figures in a bank ledger, and issue cheque books with which to draw on that credit. We are told that our policy means inflation of the currency. It does not mean anything of the kind. But even if it does, even if all the biassed and uncharitable things said against our proposal were true, a trial of it would be worth risking because underlying it all would be the absorption of 300,000 good Australians in industry, making them capable of further wealth production and, at the same time, as our amendment suggests, the rehabilitation of Australia’s whole economic system. This implies a complete economic survey with a view to arriving at a planned economy, to ensure that as the productivity of the Commonwealth increases, the distributive machinery shall be improved. Thus we shall abolish the sad and tragic paradox existing to-day of ever-increasing abundance and wealth alongside increasing misery, unhappiness, unemployment and starvation. To show that these proposals are not just the idle chatterings of a few easily deceived people who have got into Parliament as representatives of the Labour party, as Senator Sir George Pearce said, I shall quote reliable financial authorities. Mr. E. G. Hawtrey, Assistant Secretary to the British Treasury said -
Banks create money and trade depression arises from faults in the banking system in the discharge of that vital function.
That is all that we say. It is entirely due to the fact that private profit-making financial institutions of this country can, and do, create credit, and restrict or expand credit when it suits them, that there are ever-recurring periods of “ boom “ and their inevitable corollary, ensuing periods of “bust”. And the Labour party, backed up by the views of these financial authorities claims that the power now vested in these institutions should be vested in the nation through its representatives in Parliament. The Government should exercise that power to restrict and expand credit, not for the purpose of creating booms and depressions, but for the purpose of bringing about a planned economy. With increased productivity there should be a progressive decrease of hours and an increase of wages in order that this paradox of poverty in the midst of plenty should be removed from the nation’s life. Another authority whom I quote is the Right Honorable R. McKenna, chairman of the Midland Bank, the largest trading bank in the British Empire -
I am afraid the ordinary citizens will not like to be told that the banks can, and do, create and destroy money. The amount of money in existence varies only with the action of the banks in increasing or decreasing deposits and bank purchases.
Later in his address the same authority made this significant remark: -
Those who control the credit of the nation direct the policy of governments and hold in the hollow of their hands the destiny of the people.
We suggest that these things are so, and propose to remedy them by taking that power out of the hands of the private institutions and vesting it in the people to be operated through the Government for the benefit of the whole of the people and not for the private shareholders of any institution, however great. We have been told by this Government that the only way we can relieve unemployment is by making concessions to private enterprise. We were told this afternoon that if we gave the old-age pensioners another 2s. 6d. a week we would have to take it out of the pockets of the people by taxation, and that, therefore, the purchasing power of the community would be decreased rather than increased.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– I wish further to buttress my statement of the Labour party’s policy for the nationalization of banking, so sneeringly referred to this afternoon by the Leader of the Senate, by quoting from authorities which surely cannot be disregarded by any one having a desire to understand the subject. Lord D’Abernon, British financier, statesman, and diplomat, speaking on the world depression in 1931, stated, as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 22nd June of that year-
I hold that the deplorable conditions are due in the main to the fall in price of staple commodities. This fall has been brought about by the scarcity of means of payment.
He definitely asserted that all the accumulated evidence went to show that the cause of the trouble was of a monetary nature, and that the only remedy would be found in monetary reform. He went on to say-
What has really occurred is a hold-up in currency. Failure to restore prices to an adequate level; to supply means of payment in sufficient quantity will involve the world in the necessity of such re-adjustment as must cause grave political and social danger. To realize the importance of these statements, a full understanding is necessary as to what is meant by a fall in price levels. Every branch of trade and industry becomes dislocated causing reduced purchasing power, consumption and production. It causes a disequilibrium between wholesale and retail prices and between prices of primary and secondary industries.
I hope that the alleged farming representatives in this chamber are taking notice——
It increases the real size of our debts, ruining many debtors and embarrassing all. Confidence is diminished. Credit is contracted. Work and employment decrease. The poor become poorer and many of those with moderate means are’ impoverished. Wealth becomes unequally distributed with great wealth for a few and extreme poverty for many.
This contraction of money supplies is undoubtedly the main cause of any economic troubles of to-day.
Yet when we on this side submit an amendment to the Governor-General’s Speech pointing to the facts of the situation, and showing a way out of our difficulties, we are told that wo do not know what we are talking about, and that our proposal will not get this country out of its troubles! I quote now from the Melbourne Age of the 18th August, 1934, the following excerpts from the report of the Rotary Social Research Committee No.
The money system is a social mechanism ostensibly to facilitate the production of goods and services - a system of “ tickets “ which entitle the holders to. demand what they desire. The function of money may be attached to a commodity having an intrinsic value, as in the ease of a sovereign, or it may be attached to a practically worthless piece of paper as in the case’ of a bank note; or it may be attached to such a nebulous conception as “ bank credit “ which has no separate, tangible existence, but is merely represented by ledger entries in the books of a bank.
There also appear in the Age of the same date, the following excerpts from a publication of the Southampton Chamber of Commerce : -
Money supply should be governed by the real credit of the community as represented by its productive capacity. This appears to involve the abandonment of any arbitrary restriction of the quantity of money, and the limitation of internal money supply by any such instrument as the international gold standard. 2. In order to ensure that, money performs its true function of operating as a means of exchange and distribution, it is desirable that it should cease to be treated as a commodity. 3. Money being merely a vehicle for the credit of the community, and the power which the control of money carries with it being nothing less than the control of the entire economic life of the nation, it is desirable that the administration of financial policy should bo vested in a national authority directly responsible to the Sovereign and his people.
These are statements, not by irresponsible Labour representatives, but by authorities whom it would be very difficult to discredit. We, on this side, say that credit controlled in the way which I have indicated this afternoon, and as outlined in the amendment submitted by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Barnes), namely, for the carrying out of public works, is the right way out of our difficulties. It would lead to increased employment, the works carried out would be of benefit to the community, and effect a saving in sustenance amounts which the State governments have to provide today, thus assisting them tobalance their budgets. It would also increase the spending power of the community, and that would, in turn, have the effect of (a) assisting our primary producers; (b) setting the wheels of our secondary industries moving and bringing more money now lying idle in the banks into the industrial field; and (c) raising price levels. Yet, in the face of these facts, we are told that we have no practical plan, and do not know what we are talking about !
– That policy might raise the price level of primary products which we consume in Australia, but not of primary products exported.
– It is estimated that in New South Wales the decrease in purchasing power of the workers, because of wage reductions, amounts to approximately £10,000,000 per annum. In the Railways Department alone, the decrease last year was approximately £4,230,000. Now because Labour members declare that if cuts in wages were restored and credit made available along the lines which I have indicated no practical good would result to the community. We contend that our policy points the way out of our troubles. I quote now briefly comments made by Mr. J. M. Keynes, one of the moat brilliant of British economists. The value of his statements will surely not be challenged by any honorable senator. Speaking of purchasing power, he, in effect, stated what the Economic Committee has since reiterated -
A policy of a further general reduction in money wages would be a double-edged weapon. It would tend to curtail purchasing power and consequently aggravate rather than assist the problem of the budget.
We say, in our amendment, exactly what he affirms in other words, namely, that an increase of purchasing power would solve our troubles and help to balance national and domestic budgets. Mr. Keynes, dealing with this aspect of the position, said further -
There’ is more chance of improving the profitableness of business by fostering enterprise, and by such measures as public works than by further pressure on money wages . . .
The substitution of wages for doles needs more credit, but not necessarily more currency.
I turn now to a statement by the late Sir Denison Miller, the first Governor of the Commonwealth Bank. On the 7th July, 1921, a deputation of unemployed workers asked Sir Denison Miller if he would make arrangements to provide work for the unemployed. Mr. Scott, a member of the deputation, addressing Sir Denison, said -
In your address in London, Sir Denison, you stated that to meet the necessities of war, certain things had been done by you-
I invite honorable senators to note the significance of the words, “ by you “. The action spoken of was not action by the financial institutions, as suggested by Senator Pearce this afternoon, but by Sir Denison Miller, the then Governor of the Commonwealth Bank - which before the war would not have been dreamt of. You financed Australia for £350,000,000 for war purposes, and had the war continued, you could have financed another £350,000,000. Are you now prepared to finance Australia £350,000,000 for productive purposes ?
Sir Denison Miller’s answer was, “Yes, I shall do my best “. It is, however, a matter of common knowledge that he was not allowed to take any action along the lines suggested, because his policy was inimical to the interests of the profittaking associated banks.
I think that I have refuted the statements made by the Leader of the Senate in reply to the address made:by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Barnes) some days ago. I have shown that the GovernorGeneral’s Speech contains nothing whatever of any value to the people ; that it exposes the inability of the Government to understand the root causes of a problem, which, if we are to be saved from national disaster, must be solved. I further claim that our amendment outlines a plan, which, if put into operation, would attack this problem at the root and lead this country out of its difficulties. I give the Government full credit for trying to understand the problem with which we are confronted, but I repeat that to continue along the lines indicated in the Governor-General’s Speech is merely to tinker with it. It is idle to wait for some world-wide miracle to happen; idle also to talk about prosperity being restored, and to quote, as an evidence of restored confidence, prices which Australian bonds are realizing in London. The high price of gilt-edged securities is no evidence of returning confidence. Bather is it evidence of increasing fear on the part of investors to put their capital into other channels. Any allusion to figures showing a decrease of unemployment percentages does not affect the breakfast table of people with no employment, and the continued reiteration in this chamber of the very serious plight of a large proportion of our primary producers will not solve their problem. Neither in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech nor in the speeches of the mover and seconder of the AddressinReply is there to be found the slightest evidence that the Government and its supporters understand the causes which are at work, or the means whereby the evils which are now so painfully and tragically apparent may be removed.
– I rise to a point of order. I understand that, in the course of his speech, Senator Collings, quoting from an official document, stated that there was evidence of the existence of organizations in this country which had as their objective the overthrow of governments. He also stated that members of the organization referred to had arms, and that the report indicated where the arms were to be found. He informed the Leader of the Government that he could inspect the document if he so desired. The matter is of such importance that the document should be made available, not only to the Minister, but also to every member of the Senate. Therefore, under Standing Order 364, I move -
That the document, “ General Outline of Fascist Activities in Queensland “, quoted from by Senator Collings during his speech, be laid on the table.
– I second the motion.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - Is Senator Collings prepared to table the document mentioned ?
– I have not the slightest, objection to handing over the document. The information has already appeared in the pres3, and honorable senators opposite are not unacquainted with it. It is an official document. A copy has already been supplied to theQueensland Government, and it contains more detail than has appeared in the press. I am willing to table it if the Senate so desires.
Motion agreed to.
– I lay the document on the table.
– I regret that honorable senators opposite have not taken advantage of this motion to discuss matters of great importance to Australia, and by so doing give to honorable senators on this side of the chamber an opportunity to learn where they are wrong in regard to many of the views which they hold on pressing public questions. The Senate meets »o infrequently, and for such short periods, that honorable senators should take every opportunity to analyse the various problems confronting Australia at this juncture. Those honorable senators who do not visit Canberra regularly, or who absent themselves from the chamber, except when the division bells are rung, show a striking lack of interest in the subjects with which this Parliament has to deal. It is a sad commentary upon our bicameral system that honorable senators opposite will not utilize the opportunities provided for enlightening other honorable senators, and the community generally. I believe that much good could be achieved by a freer and fuller discussion of public questions. I have not reached such a stage of senility as to be incapable of absorbing new ideas, and it is regrettable that some should fail to utilize the opportunities provided for educating others. In the heat of an election campaign we cannot calmly debate subjects which affect directly the electorates concerned, and indirectly the whole Commonwealth, in the way that we are able deliberately to discuss and analyse them in the quietude of this chamber. During an election campaign all sorts of lies are put over the other fellow, and the last election campaign was no exception. It reminded me of a book I read in my early day3 dealing with Baron Munchausen, who was the biggest liar the world ever knew. He was a wonderful gentleman, and a very interesting character. I do not know if honorable senators opposite have read of this man, who in his own estimation was an outstanding individual. On one occasion he said that he went to shoot some birds, but as he had not a supply of bullets he filled his gun with nails and tacks, which penetrated the birds, nailing them to the trees and the birds eventually flew away with the trees attached. I recall reading Bangs’s The House Boat on the Styx. The boat was occupied by shades who had departed from this world, and included in these were such notable personages as Socrates, Queen Elizabeth, Shakespeare, Bacon.
– And I suppose Robert Burns.
– Yes; and many others. These notables were engaged in argument as to who wrote Shakespeare. Shakespeare said that he wrote it; but Bacon said, “I wrote it myself.” Munchausen then appeared, and he was asked the same question, to which he immediately replied, “I did.” He was a great liar, and a ready wit capable of meeting any situation. Many of those who attacked the policy of the Labour party prior to the last general election were deliberately lying, and deserve to be told that they were lying. I shall go so far as to say that some of our knights of the realm deliberately used the public platform to mislead the people. For instance, Sir Henry Gullett went out of his way to tell the people what, in his opinion, would happen if Labour were returned to power. It is grossly wrong and unfair for any person, whether a knight or an ordinary individual, to use the public platform to lie to the people. Sir Henry Gullett is reported to have said-
A Labour victory on September 15th would be followed immediately by a return to the lowest depths of the depression and its anxieties and punishments. All values for Government bonds and all shares in the great employing industrial and business companies would suffer an immediate and severe slump on the Monday following the elections.
A vote to Mr. Scullin, who is determined to change that system, would immediately reduce all spending disposition to the amount necessary for day to day existence. Vast sums of money would flow in panic out of the Commonwealth.
Certainly Sir Henry Gullett is not an economist, but he should know that such a statement was utterly absurd. He went on to say -
Every sort of employment would instantly shrink, and unemployment figures would probably reach dimensions which ‘ would make relief work or sustenance very difficult. Loan money from within Australia would be extremely improbable, if not impossible. Wo could not borrow abroad.
Now I come to the statement made by a knight in this chamber - Sir George Pearce - who undoubtedly rendered great service to the United Australia party and Country party in Queensland. The speeches of Sir George Pearce were, to a large extent, responsible for the return of Senator Foll, Senator Crawford and Mr. Cooper. I regret that Senator Pearce should have handled the truth so carelessly for the sole purpose of defeating Labour. When Sir George Pearce came to Queensland, he, like Sir Henry Gullett, told some fearful stories concerning the Agricultural Bank of Western Australia. He said -
This bank rendered highly valuable service to land settlement. It was managed by a board of trustees, but political influence was allowed to creep in, and members of Parliament, even Cabinet Ministers, pressed claims for advances to clients.
That statement was broadcast to thousands of eager listeners who would regard it as truthful, coming as it did from a knight of the realm. The inference was that if the Labour Government were returned the Commonwealth Bank would be subject to political control, and that the savings of the people would be dissipated by a profligate Government. Is it fair that gentlemen such as Sir George Pearce and Sir Henry Gullett should go to the fair State of Queensland and discredit the Labour party by making statements such as I have quoted? It was good propaganda for the United Australia party and the Country party, and it served its purpose. It gave the electors the impression that Parliament was slipping and that politicians were becoming more degraded every day. Although such stories are told the people ascertain later that they are lies and that some politicians are only what newspapers which attack them say that they are. When acute problems have to be dealt with by the Commonwealth Parliament and the State Parliaments it behoves everyone who speaks on behalf of the people to deal honestly with such problems in a reasonable and scientific way as I shall endeavour to do. The speech which was read by the Governor-General was, of course, prepared by some members of a government which would have been defeated had it not made uri arrangement with a party to which it had previously been opposed. I do not say that the Speech contains statements made with the deliberate object of misleading the people, but I do say that the results hoped for by the Government are not likely to be achieved. I make that prediction because of my study of world conditions. That the authors of the speech were unaware of the trend of world affairs the following paragraph shows: -
My advisers are engaged in the negotiation of prospective trade treaties with a number of foreign countries. They are of the opinion that Australia’s richest overseas market Hee within the Empire and especially within the United Kingdom. But they are fully aware that in some great lines of primary commodities Australia and other dominions, taken together, yield a total production far in excess of the consumption demands of the Empire. Confronted by these conditions my Ministers will make every endeavour to trade on the friendliest terms. obtainable with all nations which are faced with similar problems.
That may sound all right, but the inference is that merely by expanding trade and finding markets we shall solve our economic problems. The Labour party advocates reforms because the development of economic nationalism tends to close the channels for investment, making necessary something more than an expansion of our markets. Men like Senator Elliott believe that our economic problems will be solved by a development of intra-Empire trade, and although we on this side prefer to develop trade between Australia and other portions of the Empire rather than to expand our trade with foreign countries, we realize that merely by exchanging one commodity for another we shall not solve the economic problems confronting the world. There is a general belief among the people that our economic difficulties will be solved by an expansion of trade, but if trade is merely the exchange of this commodity for that commodity we shall not find work for all our people in that way, and therefore we shall not solve the greatest economic problem - that of unemployment. Realizing the difficulties, the Labour party advocates a change of the monetary system so that we shall be able .to utilize the credit, of the country in such a way that labour will be organized not merely for trade, but also for the development of Australia as an economic unit, thereby improving the position of the country generally. The modern capitalistic system is one of growth and development. So long as development is taking place, and money is being invested in that development, there is work to be done and the unemployment problem is not acute. Sir Josiah Stamp is reported to have said that between 1873 and 1923 Great Britain invested abroad £8,000,000,000 of which £5,000,000,000 was lost. That is to say, Britain exported commodities to the value of the first mentioned sum and lost more than half their value. My point is that while Great Britain was exporting that huge surplus of goode, the workers of that country were employed in producing them, and for that Treason unemployment was not an acute problem. Although Great Britain is. drawing from other countries millions of pounds in interest each year - and Australia is being bled by the Old Country in the matter of interest - it is returning in loans, represented by goods, more than it receives in interest, and to that extent its workers are being employed. In Australia the position is that, so long as an intensive developmental policy is in operation, our workers are employed, but with a diminution of the borrowing policy, and a consequent reduction of the labour used in the production of capital goods, there is, as Mr. Davidson, of the Bank of New South “Wales, has told us, a general closing up of the avenues for investment, with the result that labour difficulties are intensified and unemployment becomes more general. The Leader of the Senate quoted certain statistics in an attempt to disabuse our minds of what he described as the false impression that there was a plethora of credit. Private individual capitalism cannot absorb the workers because of the existing worldwide depression, and also because capital development has not progressed in the same ratio as in the past. We on this side admit that bank credit can be created by the private banks when required, and that that credit can be utilized to employ labour; but even though the bank credit is there, it is not utilized to the full because the system of capitalism is not able to employ it in the development of capitalism. When private individuals, firms, and companies cannot utilize the credit of the country, or of the banks, for the development of the country and the production of capital goods, as well as for the employment of labour, there is need for governments to exercise their powers to open up channels in which the spare labour of the community can be employed. The Labour party told the electors that, if returned to power,- it would so utilize this country’s credit that conditions generally would improve and the standard of living of its people would be raised. As a sheep-owner, Senator Guthrie knows the need for water conservation, and of the desirability of constructing a railway from north to south to connect three existing east to west railway systems in Queensland, thereby making possible the quick transport of sheep from place to place. Had the surplus labour of this country been used for purposes such as this in the past, Australia to-day would be in a much higher position as a productive unit. Senator Pearce said that by expending money on non-productive works we eventually make the position worse instead of better. I agree that that has been the case in the past in some instances. During the war the credit of the community was handed over to private institutions, which, in turn, issued credits that enabled goods to be produced and the war to be prosecuted. Ex-Senator Colebatch told us that during the war both Great Britain and Australia had deliberately inflated the currency, with the result that they were able to finance the war and prosecute it to a successful end. But the war over, this accumulated paper debt, behind which there were no assets whatever, continued to involve the payment of enormous sums by way of interest. Mr. Frank Anstey, in his pamphlet, The Kingdom of Shylock, states that war loans would have been unobtainable here but for the fact that the credit of Australia was utilized by the private banks so that, on the security of a bond for £1,000, approved clients were able to obtain up to £5,000, and even larger sums, and to draw interest in respect of those bonds, although there was nothing behind them but the productive power of the nation. Dr. Earle Page, speaking on the Commonwealth Bank Bill, in 1924, said that the Commonwealth had during the war issued notes to private banks at 3 per’’ cent. The banks in turn issued credit to approved clients at 4 per cent, to purchase war bonds, on which the holders drew 5 per cent, from the Government. The right honorable gentleman said that the whole matter had never been explained and it was useless now to attempt to explain it. The fact is, however, that there were no private assets behind the issue of that credit by the private banks. In that way the country was able to feed, and clothe and equip its soldiers as well as to provide for the women and children who were left behind. I feel deeply on this question. If it is possible to utilize the private banks of this country in this way in order to carry on a war, it should be possible for Australia, through the Commonwealth Bank, to issue the credit necessary to improve Australia as an economic organization, and to raise the standard of living not only of the workers, but of the producers and the community as a whole. I should be glad if, at the close of my speech, an honorable senator opposite who has studied this question would endeavour to show in what respect we have erred on this question of finance. “We are ready to learn, and if it can be shown that our policy is wrong, then we shall no longer advocate it.
Great hopes are entertained in regard to the extension of our trade with other countries, and particularly with the East. The Prime Minister himself has admitted that the markets of Great Britain are becoming saturated, and that we shall have to .look elsewhere for markets for our produce and commodities. I have every respect for those who think that the opening up of new markets will solve our economic problem, but I point out that there are difficulties in the way. Recently a delegation consisting of Mr. W, H. Austin, Under-Secretary to the Department of Labour and Industry, and Mr. Thomas, secretary to the Queensland Colliery Proprietors Council, was sent to the East by the Queensland Government to investigate market possibilities there.
The delegation visited the Netherland East Indies, British Malaya, China, and the Philippine Islands, and its investigations do not support the views of those who say that the future in this direction is bright; that the depression has been overcome; that unemployment is being reduced, and that we’ have set an example to the rest of the worM by overcoming our difficulties through the instrumentality of the Premiers plan. I am not a Jeremiah; I do not wish to throw cold water on any attempt to develop trade with other countries, but I feel that to find a solution of our economic problem we have to f*«» the facts.
– What are the facts ?
– Here are the facts, as stated by this delegation -
The market of the future (in the East) will consist more of capital goods and raw materials and less of consumable goods and foodstuffs. As we cannot compete with Japan in the manufacture of capital goods, such as railways and public utility equipment, machinery, iron and steel, motor cars, &c. ; nor in textiles, our trade will be restricted to new or extended trade in raw materials, and, to some degree, trade in foodstuffs.
They went on to say -
The preponderance of Chinese and Japanese dealers and retailers throughout these countries docs not tend to encourage imports from Australia and other British countries.
As the basis of our investigations - whether into coal, timber, or other commodities - was really “ unemployment in Queensland “, we regret to advise that, in our opinion, there will be comparatively little relief to unemployment as a result of any new or extended business that can be secured in these countries at least during the next few years.
There we have -an illustration of the intense and bitter competition among Asiatics themselves. The Chinese and Japanese can outbid us in their own markets for commodities, and I would therefore impress upon honorable senators the fact that we cannot expect much help from that quarter. We must, of course, give our traders every encouragement
– We can only export raw commodities to those countries because they can manufacture at a much lower cost than is possible in our case.
– Quite so. The delegation admitted that there were possibilities of new or extended trade in the following articles:—-
Hardwood timber, leather raw cotton, coal, fresh fruit, dried meat, dried and other fish products and wool, although at present to a limited extent—–
And this is the point -
But such trade must at present face keen competition and comparatively low prices.
If we must face keen competition at the present time, what is going to happen within the next few years? Will our trade with the East improve or decrease? Senator Guthrie, who is interested in the wool trade, probably knows that Japan is subsidizing the production of wool. Because of our climatic and other conditions, we are able to produce the finest merino wool in the world.
– Japan cannot grow wool.
– Men of standing who have visited Japan say that the Government of that country is utilizing to the full the brains of its scientists in the hope that within a few years it will be able to produce a commodity that will make its people quite independent of Australia in this regard. World development is growing apace. We have had quite recently, in the glorious aviation feats of Scott, Black, Parmentier, Mollison, and others, a striking illustration of how space can be annihilated.
– Good Australian aviators.
– Good luck to every one of them. I am endeavouring to point out, however, that while I hope, as a good Australian, that we shall be able to hold our markets for wool, I am fearful of what may result from the application of the brain power of Japan to the problem that confronts its people. Having regard to Japan’s desire to develop Manchuria, I fear that within a few years it will be producing wool to such an extent as to very seriously affect our trade. The development of economic nationalism, not only in Asia, but throughout Europe, is such that it appears to me that the Government of Australia must follow other lines than those set out by it in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. I am speaking in all earnestness. Senator Pearce has told us that the position is better than it was. I do not deny that statement, but although there has been a slight diminution of unemployment, we cannot ignore the fact that a policy different from that placed before us by the Government must be pursued if we are to overcome our difficulties.
– The financial policy advocated by the honorable senator’s party would only be an experiment.
– In a time of national emergency - whether in peace or in war - it is necessary that the Government of the country should utilize to the full the brains of the community to discover a means of meeting that emergency. Experiments may be justified in the light of the problem that confronts us.
– The honorable senator admits then that his party’s proposal would be an experiment?
– I do not, but I say that in time of national emergency experiments are justifiable. The scheme we have propounded, however, would not be an experiment in the sense that it had never been tried. I repeat, that in war time what we now propose should be done for the benefit of the whole community was done for the benefit not of the people as a whole, but of a few clients of private banking companies.For years hence, the community will be bled for the payment of interest under the present system of finance. Britain to-day is paying interest in respect of money raised in connexion with the Napoleonic wars, and if the present system of finance continues, we shall be paying interest for another thousand years.
– But we could not go on indefinitely expanding the currency as was done for war purposes.
– I admit that, if credit is issued as it was issued in war time, as a debt on which interest has to foe paid, we could not continue increasing the debt indefinitely. Let me clarify the expression, “credit of the community.” The Labour party has an ideal, which it hopes to put into practice, for the solution of the monetary problem. I agree with the honorable gentleman that, if credit continued to be issued as an interest-bearing debt, we could not go on adding to the burden indefinitely; but
I submit that, if the community utilizes all the credit forces at its command, sufficient comfort will be ours. Since the people are not imbeciles, why can we not adopt a policy of national accountancy, a monetary system that will reflect the real credit of the community? I have here a publication issued by those so-called “mad men,” the supporters of tho Douglas credit proposal. I am not a supporter of the Douglas credit system, but when a paper that rings true comes into my hand’ I endeavour to assimilate its contents. This article was written by Hilaire Belloc, a prominent figure in English literature, whose name, no doubt, is well known to honorable senators. In this paper he explains how the national debt of Great Britain was created. He says -
At the end of the year 1.692 a group of rich men, who made the politician Montague their agent, proposed to follow the method of state finance which the Dutch had founded long before, and to mortgage to their advantage the powers of government.
Montague’s first proposal was put forward on Dec. IS, 1092. On January 20, 1G93, came the first regular inception of the plan, which was matured in the course of the next few months.
Money was needed for William’s policy of Continental war, and this group of rich men proposed to lend the Government £1,200,000 upon terms which, including commissions and perquisites, came to between 8 and 9 per cent.
This was the beginning of what later came to be called tho National Debt, for its special character was not merely the lending of the money to the Government, a transaction as old as history, but the novel proposal that the interest should be strictly guaranteed on the security of the national taxes, while immediately afterwards a privileged institution was called into existence, a central bank, which should have the handling of the loan and the interest, and the right to issue notes of credit on the security of the Government.
From this we see the special character of the national debt. It was not money merely lent to the Government, but involved also a proposal that the interest on the debt should be strictly guaranteed on the security of the nation’s taxes. That is the point I wish to stress. Why should private banks have the monopoly of such a loan and the interest on it, and the right to issue notes and credit on the security of the Government? We know that Great Britain’s national debt has grown from a paltry £1,200,000 to approximately £7,800,000,000 to-day. Australia’s national debt amounts to over £1,000,000,000; but behind it, as behind the national debt of every country, is the security of the nation itself. No country can pay ofl its national debt. Such a debt is only on paper; but every year thousands of millions of pounds are extracted from the pockets of the people in order to pay those who own this paper debt. One of the great troubles of the world to-day is a wrong conception of wealth.
– What is the difference between a public debt and a private debt?
– If I owe a certain amount of money, the security behind it is merely my income and my assets; but behind the national debt is the security of the Commonwealth and the power of the Parliament to tax the community. The government does not tax the community in order to pay my private debts.
– What is credit? Credit is a debt.
– All money is a debt. Money gives the possessor the right and the power to draw services and commodities from the community to the value of such money; the community is in debt to him to the amount of the money he holds. There is a big difference between what is known as bank credit and coins of the realm, the larger denominations of which are practically out of circulation. The gold currency in circulation years ago was real wealth. A .certain amount of energy had been required to produce the coins, which were bartered for other wealth in the form of services or commodities. To-day we have paper money, and bank credit, the power to issue which has been given to private corporations. Senator Collings has demonstrated clearly that private banks issue credit in excess of the real wealth they control. The Macmillan report showed convincingly that, under our modern banking system, it is possible for a bank possessing £1,000,000 of national money to issue credit to the amount of £10,000,000. That is to say, private banks have the power to monetize the frozen assets of the country, and, issuing credit to ten times the value of the real money they hold, they draw interest on that inflated or imaginary capital. If private banking institutions can and do issue credits in this way, it should be possible for a national bank to monetize the assets of the nation, and expand credit, charging for interest a mere modicum of what is being charged to-day. But the right of issuing money has practically been taken from the King and the Government, and handed over to the private banking machine. This machine has done its work very capably, making large profits for its shareholders. I am not cavilling at that, nor would any sensible man do so; but, unfortunately, the need of private banks to make money for their shareholders, has caused them to adopt a policy which has been to the detriment of the people as a whole.
– Bank shareholders are not getting much to-day.
– A glance at the banking statistics, particularly the rates of interest from 1914- to 1934, will show that the big banks of this country and of the United Kingdom have paid handsome dividends to their shareholders; in addition, huge sums have been placed to reserve, whilst in Australia, all of the banks have been able to erect palatial buildings for their head-quarters. The costly bank premises in Queen-street, Brisbane, suggest that the activities of the banks in creating credit and taking money from the community have been highly profitable. Because of such success in business, they have been able to call in the builders, contractors and architects, and say to them, “ Get busy and build us a palatial building.” I have not seen a better building than the headquarters of the Commonwealth Bank in Sydney, whilst the State Savings Bank and all other banks in that city own magnificent. structures. Roughly, I would calculate that £1,000,000 has been devoted to the building pf the banking premises in Queen-street, Brisbane. The modern banking system has allowed the private institutions to secure control of the supply of credit and the issue of money, which, we contend, should be the prerogative of the King and the Government. If the Government had the power to issue and control money, it would be able to employ all our people on necessary work. I am not advocating communism or socialism or any other idealistic system, but I say that if this country utilized the forces of credit through the medium of a central control, such as a Commonwealth Bank, we could employ every employable citizen in Australia, and give him a fair return for his labour. Honorable senators opposite imagine that to-day they have overcome the depression; that the world has turned a corner, and that shortly all in the economic sphere will be well. But just as we turn the corner, lo and behold, there is a shindy over the export of meat. There is a lesson to be learned from this experience. We know that Major Elliot, Minister for Agriculture in the British Government, has stated that he intends to give every encouragement to the development of primary producing industries in Great Britain. Further, I know that organizations in the United Kingdom are battling hard for the restriction of meat imports from Australia. During the recent federal elections this matter was kept very quiet indeed. Next year, probably, we shall have a similar dispute over butter. We know that under the Ottawa agreement Great Britain will be able after June next to demand the restriction of the export of Australian butter to the United Kingdom.
– We are restricting British imports to Australia.
– These developments will compel a re-orientation of the Government’s attitude to these matters. If these things are taking place or are to take place, the Government should exercise its brain in an endeavour to find a new solution of ‘the problem. The economic problem will not be solved by restricting our exports of primary produce. We hear much said of the bonds of Empire, and the crimson thread of kinship, but we know that Great Britain has made agreements with the Argentine Republic and Denmark to purchase from them agreed quantities of meat, butter and other commodities. It follows, therefore, that if the policy of economic nationalism, as laid down by Major Elliot, is adopted in full by Great Britain, its effect will be felt by Australia. The same influences are at work in all countries.
– Are those agreements being made because Great Britain is getting a better deal from those countries?
– I do not suggest that. They are being made because British capitalists have heavy investments in Denmark and Argentina, and have taken action to combat any proposals which may have the effect of diminishing the volume of trade from those countries to Great Britain.
– Are not those trade agreements in favour of Great Britain?
– The trade agreements are being made for the purpose of safeguarding British investors. That I think is plain enough to most honorable senators. It should also be clear that if similar agreements are made with other countries, we shall soon reach the stage when one country will know exactly how many million pounds of wool, how many million pounds of butter, and what quantities of other primary or other products it can dispose of in return for trade concessions to customer countries. Since this policy must, of necessity, adversely affect the expansion of primary production in Australia, we should seek some other method to overcome our unemployment difficulties. The Labour party suggests a review of our monetary and financial policy. We contend tha’t the- banking facilities of this country should be so altered as to make it possible for us to utilize the man power of Australia.
– If by that the honorable senator means we should be able to produce more beef, can he tell us what we shall do with it?
– The Minister has asked a very pertinent question. We on this side of the Senate realize the stupidity of producing more beef or, for that matter, more of any other commodity than is required, so we suggest that the surplus man power engaged in the meat industry or any other should be diverted to other avenues of production for the benefit of the community.
– In what direction ?
– I understand the honorable senator’s difficulty. It is due to the fact that he and his friends view our present economic problem from the narrow stand-point of modern capitalism. I am endeavouring to show that because of the trend of modern capitalism this Government should bring forward proposals for the re-organization of the banking and credit resources of the nation.
The London Times dealing with this problem offers this solution -
With a slight dietary change and a reduced consumption of wheat, Britain could produce most of her own food. Self-sufficiency in food production admittedly would mean a considerably reduced export trade, but the spreading economic nationalism abroad has made the export trade already precarious. The aim should be to expand the home market.
That I remind honorable senators represents the view of a conservative English newspaper, which points to the need for the adoption of means other than those put forward by this Government. With regard to the meat trade, I remind the Senate that in April last a commission, the chairman of which was Lord Bingley, was appointed by Major Elliot, to consider future policy for the Mother Country. This commission suggested that negotiations with the dominions should be immediately commenced, and that autumn imports should be regulated in order to protect the home producer. It also suggested that the Government should consider the imposition of a monetary levy on all imported meat and that the proceeds should be distributed among the home productions. The London Evening News dealing with this proposal, stated that the scheme would probably have a serious effect on Britain’s political relations with the dominions. The Manchester Guardian expressed the view that if the dominions did not agree to the scheme, compulsion might be applied. I am endeavouring to impress upon honorable senators the necessity for taking cognizance of the trend of thought in the Mother Country concerning this problem. I do not. wish to disturb unduly the nerves of honorable gentlemen opposite, but I direct their attention to the following comments which appeared in the Sydney Bulletin of recent date: -
The mechanization of Asia iB one of the marvels of the world’s industry in the postwar years. It is not easy to realize that, in
Shanghai alone, there are now 173 modern flour mills, or were a year ago; ten years ago there were only 21. The cotton ‘ mills of China. at the end of 1921 had well under 2,000,000 spindles; at the end of 1931 they had 4,500,000 spindles. In 1920, Japanese cotton spindles were employing 35,000 men and 105,000 women; ten years later they were employing 190,000 men and 809,000 women. In 1920, there were 3,668 joint stock companies incorporated in India; in 1929 there were 0.330, with a capital more than double that of the earlier date, and most of the newcomers were industrial.
We all recall the complaints made by the cotton interests of Lancashire about competition from India and Japan, and we cannot blame them for voicing their protests against policies which are ruining their trade. All the circumstances indicate that, owing to the rapid development of modern capitalism, decentralization is essential, and that when it takes place it will mean a serious diminution of international trade and render necessary a complete overhaul of our economic and financial policies.
– Is it not a fact- that increased prosperity in Japan will mean greater markets for our producers?
– The honorable senator must know that, although Japan is expanding industrially with great rapidity, and a similar movement is taking place in Manchukuo, the latter country is practically a protectorate of J apan, and both nations are catering for their own requirements. Japan, as I pointed out previously, is malting a special effort to overcome its difficulties as regards primary production, and is talcing effective measures to safeguard the interests of its primary and secondary producers in both Manchukuo and the islands which it is administering under the League of Nations mandate.
– The honorable senator’s remarks are interesting, but I am waiting to hear what solution he offers for our difficulties.
– I am endeavouring to show that the tendency in all countries is to become economically selfsufficient. Whilst capitalism was developing and countries like England and the United States of America were exporting capital to other countries, the world was able to absorb its workers in various primary and secondary industries. But since practically all countries are now becoming competitors, there is urgent need for an overhaul of our financial machinery in order to fit in with the altered economic circumstances. In many directions Australia is now becoming a competitor of other countries. We are rapidly developing our secondary industries, and the Governor-General’s Speech indicates that the Government intends to give full support to both primary and secondary industries. Leaders of thought in the Mother Country do not cavil at the development of our secondary industries, but I suggest -that if Australia, South Africa, Canada, and other primary producing countries which formerly were customers of the older industrial nations are now catering for their own requirements in the field of secondary production, there is definite need for a policy somewhat different from that outlined in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. Unless the Government makes provision to meet the new situation, Australia must suffer in the near future. I, therefore, appeal to the Ministry to take full cognizance of world events, and so shape its policy as to enable us to meet, with a certain degree of confidence, the difficulties that confront us. It is not sufficient to resort to such palliatives as providing men with a few days’ work weekly and making arrangements for the expenditure of a paltry £1,000,000 or so as a Christmas dole. We cannot expect Australia to progress under such a policy. The problem of unemployment should be dealt with in a comprehensive way, by employing people on reproductive works of national importance. I trust that as a result of the efforts which the Government proposes to make, some scheme will be placed before the Senate which will afford immediate relief to those who are so sadly in need of it. The time is rapidly approaching when the present financial system must fall to the ground. Interest can be paid to the interest mongers only so long as we continue to increase our overseas trade. Unless we can do so our load of debt and interest will become so terrific that it will be impossible for Australia to meet its liabilities. After the Great War various countries, including Great Britain, defaulted in their payments. A study of the figures shows that our national debt is sti.l increasing and that if we continue to create paper debts and issue paper credits, it will not be many years before we shall be faced with a financial cataclysm. If we attack this problem from a national standpoint we must realize that our problems cannot be solved under the present financial system. We are increasing our national debt and facing an ever increasing burden of interest. The financial system must be altered. Success cannot be achieved by intensive competition with the rest of the world, involving a further exploitation of the workers. The economic machine should be organized in the interests of the whole of the Australian people. We have already demonstrated that there is need for a change, and unless this Parliament adopts a policy in keeping with the altered conditions we shall find that the Australian people will have to submit to even greater hardships than they have experienced up to the present, and that their condition may be even worse than that of the peoples of other countries.
.- Until to-day I had no intention of speaking on this motion, but as the debate has proceeded, various views have been expressed upon which I should like to comment, more particularly as, with the exception of the mover and seconder of the motion, there have been very few speakers on this side of the chamber, and it may be thought that the views expressed by honorable senators opposite truly represent the general feeling of the Senate. In the first place, I should like to refer to some of the remarks made this afternoon. Senator Brown said that the great problem we have to solve is that of unemployment. It is not, The real economic problem which we have to solve is not unemployment - although that is included in it - but how to produce at a payable price. Until we can do that production and trade must decrease, and unemployment increase. It is incorrect to say that the main problem is unemployment; that is only one phase of it. Un’ ess we can sell our produce overseas at a profitable price unemployment must increase.
I remind Senator Brown, who was very critical concerning the operations of the trading banks, that Australia has been settled for over 150 years, and that for the greater part of that period its development has been assisted by the private banks. The Commonwealth Bank was not established until 1911. At the commencement of this century some private banking institutions had been in existence for nearly 100 years. For instance, the Bank of New South Wales was founded in 1817. All through the nineteenth century, and long before Senator Brown and I were born, these private banking institutions were assisting the people by a sane and sound policy which has enabled Australia to be developed as it has been.
– And fleecing the people, all the time.
– They have not fleeced the people; statistics prove the contrary. The rise in the value of bank shares has not been such that any one could say that the rise was due to a fleecing policy, as the honorable senator suggests, or that they had made undue profits. For about 100 years before the Commonwealth Bank came into existence the private banks assisted the trade and commerce of this country. Instead of these institutions becoming stronger during this century, their operations have been severely restricted. During the latter part of the last century there were a number of amalgamations. J can also vaguely recall the bank smashes in the early ‘nineties. If we are to study this problem intelligently, we should give credit where it is due. We all know that the Commonwealth Bank has done good work, but it should not be used as a weapon to bludgeon out of existence those private concerns which should have the same right to operate in .a free country as have other industries or undertakings. Senator Brown also said that money is thicker than blood, but I remind him that there is only one country that would introduce sentiment into business and that is that great country from which we sprang. Does any one imagine that a foreign country would treat us in any other way than from the view-point of business? Great Britain is the only country from which we can expect any sentimental consideration.
– I was showing the difficulties Great Britain is experiencing as a result of the development of a world economic system.
– HUGHES. - I thought that the honorable senator’s argument was that we could not look for anything from Great Britain but a money-grasping attitude, which would he entirely divorced from all sentiment.
– The honorable senator has misunderstood me.
– HUGHES. - Great Britain is the only country which is likely to allow sentiment to weigh with it in its dealings with us.
I now pass on to the remarks of Senator Collings, who is always able to introduce some electricity into a debate which happens to be a bit thin or is becoming rather dull. I do not pretend to agree with him on many points. That is not surprising because I do not imagine that I would ever be acceptable in a Labour constituency. One of his arguments is that we should be able to get credits for national purposes on the security of the country’s production. That security has a varying value. We are able to offer as a security only such goods as are within the power of the country to produce and sell at a profit. Some persons loosely say “we produce wool, wheat, sugar, butter, and other produce “. Such statements are sometimes made by those who do not produce anything. I presume Senator Collings means that the country as a whole produces wool and wheat and other primary products; but what is the value of such commodities as a security when they cannot be produced at a profit? Will any one lend money on commodities produced at a loss? Generally speaking, that is our difficulty at present. Senator Collings quoted the late Mr. Gladstone who, of course, made many speeches, but I do not think the honorable senator was wise in the quotation he selected. It was to the effect that the leisured class had never taken an honorable step for the benefit of the general community, but always in an effort to retard its progress. A good many of the leisured class were whigs, and therefore Mr. Gladstone’s suppotters. If he said what has been attributed to him, he must have said it in a moment of extreme enthusiasm. I should like the honorable senator to let me know at what stage of Mr. Gladstone’s career he made the statement referred to. It could not have been made in his early days, when he was a conservative; and it must be remembered that he himself was of the leisured class. As I listened to the honorable senator, I though of Lord Shaftesbury, who, although the seventh earl of an old and rich family, was yet the greatest Englishman in striving to ameliorate the conditions of all who worked in factories. There is no name comparable with that of Shaftesbury - a member of the leisured class - as a benefactor of the poor, especially the poor who work in factories. Is Lord Shaftesbury an instance of the soundness of the statement attributed to Mr. Gladstone? I thought also of the great protagonists of the movement for the emancipation of the slaves ; of Wilberforce, and of Buxton - the latter the grandfather of Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, a former Governor of South Australia. Both these men came from the leisured class. The Wilberforce family held the same property in Yorkshire from the 12th to the 18th century, a fact which in itself denotes that they were people of some strength and tenacity. Are these leaders of the anti-slavery movement further illustrations of the soundness of the argument that the leisured class has never been anything but a drag on the wheel of progress ?
– They were the exceptions that proved the rule.
– Even Senator Collings himself would find it difficult to point to two subjects of more importance from his point of view than the abolition of slavery and the improvement of the conditions of factory workers. In the two direction which I have mentioned, the names which stand out above all others are those of men belonging to the leisured class.
The honorable senator also mentioned Sir Harold Bowden. I know of him; he comes from the leisured class. The honorable senator almost pleaded for the creation of a ministry of leisure. What would he the use of it, if the leisured class is only a drag on the wheel? The truth is, as the Bible says, that the spirit of
God bloweth where it listeth. We cannot prevent it from occasionally blowing on the leisured class.
I have no desire to exult unduly over the result of the recent election, but it seems to me that some of the speeches made to-day were somewhat belated. Being in opposition, the Labour party “was able to choose the weapons of attack, which is a great advantage in an election campaign. But it was worsted with its own weapons. The Labour party had the further advantage that the Government had been in office for three years in a time which all admit was somewhat difficult. The Government was subject to criticism by all sections of the community; among others I criticized it. Nevertheless, the public of Australia came to an overwhelming decision in favour of a continuation of a non-Labour Government.
– Neither of the two parties comprising the present Government received a mandate from the people.
– The decision of the electors was overwhelming in that every Senate seat was won by a Government supporter.
– Even the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) proposes to alter the method of election because of the injustice of the result.
– I shall leave my remarks on that subject until a bill to alter the method of selecting senators is before us. Without committing myself to support any amending legislation, I can say that I would much prefer an amending proposal of the Prime Minister to the policy of the Labour party, which aims at abolishing the Senate. While in Adelaide during the elections, the Leader of the Labour party in the House of Representatives (Mr. Scullin) said that the Labour party advocated the abolition of the Senate. Whether or not the general public had that policy in mind on the 15th September, I do not know; it may be that they cast their votes that day for the abolition, temporarily, of the Labour party, rather than for the abolition of the Senate. I suggest that it is useless for Senator Collings to attack the Government at the present time. No doubt the honorable senator fought gal lantly during the election campaign, but he was worsted by Senator Poll, who, he had predicted had not a ghost of a chance of being re-elected; The honorable senator is really criticizing the decision of the people democratically expressed.
During the election campaign some awkward questions were asked. I was not a candidate, but I took an active part in the campaign, and at one meeting I was asked whether it was a fact that the Labour party offered a larger measure of assistance to the wheat industry for this year than was offered by the Government. I was forced to reply in the affirmative, hut I added words to this effect, “ Supposing that the actual amount of £ s. d. which you will get is the only factor by which the matter should be determined - and I do not think that it is, or should be - would you prefer to have the smaller sum in what might be called Lyons currency, or the larger sum in Scullin currency?”
– What would be the difference between the . two currencies; they would both be Australian notes?
– The answer is in the difference between the economic position to-day and what it was three years ago. The people realized that, although on the surface the Labour party might appear to offer more, in reality it offered less. Throughout South Australia the primary producers., who had been having a bad time, voted overwhelmingly in favour of supporters of the Government.
– The posters which were used as propaganda by Government candidates must have influenced the electors.
– I do not think that any posters were produced in South Australia. Those used in that State came from .New South Wales. I thought that they were of rather poor quality, although that which depicted a woman with two children outside a bank, was, in my opinion, a perfectly legitimate expression of a situation which actually had arisen. Even that poster was, in my opinion, badly drawn ; at least, I was not carried away by it. There was, how* ever, nothing untruthful about it.
I have said all that I need to say about the elections and their result. Before passing on to other subjects, I should like to say a word about Herr Kisch, who appears anxious to become a member of this community, but now, apparently, is about to depart from our shores. I did not know anything about this man until about a fortnight ago, and I have no accurate details of the circumstances of his upbringing.
– He is a returned soldier.
– Of what nation? It has been suggested at various times that he is a German, a Czechoslovak, or a Pole.
– His nationality is made clear in his papers. We on this side are not championing Kisch, but we complain that the methodsadopted in dealing with him were un-British.
– I do not agree with the honorable senator. This man has been in Great Britain - a country which is more lenient to foreigners than is any other. One could give a fairly long list of kings and rulers, and other prominent men, who, having lost their territories, have gone to live in England - Metternich, Napoleon the Third. King Manoel of Portugal, King Alfonso of Spain, and others. At Hyde Park each week one can listen, as I have done, to a variety of speeches on almost every subject under the sun - politics, religion, sociology, and so on - couched sometimes in language compared with which that of the honorable senator is so mild as to justify the’ description “ milk and water “. Although these advocates of various theories speak with great vigour, the police seldom interfere with them. If the honorable senator wants an illustration of the British attitude towards oppressed peoples, he can find it in the treatment meted out during recent months to members of the Jewish race who have left Germany for England. Karl Marx, Lenin, and Trotski took refuge in England when expelled from their own countries. They requited such hospitality ill, because while accepting sanctuary in England, they plotted for the overthrow of the system under which they sheltered.
If that is an honest return for hospitality it is one which I certainly do not care for. And, therefore, I say that if Great Britain has decided as the result of her experience of this Mr. Kisch that he is a person it does not want to have; that it has had him once and does not want to have him again - if it practically puts him in the same position aa Trotsky has been placed by almost every country in Europe: he can hardly go anywhere - then I am fully prepared to follow the lead which Great Britain has given us, and to say that we do not want him here. If there is one thing which has shown quite clearly that he is not a desirable person to have in Australia, it is the action that he took yesterday when, the Chief Justice of Victoria having decided that he should not be allowed to land, he actually broke the law by leaping ashore when he had been ordered not to do so. A law-breaker in seeking to enter Australia! He proved himself to be a law-breaker, and that is sufficient to justify us in saying, “ You cannot come here, and if you can get an advertisement from the performance you have put up, you are welcome to it. It is, after all, a very poor thing to be like Trotsky, unwanted anywhere.” I do not think we need worry unduly about Kisch. What was done was obviously in accordance with the law. He is obviously not a person that we require or desire here, and the sooner he gets back to his own country the better. There he will be able to write his book, to have it translated into English, and, if he is lucky, the Trade and Customs Department may allow it to be brought in here so that those interested may read what he has to say. So far as I am concerned, I shall waste no time on it.
– The honorable senator should have listened to the speech made in another place to-day by the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies).
– It was impossible to hear the AttorneyGeneral in another place, and at the same time to listen to the honorable senator. I preferred to listen to the honorable senator rather than to a speech in another place where my duty does not lie.
It has been said that the GovernorGeneral’s Speech is rather vague, and that there is not a very great deal that is concrete in it. That is usually said of most policy speeches.
– But they all finish up by indicating legislation to be enacted.
– The Governor-General’s Speech indicates sufficient legislation to keep us going until the end of the year, and for a good while later on. It deals in general terms with unemployment, and the position of the primary and secondary industries, and it refers to a long series of Tariff Board reports, and the reappointment of the Interstate Commission. These matters in themselves are likely to keep us steadily at work, for at any rate a year, if not more. This policy speech was brought before us after the Government had been in office for only about a fortnight, so that there was not much time for its preparation. Since then, there has been an alteration of the personnel of the Ministry, and it has been suggested that a new policy speech, therefore, should have been introduced.
– Setting out the new policy to be followed.
– I welcome the change which has been made in the Ministry. I am pleased that it has been possible to form a composite Ministry, including both members of the United Australia party and the Country party. If any one has any doubt, I make perfectly clear what my attitude is, and has been during the last few years, on that particular subject. I want to congratulate, as every one will want to congratulate, Senator Brennan on being our new Minister, We have worked alongside him, and I am certain that the advice he will bring to the Ministry will be in general accord with the views which I, at any rate, hold. There is only one pointI should like to mention regarding this change of personnel. I trust that the fact that Senator Pearce is leaving the Defence Department does not indicate that the policy of wider defence, which has been laid down during the last year, is going to be in any way reduced or scrapped.
– When the Estimates come before us, the honorable senator will see that that policy is to be continued.
– And that there is not to be a reduction in the scheme laid down?
– I am glad to hear that, because Senator Pearce was in charge of the department when the scheme was worked out, and one wondered whether the fact that he had goneto another department indicated some change in the general defence policy.
As regards the general terms of this document, I do not think that there is very much in it which “was suitable to the original Ministry of a fortnight ago that is unsuitable to the Ministry of to-day. It is in very general terms.
– That is our complaint.
– A large portion of it might clearly have come from the Labour party itself. On page 1, great satisfaction is expressed at the visit of His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester. I am sure that satisfaction is held by the Labour party just as it is on this side of the House. Then again, take the question of unemployment: the first three paragraphs might have been prepared by Labour itself. As for the last three, they set out the principal directions in which it is intended to move. There can be no objection to them, although I should have thought that so much had been spoken and written and so many conferences had been held on the general question of unemployment and how to attack it, that “ the root causes, “ if they are going to be known, should be known by now. We have come to a time when we want in some respects to have more action by the Government and perhaps fewer speeches either by myself or anyone else. There are great as well as minor problems facing us, and I think that the country would welcome more definite and rather rapid action even if in some cases it were not to be successful. Take as an illustration of the minor difficulties the question of trade conditions in the East. For over a year we have been told that it is desirable to appoint trade commissioners in the East. Names have been called for, and I understand a large number have been received. One applicant has been appointed for New Zealand, and so far as I know, he is a very suitable man for the position. But the proposal to appoint commissioners in Batavia, Japan and parts of China, which has been endorsed by Mr. Latham’s report on his visit to the East, still hangs fire. I think the matter originally came up eighteen months ago or two years ago, when there was a discussion with some commercial interests at Canberra. It seems to me that it is not a trivial matter; that it should be possible to select from the applicants a suitable man and- to let him go on with the job straight away. All these unfortunate applicants are wondering, I suppose, whether they are to be selected, or whether their names are to be pigeonholed. No elaborate policy needs to be worked out. It is merely a matter of selecting a suitable applicant for the particular job required. Nothing is gained by the matter being dragged on. It is better that a man should be sent forthwith even if later on he had to be withdrawn as unsuitable: I see no reason why an applicant is likely to become more suitable because of the delay.
On the general question of the primary and secondary industries, I do not propose to say a great deal. In this connexion I should like to congratulate Senator Collett on the speech which he made in moving the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. I do not agree at all with what was said to-day as to there being no cause for congratulation. It seemed to me, speaking as quite .a junior member of the chamber, as being an admirable speech to come from a member of the Senate. It was thoroughly independent, and obviously based on his own judgment, after having listened carefully to what the various sides had to say. That is the proper approach to be made to public questions in this chamber. ‘ Although I am a party man, I think this chamber should be less partisan than” the other. That appears to be its chief justification.
After a year of rather unexpected prosperity in wool, we have virtually gone back, as the graph of the position will show, to the depression level of wool, which lasted for about three years before the recent pick-up. The attitude of the representatives of the Wool Council and the Growers’ Council which met here a fortnight ago was really that they wanted to know what the Government was going to do. They had advocated for some time a reduction in taxation as a means of assisting the industry. They had advocated tariff reductions as another means, and while there had been remissions in both these ways, they had not been as great as they should have been. They were here, in effect, to say to the Government, “ We are more or less up against it. We have never come to the Government for assistance ; but we cannot go on for an unlimited time under the conditions at present operating and with the prices that we are at present receiving. What is the Government going to do ? The Government says that it is going to make trade treaties. What treaties have been made and what treaties are going to be made ?”
– And what does the Government hope to get from them ?
– That is an assumption that there will be some benefit either directly or indirectly coming from them. The direct benefit will include the taking off of those embargoes which are applied against our primary products overseas at the present time.
I agree entirely with this paragraph in the Governor-General’s Speech -
The satisfactory sale of our surplus primary produce is the index of the prosperity of every Australian industry and business and of all sources of employment.
I assume that by the words “ surplus primary produce “ is meant the surplus which we send overseas. That sentence is extraordinarily true; it confirms what I said earlier in my speech. Unless we can sell our surplus primary products overseas, we are not going to have prosperity in any industry - primary or secondary - or in business, and we are not going to have anything but a decrease of the number of people employed. I commend that sentence to the attention of honorable senators. It seems to sum up our industrial and trade position most clearly and soundly.
In regard to trade treaties, I have no inside knowledge of the difficulties with respect to the negotiations of these arrangements, but, speaking as an outsider, and following up the general ideas that I have held on this subject for years past, I think the Government is going to face the gravest difficulties in negotiating new agreements. That is obvious from the fact that the Belgian treaty, about which I inquired this afternoon, has been the subject of negotiations for from twelve to fifteen mouths, and finality has not yet been announced. A little while ago, I was urging that the Government should come to decisions more rapidly, and I repeat that suggestion in regard to the negotiation of treaties. If every trade treaty is to take from a year to two years to complete, our trade will in the meantime fall away in an alarming manner. I do not say that for the purpose of embarrassing the Government, but, speaking as an ordinary, and I hope, sensible, individual, I feel convinced that the Government will have the gravest difficulty with regard to these treaties; that in their negotiations Ministers will probably require all the assistance that can be afforded them ; that delay in dealing with them will do nothing but harm; and that it will be perfectly impossible for us to get everything, and give nothing. A stage has now been reached at which the subject of tariffs has passed altogether outside the sole decision of Australian public men and parties. “We are now faced by the pressure of the world. As we have predicted for at least three years, demands are coming to us from every side; to-day we have to face the massed determination of the peoples of the world that they will not buy from us unless we buy from them. We have to face that fact, and no amount of delay or procrastination or shirking of the issue will enable us to avoid it, and delay will probably result in out losing trade which we shall not be able to recover. I hope the Government will surmount these difficulties, because I feel that some members of it, at least, realize that we must have two-way trade.
We are very often told that the Ottawa agreement has never been anything but a drawback .to this country; that we have never got anything out of it ; that we gave everything and got nothing but generalities in return. Undoubtedly the reverse is the case. The advantages we gained were concrete and substantial; the concessions we promised were general, and, in some respects, have not been completed. I was particularly interested to find that even the Premier of Queensland (Mr. W. Forgan Smith) holds the opinion that the Ottawa agreement was of some benefit to his State; because, at the opening of the Queensland Parliament on the 28th August last, reference was made to this matter in the Governor’s speech, an extract from which I shall place on record -
World recovery, unfortunately, is being retarded by various countries adopting the policy generally known as “ economic nationalism” or restricted output.
During the recess, my advisers considered it desirable that the Leader of the Government should proceed to Great Britain for the purpose of investigating the nature and the trend of this phase of economy.
The suggestions that had emanated from various authoritative quarters indicated that the public anxiety in Queensland and Australia on this aspect was not without foundation.
Proposals for the quantitative regulation of our exports to the United Kingdom market in particular aroused considerable misgivings, aud my advisers felt that the economic position of Queensland should be clearly stated and explained through the appropriate channels.
The Premier’s mission was productive of good results, and, in London, he received assurances from responsible Ministers that the British Government had no intention of arbitrarily imposing such a policy, and that the agreements made with the dominions at Ottawa would be continued in their entirety.
After all I have heard from Queensland senators and other members of the Labour party concerning the evils of the Ottawa agreement, it is very refreshing to find that the Premier of Queensland thinks it of sufficient importance to be emphasized in the Government’s policy speech at the opening of the Queensland Parliament.
– He did not say anything in commendation of the Ottawa agreement; he went to the other side of the world because of his fear of it.
– He said that he was anxious that his State should not lose the benefits arising from the agreement.
– He did not; he said that he was hopeful that Queensland would not be punished under the agreement. I heard the speech.
– Does the Honorable senator agree with the passage I have read?
– Well, then, it is admitted that the Ottawa agreement has been of benefit to Queensland, by which I suppose Senator Collings considers that it has been of benefit to Australia, and should be continued and extended.
– I did not mean anything of the kind.
– I do not think I could have said anything more definite than I have to describe the position in which we find ourselves at present, and the difficulties towards which we are moving. The solution of these difficulties will require the exercise of great tact, indeed, not only towards our own people in other parts of the world, but also to representatives in Australia of foreign countries. I do not think that we have always shown tact in our treatment of the representatives of other great nations, whether they happened to be in our midst or overseas. We have to deal with foreign countries, and, money being thicker than blood, as Senator Brown said, we must realize that other peoples will deal with us only on terms suitable to themselves as well as, of course, suitable to us. Unless we are able to persuade these countries that it is to their benefit to do business with us, they will take their custom elsewhere.
Debate (on motion by Senator Guthrie) adjourned.
Royal Visit to Canberra : Discourtesy to Guests - Foreigners in Northern Waters.
Motion (by Senator McLachlan) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I desire to make a few remarks on the festivities held in Canberra in connexion with the recent visit of His Royal High ness the Duke of Gloucester. It may be safely said that, generally speaking, those festivities were successful, and I congratulate all those who were responsible for the arrangements, including the decorations, and the excellent State dinner. However, there were a few defects to which attention should be directed, in the hope that on similar occasions in future more attention will be given to certain details of hospitality. The consular representatives of foreign countries and other important guests were instructed, or invited, to assemble in the dining-room of Parliament House at 6.10 on the evening of the State dinner. They did so, but nobody was there to receive them; after standing about for nearly an hour, during which they were not offered any refreshment, they were herded together at tables in what is practically an annexe of the main dining-room. From this position it was impossible for at least half of them to see his Royal Highness or those people sitting at the top table, or to hear any of the speeches made on that occasion. That was very regrettable. At the top table, where there was a great deal of room, there were seated all the junior Ministers, some of whom had been in Parliament for only a short time, and in the Ministry for about a day, and remained Ministers for not very much longer. But the Chief Justice of Australia (Sir Frank Gavan Duffy), was placed at the southwestcorner of Table H, which was one of the lesser tables, a long way from the junior Ministers at the top table. I do not blame the Chief Justice for having been offended at this treatment and for having walked out of the dining-room and back to the Hotel Canberra, where he had his dinner. Then Sir Stanley Argyle, the Premier of Victoria, who was mainly responsible for the Duke’s visit to this country - the Premier of the State whose centenary we were celebrating - was also placed at a considerable distance from the top table, as were also the President of ‘the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. In Great Britain the procedure adopted towards foreign diplomats, the presiding officers in the House of Lords and the House of Commons is entirely different. Most honorable senators were placed generally with their backs to the top table instead ofbeing distributed among the various guests, whilst on the other hand I saw in very prominent places right in front of the table at which His Royal Highness sat, ex-members of both Houses of this Parliament and some people who had not even that distinction. How some of these people were invited to the dinner at all, is a mystery to me. But they were more prominently seated than the Chief Justice of Australia, the Premier of Victoria, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The arrangements for the transport of visitors after the function were also unsatisfactory. The night was dark and wet, yet distinguished visitors from Great Britain and other countries as well as consular representatives who had honoured us with their presence, had to jump down, women as well as men, from a high platform and were obliged to break our railway by-laws by crossing the rails and clambering, as best they could, into the train which was standing some distance from the station. On the following morning when we reached the Victorian border we found that the refreshment car was not attached to the train. There was again an unseemly scramble at Albury, due to the fact that bo many of our visitors did not know where to go. I was able to guide a number of them to the railway refreshment room, where they obtained a hurried and somewhat inferior breakfast. I should add that prior to reaching Albury, the usual courtesy of serving morning tea and light refreshments on the train was not observed. When I asked the conductor if hot water and morning tea were available - I explained that I was not so much concerned about my own needs as I was for the needs of our distinguished visitors - his reply was : “ There are only ‘ ‘tothersiders ‘ on this train “ - the inference being that it was not customary to serve morning tea for them. Then, as I have stated, when we transferred to the Victorian train, the usual facilities for refreshment were not available to our distinguished visitors. The lack of these courtesies was not, I suggest, due to the probable cost, because we had been honored with the presence of a large number of representatives of foreign countries and other distinguished visitors, and Australians are well known for their lavish entertainment of their guests. In every other respect the arrangements for the comfort of our visitors was excellent ; but there was a definite lack of organization at the Canberra functions and I can only assume that it was due to carelessness or ignorance. I mention the matter now in the hope that, on future occasions when we may be similarly honored, there will not be a recurrence of these unfortunate if unintentional discourtesies. I have not the slightest idea who was responsible for the lack of attention to the foreign ambassadors.
– There were no ambassadors present.
– At all events the gentlemen to whom I refer were the accredited representatives of foreign governments, and as such should have had the usual courtesies extended to them. I do not know who was responsible for the muddle in the dining room at Canberra or on the train, but I hope that a similar mistake will not recur on any future occasion when we are again honored by a visit from some member of the Royal Family and the representatives of foreign countries.
– I direct the attention of the Government to a matter that is causing considerable concern in the State which I have the honour to assist to represent in this chamber. I refer to’ the operation of Japanese sampans in North Queensland waters to which much publicity has been given in the Queensland newspapers as well as in those of the southern States. The reports state that large Japanese vessels, especially designed for pearl shell andbeche de mer fishing have been operating on the fishing grounds off the northern coast of Queensland, and that their presence is seriously interfering with the trade of Australian luggers engaged in that business. I understand that a prominent member of the Queensland Government has stated that a protest has been made without avail to the Commonwealth Government, and I think it should be definitely stated whether the Japanese samp ans are operating in
Queensland territorial waters, or whether they are working in a neutral zone, and are, therefore, beyond the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Government. I am informed that, in addition to interfering with Australian vessels engaged in. that trade, the Japanese have done extensive damage to coco-nut plantations which were established on a number of the islands by the late Sir Thomas Mcllwraith, a former Premier of Queensland. These plantations are an extremely valuable asset, because on many occasions they have saved the lives of shipwrecked mariners cast ashore from vessels which had been lost in tho typhoons which are experienced in northern tropical areas. The cutting down of coco-nut trees for the purpose of getting the nuts is wanton destruction because, as is well known, they will not grow again, whereas if they are not interfered with, they will last for hundreds of years, and may be the means of succouring many other shipwrecked mariners. “We should have some definite information from the Government as to the position. The operations of these sampans are causing considerable alarm to the ‘ people in Northern Queensland, and, as 1 have explained, they are injuring the legitimate trade of our own luggers. Recently it was stated that, owing to the extensive nature of the work being done by these sampans, several Australian luggers have been tied up, and their employees paid off. If the sampans are operating in territorial waters over which the Commonwealth has jurisdiction, the position is serious. Requests have been made for the provision of a patrol boat or a seaplane as a precaution against intrusion by foreigners. I do not wish to exaggerate in any way the .alarm that is being caused to the people in North Queensland; but I strongly urge the Government to ascertain definitely whether the owners of these sampans are committing a breach of international law, and, if so, to take immediate steps to check them.
– Referring to the matter raised by Senator Foll, I remind the honorable senator that a question placed on the notice- paper by one of his colleagues from Queensland was answered by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) this afternoon. I shall have some further inquiries made from the External Affairs Department to ascertain if a more definite statement can be furnished to the honorable senator. The matter has been under the consideration of the Government for some considerable time, and I am aware that steps are being taken to keep a closer watch on these marauders, if they be marauders, in our northern waters.
It is a matter of deep regret to the Government that anything, which could be construed as discourtesy, should have happened in connexion with the recent festivities in Canberra to mark the visit, of His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester to this city. I regret that Senator Guthrie did not advise me of his intention to mention the matter on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate; had he done so I could have obtained some information from the officers concerned, who may be held responsible for anything that happened. But there are one or two matters about which I did hear something, and I can assure honorable senators that, so far as the seating arrangements at the top table were concerned, the order of precedence laid down was rigidly observed. It is possible, of course, that some honorable senators have forgotten that a number of visitors occupied prominent places at the table by reason of the distinguished services which they had previously rendered to the community. I say nothing as to that. As regards the gentleman whom we do not usually discuss in this chamber or the House of Representatives, the Chief Justice of Australia, I admit that a mistake was made, but not by any officer of the Prime Minister’s Department, because the seating arrangements at the dinner were arranged by an officer of that department strictly in accordance with the order of precedence. Unfortunately, some one did not recognize the truth of the old Scotch saying, “Where the MacPherson is, there’s the head of the table,” because, unfortunately, he startednumbering the table from the wrong end, and it is a matter of deep regret to the
Government that such a mistake occurred. Apparently, the officer in charge did not have an opportunity to see to this matter, but immediately it was noticed a senior member of the Ministry endeavoured to rectify the mistake, and had the numbering of seats altered. I was a witness to that unfortunate incident, which was indeed painful, and I am sure we are all sorry that such a distinguished gentleman should have been unintentionally placed in an embarrassing position. I have not previously heard of any lack of attention to the consuls of the various countries, who were with us on that occasion. ‘ We always endeavour to show them the respect due to their high and honorable position ; but I would remind Senator Guthrie that consuls do not carry ambassadorial rank. If any discourtesy was shown to them by their not being suitably received in the precincts of the building, I very much regret it.
I had not previously heard of any discourtesy to you, sir, to the Premier of Victoria, or to any member of the Senate. Perhaps it would have been better, from the viewpoint of social intercourse, had the seating arrangements been made in a somewhat different way; for instance members of the legislature might have been interspersed amongst the visitors. I know nothing concerning the train service; but of course after the train had left the Federal Territory this Government was not in any way responsible for the arrangements in connexion with it. The Government, which cannot accept any responsibility, regrets that these difficulties should have arisen.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.46 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 November 1934, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1934/19341114_senate_14_145/>.