14th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. P. J.Lynch) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
The following papers were presented : -
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1935, No. 25 - No. 26.
Land Tax Assessment; Act - List of Applications for Relief from Taxation dealt with during the year 1934.
Papua, - Annual Report for 1933-34.
Norfolk Island Act - Ordinance No. 5 of 1935 - Norfolk Island Penny Savings Batik.
Northern Territory - Report by the Administrator on the Administration of the Northern Territory for the year ended 30th June, 1934.
Arbitration (Public Service) Act- - Determination by the Arbitrator, &c. - No. 4 of 1935 - Federated Public Service Assistants’ Association of Australia.
Public Telephone at Ainslie.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral ascertain if it is possible to have a public telephone installed at Ainslie for the convenience of the residents of that district?
– I shall be only too pleased to make the inquiry. A request for this convenience has not been made to me, nor has the matter come under my notice at any time.
– On the 4th April, Senator E. B. Johnston asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
What was the average price of wheat f.o.r. at principal Australian ports during the months of December, January, February, and March last ?
The Minister for Commerce has furnished the following information with regard to the average daily quotations during the periods mentioned: -
asked the Minister representing the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Acting Prime Minister has supplied, the following answer : -
It is not the practice of all departments to publish handbooks to the principal acts, and regulations published thereunder administered by them. Handbooks have, however, been published from time to time relating to certain taxation acts, and the Invalid and. Old-Age Pensions Act.
The SalesTax Handbook, a revised issue of which is now jn course of preparation, is available in the Parliamentary Library for reference by honorable senators and members.
A revised edition of the handbook on the Invalid and Old-Age Pensions Act also is being prepared, mid will shortly be available for issue.
Tele phonic Communication.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– It is expected that the laying of the cable will be undertaken towards the end of theyear, and it is hoped that a commercial service will be available about April, next.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and toll (on motion by Senator McLachlan) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and bill (on motion by Senator MoLachlan) read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended, and bill (on motion by Senator McLachlan) read a first time.
Disallowance of Statutory Rule No. 19 ot? 1935.
– I move -
That Statutory Rule No. 19 of 1935, amending the Customs ( Prohibited Imports) Regulations, be disallowed.
The recent publication in the Commonwealth Gazette of this statutory rule, placing sulphur on the list of prohibited imports, naturally caused a good deal of concern to be felt by primary producers throughout Australia. As every honorable senator knows, sulphur “is one of the most important constituents of superphosphate, and is also used for other purposes on farms and orchards. Superphosphate, in particular, and other artificial manures, play too important a. part in the economic life of Australia for the matter of their importation or exclusion to be left to the whim of any Minister. I believe that the administration of the present Government i3 sympathetic; but unless either the Senate or another place disallows this regulation, a less sympathetic government or Minister may, in the future, refuse to permit importations. I am opposed to the placing of any prohibition or restriction upon the importation of superphosphate, phosphatic rock, artificial fertilizers or sulphur, and disapprove of any action that may either increase the cost of production or prevent its being lowered. I contend that the permanent prohibition of the importation of sulphur, artificial manure, or phosphatic rock, would be altogether out of harmony with the policy adopted by successive Federal Governments. Such prohibitions were not imposed by either the Scullin Government or the last Government, and I do not expect such action to be taken by this Government.
– There is a plentiful supply of fertilizer in Australia.
– Australia has gone to a great deal of trouble to ensure adequate supplies. Under the Nauru agreement, large quantities of rock phosphate have been imported from that territory. Imports have also been made from the Gilbert and Ellice Islands. These have always been free of duty. Phosphatic rock is a constituent of superphosphate. Sulphur is another, and an equally important one. No restriction should be placed on the importation of either. Superphosphate is essential to all rural production.
– Supplies of all the component parts are unlimited in this country.
– I am concerned not only with supplies, hut with prices. Every requisite for the manufacture of artificial manures should be admitted to this country at the lowest possible rate, from whatever country is willing to supply it. Last year Australia imported 7,480,378 cwt. of rock phosphate valued at £474,228. That rock phosphate was imported free of duty, and without restriction. During 1932-33, the imports were 9,569,006 cwt. valued at £583,995. In each of those years over one-third of the total imports was distributed in Western Australia. It will, therefore, be seen that anything which affects the price of superphosphate is of the utmost importance to that State. The official figures relating to the importation of sulphur into Aus tralia during 1932-33 and 1933-34 are shown in the following statement -
No prohibition that permanently restricts the supplies of sulphur or superphosphates would be acceptable to the farmers of Australia. Any provision which makes the importation of these commodities subject to the whim of the Minister for the time being must increase the price of this necessary commodity to the producers of Australia. At a time when this Parliament is voting large sums of money to assist rural industries, it would be illogical to take action which might increase permanently the cost of superphosphates to those whom . the Governmentis assisting in other directions. In the various associations of farmers and wheat-growers throughout Australia, earnest men are scrutinizing every avenue by which the cost of superphosphate might be reduced. If administered by an unsympathetic Ministry this regulation must prevent a reduction of the cost even if it does not increase it.
I have brought this subject forward this morning in the hope that the Minister will state the Government’s intentions to it. The only way by which the proposed prohibition or restriction of the importation of sulphur, and the consequent increase of the price of superphosphates, can be prevented is by a resolution in one House of the Parliament. I have brought the matter forward at this late stage in the session because, if not disallowed, the regulation becomes part of the law of the land, under which sulphur may be admitted only under licence from the Minister.
– I second the motion. Notwithstanding that I am of the opinion that, in the circumstances mentioned by Senator Johnston, the regulation should be disallowed, I do not wish to embarrass the Government. Although opposed to anything which might increase the cost of sulphur, and in turn, the cost of rural production, I am of the opinion that we can well allow imports to be regulated by the present Government under the licence system. There is, however, no guarantee that another Minister for Trade and Customs would not act differently.
– So far from this prohibition being injurious to the primary producers of this country, the underlying reason for the inclusion of sulphur in the list of prohibited articles was a desire to assist those producers. The Government will take steps to ensure that the prices of sulphur and superphosphates will not be increased. It is at present negotiating trade treaties with other countries and desires to be in a position to enter into bargaining arrangements with them. The subject is too delicate to discuss in detail at this stage. It is sufficient to say that with some countries Australia has an adverse trade balance, and with other countries a favorable trade balance. Included in the former list are countries from which sulphur is obtained, and the Government wishes to be in a position to exchange Australian products for their sulphur. I give the Senate the assurance, that until the treaty proposals have been placed before Parliament, there will be no interference with existing conditions. It would not be wise at this stage for me to say more than that. The Government will oppose the motion.
Debate (on motion by Senator Poll) adjourned.
– I - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
It is within the knowledge of honorable senators that on the 25th January, 1934, a royal commission was- appointed to inquire into and report upon the economic position of the industries of growing, handling and marketing wheat, manufacturing flour, and other commodities from wheat, and manufacturing, distributing and selling bread. The commission came into existence partly by reason of the exercise of the executive power vested in the Commonwealth, and partly because of the provisions of the Royal Commissions Act of 1902-1933,’ section 2 of which provides that-
Whenever the Governor-General by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the Commonwealth issues a commission to any persons to make any inquiry, the president or chairman of the commission, or the sole commissioner as the case may be, may, by writing under his hand, summon any person to attend the commission at a time and place named in the summons, and then and there to give evidence and to produce any books, documents or writings in his custody or control material to the subject-matter of the inquiry.
In the recitals of tha Letters Patent reference is made to the legislative power of the Commonwealth with respect to taxation and bounties on. the production or export of goods, and it is stated that questions have arisen with respect to the payment of bounties for the assistance of wheat-growers and with respect to the effect of taxation under Commonwealth laws upon the industries of growing, handling and marketing wheat, manufacturing flour and other commodities from wheat and manufacturing, and distributing and selling bread. These recitals give an indication of the legislative powers of the Parliament under which the inquiry at present being made by the Royal Commission on the Wheat. Flour and Bread Industries is being conducted.
The powers of the Commonwealth Parliament in relation to royal commissions were considered some years ago by the Privy Council in the case of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company against the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth. In view of the decision in that case it may happen that during the recess differences of opinion will arise as to the right of the commission to insist on evidence of a certain nature.
I do not propose to go into the details of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company case. Suffice it to say that the Privy Council indicated that if a specific act were passed by the ‘Commonwealth, authorizing an inquiry into a specific subject within the legislative power of the Parliament, such an act would be within the terms of the Constitution.
This bill seeks to facilitate the proceedings of the Royal Commission on theWheat, Flour and Bread Industries by providing that the commission shall haveall the powers, rights and privileges which are specified in the Royal Commission!?. Act, and that the provisions of that act shall have effect as though they were included in this measure and in terms made applicable to that commission.
The importance of the royal commission mentioned in this bill cannot be disputed. Its inquiries are directed to matters which directly affect, not only the wheat-farmers and associated industries, but also the consumers. It is, therefore, of the utmost importance that the powers of the commission should he strengthened in order to avoid the possibility of any party successfully challenging any request made by the commission for the supply of evidence or documents relating to the matters into which it is inquiring. This is not the first occasion upon which it has been proposed to facilitate the proceedings of a royal commission by a special act of Parliament. In 1914, the powers of the Meat Export Trade Commission were strengthened in a manner similar to that proposed in the bill. Similar action was taken in 1933 with respect to the Petrol Commission. With regard to the Petrol Commission Bill, it will be remembered that the passage of the bill alone had the effect of disposing the officers of certain companies to produce books and documents to the production of which they had previously objected. I think all honorable senators will agree that any royal commission appointed by the Governmentshould be invested with all powers necessary for the effective conduct of its inquiries. This is what is proposed in the bill now before the Senate in relation to the Wheat Commission. There is one other small amendment in the bill relating to the constitution of a quorum. Clause 3 provides that for the purpose of taking evidence any two members shall be sufficient to constitute a quorum, notwithstanding anything in the letters patent appointing the commission. Honorable senator may accept my assurance that all that is desired is that, during the parliamentary adjournment, the commission, which is an extremely, important body, should be vested with all the powers that it is possible to give it. Those powers, if required, will, no doubt, be used wisely by the commission, but they may never have to be exercised. I commend the bill to the favorable consideration of the Senate.
– I realize the great importance of this bill, and for that reason I shall not ask the Assistant Minister to agree to the adjournment of the debate. He stated just now that during the dying days of this session it was necessary for the Government to bring before the Senate many important measures. I am so concerned about getting into recess myself that I sympathize very much with the feelings of the Government, which, like an efficient boxer, is anxious to dodge the blows of the other fellow. The Government, in all probability, is wise from its view-point in rushing legislation into and through this chamber, giving us on this side no opportunity of considering it. I therefore say to the Government, “ Well, the country has blessed you, it has put you there, giving you a mandate to do this simple thing, and you are quite right to use your powers to do it. You are entitled to do it in this way, in regard to this bill and others that are to follow. So go ahead; I will not oppose your desire to give expression to the will of the people. I give you my blessing, and I hope that the bread I am throwing upon the waters may eventually come back to me.”
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a. second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate.
Standing Orders suspended; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 9th April (vide page 1045), on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– The Government in this bill is asking Parliament for authority to spend £6,704,400, giving details of the objects to which it is proposed to devote the money. Having given the measure the gravest possible’ consideration, I have tried to visualize what is in the distant future. The sum covered by the bill seems a ridiculously small one for the Government to ask for. Why is it not bold enough, having a mandate from the people, to ask Parliament for Supply, not for three months, but for three- years? Why does it, having a mandate for three years, bother to call the Senate together to ask for a paltry three months’ Supply? “When the three months have elapsed, the Government will still be in power, but on my side of the chamber there will be only the “Three Musketeers”. They will consist of the Leader of the Opposition, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, and the Whip. The Government has, in my opinion, been merciful to what remains of my party, in asking for so little. It might have met with some obstruction in the House of Representatives if it had asked straight out for enough money to carry on till the next election, but it could easily have put such a bill through the Senate, in spite of all that could be done by my three comrades who will be left here to guard the trenches.I, therefore, give it my blessing, together with this £6,704,400.
– Under ordinary circumstances I would offer no opposition to the passage of this bill; but as the Senate is to adjourn for five or six months without giving legislative enactment to the very important recommendations made to this Government by the Royal Commission on the Wheat Industry
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable senator appears to think that we are at the first-reading stage, and that he is at liberty to speak at large. The bill is now at the secondreading stage, and I submit, sir, that the honorable senator must confine his remarks to thesubject-matter of the bill.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - The point of order is sustained. The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the bill.
– Would I not be in order, Mr. President, in giving reasons for objecting to the passage of this bill while much of the work that should be done before the Parliament adjourns for a lengthy period is left unfinished?
– If the honorable senator can relate his remarks to any item in the bill, he may proceed.
– Money has been provided for assistance to the wheat-growers, and money has been collected by the Commonwealth under the
Flour Tax. Now we are adjourning without making arrangements for the continuation of such assistance or the stabilization of the wheat industry.
– The Standing Orders must be strictly observed. At the second-reading stage of a bill, which the Senate may not amend, debate must be confined to the subject-matter of the bill.
– Provision is made for assistance to the wheatgrowing industry only up to the 30th June next. No provision is being made by the Government for the stabilization of the wheat industry on the lines of the royal commission’s report. I maintain that such provision should be made.
– Does the honorable senator refer to assistance for the 1935-36 harvest?
– That money will not be payable until the end of the calendar year.
– Th The Royal Commission on the Wheat Industry recommended that legislation should be enacted for the stabilization of the whole industry in order that annual appeals to Parliament for assistance might be obviated.
– When Parliament re-assembles in August or September next, we shall be able to do that.
– The Royal Commission recommended that assistance should be afforded to the industry by the fixation of a home consumption price for wheat.
– I submit, Mr. President, that the honorable senator is not in order in discussing this matter on the motion for the second reading of the bill.
– This measure, as honorable senators know, covers the first instalment of the total provision for the ordinary services of the departments for the year. Senator Johnston is criticizing the Government for not doing something which he considers should be done, but the matters he has mentioned are not relevant to a discussion on the provision of funds for the ordinary services of the departments. The honorable senator must confine himself to the items in the bill.
– I rise to a point of order. Every honorable senator has a right on the second reading of a supply bill to discuss a wide range of subjects.
– That is not so. A wide discussion may be permitted only at the first-reading stage. Only the bill itself may be discussed at this stage.
– On the first reading of a bill which the Senate may not amend, the discussion need not be relevant to the subject-matter of the bill. At that stage an honorable senator may speak on a wide variety of subjects, but the range of discussion at the secondreading stage is narrowed down to the subjectmatter of the bill.
– Assistance to wheat-growers is being administered by the Department of Commerce. Would I not be in order in touching upon the activities or inactivities of the department in that direction? The Department of the Treasury, which also is mentioned in the bill, administers the collection of flour tax, which will expire on the 30th June.
– The honorable senator will be in order in discussing the administration of the Commerce Department or any other department for the ordinary services of which money is provided in this bill.
– Provision is also made in this bill for the expenses of the Royal Commission on the Wheat Industry.
– No money is provided in this bill for the Royal Commission on the Wheat Industry.
– At any rate the Department of Commerce has been administering the provision of funds for assistance to wheat-growers for the last four years. The royal commission has recommended that the industry should be stabilized and that a home consumption price of wheat should be fixed.
– I rise to a point of order. The recommendations of the Royal Commission on the Wheat Industry may be debated only when a report of that body is brought before the Senate on a motion for printing, or when bills arising from recom mendations of the commission are being dealt with. This matter cannot be dealt with on the motion for the second reading of a supply bill. A home consumption price for wheat would be fixed by a special bill; an appropriation of money for the assistance of the wheat industry also would be the subject of a special appropriation bill. The bill now before the Senate, merely makes provision for carrying on the ordinary services of the departments. There is no mention in it of wheat-growers or of payments to the Royal Commission on the Wheat Industry. If discussion on the report of the royal commission were permitted at this stage, an unlimited number of subjects could be introduced and discussed. I ask, Mr. President, whether in view of the ruling you have just given, the honorable senator is in order in discussing the report of the royal commission and what should be done to give effect to it.
– In keeping with the terms of the ruling which I have just given, I again remind Senator E. B. Johnston that the debate at this stage must he confined within very definite limits. This bill makes provision for a lump sum, divided into several smaller sums, to be allocated to the different departments for the ordinary services of the year. If the honorable senator wishes to discuss the administration of these departments he may do so and he may also discuss whether the sums are excessive or inadequate. But he may not discuss the Royal Commission on the Wheat Industry because it is not relevant to the subject-matter of this bill.
– The Government proposes to close down Parliament for six months. We are asked to vote Supply to carry on the ordinary services of this country until September next. These include the allowances to members of Parliament who are leaving Canberra for several months without giving effect to the most important recommendations of the royal commission for assistance to the wheat-growers.
– The honorable senator will be in order in discussing whether the amount of Supply proposed to be granted is insufficient or excessive, but when he seeks to discuss whether members of Parliament have done their duty in a particular regard, he is distinctly out of order.
– I object to the granting of Supply to pay the salaries of members of Parliament for the six months during which Parliament will be idle, if it adjourns before dealing with a proper scheme for the carrying out of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Wheat with regard to the wheat industry, and the taking of a poll of wheat-growers as to whether or not they desire a compulsory pool. It will be a disgrace and a scandal if the Government abandons the wheat-growers entirely for six months. I believed that when we re-assembled a few weeks ago an important part of our programme would be legislation for the stabilization of the wheat industry. The Country party supported the No. 2 Wheat Marketing Bill in both Houses, and legislation to secure a home consumption price should now be enacted. Up to the 30th June, the Commonwealth had expended £10,000 on the inquiry being conducted by the Royal Commission on the Wheat Industry.
– I ask the honorable senator not to pursue that line of argument.
– I contend that this bill -should not be passed at this stage. Parliament should not adjourn until we have had an opportunity to put into operation the recommendations of the Wheat Commission. What is the reason for this haste to close down Parliament ? Why did we sit on Monday, so as to be able to rise to-day, leaving the promise for the protection of the wheat-farmers entirely unfulfilled for six months. When I rise to refer, as I am entitled to do, to the recommendations of this commission, and show how these could be effectuated in conformity with the policy and promises of the Country party-
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable senator is distinctly violating your ruling, Mr. President, by a subterfuge. The ruling of the Chair should be respected.
– I ask the honorable senator not to refer to the findings of the Royal Commission on the Wheat Industry, or the failure of the Govern ment to give effect to those findings. If a discussion on these lines were allowed at this stage, the door would be open to unlimited discussion. The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the bill.
– I find it difficult to discuss the measure when I am not permitted to touch upon the outstanding points of the Government’s performances, or .non-performances, with respect to the wheat industry. Senator Sampson. - The honorable senator’s trouble is that he “ missed the bus “ on the first reading.
– I deliberately refrained from raising these matters on the first reading, as I have always thought that government administration, or maladministration, could be debated on the second reading of a supply bill. However, Ministers are up in arms against me, and are not prepared to let me criticize the Government’s failure to do its duty by the wheat-growers before Parliament adjourns for six months. I regret that the Standing Orders do not permit me to make my protest fully on this point.
– I point out to the honorable senator that if his contention is that the Parliament should not rise until certain work is done, he will have ample opportunity to discuss that matter on the motion for the adjournment.
– For what reason did honorable senators come to Canberra this session ? I am prepared, as I think other honorable senators are, to sit until Parliament enacts legislation necessary for the protection of that large portion of our community which is engaged in wheat production, an industry which gives more employment than any other industry hut is suffering under disabilities which Ministers will not allow me to mention.
– Is the honorable senator prepared to move an amendment to the motion now before the Chair?
– Yes. I move -
That all words after the word “ That “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ the bill be returned to the House of Representatives with a request that before going into recess the Government pass legislation for giving effect to the recommendations of the Royal Commission on the Wheat Industry for the stabilization of the wheat industry on a permanent basis, and for taking a poll of the wheat-growers oh the question of a compulsory wheat pool, under the direct control of the growers.”
The object of this amendment is to secure, on a permanent basis, an immediate home consumption price for wheat instead of the payment of an annual dole.
– The purpose of the bill is to grant and apply a sum out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the services of the year ending the 30th June next. The title of the measure is “ Supply Bill (No. 1) 1935-36”. A substantive motion is open to amendment, but any amendment must be strictly relevant to the subjectmatter of the motion. This is a bill for the voting of a sum of money for certain services, and I do not find in it any reference either to the Wheat Commission, the necessity for giving assistance to the wheat industry, or the taking of a poll of growers. That being so, the terms and substance of the amendment are not relevant to the motion before the Chair; therefore, the amendment is out of order.
– It seems that I am not to be permitted to deliver the speech which I carefully prepared on the subject of the wheat industry. The wheat-growers will be given another dole next harvest instead of a proper stabilized price for the Australian consumption. It is quite evident to me that the members of the Government are heartily ashamed of their abandonment of the wheat-farmers for the next six months.
– I take exception to the honorable senator’s remarks which are incorrect and grossly offensive to Ministers. I ask that they be withdrawn.
– I withdraw them. I need only add that the way in which Ministers have gagged my attempt to deal with the needs of the wheat-farmers speaks for itself.
– I take this opportunity to draw attention to the case of Captain Conway, whose claim for compensation from the Commonwealth Government is of long standing Captain Conway has been endeavouring for nearly twenty years to secure a settlement of “his claim; but it was not until a year or two ago that the Minister for Defence of the day agreed that an officer should be appointed as a commission to inquire into it.
– Is there any item in the bill relating to the matter?
– My complaint is that, in the proposed vote for the Department of Defence, no provision is made for the payment of compensation to Captain Conway. The department holds that he has not established his claim; but the information I have received leads me to the conclusion that it is a just one.
– Since there is nothing in the bill covering the matter to which the honorable senator has referred, I cannot permit him to continue to discuss it. If I were to allow him to do so, then I could not object to other honorable senators adopting a similar course, and that would be contrary to the ruling I gave a few moments ago.
– I have no desire, sir, to disregard your ruling. I shall avail myself of an opportunity, which I hope will occur on the adjournment, to bring the case of Captain Conway before the Senate.
– I fear that, like Senator Johnston, I may experience some difficulty in bringing before the Senate at this stage a matter of importance to which I am anxious to refer, and that probably I should have dealt with it on the motion for the first reading of the bill. I desire, with all the vigour and earnestness at my command, to impress, not only on the Government, but also upon honorable senators generally, the paramount importance of the question of the defence of Australia. There is in the schedule to the bill an item, under “Defence,” relating to training, maintenance, repairs, &c, and this I hope will enable me to discuss the inadequacy of our defence preparations.
– The honorable senator will be quite in order in discussing what, in his opinion, is the inadequacy of the proposed vote.
– Notwithstanding our dreams and visions after the close of the Great War of 1914-18, notwithstanding all the talk at the time that it was “ a war to end war,” and that the nations thereafter would settle their differences, not by resort to arms, but by arbitration, we find that the nations of the world to-day are vieing with each other in their preparations for war. This vast and sparsely-settled country of ours is one of the richest prizes that any nation strong enough to take it could secure. The first duty of any government, no matter what its politics may be, is therefore” to prepare for its defence, so that the manhood of Australia may be able, should the occasion arise, to put up a fight, and not be led like sheep to the shambles, which is exactly what happens when an untrained mob - and that is practically all we have to rely on to-day - is engaged in warfare.
The press, in discussing our adverse trade balance recently, has suggested that the Government might think fit in the circumstances to reduce its estimates of expenditure. It is common knowledge that whenever there is a demand to cut down public expenditure, the defence vote is the first to be attacked. Owing possibly to war weariness and disillusionment, since the great war the advocacy of an adequate defence policy has not aroused any enthusiasm on the part of the majority of the people, and, consequently, those who preach the policy of preparedness for war and national self-reliance do not win many votes. The outlook today, however, is very black.
Casting back our minds to the early days of July, 1914, we recall that Europe appeared at the time to bo slumbering, and all seemed peaceful. Yet, before the end of that month, war was upon us. And war will come upon us just as suddenly again. I suggest to the Government and the Senate that in this connexion we should do some hard thinking, and very carefully consider the position in which Australia stands to-day. I have studied this subject very seriously from the days of my youth, when I was a citizen soldier, and have always given much thought to it. The world situation to-day is appalling. Our own position, in relation to the supply of trained, or partially trained men and reserves of partially trained men on which we might draw, is woeful. Such supplies are practically non-existent. It is open to very grave doubt whether the surviving members of the Australian Imperial Force would be of very much use in the event of another outbreak. The youngest of them to-day must be somewhere about 40 years of age, whereas the maximum age for our first draft, if war came, would be 35. The majority of our returned soldiers are well over that age, and because of their war service are not the men they were. They might be useful in the training of others, but it is doubtful whether, in the event of another world’ conflagration, we should be given an opportunity to train men. This is a matter of vital concern, and I appeal to the Senate to give it earnest considera tion. The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) and several other members of the Government are at present on the other side of the world, and, therefore, although I have prepared a lot of matter on this subject for submission to the Senate, I shall have to defer its use until we reassemble.
The history of the world for the last 3,000 years shows that for every year of peace that has been enjoyed there have been 14 years of war. Notwithstanding the appalling loss of life and the magnitude of the expenditure which the last world conflagration involved, man, who is naturally a combative animal, has not yet learned his lesson. There are many people who preach the gospel that the best way to avoid war is to be absolutely unprepared for it - that war will not come if that policy be adopted. I entirely differ from that point of view, and I hope honorable senators will bear with me while I read some verses that expound a doctrine, which, in my opinion, we should adopt. The title of this poem, which was published in The Navy, is “ Peace with Honour “. It reads -
When dogs delight to bark and bite
As ‘tis their nature to,
The Combatant that wins the fight
Is not the one whose weight is light,
Whose teeth are small and few;
And when the nations come to grips,
As happens now and then,
The victor is the one who slips
Into the fray with lots of ships
And guns and planes and men.
Tis well to have one’s quarrel just,
But he who’d win the fray
Had best have arms in which to trust,
Or he may live to bite the dust
When trouble comes his way;
For might is right in battle grim,
And neither prayers nor pelf
Will make his chances aught but slim
Who calls on heaven to succour him,
But cannot help himself.
Then, since the hope of human hearts
Is oft to ashes turned,
And he who shuns the warlike arts
Is like to lose his ships and marts
And have his homestead burned;
Let us, who have no urge of greed
Sec that we have the arms we need
In case the neighbours should proceed
To take it out of us.
– I rise to a point of order. Senator Sampson has not told us how many verses there are in this poem, and I submit that the reading of it is a waste of time.
– I take it that Senator Sampson desires to give poetic point to the view that he is expounding. No point of order is involved.
– The poem continues -
The wise man works with might and main,
For peace, but also notes
That when he seeks that end to gain,
One fighting ship or aeroplane
Is worth a million throats.
Thewars we apprehend to-day
Will never be begun
If Britain, to the world can say, “Don’t you tough eggs start getting gay,
Or we shall dot you one”.
Those lines which I commend to honorable senators sum up the position. I feel that the strength of the British Empire is being reduced to such a perilous extent that it is only right to tell the people the truth. If we do I have not the slightest doubt that they will welcome the reintroduction of Part XII of the Defence Act which was most shamefully abandoned by a previous government.
– I strongly object to the remarks of Senator Sampson that Part XII of the Defence Act was most shamefully abandoned by a previous government. As the statement was made, I think, without thought, I do not propose to refer to it further.
Under the Prime Minister’s Department, provision is made for the expenditure of £1,000 on gold-mining research.
An interesting article entitled, Debts, Unemployment, Gold and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, written by Dr. A. C. D. Rivett, appears in the quarterly bulletin of the journal of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, published in August last. In that article Dr. Rivett states -
Up to the present time the council has deliberately restricted its attention to the so called primary industries - actually plant and animal production. Its general aim can be stated, I suppose, as the production of greater quantity per unit of cost, whether calculated in terms of human labour, machinery or other agency.
It is pleasing to note that the council is now devoting its attention to other activities and that under this bill a sum is being voted to assist gold-mining research. Whilst some day we may not need gold in our economic system, to-day we must deal with realities. The article should be read by every Australian citizen as reasons are given why greater attention should be devoted to gold production. One paragraph reads -
In the Gluckstein Memorial Lecture for 1933, Dr. Herbert Levinstein, one of England’s leading industrial chemists, asks how a man of sound training and extensive experience on a manufacturing plant wouldhave faced the problem set before England at the time of the debt settlement with America … If we had arranged to pay our indemnity to America in bricks, in many ways a more useful commodity than gold, we should have found the stocks inadequate. Should we have pulled down our houses to supply the bricks? No, We should have opened up new brick fields wherever raw materials were to be found, and no doubt, at first ration the bricks that could be used for non-essential buildings in our own country. This is precisely the reverse of what was done by our politicians and those advising them, in the matter of sending gold. There was neither search for new raw materials, although they were available, nor was there any rationing. We tore down our financial structures to send the bricks.
Dr. Rivett contends that it would be preferable to exert more energy in producing gold in order to meet our commitments. He continues -
Already we hear, and more than hear of export quotas for Australian wheat and beef and butter to Britain.
The position in this respect is acute, and while Major Elliott is endeavouring to assist British primary producers theCommonwealth Government is also actively engaged in trying to increase the exports of those commodities to Great Britain. He further states -
If we did our level beet to pay England in foodstuffs, not merely the annual interest, but also the principal sums which we owe to her we could easily create a situation utterly intolerable to her … On the 30th June, 1932, we owed in London £554,528,000 sterling, and the annual interest bill was £26,301,000. With gold at £6 sterling per ounce we need 134 tons of it to pay the yearly bill, while 2,830 tons to liquidate the debt . . . We are not bending our energies to the . production of 134 tons of gold every year, let alone 2,830 tons over several years to clear us of our external obligation altogether.
Dr. Rivett, who states that our overseas commitments could be met with commodities other than wool, wheat, meat, butter, or eggs, continues -
As things are at present, there is no talk of restriction on gold importation. Gold may be, and is, one of the less useful of the chemical elements: but the world does not yet assess it on its worth to the chemist, or even to the pleasing appearance, overrated I am sure, which it presents to the eye. The time may come when neither as a medium of exchange nor as a store of value will it possess anything approaching its present prestige. With all that, however, I have nothing to do. My sole point is that gold is a product which England will readily take to-day at £6 sterling and more per ounce, while wheat and meat and butter are products which she is increasingly diffident about taking, even at depreciated prices . . . Our debt could be liquidated, as I have said, with 2,830 tons of gold. One ton of gold at £6 per ounce is the equivalent of 35,000 tons of wheat at 3s. per bushel, or 7.000 tons of beef at 3d. per lb., or 1,310 tons of wool at £20 per bale. To offer to pay the debt in these products would lead to chaos far exceeding that which followed the flood in Noah’s day. To pay in gold would mean only storage place in a London vault of 5,260 cubic feet; room for 8,200 petrol tins containing four gallons of gold apiece. The annual interest bill could be tucked away in 390 petrol tins. Is it fantastic to suggest an endeavour by us in Australia, with our huge reservoir of unused labour to try and dig our external debt out of the earth?
While I commend the Government for assisting gold production even to the limited extent proposed in the bill I feel that it has not concentrated its attention sufficiently upon such an important subject. Instead of endeavouring to increase the exports of wool, wheat, and meat, greater attention should be devoted to the production of gold. If payable deposits were discovered work would be provided for many who are now unemployed, settlement would increase and trade generally would be stimulated. Our overseas commitments must now be paid mainly with wool, wheat, meat and other products.
In answer to a question I asked the other day the Minister stated that the gold held by the Commonwealth Bank is now valued at only £1,400,000. During the recess the Government should devote closer attention to the subject . of gold production, so that additional employment may be provided and we may have some prospect of a revival of trade.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– It is, I think, desirable that some reply be made to the suggestion of Senator Sampson that the Government should reintroduce the system of compulsory military training. I have no objection to a certain amount of physical training, because I recognize the need for a sufficient force to maintain peace and good order in society; but I deprecate the implications associated with a return to the system of compulsory military training of the youth of Australia. I have no doubt that Senator Sampson raised this issue in order, that it should engage the attention of the people of this country, and from that point of view, I. suppose one cannot find fault with him. I recall that when the present Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) returned from the Imperial Conference in 1911. in company with the then Prime Minister, the late Mr. Andrew Fisher, the people of Australia were told something of what had happened at that gathering, and shortly afterwards the system of compulsory military training was instituted.
– It was introduced before the Leader of the Senate went to England to attend that conference.
– My recollection is that it was inaugurated in 1912. I say this, because I had some work to do in connexion with the Victoria Barracks in Melbourne at about that time, and the scheme was then in its early stages.
– It was initiated in 1911.
– That would follow the return of the right hon- orable gentleman from the Imperial Conference.
I hope that Senator Sampson’s action in bringing the matter before the Senate does not imply that he thinks we are on the verge of another world war. No sane person would welcome a recurrence of the conditions that existed from 1914 to 191S. I do not think that we shall have another world war for a generation or two at least. European nations, which have been responsible for most of the major armed disputes have, I should imagine, had enough of war for the next, 50 years. They are all just about ruined, and I feel sure that, if it came to a showdown, and if nations, like individuals, had to pay up for all that happens in a world war, they would be bankrupt. Even Great Britain, that financial Rock of Gibraltar for hundreds of years before the Great War, a nation with over £4,000,000,000 invested abroad, would be unable to meet its obligations. Even the United States of America, which reached a position of financial pre-eminence during the Great War, but which since has been involved in a devastatingeconomic war, is not in the mood to participate in another armed conflict. Nor would the Government of that country encourage the display of a war-like attitude by any European nation, because of its probable repercussion throughout the world.
The objectionable feature about the reference by Senator Sampson this morning to the need for the re-introduction of compulsory military training, is that the Government of Germany, Russia, Italy or France, may take the view that if a democratic nation like Australia deems it necessary to re-introduce compulsory military training for’ its youth, it believes that the war cloud is again appearing on the horizon, and is preparing to meet it.
– What about Switzerland
Senator J. V. MacDONALD.Switzerland is surrounded by nations in arms, and ever since the middle centuries has been exposed to the danger of armed conflict; therefore, to maintain its independence, successive governments have wisely prepared the citizens of that country to defend themselves.
– But Switzerland does not want war.
– No. Nevertheless, Switzerland shares with Belgium the reputation of having been one of the cockpits of Europe.
– I suggest that the honorable senator should confine his remarks to the sufficiency or otherwise of the Defence vote.
- Senator Sampson dealt at some length with defence measures, and advocated the reintroduction of compulsory military training- We on this side take the view that, instead of spending more money on compulsory military training, we should give more attention to providing finance to ensure work for our unemployed.
Senator Sampson’s remarks will stimulate the interest of armament manufacturers in all countries. They realize that the development of a war psychology among the people of any nation means more business, and I imagine that they will especially welcome talk of this nature in Australia, which has never been regarded as a belligerent nation. We do not seek the conquest of other peoples, either for trade advantages or other purposes, nor are we hungry for more territory. For this reason, it is regrettable that Senator Sampson should have so strongly advocated the reintroduction of compulsory military training, in support of which he cited several verses of a poem, the effect of which is to arouse in the breasts of the people the martial spirit and glorify war. In my boyhood days we were told more about the horrors of war. I well remember a poem, “ The Little Drum,” which was then in the schoolbooks -
Yonder is a little drum,
Hanging on the wall.
Dusty wreaths and tattered flags,
Round about it fall.
A shepherd youth on Cheviot’s hills,
Watched the sheep whose skin -
A cunning workman wrought and gave
The little drum its din.
And such is Glory! Yes, and still
Will man the tempter follow,
Nor learn that glory, like its drum,
Is but a sound and hollow.
Senator Sampson might with advantage refresh his memory concerning the class of literature Which was placed in the hands of the young people when he and I were adolescents.
– As a matter of fact, I am conversant with the poem recited by the honorable senator.
– I am glad to hear the honorable senator say that. The rising generation of that time had inculcated in them the principles of peace among the nations - principles that are in consonance with the Christian spirit, which teaches that people are not brought into the world to make war upon one another, but that every one should love his neighbour as himself.
So I disagree with Senator Sampson when he says that the Defence vote is insufficient. It is sufficient for the defence needs of the Commonwealth.
– Does the honorable senator believe in defence?
– Yes, I do. Because of a physical disability, I did not become a soldier during the Boer War - a war which the present Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) has said should never have been undertaken by Britain. That view is now held by many others who at that time believed that it was a just war. I have a great respect for a man who is prepared to shed his blood for a cause in which he believes. The supreme test of manhood is the willingness of a man to risk all that he has for a cause that he holds dear. The Labour party takes an international view of world affairs, and believes that the nations of the world should not prepare for war. At any rate, Australia should be the last country to encourage the war spirit, especially against any European nation. In the last analysis our White Australia policy means Australia for the European races. I do not agree with those who say that Australia is as a rip« plum, to be picked by any nation which chooses to come along. Should any Asiatic nation, swollen with pride, attack Australia, every white nation would immediately spring to arms and come to our defence, in order to preserve Australia for the white race. I am not one who bellieves that it would be so dreadful a thing if the British Empire were overthrown and we were placed under the domination of France or Germany. The people of those nations belong to the white race; indeed, we have a large proportion of their blood in our veins. I do not think that our 120,000,000 cousins in the United States of America would permit Australia to be seized by any other nation.
Senator Sampson advocated a return to the system of compulsory military training. I do not think that there is any need for that, because the last war showed that a system of voluntary enlistment and training was sufficient. Had conscription been carried, Australia’s indebtedness would have been increased by many hundreds of millions of pounds. I oppose compulsory military training because I believe that we should advance to a better state than one of constant preparedness for war. If we listen to the disturbing rumours of war - the possibility of attack by Japan, the risk of a German invasion - we shall incur expenditure beyond our ability to pay. Unless the nations ‘cry a halt, the time is not far distant when women will be trained for military service, and children of tender years, dressed in uniform and carrying, guns, will parade our streets.
– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable senator in order in discussing war in general terms?
– The honorable senator is in order in making a passing reference to a subject dealt with in a sentence or two by Senator Sampson ; but he will not be in order in engaging in a general discussion on war.
- Senator Sampson quoted some verses which, with all respect, I submit were of greatlength. They reminded me »f the parody, running into 300 or 400 lines, based on the well-known couplet -
Man wants but little here below
Nor wants that little long.
Although I believe in defence. I think that Australia would do far better to provide work for its unemployed than to prepare for war, which can only result iD increased misery.
.- When I heard Senator Sampson speaking I was more convinced than ever that most of those who have interested themselves in military service get an altogether erroneous idea of the necessity for spending large sums of money for what they describe as defence measures. I protest against the growth of armaments throughout the world. Some of the best authorities tell us that Europe to-day is more an armed camp than before the commencement of the Great War in 1914. Why should we in Australia join in the armaments race which, if continued, must ruin the world ? I have read a good deal on the subject of war and armaments - and I have not confined myself to one side of the subject - and I am convinced that the constant preaching of the doctrine of fear and the necessity for defence is largely responsible for the present armaments race. Each nation believes that it must increase its armaments because other nations are increasing theirs. Some of us have been termed disloyalists because we have supported the Anti-War Movement, but, instead, we should be commended for attempting to avert disaster by checking the war fever. If one nation alone were to take up the cause of peace to the extent of total and absolute disarmament, it might be in danger of attack by another nation, but a worldwide movement for peace is different. The Anti-War Movement seeks not only to prevent war in the immediate future, but also to force the alleged statesmen who now govern the world to agree to the simultaneous disarmament of all nations. Obviously,- if all nations resolved never again to go to war, the necessity for defence would disappear. Australia is joining in the armaments race.
– Australia is running a bad race, and is in danger of being left at the post.
– -All nations say that. Each one is afraid of the others, and is seeking to secure itself by arming to the teeth. If that policy would be fatal for them, it would be equally fatal for us. To some extent, we are joining in this mad armament race, and if the Government receives the endorsement of the people for what it has done it will go still further, and the amount now expended on armaments will be but a fraction of what will have to be spent in the future. We are vir- tually placing ourselves under the heel of the financial ring which finances ware, and, on a minor scale, drifting into the same position as the other great powers that are frantically arming to-day. I believe that we are on the wrong track altogether. The best service that one can render in this or any other country is to join wholeheartedly in the world movement against war, so as to make impossible a recurrence of the world cataclysm we so recently experienced.
. Some time ago, under the retrenchment, scheme adopted by the Government, the Postmaster-General abolished railway travelling post offices, a convenience which had been in existence in Tasmania for many years. The facilities offered by such post offices were much appreciated in the north-west coastal districts of Tasmania and other outlying parts of that State. The wayside railway stations are receiving offices; and formerly letters which were posted there were stamped and sorted in the train and subsequently delivered at stations further along the line. As the receiving offices are in ninny instances adjacent to the school, children returning from school collected the family mail ; thus many of the letters were posted and delivered on the same day. Since this service has been discontinued, many people have been inconvenienced, and letters posted in one town in Tasmania for delivery in an adjacent town are carried to a central post office, where they are sorted and placed into mail bags; they are despatched by a return train, and do not reach their destination in some instances until the following day. The trains on the northwest coast line run at infrequent intervals, and much inconvenience is caused to the residents of that area by the withdrawal of the travelling post office. The saving made by the department as a result of the suspension of these facilities cannot be very great. I ask the Postmaster-General to look into this matter, and to consider favorably the restoration to the very deserving outback people of the facilities that obtained before the retrenchment scheme was put into operation.
– Th« whole subject of postal services is at present under review. I have a very soft spot in my heart for the people living in outlying districts who suffer grave disabilities in many respects, and I shall extend every consideration to their requests. Naturally, the cost of the restoration of such services will have to be considered, because we cannot restrict them to any particular district or State. If it is decided to revert to the former system . it will have to be applied generally. I remind honorable senators that the loss on country telephonic services, which has to be borne by users in the metropolitan areas, is something like £350,000 annually. The honorable senator can rest assured that the services in outlying districts are receiving the earnest consideration of the Government.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Sum available for the purposes set forth in schedule).
.- In looking through the schedule, I find that no provision has been made for the repatriation of fallen senators.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 agreed to.
Proposed votes - The Parliament, £40,460; The Prime Minister’s Department, £90,990; The Department of tho Treasury, £181,850; The AttorneyGeneral’s Department, £41,320; The Department of the Interior, £87,980 - agreed to.
Department of Defence.
Proposed vote, £1,049,950.
. –It is essential that in building up our air defences money should be expended on the provision of landing grounds in the northern parts of Australia. Has any action been taken to establish an air base at Cooktown?
– No such action has been taken, so far as I am aware.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed votes - Department of Trade and Customs, £136,560; Department of Health, £26,630; Department of Commerce, £87,050; Miscellaneous Services, £146,370; War Services, £205,960- agreed to.
Proposed vote, £125,380.
– I ask the Leader of the Government (Senator Pearce) whether this item includes any of the expenditure to be incurred in constructing a line from Red Hill to Port Augusta or whether that expenditure is provided for under a separate bill?
– It is provided for in a separate bill.
– The Commonwealth railways use a good deal of petrol, and I ask the Leader of the Government whether the department obtains its supplies from the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, or elsewhere? .
[3.3]. - There is a general rule that all Commonwealth departments shall, as far as possible, obtain their supplies from the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited; but I cannot answer off-hand the honorable senator’s question.
– The Leader of the Government will recollect that an agreement was made by the Commonwealth with the Western Australian Government that on the completion of the transcontinental line from Port Augusta to “Kalgoorlie, the State Government would lay down a standard gauge line from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle. This the Western Australian Government has never attempted- to do. I ask the Leader of the Government whether the agreement has’ lapsed or whether there is any prospect of its fulfilment by the State Government.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [3.5]. - I am not aware that any agreement was entered into. A statement was made by a former Premier of Western Australia that a broad gauge line would be constructed between Kalgoorlie and Fremantle on the completion of the transcontinental line, but so far as I am aware no agreement was entered into between the two governments.
– I am glad that this point has been raised. I have frequently heard the statement made that an agreement was entered into between the two governments, but although I was a member of the State Parliament at the time, and have an excellent memory, I cannot recollect any such agreement having been made. I welcome the statement of the Leader of the Senate, which I entirely confirm, that Western Australia did not enter into an agreement with the Commonwealth. It passed a bill to lay down a broadgauge line when the money was available, the meaning of the phrase “when the money is available “ being, I take it, that it should be made available by the Commonwealth free of charge or interest.
Proposedvote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £2,379,080.
– I direct the attention of the Postmaster-General (Senator McLachlan) to the fact that the citizens of Brisbane are still anxious for the provision of a hotter type of post office than they have at the present time. The matter has been brought before Minister after Minister, but without result. I invite the honorable senator to visit Brisbane, to inspect the surroundings of the Brisbane General Post Office, and to decide for himself whether a more adequate building should not be supplied. At Goulburn there is a post office which was erected as far back as 1880, yet its appearance compares more than favourably with the Brisbane General Post Office.
– This is not a works bill; the item provides only for payment of annual services.
– Surely I am entitled to mention these matters. The Brisbane post office is a. wretched structure.
– I shall be visiting Queensland during the winter and will inspect the post office there.
– I am glad to hear that. I hope that, as a result of the inspection, the honorable senator will begin the erection of a new post office ‘building in Queen-street in keeping with the other imposing buildings.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £32,890, agreed to.
Federal Capital Territory.
Proposed vote, £56,410.
– A few days ago I addressed a question to the Leader of the Government concerning the parks and gardens of Canberra.
– This bill makes no provision for parks and gardens. It deals only with salaries and wages.
– I object to the Leader of the Government trying to mislead the Senate. Wages and salaries for which this item makes provision are paid to men employed in these gardens.
– The honorable senator will be in order in discussing the amount provided for the payment of caretakers of gardens, but he is not entitled to enter into a general discussion concerning the provision of parks and gardens at Canberra.
– The Leader of the Government made a discovery the other day. In reply to my question he said -
– The honorable senator will not be in order in seeking to reply to something that was said on a previous occasion concerning an item for which no provision is made in this bill.
– Surely, sir, you are not going to stifle all debate. I have not risen to discuss every item.
– The fact that the honorable senator has not done so does not entitle him to disregard the Standing Orders by which I must be guided.
– I do not object to your ruling, sir, but I have a right to object to the efforts of the Leader of the Government to block legitimate discussion. Much of the proposed vote of £56,410 in respect of the Federal Capital Territory will be expended on salaries and wages of gardeners and others employed here. We have beautiful parks and gardens, but they are merely for show purposes. They have no utilitarian value. There are no parks where children may play and women and children may rest. We require what I might describe as utility parks, where people may rest, such as are to be found in all our capital cities.
– The honorable senator is not in order in following that line, of discussion.
– We shall be “As idle as a painted. ship upon a painted ocean “, if we are to be confined strictly within the four walls of the Standing Orders as the Leader of the Government would interpret them. I referred the other day to the Acton Nursery, which, I suggested, should be converted into ; a park. I was told in reply that . such a park would be inconvenient. It might be inconvenient for those living on the south side of the river, but it would not be inconvenient for those on the northern side.
– I rise to a point of order. Is it permissible for an honorable senator, under cover of discussing a vote for salaries and wages, to deal with the upkeep of parks in Canberra, and to discuss whether there should be more parks on . the northern side of the river than on the southern side, or vice versa ?
– Strictly speaking the honorable senator is not entitled to do so. I have allowed him some latitude since the proposed vote includes the provision for wages and salaries, but I ask him now to confine his remarks strictly tothe item.
– The parks and gardens do not meet the needs of the residents, and it would appear thatlarge sums of money have been expended merely to make Canberra attractive to tourists. The officials contend that the Acton nursery is an unsuitable site and that a large sum of money would need to be expended to make the necessary alterations. Whatever opinion the officials may hold, a children’s playground in that locality would meet the convenience of the residents on the northern side of the river.
– I suggest to the honorable senator that no good purpose can be served by discussing the subject further.
– If I am to be obstructed at every possible point, I trust that the deputation of unemployed in Canberra will wait upon the Minister and give it to him “hot and strong”. Do honorable senators opposite realize that single men in Canberra are earning only about 19s. a week, and married couples only about 31s. 8d. a week?
– The honorable senator is again out of order. The subject which he is now discussing is also irrelevant.
– Then, on behalf of the people of Canberra, I appeal to the Minister not to be guided by the opinions of officials of the “ big brass hat “ brigade who are able to exercise more power than they should owing to the frequent changes of Ministers. The request is reasonable, and I trust that further consideration will be given to it.” It is a. matter-
– I again remind the honorable senator that the subject he is discussing is irrelevant to the bill.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed vote, £14,770.
.- Will the Minister (Senator Pearce) explain the item “ grant of equivalent of customs duty (but not including primage) on Papuan rubber imported into Australia, £3,745”.
[3.21]. - A duty is imposed on rubber imported into Australia, and to assist the Papuan rubber industry, a refund of duty is made to the Administrator of Papua, who passes it on to the planters. That is done to give them preference in the Australian market.
Proposed vote agreed to.
Proposed votes - Norfolk Island, £750 ; Refunds of Revenue, £500,000; and Advance to Treasurer £1,500,000 - agreed to.
Schedule agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Motion (by Senator Sir George
Pearce) proposed -
That the bill be now read a third time.
– When the bill was in committee, I endeavoured to obtain some information concerning the provision of additional parks and gardens in Canberra, but as the Minister (Senator Pearce) did not reply I propose to take this opportunity to discuss it.
– I rise to a point of order. When the bill was in committee I directed the attention of the Chairman (Senator Herbert Hays) to the fact that the honorable senator was not entitled to discuss additional parks and gardens in Canberra as the bill only provides for the appropriation of certain specified sums for wages and salaries. Although the Chairman of Committees ruled that the honorable senator was not in order, he is again raising the subject. Earlier in the week, the honorable senator submitted some questions to the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) concerning additional parks in Canberra, and, on behalf of the Minister, I replied. The honorable senator having taken exception to the reply, wishes to discuss the subject on this bill, which is an ordinary Supply Bill, and not a Works and Buildings Bill. As the Chairman had ruled that the honorable senator was not in order in discussing the subject, I considered that, had I replied, I, too, would have been out of order.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - As the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Pearce) states, this bill provides for the payment of salaries and wages, and does not appropriate money for the provision of parks and gardens. I therefore rule that the honorable senator is not entitled to discuss the subject on this bill.
– Then I shall raise it on the adjournment.
– That would be an appropriate time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - I have to report that, in accordance with the requirements of the Standing Orders, Mr. Speaker and I presented to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral the Joint Address to His Majesty the King agreed to by both Houses of the Parliament on the 4th April, 1935. Upon receiving the Address, His Excellency was pleased to reply in the following terms: -
This is not an ordinary occasion. In the special circumstances, seeing that the Prime Minister is at this moment in England in connexion with the King’s Jubilee and representing the Government, the Parliament and the people of the Commonwealth, I suggest that it would be a more solemn and significant way of presenting the Address of Parliament to His Majesty if the Prime Minister handed it to the King himself.
If, on behalf of the Parliament, you agree to that course, I have no hesitation in supporting it, and in that event would leave the transmission of the Address to the Prime Minister in your hands.
On behalf of the Parliament, Mr. Speaker and I have agreed to the suggestion of His Excellency the Governor-General, and have taken the necessary steps to give effect to it.
Validation, and Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Validation - are of a cognate character, I suggest that, in order to save time, all three should be debated on the motion for the second reading of the first one.
– It has been the practice in this Senate for some considerable time, when bills of a cognate character are presented, for the Minister and honorable senators to debate all of them on the motion for the second-reading of the first bill. That practice may be followed on this occasion.
. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of the Customs Tariff Validation Bill is to validate the collections of duty under the tariff proposals of the 6th December, 1934, until the 30th November, 1935.
Section 226 of the Customs Act 1901-1930 reads-
No proceeding whether against an officer or otherwise for anything done for the protection of the revenue in relation to any tariff or tariff alteration proposed in Parliament shall except as mentioned under the next section be commenced before the close of the session in which such tariff or tariff alteration is proposed.
Under this section it was necessary that the tariff proposals should either be ratified or validated during the session in which the tariff alterations were proposed. For some years there has been only one session in a parliament. Thus section 226 did not operate if a tariff was passed during the life of the Parliament.
In 1934 the following words were added to the section: - “ or before the expiration of six months after such tariff or tariff alteration is proposed, whichever first happens.
The new section became operative as from the 1st January, 1935. The effect of the additional words is that, unless the proposals are passed by both Houses of Parliament within six months of their introduction, importers who have paid duty at rates higher than those provided by the existing Customs Tariff can issue writs for the recovery of the extra duty paid at the higher rate, and the department would have no legal defence. It is obvious that steps must be taken to protect the revenue. This course would not have been necessary but for the absence from Australia of the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), who is on a most important mission to the United Kingdom. The Government considers that it is quite in order to ask the Senate to validate the collection under the schedule until sufficient time can be given by both Houses to debate fully the proposals.
The Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) Validation Bill ensures that the amendments proposed to be made to the Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) Act 1933-1934 by the exchange adjustment proposals of the 6th December, 1934, shall continue to operate until the 30th November, 1935, that is, for the same period as the ordinary customs tariff proposals are being validated. The amendments proposed to the Customs Tariff (Exchange Adjustment) Act 1933-1934 were necessitated by the amendments proposed by customs tariff proposals of the 6th December, 1934. Consequently, whatever action is being taken in connexion with the ordinary customs tariff proposals should be taken in connexion with the exchange adjustment proposals.
The Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Validation Bill validates the collections of duty on certain Canadian products until the 30th November, 1935, that is, for the same period as the customs tariff proposals of the 6th December, 1934, are being validated. The CanadianAustralian trade agreement provides that certain margins of preference shall be retained. Owing to thetariff alterations proposed on the 6th December, 1934, it is necessary to amend some rates specified in the Canadian-Australian trade agreement. Whilst the tariff proposalsare operating it is imperative, in order that our agreement with Canada shall not be broken, to maintain the duties now operating against Canada. The customs tariff proposals are being validated up to the 30th November, 1935. Consequently, the Canadian preference proposals should also be validated up to that date.
I suggest that we need not, at this stage, discuss the contents of the schedules to which reference has been made. The
Prime Minister is at present in Great Britain on a most important mission -which has a direct bearing upon the margins of preference given to Great Britain under our tariff proposals. The attitude of the Government may be affected by the success or failure of that mission. It may be necessary to modify certain tariff proposals in order to conduct negotiations with the Governments of other countries with the object of securing a market overseas for our primary products.
It is regrettable that we have thus early to depart from the provisions of the act as amended recently. All I need say in defence of this course, is that an extraordinary set of circumstances has arisen threatening the economic fabric of the Commonwealth, and unless we take measures to safeguard the interests of our primary producers we may find ourselves in a very grave position. The only criticism that can be offered is that, on the first occasion when a tariff schedule had been brought down since the amendment of the law, we have to depart from the principles there laid down, but I put it to the Leader of the Opposition that in the circumstances which I have mentioned this course is inevitable.
.- I do not intend to ask for the adjournment of the debate or to delay the passage of these bills. The Government desires to cancel, its responsibility to the country in respect of the validation of tariff schedules within the time limit imposed by a recent amendment of the act, and to get into recess as quickly as possible. The Commonwealth has been, for many years, definitely committed to the protectionist policy in order to encourage the development and expansion of Australian industries. The evasion by the Government of its obligation to validate the tariff schedules brought down some months ago is a serious matter. “When Senator Colebatch adorned this chamber he was very insistent that all tariff schedules should be validated within three months. I informed him that if he would extend the term to six months, I would support an amendment of the act to that effect. The act was so amended, and it now requires all tariff schedules to be passed by Parliament within six months of their being tabled. The schedules covered by these bills were laid on the table several months ago, but Parliament has not had an opportunity to discuss them. Within the last few weeks other schedules were introduced in the House of Representatives, and the purpose of these bills ia to validate collections under them. I want to know why the Government will not allow its tariff schedule to run the gauntlet of discussion in this Parliament. I realize that it would prove to be an apple of discord among the supporters of the Government, for, unlike honorable senators on this side who stand foursquare for Australian industries, honorable senators opposite are divided in their opinions. The Government is endeavouring to escape behind a smoke screen. It knows that when the Senate meets again after the recess the ranks of the Opposition will be thinned, and that there will not be many on this side to join the discontents among the followers of the Government. I am reminded of the tariff fight which has continued for more than 30 years. In the early days of the federation a number of great Australians made it possible for a man to earn a decent living in this country. The greatest statesmen of that time were protectionists. I know that Sir George Reid and others were free traders, but, the industries of this country have been built up by following a policy not of free trade, but of protection. I remember the great battle fought by the Melbourne Age in the interests of the secondary industries of Australia. Notwithstanding that it knows that the progress of this country is due largely to the industries which have been built up here under a protective tariff, the present Government asks us to validate a schedule containing about 180 alterations of customs duties. Some of those alterations of duty may affect vitally a number of Australian industries, but we are not allowed to discuss them. We are on the eve of a recess of six months, or even longer. The Scullin Government has been criticized freely in regard to its tariff policy, but that Government provided for the validation of tariff schedules within six months of their being laid before Parliament
This tariff schedule has been in operation for several months, and if validated, will continue in operation for several months more before Parliament can discuss it. The manufacturers of Australia know . that I have always stood four-square for protecting the industries of Australia. When I was a Minister in the Scullin Government their representatives crowded about me in the corridors of this building but now, like grasshoppers, they disappear at my approach. What has happened? Has some sinister influence been at work? Is it true that the Government has acted at the dictation of some outside authority - possibly Soviet Russia - to the detriment of Australian manufacturing industries? Why cannot the information on which the Government acted see the light of day? I suspect insidious propaganda, because I am convinced that the tariff schedule of the present Government, which this bill seeks to validate, constitutes a menace to the industries of this country. I cannot see how we can hope to develop Australia unless we foster its industries. The fiscal policy of the present Government enables goods made in other countries by cheap labour to be sold in our warehouses and shops, while Australian men and women walk the streets looking for jobs. It is wrong. Why, in the name of Heaven, cannot our young men and young women find work in the land of their birth? The reason is the encouragement given to the importation of goods made in foreign countries. Only this week we dealt with legislation to amend our immigration laws with the object of making it easier to keep undesirable people out of this country. What sense is there in keeping them out if we allow goods made by them to come in and cause unemployment among our own people? Why not be consistent, and allow not only these products of cheap labour to enter our country, but also those slaves of industry who manufacture them? For Heaven’s sake let us be honest ! The Government has not been fair to Australian industries. Australia has a protectionist Prime Minister, but the Acting Prime Minister is a free trader. Between them they have -let Australia down. I am reminded of the story of the old man and his son who were travelling with an ass. Between them they let the ass fall into the water, and it was drowned. Had the Government allowed its tariff schedule to run the gauntlet of discussion in Parliament it could, at least, have said that it had received a mandate to alter the duties, and, unquestionably, its proposals would have been passed since the Government has a majority in both Houses. The only reason why the Government is afraid to submit its proposals to Parliament is that it knows that they are not in the best interests of Australia. I shall vote against the bill, as will the members of my party.
– I regret that the Government has decided practically to validate the whole of the tariff, but my reasons for objecting to its action are unlike those advanced by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Barnes). I was one of those who, with members of the present Ministry, including the PostmasterGeneral (Senator McLachlan), fought hard to secure an alteration of the Customs Act to provide that tariff schedules must be dealt with by the Parliament within six months of the date when they were laid on the table. The Postmaster-General was one of the champions in the fight, and, fortunately, the necessary amending legislation was passed. Previously, tariff schedules bad been introduced and allowed to operate for eighteen months or two years, without ratification by either branch of the legislature. When the Customs Act was altered in this respect, I commended the Government on the fact that a good deal had been done to ensure to the Senate power over tariff legislation. The benefits of that act compelled the Government to bring down this measure. I do not know the reason for the Government’s haste to go into recess. I do not agree to tariff proposals being put into operation until they have been considered in detail and ratified by the Parliament. I am sorry that it appears to be necessary to give the Government a blank cheque on this occasion; but I hope that it will not again make such a request in connexion with tariff schedules.
.- I endorsed the action of the Government in presenting a revised schedule last year covering certain goods imported into Australia. It provided for a considerable reduction of rates of duty as compared with those imposed under the notorious schedule introduced some years ago by another Ministry. The Government with which Senator Barnes was associated increased duties, and in many cases doubled them; it also imposed prohibitions.
– We had you “in the gun”, and we were getting a little bit back for the country.
– I am glad to find that, on recommendations of the Tariff Board, certain reductions of duty have been effected. I take it .that I may refer to the schedule, because the tariff and the schedule are virtually one and the same thing. I shall bring under the notice of the Senate one or two important reductions that have been made.
– I ask you, Mr. President, to give a ruling as to whether an honorable senator may discuss the schedule item by item., since this bill merely validates the collection of duties. The Senate may not on this bill make a request with regard to the schedule; we must either accept the bill or reject it. If we are to discuss the schedule item by item, there are several items to which I desire to direct the attention of the Government.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. lynch). - I uphold the point of order. If one honorable senator were permitted to refer to individual items m which he is particularly interested, the same liberty would have to be extended to all ; apart from that, the Standing Orders are distinctly against the practice. The object of the bill is merely to validate the collection of duties.
– I submit that I cannot speak intelligently on the second reading of the bill if I may not refer to the schedule, but I think that I can refer to it without infringing your ruling.
– The honorable senator may refer to the schedule as a whole, but may not discuss it in detail.
– I must explain what the schedule means. Certain im portant alterations of duties have been made, and surely I may be permitted to mention how injurious certain duties have proved to both the consumers and the local manufacturers.
– The honorable senator may not claim a privilege for himself which I cannot extend to all other honorable senators.
– I do not desire any preferential consideration in this matter, but I claim the right to deal with the bill intelligently. The word “tariff” in this bill means ‘ the items in the schedule. We are now asked to validate the tariff, because the Government has found on inquiry through the agency of the Tariff Board that it is essential in the best interests of the community to alter certain rates of duty. In order to ascertain whether or not the Government was justified in accepting the board’s recommendations, one must read the reports of the. board and compare them with the schedule, item by item.
– If we do not validate the tariff, the higher duties will be reverted to. Is that what the honorable senator desires?
– I am trying to show the reasons why we should validate the tariff, and why the views expressed on the opposite side of the chamber should be opposed. On reading the Tariff Board’s reports, I found page after page of evidence given by those interested in imports - and much of it was agreed to by the representatives of Australian manufacturers - to the effect that the duties imposed under the tariff a few years ago, which Parliament had no chance to consider for two years, were absolutely unnecessary.
– I rise to a point of order. The bill provides for the validation of collections of duty, and has nothing to do with the circumstances under which the duties were imposed. I submit that the Senate must decide whether, without any further inquiry, it will now validate their collection. I ask you, Mr. President, to give an interpretation of the word “ collection “.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Herbert Hays). - The point raised by the honorable senator was practically decided by the President a few moments ago. The honorable senator may refer in a general way to the tariff schedule in order to show why in his opinion the collection of these duties should or should not be validated but he is not entitled to discuss the tariff in detail.
– I am not attempting to discuss the tariff in detail nor have I referred to any specific duty. The Leader of the Opposition was allowed to indulge in generalities, and I . think I should be permitted to reply to him. I understand quite as well as Senator Daly does the meaning of the word “ collection”. If I had referred directly to any item in the tariff schedule, I could have understood a point of order being raised, but I did not, nor did I intend to do so. I am aware that the Senate is anxious to complete the business before it. I shall therefore content myself with the statement that I approve very heartily of the action taken by , this Government last year, which has enabled the Minister to-day to bring down this bill. I support the second reading.
– It is to be regretted that it should have been necessary so soon after the original alteration was made to bring down this bill, but I do not think that anything else could have been done in the circumstances.
– That is the position.
– In view of the circumstance that trade treaties are being negotiated, and that we were similarly affected in our attitude On the sulphur question this morning, I do not think that any action could be taken in this matter other than to postpone the ratification of the tariff as proposed. I hope, however, that the Government does not intend to take this as an excuse for proposing similar extensions in the future. While I support this measure because the circumstances are abnormal, I shall by no means be prepared necessarily to support a further extension. This bill simply provides that a specific schedule shall be extended for a specific time and there is no intention, to alter the original proviso generally. I shall therefore support it.
. - in reply. - I re-echo the statement just made by Senator Duncan-Hughes, that the . circumstances of this case are abnormal. They are abnormal for reasons which I could not disclose when we were dealing with sulphur this morning, and which I do not propose now to divulge. A wide margin is left between the British and the foreign tariff rates. I have already referred to that matter, and to certain efforts that are being made overseas. It is not the intention of the Government to, in short, ignore the law to which they were parties, and which they brought into existence ins 1934, requiring that this class of legislation shall be submitted from time to time when it is desired that the validation of the collection of duties under a customs schedule shall be extended for’ a period of more than six months. We do not intend to pursue that course. We have taken action in this case only because of special reasons. We were parties to the restoration of the power of the Senate to control the tariff, and it is not likely that we would do anything to violate our own legislation. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Barnes) suggested that the Government has at its head, as Acting Prime Minister, a free trader. To that suggestion, I take strong exception. Dr.Earle Page is responsible for his share in the tariff that was passed during the regime of the Bruce-Page Government, and is partly responsible for the schedule to which this bill relates. Any one who examines the duties in that schedule will recognize that it is quite unfair to suggest that Dr. Earle Page would expose the secondary industries to a direct or even a flank attack by means of the tariff. The Leader of the Opposition, prophesied that the duties in this schedule would have dire consequences to the artisans of this country. May I remind him of the. dire consequences which certain movements made by a government of which he was a member had upon employment? The depression which followed may not have been due altogether to those movements; but I point out that the duties in this schedule, which was submitted last December, instead of increasing unemployment, have had a contrary effect. Unemployment, from the date of their imposition, has greatly diminished and the position to-day is very satisfactory. I think that the absence of those complaints which the Leader of the Opposition suggested should be made is dueto the fact that the manufacturing industries themselves realize that it is a fair thing.
– What has this to do with the validation of the collection of duties under this tariff?
– I feel that I am in duty bound to reply to the statements made by the Leader of the Opposition. The whole schedule is based on Tariff Board reports and Tariff Board reports alone. Honorable senators will have ample opportunity in August or September next - I do not know when it is proposed that we shall re-assemble - to discuss in detail every item in the schedule and to voice their opinions regarding its usefulness to Australia or otherwise. I stress the point that the circumstances leading te the introduction of this bill are abnormal. The international trade position of the world is extraordinary, and if we failed to make proper provision for the marketing of our primary products and also for our manufacturing industries, they would have to endure their Gethsemane. The principles I have enunciated with regard to this bill apply to all three and I do not propose to discuss . them further unless information is sought by any honorable senator.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its ‘remaining stages without requests or debate.
Bill (on motion by Senator McLachlan) read a second time, and passed through it’s remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill (on motion by Senator McLach- lan) read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Senator MCLACHLAN . laid on the table reports and recommendations of the Tariff Board on the following subjects: -
Question of necessity for a bounty on Sheepskins fellmongered in Australia, also other methods of resuscitating the Fellmongering industry in Australia.
Sitting suspended from 4.37 to 5.30 p.m.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Mclachlan) read a first time.
Senator MCLACHLAN (South Australia - ^Postmaster-General [5.32] . - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill seeks the necessary approval to give effect to the decision of the Government to proceed with the construction of a standard gauge railway line from Port Augusta to Red Hill. The work of constructing the railway and the adjustment from Red Hill into the Adelaide Central Railway Station were approved by the Commonwealth and the State of South Australia under an agreement dated the 18th September, 1925. That agreement was ratified by both the Federal and State Parliaments, the Commonwealth Act being the Railways (South Australia Agreement) Act 1926, and the State Act the North-South Railway Agreement Act 1926. The agreement provided for the building of a railway by the Commonwealth from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs. That railway was completed and opened for traffic on the 2nd August, 1929. The agreement provided further for the construction by the Commonwealth of a railway from Port Augusta to Red Hill and for the provision of a third rail on the existing 5-ft. 3-in. gauge line from Red Hill to the Central Railway Station at Adelaide, also at the expense of the Commonwealth - so as to give a continuous railway on a 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge from Kalgoorlie to Adelaide.
It will be remembered that in 1930 an act was passed by this Parliament providing for the construction of the railway from Port Augusta to Red Hill. Under the act the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner was empowered to construct that railway, but, as certain doubts were entertained as to whether the consent of the State of South Australia to the construction was still in force, the date of the commencement of the act of 1930 was deferred pending the removal of these doubts.
Legal advice has been obtained to the effect that the consent of the State is in full force; consequently, it is proposed, in this bill, to repeal section 2 of the original act which related to the date of commencement of that act. Clause 3 of the bill provides that the cost of the railway, inclusive of rollingstock, is not to exceed £789,250. In the act of 1930 the amount was £735,000 but the cost of rolling-stock was excluded from this amount.
The repeal of section 11 is also provided for. That section deals with the appropriation of moneys for the construction of the railway. In its place a new section is proposed which authorizes the payment out of the proceeds of any loan raised under the authority of any loan act of all moneys necessary for (a) the payment of the cost of the railway up to and including the time of the opening of the railway for traffic; and (b) the purchase of rolling stock.
Such, briefly, is the purport of the measure. If any honorable senator desires further information with regard to any particular clause, I shall be happy to supply it in committee.
Honorable senators are probably aware broadly of the position of the railway system of South Australia. In 1927, being anxious to make unnecessary the laying of a third rail between Red Hill and Adelaide involving, as I thought, some engineering difficulties and certain traffic dangers, and with a view, also, to save both Commonwealth and State taxpayers a considerable sum of money, I suggested that the Commonwealth should offer to purchase the Red Hill to Salisbury portion of the line with the right to alter the gauge to 4-ft. 8^-in. That proposal, however, was not acceptable and for reasons which I need not mention, it was abandoned for the time being.
In 1930, the Scullin Government passed the measure which this bill amends. There was opposition to the proposal that the Commonwealth should invade State territory for the purpose of constructing this line. Those doubts were of a legal character and we contend that they have been resolved. I still believe that the purchase, by the Commonwealth, of the Red Hill to Salisbury section, at the amount of its cost to South Australia, might prove to be the best method of meeting the situation. That railway cost the State approximately £960,600 and involves an outlay for interest of £42,000 yearly.
On Friday a conference took place between the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) and the Acting-Premier of South Australia, and the Minister for Railways and Works in that State.
– The present route from Port Augusta to Adelaide is circuitous with steep grades and sharp curves, taking practically a round of the clock to traverse, though the actual direct distance over level country is rather less than that between Albury and Melbourne, which “Victorian trains cover to-day in four and a half hours. A State railway on the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge already traverses more than half the distance between Adelaide and Port Augusta on the direct route, and under the agreement referred to, the Commonwealth has the right to have a third rail laid on. this track, and to build a new standard gauge line across the remaining gap of 82 miles, so that transcontinental sleeper trains may run right into Adelaide. The time saved in this way, together with adjustments to the Western Australian time-table, and a speeding up on the transcontinental line would enable a whole day to be saved between Western Australia and the Eastern States. The agreement provides for a number of ancillary things concerning which I need not trouble honorable senators at this stage. I may, however, state that there is no desire on the part of the Commonwealth to interfere with the rights of South Australia in any way. That was made plain at the conference on Friday last. The present proposal has been brought forward in the honest belief that it will mean a saving to taxpayers.
– That is a sane belief, too.
– I share the honorable senator’s view. The State Government contends that the existing line fromRed Hill to Adelaide shows a profit over running costs, but not including interest, of approximately £28,000, and that the Commonwealth has no right to compel it to put in the third rail from Red Hill to Adelaide. A fortiori it might contend that we have no right to construct a direct line between Port Augusta and Red Hill on the proposed Commonwealth route. It is not willing to sell the Salisbury to Red Hill section to the Commonwealth for conversion, and is not willing to co-operate under the agreement.
Some years ago the Commonwealth Public Works Committee made an examination of the route, and in its report criticized somewhat scathingly the transcontinental railway service, particularly to the breaks of gauge between Terowie and Port Augusta.
We feel that something should be done to straighten out the difficulties. But we do not wish to do anything contrary to the views of the State Government. We believe that the agreement is still valid, and we desire to obtain the fullest cooperation of the State in the settlement of this difficulty, rather than a reluctant acceptance of a legal agreement.
In view of the objection to the proposal for a third rail into the Adelaide railway station, and the State Government’s opposition to the proposed purchase of the Salisbury-Red Hill section, we are prepared to offer what is hoped will prove a satisfactory solution of the present disagreement. We propose that the Commonwealth should extend its standard gauge line from Port Augusta southwards only so far as Port Prie, a distance of 56 miles, and that the South Australian Government should extend its 5 ft. 3 in. gauge railway now ending at Red Hill, northwards so far as Port Pirie, a distance of approximately 26 miles, thus making Port Pirie the break of gauge station. If the portion of the Melbourne-Adelaide train reserved for Western Australian passengers were run through to Port Pirie, passengers could then transfer to the Commonwealth transcontinental line train there, instead of at Port Augusta, and on the eastward journey passengers would on leaving the transcontinental line train at Port Pirie, step right into the Melbourne train.
The Commonwealth earnestly hopes that the South Australian Government will accept this modified proposal, for the double purpose of transforming the worst section of the East- West line into one of the best, and for the provision of employment during the coining winter. In order that no time may be lost, the Commonwealth proposes to commence the construction of the new line from the Port Augusta end, under the authority of the existing agreement. Meanwhile, we are prepared to enter into a new agreement with South Australia on the lines suggested, and even though some months must elapse before such a new agreement amending the present agreement could be ratified, South Australia would still have ample time to complete the small section of the line between Red Hill and Port Pirie by the time the Commonwealth reached the latter point.
To save delay and avoid disappointment to men looking for employment, I ask the House to pass the bill in its present form, accepting the assurance of the Government of its willingness to amend promptly both,the bill and the agreement on the lines indicated if it can secure the co-operation of the South Australian Government.
– Does the Government intend to build this railway if the South Australian Government persists in its attitude to the agreement?
– We contend that we have its full consent already, and we intend to proceed with the construction of the railway from Port Augusta to Port Pirie. In the meantime, if South Australia does not agree to the proposal, the Government will ask the State Government to fulfill its obligations under the old agreement. This disagreement may result in litigation, a contingency which I hope may be avoided.
– Did not the Prime Minister promise that the railway would not be built if the Government of South Australia did not renew its assent to the agreement?
– No. We have examined the statement made by the Prime Minister, and find that all he said was that the South Australian Government would be again consulted. That consultation has taken place. There was a conference on Friday last in Melbourne with the Acting Premier of South Australia and the . Minister for Railways and Works in that State. Men of common sense should.be able to settle this difficulty without litigation. I hope that the Commonwealth and the States will come together in the interests of the travelling public, and of the good name of the railways of Australia. I have heard from overseas travellers, and those who visit the gold-fields and inland districts, more criticism of the section of railway between Port Augusta and Terowie than of any other line in Australia.
– Is it not a fact that this work is part of the scheme to build the north-south line?
– -I do not wish to enter into a disoussion of that subject now. My desire is to do justice to the taxpayers of the Commonwealth and of the State. I can say definitely that, if the Commonwealth purchases the Salisbury to Red Hill line from the State, there will be an actual, not merely a bookkeeping, saving of £43,000 in the interest burden now borne by the State.
– Would not that burden fall upon the Commonwealth?
– Unless this proposal is accepted, the loss to the State will be duplicated by the loss to the Commonwealth. I commend the bill to the Senate.
.- ‘ Some years ago the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works visited South Australia, and inquired into the construction of this railway, and as a result of its investigation, recommended ‘ that the line be built. The Minister should approach the State Government and urge it to discontinue its parish-pump outlook, and view this matter from a national stand-point In the event of war, the present breaks of gauge would cause vital delays. The more direct route is much to be preferred to the present tortuous and tedious journey.
– The introduction of this bill raises a vast number of considerations, concerning which I am sure the Minister could have given us more particulars had time permitted. I realize that we are within a few hours of recess, and therefore I shall be as brief as possible. Before I proceed to discuss the bill itself, I should like the Minister to say whether, if the alternative scheme mentioned by him is undertaken, the Federal Government will bear the coat of the construction by the State Government of the line from Port Pirie to Red Hill.
– It would be constructed at the cost of the State. The estimated cost would probably be about £100,000.
– I should say the cost would be nearer £250,000.
– There is only one engineering difficulty - the spanning of the Broughton River.
– The desirability or otherwise of constructing the line referred to in this measure has been discussed for many years. In my opinion the alternative proposal is preferable to that embodied in this measure; but, as it is purely problematical, it cannot properly be discussed now. The fact which we have to face is that, despite conferences between the Commonwealth and the State over many months, it has been found impossible hitherto to devise any scheme to which both governments will assent. We cannot assume, therefore, that this last-moment proposal will be accepted by the State, and for that reason I shall proceed to deal with the bill.
– Has the honorable senator read the report of the Public Works Committee?
– I cannot say that I have read it in detail, although I have probably been acquainted with its contents. I do not suppose that any honorable senator has read all that has been written on this subject during the last fifteen years. There have been many reports on this proposal., among them being one by a committee, presided over by Sir William Goodman, which condemns the scheme. The first argument advanced in support of the bill is that the construction of this railway would conduce greatly to the comfort of passengers, many of whom are oversea visitors and big commercial men in Australia. There can be no question that the breaks of gauge at Port Augusta and Terowie are most inconvenient. Of all the portions of the trans-Australian railway system which have not yet been standardized on the 4-ft.81/2-in. gauge, the section between Port. Augusta and Terowie is probably the most in need of conversion. I think that all honorable senators will admit that, in respect of the comfort of passengers, and rapidity of transport, the construction of the new line would effect a great improvement. That argument in favour of the bill is well based.
It has been urged, in the second place, that the construction of this railway would add to our means of defence, but I cannot see that that argument is sound. In my opinion, it is far more important to have a strong defence force, with a welltrained personnel, than to have the means to carry troops rapidly from place to place. The existence of a properly trained force is necessary before schemes to transport it are considered. In places the proposed line would be within two miles of Spencer’s Gulf, and if not actually within range from ships in the gulf, it certainly would be in danger from bombing seaplanes.
– An enemy would probably first attempt to destroy the Adelaide railway station.
– HUGHES. - I agree that an enemy would first seek to destroy our cities.
– If the Adelaide railway station were bombed, it would not matter much which way the trains went.
– In that event numbers of city dwellers might use the trains to visit the country, for the first time in their lives.
– The train itself might be destroyed by a bomb.
– If the railway line were destroyed, the train would.be of little use except as a place in which to sleep. In Lord Cromer’s book on Abbas II., the last Khedive of Egypt, he gives an account of intrigues between the Khedive and Abdul Hamid, Sultan of Turkey. This passage is particularly interesting -
At the present moment (1915) it is perhaps of some interest to record that about this time I was approached on the subject of allowing a railway to be constructed from Syria to Port Said … I discouraged the proposal and mentioned in the course of conversation that if at any time a railway was constructed to connect the two countries the line would, of course, have to be laid along its whole length within 100 yards of the seashore,so as to be well under the fire of the guns of the British fleet. I never heard anything more of the proposal.
Because the proposed line in South Australia will be at some points close to the coast, I suggest that the argument that it is a defence measure is not valid.
– Military experts reported favorably regarding it.
– HUGHES. - When was their report issued?
– Some years ago.
– Since then, there have been great developments in connexion with bombing aeroplanes, and gunfire from vessels at sea. We cannot accept to-day views expressed 15 or 20 years ago in regard to these matters.
– Conditions change almost from day to day.
– The third argument advanced in favour of the line is that it will provide employment for many persons who are now out of work. Of course, every member of this chamber has the utmost sympathy with the unemployed, but we should consider how to provide the largest amount of employment. In the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, delivered on the 17th February, 1932, the following passage occurred : -
It is impossible, at the present time, to proceed with large programmes of public works. The great majority of wage-earners must necessarily bc dependent upon private industry, whether, primary or secondary, for their livelihood. My advisers therefore, regard it as of cardinal importance that all possible steps should be taken to stimulate private industry, and all proposed legislation should bc viewed in the light of this consideration.
I claim that the problem is substantially the same now as it was then, and I do not hesitate to say that more employment and more fruitful results would be obtained by reducing taxation and allowing private individuals to give more work, than for this line of railway to be constructed by a government department. I am in favour of the encouragement of private enterprise, because I believe that that method is more profitable to the community and affords a greater amount of employment.
I invite the attention of honorable senators to the fact that, since the construction by the Commonwealth of the Grafton-Kyogle line, heavy loss has been experienced by the Queensland railways on the old line through Wallangarra. The Commonwealth line has succeeded at the expense of the State railway, but the community is saddled with the extra cost of operating the two lines which serve substantially the same country.
– The estimates of the cost of the Kyogle line were all at sea.
– They were of a most fragmentary nature. It cannot be said that my opposition to this bill is prompted by the desire to restrict employment. I was, and still am, in favour of the completion of Parliament House, Adelaide, which would mean an expenditure of about £250,000, and would benefit the unemployed. Yet, at n recant meeting of the Australian Labour party, a motion was carried, by a very small majority, in opposition to that proposal. If the line were standardized on the Quorn-Terowie route, much employment would be provided. This line would prove of great convenience, and it would be more valuable from the defence point of view. Strategically, the inner -route would be the safer, and would have to be used if the other were destroyed.
I now propose to state the main arguments that can be advanced in opposition to the Government’s proposal. I understand that the alternative scheme would cost £450,000 less than the proposal in the bill. Owing to the difficulty in disposing ‘of our primary products, because of the heavy fall in the price of wool and the low prices received for wheat, meat and’ nearly every other primary product, we shall probably experience a large falling-off of federal revenue in the coming year. On the other hand, grants to wheat-growers, larger payments to old-age pensioners and other extra expenditure, will raise our outgoings to a higher point in some cases than ever before. During the coming year, I think that we shall lose a great deal of revenue that we are receiving this year.
– Does the honorable senator not admit that if we do not construct the line proposed in the bill, the time will come when almost all passengers will travel from Adelaide to Port Augusta by motor car? In that event, will not the taxpayer have to bear the cost of keeping the present uneconomic line in operation?
– I shall touch upon that point later.
– Has the honorable senator considered this proposal as a national one?
– Yes ; I am trying to consider it as an Australian, and a man of average intelligence. We should have regard to influences which are likely to render a great many of our railway lines out of date in a comparatively few years.
In the second place, opposition to the proposal embodied in the bill comes from the South Australian Government. Whether it is voiced by members of the State ministry or Sir William Goodman’s committee, there is general antagonism to the proposal. The Minister in charge of the measure (Senator
McLachlan) has been in conference with these gentlemen, and he can vouch for the correctness of my statement. It is not desirable to force a State to agree to a scheme which it does not wish to accept. The bill would mean that if the State does not agree to the alternative proposal, the original proposition will be forced upon it whether it likes it or not. That is not a desirable state of affairs. It is not wise for the Commonwealth to override a State. Such action would inevitably lead to hopeless bickering after the line had been put into operation and if there were dual control at the Adelaide railway station, there would be little chance of the two authorities working well together.
– There is no trouble over the operation of the Kyogle line in Queensland.
– I do not admit that; but, even if it were so, that railway was desired by Queensland, whilst the present proposal is being forced on South Australia against the wish of the people of that State. If this line is constructed in antagonism to South Australia, the unfriendly relations will continue. The Senate is primarily a States house, and it should see that the States are not coerced in these matters. Personally, I hope that some agreement will be reached between the Commonwealth and South Australia, but I shall not take any part in coercing my State into agreement with a proposal which it claims it is not bound to accept.
– Why not take the trans-Australian railway through Hay and leave Adelaide out altogether
– That is a possibility.
– Quite so ; but I presume that that could happen’ only if unification were brought about. I do not imagine that the Commonwealth Government would enter State territory and build a line there without the States’ consent.
– Such a line would be more than a mile away from Spencer’s Gulf.
– The Commonwealth could resume the land necessary for defence purposes.
– Under either proposal, the railway would be brought to Port Pirie. I do not see that the defence question arises, as both lines would come within a couple of miles of the coast. I should like to have had an opportunity to check the depths of water at the head of Spencer’s Gulf, to ascertain definitely whether a man-of-war could approach within sufficient range of the line to destroy it by either direct or indirect shell fire. Although a chart exists, it is not available in Canberra.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 7.15 p.m.
– I propose now very briefly to deal with the third argument: the legal aspect of this matter. If honorable senators will look at the Agreement Act of 1925, and particularly at the act of 1930, they will find that their preambles simply bristle with “ whereases “. In this particular bill, the fourth “ whereas “ of the preamble reads that -
Whereas all such doubts have now been removed and there is no doubt that the consent of the said State to the construction of the said railway by the Commonwealth i» still in force and effect . . .
Why, if there is no doubt, is there need to recite the fact? I venture to say that there is doubt - that at any rate the State Government will say that this agreement, which was arrived at about ten years ago, has become invalid because of the ten years that have been allowed to elapse without this particular portion of it having been put into effect. There is also a reasonable possibility of doubt - and I have not the slightest doubt myself - that if negotiations between the two sovereign authorities fail there will be an application to the court to restrain the Commonwealth from proceeding in this matter. One can imagine what a bad effect that would have. I urge that this matter be composed by agreement and not by coercion.
I come now to the fourth argument. It relates to the general subject of railway extensions and opens up a tremendous vista which I can only touch in very brief fashion.
– This means not an extension but a contraction of the line.
– It means an extension of the actual mileage of railways in the State. The whole trend to-day is away from fixed lines and towards, first of all, motor transport, and secondly, the air. We have been facing a big problem in recent years. I do not want to give the impression that I think all railways could or should be abruptly discarded if that were possible. We have an enormous system that has cost the States a vast sum and there can be no idea of this being suddenly relinquished. But to maintain our railway system - to try and get time by passing transport acts to restrain mobile transport - is one thing and to construct expensive additional lines is quite another. Honorable senators may have read in the Victorian press about three months ago a very interesting and able survey of the transport problem of Victoria by Mr. Kent Hughes, who, at the time, was Minister for Transport in the Argyle Government. He put it that a certain number of the railway lines of the State would have to go. That is the position he had to face. The whole trend at the present time is away from fixed lines towards something more mobile. In all the southern States, at least - Western Australia, Victoria, and my own State - if it had not been for transport acts we should have had the railways running at far greater loss than they are to-day. It is simply by governmental intervention that it is possible for the railways to carry on, even with the unsatisfactory results with which they are carrying on to-day. We have to face the fact that, except for long haulage, there is going to be an increasing trend towards mobile transport, and also towards the air. That answers the interjection of Senator Daly before dinner: “Does not the honorable senator think that every one would travel by road to Port Augusta?” Everybody would do so if the road towards Port Augusta through Wilmington and Melrose were in a better condition than it is. Many do, but the Transport Board prevents motorists plying for hire from carrying passengers between Port Augusta and Adelaide except on the one day of the week when there is no rail competition. Mr. Kent Hughes faced this problem, and we, too, have to face it. It is most essential that we should not spend a great deal of money on a system that will be simply adding more money to what has already been expended without in any way improving the collective revenues of the Commonwealth and the States. I have here a long quotation from a speech by Professor Shann, but do not propose to read it in full. Speaking at Adelaide, he said -
Sometimes when 1 hear men in high places talking of spending scores of millions on reconditioning the railways - railways already groaning under excessive capital accounts - I have a desperate sense that our leaders arc stumbling along with brains benumbed by habit . . . Instead of building railways, we should be building aerodromes and equipping them on the most efficient plans known. Our preparations for civil progress will at the same time give us defensive strength, for an air-using Australia, well furnished with aerodromes along her habitable coast, would be well nigh impregnable.
A year or two ago I read in a book entitled, The New Russia, eight talks broadcast by well-known men, including Sir Bernard Pares, H. G. Wells, and H. R. Knickerbocker. Speaking on transport in Russia, Mr. Frank Owen said -
Here is a land which covers a sixth of the land surface, of the world, which stretches in an unbroken line from the Baltic to the Yellow Sea, from the Arctic Circle almost to the mountain frontier of India … It possesses only 77,000 kilometres of railway, and even the Five-year Plan will only add another 8,000.
Seventy-seven thousand kilometres is about 50,000 miles. Mr. Owen went on to say -
But if the railways remain a severe handicap to their progress, they have made huge strides in the very latest development of travel - the air services . . . Russia is a land in many ways ideally suited to flying, a land so vast that flying is the only way in which the barrier of space can be overcome.
In its vast spaces, Russia is very similar to the land in which we live -
Her other modes of transport, railways, motors, ships, will bo accelerated and extended in the next few years. But in the real sense of conquering distance, Russia will miss out a complete stage of development and go direct into the transport realm of the future, into the air.
Will our 5-ft. 3-in gauge lines in Victoria and the rest of those in South Australia ever be unified?
– In my previous view, I always inclined towards the construction of this particular portion of railway from Port Augusta to Adelaide. I realized the discomforts of the present arrangement, and was one of those who believed that general unification was a good thing. 1 was not in Parliament when the act of 1930 was passed, but I have expressed this view and have held it up till quite a recent day. I heard that there was a chance of some unification, and I thought that this was definitely the best point from which to start.
But at least three things have happened since the beginning of this year that have made me very much alter my views with regard to this proposal at the present time. The first of these is the general European situation, which does not justify any considerable and unnecessary spending of our money in the position in which we now are. The second is the heavy fall in wool prices and the prices of our primary products generally, which has become accentuated, and clarified as the summer has gone on. The third is the hostility of the State Government. Fourthly, I cannot sec how we can pass a bill like this, with an alternative to it, when the bill itself may and will be used as a lever to force, the State to accept one or other of these alternatives. As to the first alternative, the State, through its government, has stated its opposition to it. There is an alternative, but the Slate may not approve of it. In any case, I see no prospect of the State being able to raise £250,000 which, apparently, it will be expected to raise, for building, not a railway that it desires itself, but one which the Commonwealth desires to construct. It cannot afford to do that.
The Postmaster-General (Senator McLachlan) knows that South Australia budgeted for a deficit of something over £900,000 last year, and, speaking from memory, I think the estimated deficit for this year is something between £600,000 and £650,000. How can a State that has had to cut radically, that was hit by the depression at an earlier stage than any other State - and, despite its difficulties, has made a tremendous effort to balance its budget - be expected to put up an extra £250,000 to provide for a scheme which I believe it would prefer to that which, has been laid down but which, after all, is a Commonmon wealth scheme? My opinion is that when this proposal is put up to the State Government it will say that this is the scheme which it prefers, but that it cannot borrow the money to give effect to it and will not be able to do so for some years.
– If the Commonwealth Government found the money, would it not then be an Australian line?
– I think it would be, as the honorable senator suggests, an Australian line, but also a State line. If the alternative, is put to the State, then the Commonwealth, giving the State the alternative, ought to pay for it just as it would pay for the original proposal. I welcome this because for one reason I think it would cost nearly £500,000 less than the other proposal would do. It would also leave only the one break at Port Pirie, instead of two, and the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge would be entirely eliminated. Another point is that Commonwealth control would remain at Port Pirie instead of going to Adelaide. I would welcome it, because the loss which the State would incur would be less than if the proposal embodied in the bill were adopted. That is to say, the traffic which now moves down the eastern line through Quorn and Peterborough would, under this proposal, remain on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge line to Terowie, where it would be transferred to the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge.
I regret having detained the Senate at such length. If I have put the case inadequately, it is because I have endeavoured to condense my remarks. I have given what I consider valid arguments against committing ourselves to expenditure which I do not think is justified at present, and which could be more suitably and more economically distributed by private enterprise. At the same time, we should not encourage hostility between the Commonwealth and the State concerned. All through the negotiations South Australia has acted in a friendly manne., and it should not be forced into a position of open hostility in connexion with a project which I know the Commonwealth Government intends should benefit the Commonwealth and the State concerned. In these circumstances I have no alternative but to oppose the bill in its present form.
– When the ‘original bill providing for the construction of a railway from Port Augusta to Red Hill was before the Senate on the 16th December, 1930, I gave the measure my wholehearted support, because, according to the preamble, the line was to be built only if South Australia gave its consent - a consent required under the Constitution. On that occasion Senator Rae said -
Did not Western Australia promise to convert to the standard gauge the railway between Kalgoorlie and Fremantle?
The Parliament of that State passed a measure authorizing that conversion. Since then, it has passed resolutions urging the Federal Government to carry out the work, so that there should be no break of gauge between Port Augusta and Fremantle.
Both Houses of the Western Australian Parliament urged the Commonwealth Government to provide the money, and to construct a broad-gauge railway, not only from Port Augusta to Red Hill, but also from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle. When Senator Rae said that the State Government should undertake that work, I replied -
It passed a measure authorizing the work, but in view of the serious effect of federation on Western Australia, the people of that State feel that the financing of the conversion of the gauges is entirely a federal responsibility. I trust tha.t we may regard this bill as an earnest of the Government’s intention to undertake that work.
After referring at some length to the work, I concluded -
I trust that this legislation will be the forerunner of another measure, wider which the Commonwealth will consent to undertake the conversion to the standard gauge of the existing railway f.rom Kalgoorlie to Fremantle, and thus provide a line without any break of gauge from Red Hill to Fremantle. This is a national responsibility. Both Houses of the Western Australian Parliament have passed a resolution asking the Federal Parliament to do its duty in this respect, and I sincerely trust that this important work will be proceeded with in the near future.
The policy which I supported in 1930 is that which I am advocating to-day. I urge the Commonwealth Government to adopt the proposal supported by both Houses of the Western Australian Parliament, and thus obviate the breaks of gauge referred to by the Minister. The Commonwealth should find the whole of the money and undertake all the work of providing a broad-gauge railway from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle. Seeing that the Commonwealth Government is anxious to obviate breaks of gauge for defence and national development purposes, it should construct a standard-gauge railway at its own expense from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle. In dealing with the measure under the conditions existing to-day I am torn by conflicting emotions. My first desire is to protect the rights of the States and particularly the rights of the weaker States. If the Government can assure me that the South Austraiian Government is prepared to agree to the construction of this line I shall give the measure my whole-hearted support. The Constitution provides that the federal Parliament shall have full power to construct railways within a State, provided that the State concerned gives its consent. I take it that that means the consent of the State at the time the project is under consideration.
– The South Australian Government consented to the construction of this line.
– I am not sure of that. The Commonwealth should not take any advantage of legal technicalities. I should like the State to say definitely if it is now agreeable to the construction of the line.
– The Premier of South Australia (Mr. Butler) supported the proposal.
– If the Government can prove that the consent of the South Australian Government is now available, I shall offer no objection.
– If I produce a speech delivered by the present Premier of South Australia in support of the bill, will he withdraw his opposition?
– How long ago?
– When the agreement *y ob entered into.
– In 1930 the ex- Attorney-General (Mr. Latham), a gentleman of great legal and political ability, doubted the legality of the undertaking so far as South Australia’s consent was concerned.
– Mr. Latham was not the Attorney-General in 1930.
– No; but he expressed an opinion on the subject. As a strong supporter of the rights of sovereign States, I wish to be assured that the consent of the South Australian Government has been obtained before I support this measure.
– Is the honorable senator in favour of State governments meeting their obligations?
– I believe in States honouring their obligations; and during my brief experience in federal politics, I have found that the State governments have honoured their obligations in a manner that might well be emulated by the federal authorities. In view of existing financial and economic circumstances it is the clear and urgent duty of the Commonwealth Government to continue the railway on the standard gauge from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle.
– What has that to do with the bill.
– Considerable discussion occurred on the subject when the original bill was before this chamber and I am entitled to refer to it. I trust that the South Australian Government will approve the construction of the line from Bed Hill to Port Augusta, as by that means railway communication between Western Australia, the eastern States and the Federal Capital would be improved. When I passed through Adelaide a few weeks ago, I read in the Advertiser a statement to the effect that Mr. Lyons had definitely promised that this railway would not be constructed unless the State Government was a consenting party to the undertaking.
– The publication of the statement is no guarantee that it was made.
– If the promise was made by Mr. Lyons, the
Ministiy should not proceed with the proposal.
– The bill would not have been introduced if Mr. Lyons had given that promise.
– I have a copy of the original bill for the construction of the railway from Port Augusta to Red Hill. The preamble reads -
And whereas by the said act of the State of South Australia that State consented to the construction and carrying out by the Commonwealth of the railways and railway works and operations which the Commonwealth by the said agreement undertook to construct and carry out subject to the condition that, if the construction of the said railway from Port Augusta to Bed Hill referred to in the said agreement were not commenced by the Commonwealth within such period (being not less than three years from the date of the commencement of the said act of the State of South Australia) as was notified to the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth by the Premier of the said State within twelve months of the said commencement, the said consent should as regards the said railway be null and void.
– The notification by the State Premier was never made.
– When Parliament passed the bill in December, 1930, it accepted the condition that consent by the State was conditional on the commencement, by the Commonwealth, of the work within the period mentioned. Even if the Premier of South Australia did not notify consent, I should strongly object to the Commonwealth Government oppressing one of the weaker States because of some technical omission on its part.
– Even although Western Australia was in favour of the line?
– I should never, on a technical point, enforce the acceptance by any State of an undertaking that was not approved by the government of that State. Under the Constitution the Commonwealth is empowered to carry out railway construction works and railway extensions in any State with the consent of that State. I should have to be quite satisfied that such consent was unreservedly given before I could vote for any work being put in hand by the Commonwealth Government.
The preamble to the bill of 1930 states further -
And whereas the Premier of the said State did not within twelve months of the said commencement notify any period as the period within which the construction and carrying out of the said railway should be commenced:
And whereas by reason of the fact that the Premier of the said State did not within the said period of twelve months notify the said Prime Minister as aforesaid, doubts have arisen as to whether the consent of the said State to the construction of the said railway by the Commonwealth is still in full force and effect, and it is expedient that those doubts be removed before the commencement of this act.
That preamble suggested the existence of a doubt as to whether the consent of the State had been given to the proposed federal work.
– This bill says that there is no doubt on that point.
– I am endeavouring to make clear the view held by South Australia at that time.
I listened carefully to the interesting and informative speech delivered by the Postmaster-General (Senator McLachlan) when moving the second reading, and I did not hear him say anything about the approval of the State having been now obtainable to this legislation. The preamble to the 1930 bill goes on to state -
And whereas it is desirable that the construction of the said railway should be authorized by the Parliament.
Then follow the usual clauses of a bill, giving legislative effect to the intention of the Government.
I have received from the Minister of Railways in South Australia an interesting statement setting out the views of the Government of that State. This document was, I understand, compiled by the Premier. It confirms my previous view that South Australia is not now willing to give its assent to the construction of this line. I desire to see the work proceeded with as soon as possible. I should also like to see the Government put in hand another important railway proposal - a standard gauge line from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle - the construction of which has the approval of both Houses of the Western Australian Parliament. If South Australia is not prepared to consent to this arrangement for the construction of a Commonwealth line from Red Hill to Port Augusta, it is the obvious duty of this Government to proceed with construction at the other end. There will be no occasion for Ministers, to get intoa flurry if the scheme, covered by this bill is not accepted. The Government has a large sum of money at its disposal, and, apparently, it is anxious to spend it in standardizing; railway gauges throughout the Commonwealth. It could not put it to a better use than by expending it on a standard gauge line from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle, thus making it possible for persons to travel in comfort and without break of gauge from Fremantle to the eastern States. The sooner that the Commonwealth Government realizes the importance of this national undertaking the better. It should get on with the job and justify its existence.
– Since the introduction of the bill this afternoon, I have felt a desire to pinch myself to make certain that I was not dreaming, and that visions were not about. This bill is one of the most amazing proposals that has been brought before the Senate for some considerabletime. One wonders if Ministers are somany Rip Van Winkles, and have been asleep for the last ten or fifteen years, or whether they are suffering from some obsession. Having regard to the developments that have taken place in recent years in means of transport, I am amazed that the Government should bring down a bill for railway construction in this year of grace. Railways, like stage coaches, have had their day. They must now make way for other methods’ of transport. I am also amazed at the introduction of this proposal for another reason - the unsatisfactory financial position of the Commonwealth. Every State is facing tremendous deficits, and is likely to be facing them for several years. Although Commonwealth finance are supposed to be buoyant, the surplus this year is no guarantee of continued prosperity.
The estimated cost of the railway provided for in this bill is about £750,000. I am amazed that the Government should endeavour to force on a reluctant State additional expenditure of approximately £250,000 for the construction of its section under this proposal. It has been argued that the railway will be a convenience to the travelling public. That is true, but I submit that it is a luxury which we cannot afford. I tremble when I think of the troublous times that are ahead of this country unless come extradordinary improvement takes place in our overseas markets. In any case, we must expect grave difficulties for at least two or three years. This certainly is no time for tha Commonwealth to undertake light-heartedly the expenditure of such a large sum of money for what is, after all, a luxury.
I come now to another reason advanced by the Minister, namely, that this line would be of value as a means of defence. I do not propose to start a discussion on the pros and cons of this proposal from a defence point of view; I merely say that the defence value of the railway would be doubtful. The military mind is largely conservative, and instead of thinking of the last war and the lessons which it taught, military authorities, for the most part, are thinking of the wars that preceded it. In my opinion, we -shall not, in future wars, as in the last war, see “cannon fodder” being transported in trains. Incidentally, we need not worry about that in this country, for we have no army to transport. What is the use of talking about railways for the -carriage of troops to defend this country when we have no troops? If the expenditure of three-quarters of a million pounds on this railway is intended as a means of defence, then I say, “forget it, spend the money on aeroplanes, civil aviation, the training of pilots, and you will get some value for your money “.
The Minister also urged that the construction of this line would provide employment. I do not deny that; but I submit that the same amount of money could be spent to better purpose and provide more employment. In this age of invention, railways are gradually passing out of use. Were it not for the legislation which has been passed by some of the States of Australia, the railways of this country would be in a much worse financial position than they are now. Motor transport is penalized in every way by the legislation of the States, whilst the heavy duty on petrol imposed by the Commonwealth is a serious handicap. The day of the mechanized vehicle is only dawning. In my opinion, the day of the railway will soon pass, except for certain classes of freight over long distances. Yet, here we are, at this critical time in our history, lightheartedly considering the expenditure of three quarters of a million pounds, and trying to force a reluctant State to incur additional heavy expenditure. I am amazed that this bill has been introduced. In no circumstances could I vote for it. Without meaning to be offensive, 1 say that I consider that in. this enlighened age it is a piece of unutterable folly.
– I propose to support the bill. Senator Sampson said that he wondered whether he should pinch himself to find whether or not he was awake. He went on to say that the construction of this line of railway would be a luxury which Australia cannot afford, and that in trying to afford it we would create unemployment.
– I did not say that. I said that the money could be used to better purpose and provide more employment.
– I accept that. But, surely, the honorable member’s memory is not so short that he has forgotten that only last week he voted for a proposal to put coolie labour on the vessels trading between Tasmania and the mainland, thereby throwing decent Australian seamen out of work in order to provide luxury trips for sea passengers.
– That is not correct.
– The Navigation Act was designed to protect decent Australian seamen, whereas the proposal for which the honorable senator voted the other day meant more luxury for travellers by the substitution of coolies for- white labour under Australian conditions. We may well thank God that the Industrial Arbitration Act will prevent coolies from making and driving the engines, and from working in the dining saloons of the trains which pass over our railways. When honorable senators tell us that they are amazed that we should consider a proposal for the provision of a luxury service, I invite them to examine their conscience as I now examine mine in ray last hours in this Senate. I do not believe that the construction of this railway would be a luxury, I regard it as a necessity.
– Judged by the time taken to consider its construction it does not appear to be a necessity.
– I admit that the matter has been tinkered with. Early in my political career I visited Melbourne, with a number of others, at the request of the then Premier of South Australia, Mr. Butler, to place before the then Prime Minister, Mr. Bruce, the claims of South Australia for a grant to compensate that State foi- the disabilities from which” it suffered as a result of federation. Mr. Bruce listened attentively to our representations, and eventually the Commonwealth Government agreed to make a grant to South Australia, on condition that a railway line was constructed between Red Hill and Port Augusta. After that, the Scullin Government came into power, and I candidly admit that the matter was held up because of opposition by supporters of the Government to the construction of that railway. I have never wavered in my belief that, if the East-West line is to be kept open, Port Augusta and Adelaide must be connected by a speedier service than now exists. That is the only aspect of this question that concerns me. I agree that the modern mode of transport makes the difficulties of our railway systems almost insuperable, but the fact remains that the taxpayers of Australia have to keep the East- West railway open. That line has now to meet the competition of a speedy motor vessel between Adelaide and Perth, and also motor land transport between Adelaide and Port Augusta. If honorable senators believe that the long stretch of country between Kalgoorlie and Port Augusta should not be served by a railway I could understand their opposition to this bill; but if they knew anything about that country, they would realize that there is no possible chance of the Commonwealth Commissioner of Railways making the eastwest railway pay unless the frightful journey between Port Augusta and Adelaide via Terowie is cut out. As an instance of the tedious nature of that journey, I mention that on his way overseas the Prime Minister left the express on its arrival at Adelaide, made various calls during the morning and lunched at Parliament House. He left Adelaide by motor car about 2.30 p.m., and after attending a reception at Port Pirie arrived at Port Augusta two hours before the train which had left Adelaide at about 10 a.m. It is impossible to compete with motor transport so long as the present circuitous route via Peterborough and Terowie has to be travelled.
Were I disposed to discuss this matter from a South Australian stand-point, I could inform Senator Sampson that there is a strong agitation to link Sydney with Perth by means of a direct line from Port Augusta through Broken Hill.
– That would be a much better route.
– Prom the point of view of Australia, and particularly of Australian workmen, it would be better to man the vessels which travel between the mainland and Tasmania with white crews under Australian conditions. From a South Australian and “Victorian point of view the proposal to join Sydney with Port Augusta by rail is a bad one. If the proposal contained in this bill is agreed to, the agitation for the other line will be killed, and the traffic will still pass through the capital cities of Adelaide and Melbourne. I cannot understand the agitation against it. I can only explain it as having the same parochial basis as Senator Sampson’s objection. Let us take a broad national view of the proposal. We have the lines; we are anxious to link all the States together and increase the possibility of operating the railway systems at something like a reasonable profit. We have heard a great deal about South Australia’s rights; but surely that State “has some obligations also, under the contract which was entered into with the Commonwealth.
– Especially as the Commonwealth has fulfilled its part.
– Yes. I hold a copy of the South Australian Hansard for 1926, when the bill was introduced into the State Parliament for the construction of the north-south railway; the terms upon which the Commonwealth was to construct theRed Hill to Port Augusta line were contained in the bill, and the only reason for any difference of opinion between the various legal authorities of the Commonwealth, and the State was that, on some technical grounds, South Australia might evade its responsibility. South Australia’s claim is devoid of morals; the Commonwealth has carried out its obligations, and South Australia should do likewise.
– Has it carried out its earlier obligations to construct the line across Australia from north to south?
– It has carried out the contract which is the basis of the Port Augusta toRed Hill railway project. The two sovereignties - South Australia and the Commonwealth - made a certain compact; the Commonwealth having carried out its portion of the compact, South Australia should not, on some technical grounds, seek to avoid or evade its obligations. All the practical difficulties which have been raised recently were considered when the then Premier of South Australia, the Honorable John Gunn, introduced the bill into the South Australian Parliament. They were considered by the present Premier of South Australia, Mr. Butler, then Leader of the Opposition, who voiced no protest against linkingRed Hill with Port Augusta, but suggested an alternative scheme, which has been mentioned by the Postmaster-General (Senator McLachlan) to-night. He did not say that there were any practical difficulties in the way of having two lines running to Port Augusta, nor did he foresee the vulnerability of such a line in time of war. All parties in the State Parliament accepted this compact, and I say with all charity that South Australia should stand up to its obligations, and should not seek some technical excuse for escaping them. In supporting the bill, I can satisfy my conscience as a State representative by the facts, first, that I believe the line is necessary; secondly, that a State should not repudiate obligations into which it has entered; and, thirdly, that I believe that eventually the work will have to be undertaken, and that it is better to do it to-day, and put men into work instead of keeping them on the dole.
Most of this work will be performed by navvies, and practically the whole of the cost of construction will be for labour. South Australia to-day has a huge army of unemployed. Certain projects to alleviate the distress among the unemployed have been put forward, and I am sorry to say the party to which I belong has seen fit to reject one of them - the completion of Parliament House, Adelaide. Certain sections of my party were also opposed to the construction of theRed Hill to Port Augusta railway.
– “Would the honorable senator describe the completion of Parliament House as a reproductive work ?
-Parliament House will eventually have to be completed, and it is better to undertake work of this sort at a time when many of our people are struggling for existence than at some later date when it might he necessary to bring an army of men from overseas to supply the deficiencies of the labour market.
– If the honorable senator believes in unification, the completion of the State Parliament House is unnecessary.
– Even if unification were achieved, the State Parliament House would still be necessary. The honorable senator might as well say that, as Senator Johnston advocates secession, the ‘standardized railway from Port Augusta to Fremantle will not be necessary. Under unification, we shall still require some State body to control local affairs.
– They could be controlled by a State council or by the municipalities.
– Even if the control were by a municipal council, the building would be an asset upon the security of which the Commonwealth could increase its overdraft. However, whether we have unification or not, theRed Hill to Port Augusta railway line must be built, otherwise the other section of the line will have to be closed. This Parliament must take the responsibility of saying whether the other portion of the line should be closed, if it rejects the proposal now before it. I agree with the report of the Parliamentary Committee on Public “Works referred to by Senator Barnes; I agree with the recommendations of the Commonwealth Commissioner for Railways, I am in sympathy with the agitation on the part of the better-informed section of the South Australian public for the construction of the line ; and I believe that it is better to build it to-day than to allow men to be living on the banks of the Torrens River, and collecting the dole from the South Australian Government, when they could be employed on this work.
– I am impelled to vote against the second reading. It appears to mefrom what the Minister said when introducing the measure that we are being called upon to consent to the ratification of an agreement which is not to be carried out. Alternative propositions have been put up, neither of which, I understand, has the consent of the South Australian Government. I came into this Senate as a State representative. My object has always been to preserve the sovereignty of the States. I have objected and shall continue to object to any infringement of State powers by the Commonwealth, without the consent of the State.
The preamble of the bill contains the following statement which I regard as unnecessary : -
And whereas all such doubts have now been removed and there is now no doubt that the consent of the said State to the construction of the said railway by the Commonwealth is still in full force and effect.
I have no doubt that that is the legal opinion given to this Government. But recently some of the legal opinions given to this Government have not stood the test of the High Court and other judicial bodies. The legal views by which the South Australian Government is guided are diametrically opposed to those upon which the Commonwealth relies. I suggest, therefore, that the phraseology of the bill would be improved if the passage I have read were omitted. If the South Australian people wished to have this railway constructed, and were prepared to build it or allow the Commonwealth to build it, I should vote for the bill. But I shall not support a measure which may be used to coerce the State Government into doing something which the
South Australian people do not want. It has been said that the State act passed on the 26th February, 1926, ceased to be binding upon the State before the Commonwealth Act of 1930 was passed.
– Is not that merely a technical defence?
– I cannot say. Wehave two sets of conflicting legal opinions. Under the Constitution the Commonwealth cannot construct railways or extend railways in any State without theconsent of that State. In this case theSouth Australian Government has not: consented. For that reason only I intend to oppose the second reading of the bill, and I shall not be satisfied to support such a measure until I know that it has the consent of the South Australian: Government.
– I assure Senator Grant that the South Australian Government under its own legislation specifically consented to the construction of this line and, in plain terms, approved of this agreement which we now seek to carry into force.
– With certain reservations.
– Section 3 of the South Australian act reads -
The State hereby consents to the construction and carrying out by the Commonwealth: of the railways and railway works and operations which the Commonwealth undertakes by the agreement to construct and carry out: Provided that if the construction of therailway from Port Augusta to Red Hill referred to in the agreement is not commenced: by the Commonwealth within such period (being not less than three years from the dateof the commencement of this act) as is notified to the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth by the Premier of the State, within twelve months after the said commencement,, the consent given by this section shall, as regards such railway, be null and void.
It has been suggested that the consent has lapsed because this undertaking was not carried out within three years. I invite honorable senators to mark the conditions. In the first place the period within which work was to be undertaken was to be not less than three years, and “ within such period as notified to the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth by the Premier of the State “. The Premier of the State had to give that notification within twelve months. Reliance is- placed upon the fact that this undertaking has not been carried out within three years or within the period of notice, but the obligation to give notice was placed on the Premier of South Australia by his own State legislation. The doubt in the mind of the last Government in this regard was created by an opinion of the then Crown Solicitor of South Australia.
I come now to the bill passed by this Parliament in 1930. A great deal of -stress was laid by Senators Johnston and Grant upon the point that some doubt as to our authority in this regard was expressed in that legislation. I point out, however, that what we are proposing in this bill could have been done by executive act. If the Government had not desired to give this Parliament an opportunity to -discuss the whole question it could have advised His Excellency the GovernorGeneral to issue a proclamation under section 2 of the act of 1930, and that act, with its appropriation power, would have come into operation.
– The honorable senator, with all his temerity, would not have been game to do that.
– As to that, I may say that I went to South Australia in the role of peacemaker with the object of getting the Commonwealth and the State out of what promised at the time to be a law suit. My own opinion is that there will be no litigation. One honorable senator, who is a Scot, said this evening that the Commonwealth Government ought to pay for the alternative. I have a hazy idea that that is what is in mind.
– It is in ray mind all right, but I have not communicated with the State government about it.
– Quite so, hut these things, are, so to speak, sometimes picked up in the air. Senator Johnston alluded to a statement which he said was made by the Prime Minister, Mr. Lyons. If the right honorable gentleman had made any such statement as that attributed to him this bill would not have been introduced. Mr. Lyons said the State would be consulted. It has been consulted on three different occasions; a wealth of correspondence has taken place between the Commonwealth and the State. There has been no default on the part of the Commonwealth. I suggest to honorable senators that we have to look upon this as a sort of tidying-up provision. If we examine the long and tedious route followed between Adelaide and Port Augusta we shall see that this bill provides a very important link between the eastern States and our more distant friends of Western Australia, some of whom complain of their tremendous isolation.
The one point raised during this debate that has appealed to me is that this is an extravagant proposal. If I thought it was, I should not advocate it. I believe that if we could have brought about the purchase of the line from Bed Hill to Adelaide it would have resulted, in a saving to the State as well as to the Commonwealth. It has been said that this proposal runs counter to the policy of the Government to endeavour to stimulate private enterprise. It is true that that is, and has always been, the policy of the Government, and was so expressed in the Governor-General’s Speech at the opening of the Parliament. But a further policy was enunciated on the hustings - the policy that we should assist the States in their unemployment position. It is pursuant to that policy that we have thought again of carrying out this work Which, at all events, will result in some sort of asset to Australia.
– Like the rest of the railways it will probably be not an asset, but a liability.
– But the total liability in respect of the railways will be reduced by this undertaking. Senator Sampson and Senator DuncanHughes suggested that there should be no extension of our railway system - that we should cut it out; but since we have these railways we should try to make the best of them. I believe that the almost impossible budgetary position of the States is due largely to the loss, mismanagement and lack of business methods in the control of our railways. But as Senator Sir George Pearce has said, this means cohesion rather than a loosening out, and should be undertaken, regardless of whether the Commonwealth or the State body politic will reap the benefit. It might just as well be argued that, as Postmaster- General, I should not construct any more telegraph and telephone lines, because a few years hence they may be useless.
The quotation made by Senator Grant has not convinced me. If I were convinced that it would not be economic to carry out this work I should not support it. This proposal may be modified, or the State may accept the alternative. I have donemy best to reconcile conflicting interests, and have suffered the usual fate of the man who interferes between man and wife. My actions have been criticized by some of the newspapers of South Australia. That, however, does not deter me from doing what I believe to be in the interest of taxpayers. It has been objected that South Australia will be forced to agree to this proposal. But is it the desire of the Senate that the Commonwealth should go cap-in-hand to the State because of the doubts expressed? If the consent is not there - if the State is right in its contention - there is a tribunal which will decide the matter. But God forbid that we should ever reach such a position. I am convinced that if it were a transaction between two business men it would be quickly settled.
– ‘Would the honorable senator auggest a. reference to arbitration?
– I, personally, would be quite willing to arbitrate, but the Government has to determine the policy that shall be adopted. We are on the best possible terms with South Australia, but we have to be careful to preserve our own rights. All our efforts have been made without prejudice. Listening to some honorable senators who have spoken one would imagine that we were forcing this proposal upon the State, whereas the actual position is that we are only asking the State to carry out its obligation.- We are prepared in that connexion to meet it in the way I have been authorized by the Acting Prime Minister to indicate to the Senate this evening. We are not proposing to coerce the State. The State Government has agreed to the scheme. If there are legal doubts there is a means of settling them. There is no desire what ever to force the State to do anything, nor do I suggest that the State is in any way hostile to us. A certain section of the public is always ready in connexion with railway proposals to adopt a point of view that suits their own particular district. When I think of the men outback in the west country, and of what stock have to endure while travelling from the west or the far north to the Adelaide abattoirs - cattle coming from Oodnadatta and sometimes far beyond that point - I feel more than ever convinced that this scheme should be carried out. We do not wish to be ungenerous to South Australia. When in 1927 I made this offer in the bill, I proposed to recompense the State for portion of whatever it might lose in this regard.
– The position in regard to transport of stock would remain precisely as it is, under the honorable senator’s transport scheme.
– In one respect it would, but all the stock coming west from Kalgoorlie would be carried to Port Pirie at all events on the one gauge of line. At the present time they are carried to Port Augusta on a broadgauge line; they are then de-trucked and transferred to the narrow-gauge line as far as Terowie, where they are again transferred from a narrow to a broad gauge railway. With this scheme carried into effect there will be only one break of gauge for the stock that is carried. I tried to persuade the State to sell to the Commonwealth the line from Red Hill to Adelaide. That would relieve the State of a liability of £43,000. a year. When that offer was made in 1927, we suggested an agreement similar to those which exist between certain American companies.
– This bill really authorizes the raising of the money.
– That is so.
– Will the Minister explain what is meant by the words in the preamble, “ and whereas all such doubts have now been removed, &c”? Are those words necessary in a bill of this description ?
– They have been inserted on the advice of counsel. If a proclamation were not issued or some provision made such as is contained in this bill, certain points could have been used against the Government in the event of litigation. I know that the Government of South Australia is too sensible to engage in litigation over a matter of this kind. This Government feels that it is doing the right thing in the interest of the taxpayers who, in the end, have to provide the money.
Question - That the bill be now read a second time - put. The Senate divided. (President - Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives, with an amendment.
In committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ message) :
Clause 3 -
Section seven of the principal act is amended -
House of Representatives message -
Omit paragraph (b).
– I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Prosecutions under this act, as I said last night, have mainly been under section 7. But there are other sections. Under section 5 the law provides that the mere averment by the prosecutor is taken as proof until it is disproved by the personal evidence of the defendant. The averment provision had always been taken by the court and by the administration, to apply to both sections 5 and 7, but the decision of the High Court in Sydney this week was that it did not apply to section 7 but did apply to section 5. The Government, therefore, brought in a proposal to make the averment clause apply to prosecutions under section 7. That has met with a good deal of opposition in this chamber, and also in the House of Representatives, imperilling the prospects of passing other and more important parts of the bill. The Government has accepted an amendment, the effect of which is that in prosecutions under section 7we shall not be able to rely on the averment section ; we shall have to prove out case.
SenatorRAE (New South Wales) [9.3]. - It gives me great satisfaction to know that something has been accomplished as the result, of our protest in this chamber yesterday. I know we cannot assume that what we said softened the hearts of Ministers and their supporters, because we have just been told that the Government surrendered in the House of Representatives because of the fear that, if it did not give way, the bill would be lost. Nevertheless, we are thankful for small mercies. I understand, from what I heard of the debate in the other chamber, that the Government intends next session to bring in a compre-, hensive measure, and my fear is that it may attempt to take away the concession which it is now making. What we ask for is mere elementary justice, namely, that the person deemed to be a prohibited immigrant shall be informed of the charge against him so that he may have an opportunity to refute it. I was surprised at the reactionary nature of the speeches delivered by some members of the House of Representatives yesterday. Senator Foll, in this chamber, was just as reactionary. We should not seek to close our doors to the culture of the world simply because some people in this country think we are more enlightened than some of those who seek admittance.
I am glad that we have been able to accomplish something, and I remind the Government that whenever we have an opportunity we shall ask for a good deal more.
Amendment agreed to.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Assent to the following bills reported -
Sales Tax Assessment Bill (No.1) 1935.
Sales Tax Assessment Bill (No. 9) 1935.
Sales Tax Bill (No. 9) 1935.
Wheat Growers Relief Bill 1935.
The following bills were returned from the House of Representatives with messages intimating that it had agreed to the amendments made by the Senate : -
Navigation Bill 1935.
Dairy Produce Bill 1935.
Loan (Farmers’ Debt Adjustment) Bill 1935.
Spirits Bill 1935.
Motion (by Senator McLachlan) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave of absence be granted to every member of the Senate from the determination of the sitting this day to the day on which the Senate next meets.
Sitting suspended from 9.15 to 10.12 p.m.
Motion (by Senator McLachlan) agreed to -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn till 11 a.m. to-morrow.
. - I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
This morning Senator Rae asked the following questions: -
I then promised the honorable senator that the information would be obtained and a reply given later. I am now in a position to give the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: - 1 and 2. As the publication in question is deemed to be issued by, on behalf of or in the interests of an unlawful association, its transmission through the post is prohibited under section 30e of the Crimes Act. If a publication is issued on behalf of an unlawful association the prohibition contained in section 30e applies to all numbers of that publication even though some numbers may not contain seditious matter. 3 to 5. On 4th March, 1935, the National Secretary of the Friends of the Soviet Union wrote to the Postmaster-General threatening litigation regarding the prohibition of the transmission of The Soviet To-day through the post. I do not propose to furnish any information in answer to a question that will assist an organization in its threatened litigation, beyond stating that the publication is undoubtedly within the application of section 30e of the Crimes Act.
– Will the Minister be good enough to say when the Friends of the Soviet Union was declared to be an unlawful association?
– The file in connexion with this matter is not now in my keeping, and I am unable to enlarge upon the reply already given.
Senator Grant also asked this morning
Whether the Minister can inform the Senate the reason for the delay in the removal of the Sandy Bay rifle range at Hobart to a much more suitable location at Glenorchy?
In view of the projected early rising of the Senate, immediate steps were taken to obtain a reply to the honorable senator’s question. The information, as supplied by the Minister for Defence, is as follows : -
No site for a rifle range as suitable as Sand; Bay has been suggested. The department informed the Hobart City Council on9th July, 1934, of the final conditions under which a transfer of the range from Sandy Bay to a siteat Glenorchy would be agreed to. The councilhas informed the department that it agrees generally to the conditions laid down by the department, but it is at present unable to finance the scheme as it has been ascertained that the estimates of the value of the existing range submitted by the originators of the proposal have been excessive. The matter is now in abeyance pending further action by the Hobart City Council.
– “Whatever my political opinions, and however greatly they may differ from those held by my colleague from South Australia, the PostmasterGeneral (Senator McLachlan), the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce), the Acting Attorney-General (Senator Brennan), and the Government ‘Whip (Senator Foll), I desire, before retiring for a while from public life as a member of the Senate, to express my appreciation of the extreme courtesy that they have always extended to me, both as a Minister and as a private senator. I cannot hope that when those of us who now retire from the Senate again return to this chamber the present Ministers will still be on the ministerial bench, but whether there or on the Opposition side, I trust that the same good feeling that has always existed between us will continue in our future associations. I should also like to include you, Mr. President, in my expression of appreciation, particularly as I have been able only to-day to convince you that in one respect at least I was right. You, sir, have been most generous in your, treatment of the Opposition, and I thank you for the courtesy that you have extended to me personally. I cannot say too much of the courtesy and efficiency of the Clerk of the Senate (Mr. Monahan) and the Clerk Assistant (Mr. Broinowski). I hope that the Senate will always be privileged to have a staff as efficient as that which it now has. I leave this chamber with feelings of goodwill towards all honorable senators.
.- On behalf of the officers of the Senate, who are not . permitted to reply for themselves, I thank Senator Daly for his expression of thanks. I trust that I shall have an opportunity to-morrow to make appreciative reference to those honorable senators whose term expires at the end of June. Speaking for the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce), the Acting Attorney-General (Senator Brennan) and the Government “Whip (Senator Foll), as well as for myself, I thank Senator Daly for his generous expressions.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - I have received the following telegram from Senator Sir Harry Lawson : -
Regret inability attend this week. May 1 senda farewell message of regard, goodwill and thanks to senators, officers and attendants.
I thank Senator Daly for his complimentary references to myself, and assure him that whatever knowledge I now have of the Standing Orders is largely due to the stimulus given to me by the honorable senator himself. In order to answer the honorable senator’s frequent inquiry “ Under which standing order do you rule”? I determined to become thoroughly familiar with the Standing Orders. If I have acquired more than a passing knowledge of them, I have to thank Senator Daly. To-morrow, I shall take the opportunity to refer to the departure from our midst of a number of honorable senators who will not meet with us when we reassemble afterJune next.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.24 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 10 April 1935, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1935/19350410_senate_14_146/>.