14th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. F. J. Lynch) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
[3.2]. - by leave - In continuance of the policy of the Government to inform Parliament from time to time of the various phases of the dispute between Italy and Abyssinia, I have to inform the Senate that a note of protest has boon received by the Commonwealth Government from the Government of Italy, on the procedure adopted by the members of the League of Nations against Italy. A copy of this note has been laid on the table of the Parliamentary Library for the information of honorable senators.
The Commonwealth Government has received from the Secretary-General of the League of Nations, on behalf of the Co-ordination Committee, texts of four new proposals and a resolution regarding “ contracts in course of execution,” which have been transmitted to all members of the League.
Proposal IIa. relates to the suspension of clearing or payments agreements with Italy. . It also provides for amounts in payment of the purchase price of Italian products already imported, or to be imported, in respect of which payment has not yet been made, to bo lodged in a national account, which will be employed for the settlement of claims arising from exports. There is no clearing agreement between Australia and Italy, and consequently no action is necessary in regard to the first part of this proposal. The Commonwealth Government hasaccepted the latter portion of the proposal, and the amendment to the Sanctions Bill introduced into the Senate on the 13th November, 1935, would enable the Commonwealth Government to give effect, by regulation, to the measure proposed.
Proposal IIIa.: This proposal is that “ books, newspapers and periodicals, maps and cartographical productions, or printed or engraved music,” should be an exception to Proposal III., which prohibits imports from Italy or Italian colonies. The Commonwealth Government has accepted this exception to Proposal III., and provision will be made in the regulations under the act whereby such goods may be imported into Australia.
Proposal IVa. : It will be recalled that Proposal TV. related to the prohibition of certain exports to Italy such as metallic ores, rubber and transport animals, coming within the category of war material. The now proposal is that the list shall be extended by the prohibition of -
Petroleum and its derivatives, by-products and residues.
Pig iron, iron and steel (including alloy steels), cast, forged, rolled, drawn, stamped or pressed.
Coal (including anthracite and lignite), coke and agglomerates, as well as fuels derived therefrom.
I f the reply received by the Coordination Committee, and the information at its disposal warrant it, the Committee will propose to the governments of the members of the League a date for bringing the measures contemplated in this proposal into f orce. The Commonwealth Government has accepted Proposal
IVa. in principle, and is notifying the Secretary-General of the League that it is prepared to put the measures into effect on the declared date.
Proposal IVb. : By this proposal governments are asked to take measures to verify the destination of exports of prohibited products of Proposal TV., and in cases of abnormal increases in exports, totake steps to prevent products from reaching Italy or Italian possessions by indirect routes. The Commonwealth Government has decided that it will take steps to give effect to this proposal, and instructions have been issuedby the Australian Customs Department for the responsible officers of that department to report immediately any abnormal increases which come to notice, so that appropriate action may be token.The SecretaryGeneral of the League is being informed to this effect.
In addition to the above-mentioned proposals, the Committee of Eighteen has adopted a resolution whereby it is proposed that certain contracts of essential importance entered into by governments, governmental institutions or institutions solely under government administration, on which not less than 20 per cent. of amounts due thereunder has been paid by the 19th October, 1935, may bo excepted from Proposal III. relating to the prohibition of imports from Italy. To ascertain the required information for the Coordination Committee about all such contracts in Australia, a communication has been addressed to all departments and to State governments asking for particulars of contracts in course of execution. When this information is received it will be incorporated in a general report to the Co-ordination Committee.
Terms of Settlement
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCEThe right honorable the Prime Minister has supplied the following answers: -
The following papers were presented : -
Audit Act - Finance - Treasurer’s Statement of Receipts and Expenditure forthe year ended 30th June, 1935, accompanied by the Report of the Auditor-General.
Judiciary Act - Rule of Court - Dated 29th October, 1935.
– Has the Leader of the Senate noticed in Truth newspaper, of the 10th November, an article headed -
WHENTRUTH BOOTED DEFENCE DEPARTMENT.
Defeat Still Rankles.
Why Be Annoyed, Senator Pearce?
On Thursday last,speaking on the proposed amendment to the Crimes Act, the Leader of the Senate was guilty of as gross an abuse of ministerial authority and parliamentary privilege
– Order ! The honorable senator must know that when asking a question, it is out of order to read newspaper articles containing expressions of opinion, which would not be permitted to be used by honorable senators.
-I should like to know if the Leader of the Senate has read the article, and if so, does he intend to take any action?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.I do not read Truth.
– Inquiries are being made, and replies will be furnished as soon as possible to Senator Arkins with reference to the offer of a subordinate position to Mr. W. J. Grieves, who for some years was leader in the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer : - 1 and 2. The question of introducing a bill to amend the Acts Interpretation Act is at present under consideration and the matters now brought under notice by the honorable senator will receive consideration in connexion with the drafting of the bill.
Iron Ore Deposits
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether he will inform the Senate what, if any, negotiations are in progress regarding the sale to a Japanese firm of a vast iron ore deposit in New Guinea, as reported in the Sydney MorningHerald of Monday last?
– The right honorable the Prime Minister has supplied the following answer: -
No information has come to the notice of the Government concerning negotiations for the purchase of any iron ore deposits in New Guinea.
Senator McLEAY (South Australia) motion to disallow regulations under the Dried Fruits Export Control (Licences) Regulations on the 22nd October, I made the following statement concerning Mr. Howie, a member of the Dried Fruits Export Control Board: -
It is stated that at ameeting of growers in Renmark on the 22nd August, he admitted, in reply to a question, that he could see in these regulations an excellent opportunity to give the independent packers a “‘crack in the neck “. I regard such an attitude, if it be correct that Mr. Howie made the statement, as being tantamount to a hit below the belt. I have no desire to do any injustice to Mr. Howie, andI ask honorable senators to reserve their judgment pending the production of proof, as to whether the criticism is justified or not.
I have received a letter from Mr. Howie in which he says that he did not make the statement, and I have no proof that he did make it. In justice to Mr. Howie I desire to make this personal explanation before the debate on the motion for the disallowance of the regulations proceeds.
Motion to Disallow
Debate resumed from the 22nd October (vide page 894), on motion by Senator McLeay -
That Statutory Rules 1935, No. 30 [Dried Fruits Export Control (Licences) Regulations] bodisallowed.
– Senator McLeay proposes to take a very important step when he asks the Senate to disallow Statutory Rule No. 30 under the Dried Fruits Export Control Act. The whole subject of the regulation-making power has been under discussion a great deal of late, including the honorable senator’s speech on this subjectand the discussion in the Senate upon cognate subjects a few days before. The regulation-making power has gone through two stages - first, the actual and admitted growth of regulation-making power; and, secondly, the reaction in the public mind against the growing exercise of that power. The latter phase dates, I venture to think, from the publication some years ago of Lord Hewart’s book, The New Despotism. As the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) said, the noble lord and his book have been working overtime recently. This growth of the regulation-making power has been treated as an aggression on the part, of the bureaucracy, but the bureaucracy has not usurped the functions which it exercises. Whatever powers it exercises have been granted it by a superior power - the Parliament - -which, in turn, has been granted such power by the people. How does it some about that Parliament has granted these extensive and extended powers to what, in a rather derogatory sense, has been termed a bureaucracy? That question is not difficult to answer. It has come about owing to the fact that to-day Parliament is itself performing functions more of n business and industrial character than it performed a generation ago. It has entered directly into business until to-day there is scarcely a primary industry, in Australia which has escaped its maternal attention. Let us go back another stage. Are these extended powers on the part of Parliament proof of aggression by Parliament? That drives us back a stage further. Parliament, as I have said, is responsive to the wishes of the people, and these incursions into the realms of business and industry have been under the pressure of the people themselves. They demand something, and repeatedly one party bidding for support will bring forward proposals for government intervention, and another party will submit more roseate proposals, and, as in the matter of currency, had politics drive out good politics, and we soon reach the stage when there is nothing occupying the political platform except such proposals as would have made our ancestors of a generation or two earlier turn in their graves. The deduction is that this cry of oppression of the people by a bureaucracy really means that the people themselves have raised up a bureaucracy and have endowed it with powers which they wish it to exercise. It may he that like Frankenstein they have raised a monster which is in process of devouring them. It has to be remembered that we are passing through very serious and difficult time3. Let us consider what is happening in industry to-day. Governmental assistance is afforded to our dried fruits, wheat, butter and other industries, and even our protective policy itself, in so far as it is not merely for reven’ue-raising purposes, is a phase of that. policy. These extensions .and incursions of the State into industry have rendered it necessary that there should be a bureaucracy - by that we mean nothing more than a government service - to look after the interests of the Government, for the one part, and of the people, for the other part.
– Because the Government can no longer trust private enterprise.
– It can, and I myself would be perfectly willing to trust it. I merely point to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) and members of his party as persons who bid for political support by promising the moon, knowing full well that they cannot fulfil their promises. No better illustration of what I have said can be found than by reviewing what has happened in the very industry which is under discussion to-day. The Dried Fruits Export Control Actwas passed in 1924 at the request, almost unanimous, of the industry. At that time the industry was at a very low chb. More was being produced than could be consumed in Australia, and the surplus production cost more to deliver at the seaboard than it could realize when sold overseas. That state of ‘affairs, of course, could not go on for very long. At the time this act was passed the total annual production of the industry was 30,000 tons. Assistance had ‘been granted by Parliament on more than one occasion in response to the overwhelming request of those engaged in the industry. If ever an experiment was justified by results, such an experiment was the intervention of the Government in the dried fruits business. No other primary industry in Australia has had such a record of success ; production has reached as much as 75,000 tons a year. Present production is not so high, but on several occasions during recent years it lias reached the figure I have mentioned.
– If that rate of increase of production continues, would the Assistant Minister say that the industry was economically sound?
– That is a matter for the industry; it will have to adjust itself to conditions, otherwise it may reach a position, as has happened in some other industries in certain States, where the more that is produced, the less is the return to the producer. At the moment I am dealing only with the present position of the industry and with the attack made by the honorable senator upon the regulations under which it has been enabled to attain its present position. How was this excellent result brought about? It was achieved by creating a board and endowing it with very far-reaching powers, which are exercised by means of these regulations which are now being attacked. The board was set up under section 13 of the act. The regulations may be attacked upon two grounds. It might be said that they are not authorized by the act. That view apparently was expressed by Senator Hardy by interjection when Senator McLeay was speaking. With the greatest respect, I do not think that Senator !McLeay is obliged to show that these regulations go beyond the authority of the act. That is purely a legal question ; if they go beyond that authority then on the first occasion on which they are attacked in the courts, they will be set aside. As a matter of fact this very question was raised in the courts and only within the last few weeks the High Court decided ‘by a unanimous judgment that not only have these regulations been framed within the regulation-making power conferred by the act, but also that every portion of this act and every regulation in it is strictly legal. The second ground on which the regulations may he attacked is that they are politically unwise. I take it that this is the ground on which Senator McLeay bases his Attack.
I do not intend to go into details on this matter. It is sufficient to say that the board which was set up under this act consists of eight members, three of whom are nominated by the Government and the remaining five elected by the industry. The three Government nominees are not men with any special knowledge of the dried fruits business, but they are men of the very highest standing in the commercial world and have had the greatest experience in business generally. As to the elected members, every one of them is, or has been, associated with the Australian Dried Fruits Association which is shortly called the A.D.F.A. However, there is nothing remarkable in that fact, because if any body of men propose to elect representatives to deal with a particular business, they will naturally elect men who have had experience in that business or industry. And it seems that at the time the board was first elected every man of any standing in the industry was a member of the voluntary organization known as the A.D.F.A.
– Has the personnel of the board changed much since its inception ?
– I am coming to that point. If elected representatives do not give satisfaction to the growers as a whole - and one of the fetishes repeatedly put forward to-day is that each industry should be allowed to control its own destiny - the growers have ample opportunity to replace them. The first election was held, in 1925, and elections have been held every second year up to 1935, and there has scarcely been any change in the personnel of the board during that period. At any rate, I do not think any such change has been brought about by an actual vote of the growers.
– That proves that the growers are satisfied.
– Exactly ; the great majority of the growers are satisfied. There has been dissent of a minor character in South Australia and perhaps because of this Senator McLeay has moved in this matter. Let us now examine the depth of that discontent. Mr. Howie, whose name has been mentioned in this discussion - I am glad that Senator McLeay has withdrawn the allegations against him - had to submit himself for election so recently as last year. He was opposed by a nominee of the Independent Fruit Growers Association, whose cause Senator McLeay appears to champion. In that election Mr. Howie obtained 970 votes as against 238 cast for the nominee of the Independent Fruit Growers Association. Let us now examine the position of the Independent Fruit Growers Association as judged hy the contribution of its members to the total production of dried fruits. The seven firms which constitute the Independent Growers Association were licensed to ship 1,698 tons of sultanas, currants and lexias up to the 30th April, 1935, and from that date up to the present time <a further 799 tons, making a total of 2,497 tons. The total shipments of dried fruits up to last Monday totalled 48,971 tons, and before the season has closed, more than 50,000 tons of sultanas, currants and lexias will have been exported. In order to show how effective tha marketing operations of the board have been, I mention that almost every pound of the total production for the year recently closed has .been disposed of and the growers paid therefor.
Many times during his speech, Senator McLeay said that the board was dominated by the Australian Dried Fruits Association. His remarks are resented by the “ commercial “ members of the board. I propose to read some passages from n statement prepared by the vicechairman of the board (Mr. Bell), in order to show how little ground there is for the suggestion that the hoard has acted other than in a strictly judicial way in carrying out its duties. In paragraphs 4 and 5 of his statement, Mr. Bell says -
It is to be conceded that the elected members of the board have, in the case of tho representatives in Victoria and South Australia, been prominent members of the great voluntary organization known as the Australian Dried Fruits Association, and, hud growers resented in any way the association of those members with that voluntary organization, which has done so much for the dried fruit industry in Australia, they have had frequent opportunities of replacing such leaders of the industry as Messrs. Howie. Johnstone and Malloch from the other candidates who have stood iu opposition to these candidates but who have been overwhelmingly defeated from time to time.
It has been asserted that tha policy of the board has hee” unduly influenced by the Australian Dried Fruits Association, but, as a matter of fact, tho general outlines of the policy followed by the board and more particularly’ the principles applicable to the control of the export and sale abroad of Australian dried fruit have been conceived and proposed by the commercial members of the board who were appealed to by the Government to lend their commercial experience for the benefit of the .industry.
– What are the names of the commercial members of the hoard?
– They are Messrs. Bell, Thomas and Malloch.
– What ave their salaries?
– Each member receives an allowance of three guineas for each sitting day, an amount which does not adequately compensate them for the time and effort devoted to the interest of the industry. Mr. Bell’s statement continues -
On no occasion has the policy or the principles enunciated by the commercial members of the board been dissented from by tile elected members of the board who have found the views and experience of the commercial members wholly acceptable and beneficial to thu industry.
So far from any charge of undue influence by members of the Australian Dried Fruits Association,’ the principal responsibility for the drawing up of the plans of tho board has rested on those gentlemen who were co-opted to the board as Government nominees in order that their commercial experience might be applied to the difficulties of tho industry. On no occasion has there ‘been a dissentient minority in the board and the recommendations have been unanimous as being necessary to the well-being of the industry and to ensure equal treatment for every individual grower whether a member of any organization or a grower acting independently of the Australian Dried Fruits Association. Each grower wherever situated or whatever his acreage or production has obtained absolute equity in regard to thu sale of his produce when exported from Australia.
It is a remarkable fact that, so intent have been the principal commercial members of the board on absolute fairness, on no occasion have these gentlemen even entered the offices of the Australian Dried Fruits Association.
Realizing the delicate nature of their duties, these gentlemen have taken care to leave no room for scandal.
– Oau the Minister see the humour of that statement?
– I cannot. It certainly is not the type of humour which Punch would be disposed to pay for. I had hoped, that the honorable senator, having had time for reflection, would not have persisted with his motion to destroy something which has proved a success only because of the painstaking efforts and self-sacrifice of those responsible for it. I do not know whether he realizes that the whole industry would be thrown into a state of chaos if his motion were carried. Yesterday, the honorable senator indicated that he intended to seek leave to amend his motion, and I had expected that he would do so this afternoon. As the motion has not been amended, the situation is unaltered and the Senate is asked to disallow the whole statutory rule.
– The PostmasterGeneral said that the Government would agree to the motion.
– I said that the Government would place no obstacle in the way of its amendment.
– Although the honorable senator is proceeding with the motion as it is set out on the notice-paper, the Government realizes, partly from information that he has himself given and partly from statements collected from private sources, that his objections are principally to sub-regulations 3, 4, 5, 6 and 16 of regulation 7. The honorable senator, I understand, seeks to have them set aside, if he can, without disallowing the whole resolution.
– Sub-regulation 6 of regulation 7 is the most important.
– Regulation 7 is very long, containing seventeen subregulations, but it contains actually the whole of the important provisions of the regulations. The remaining provisions are merely formal or of a machinery character. Of regulation 7, sub-regulations 3, 4, 5, 6 and 16 are the vital parts; hence they are actually the vital parts of the whole of the regulations. They set out the terms and conditions upon which licences to export dried fruits may be granted. sub-regulation 3 reads -
That the licensee shall ship all dried fruits through and to such agentsas are authorized by the board.
This does not differ very much from the powers which were contained in the regulations passed in 1927, in which the board was empowered to limit the agents in the United Kingdom and New Zealand to whom dried fruits could be shipped by licensed exports. The intention of the present clause is to give the board power to control the shipments of dried fruits to all export markets. The board considers that this provision is necessary, so that restriction may be placed on the number of agents handling Australian dried fruits in overseas markets, in order to prevent underselling and unfair competition, and in order that the fixed price which has been agreed upon shall be observed. The difference that exists between the regulation passed in 1927 and the present one is twofold - (a.) that the board has now authorityto control, not only the agents through whom fruit must be sold, but the agents to whom they must be shipped to foreign markets; and
It will be seen that control of export here would be of little avail if the board did not control in some way the agents through whose hands this fruit passed overseas.
– How could the selling agents in the receiving countries be controlled?
– They may be controlled by the issue to the exporter of a licence containing certain stipulations. Such a licence is granted only under certain conditions. The honorable senator may consider it remarkable that an extraterritorial power could be given by Australian legislation, but we must bow to the decision of the High Court judgment that such a provision is quite legal. The section under which that provision was made is -
For the purpose of enabling the board effectively to control the export and the sale and distribution after export of Australian dried fruits, the Governor-General may by proclamation prohibit the export from the Commonwealth of any dried fruits, except in accordance with a licence issued by the Minister, subject to such conditions and restrictions as arc prescribed after recommendation to the Minister by the board.
The point raised by Senator Badman was expressly dealt with by Mr. Justice Starke who, in his judgment, said -
But the power of self-governing dominions to make laws having extra-territorial operation was considered by the Judicial Committee inCroft v. Dunphy, 1933 A.C. 156. Once it is found, as I gather from that case, that theparticular topic of legislation is with respect of one of its powers enumerated in section 51. of the Constitution, upon which the Commonwealth Parliament may competently legislate for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth, then no reason exists for restricting the permitted scope of such legislation by any other consideration than is applicable to the legislation of a fully sovereign State.
The licence did contain those provisions which put some check upon what the exporters might do, even in a foreign country, and the courthas decided that this lies within the power of the board. Another portion of regulation 7, to which particular objection is taken by Senator McLeay, is sub-regulation 4 -
That the licensee shall ship all dried fruits through such person as the board determines.
The only alteration made in this instance is that the word “ company “ which was originally included in the regulation, has been deleted and the word “person” substituted for it. Strange though it may seem, “ person “ here has a wider application than “company”. This sub-regulation to which exception is taken, has been in operation for many years, and, so far as the board is aware, nas not met with any opposition from the industry. The reason for the alteration will appeal to honorable senators. An attempt was made on one occasion to ship goods by an American line. The control board had entered into an arrangement with the shipping companies to consign its goods by particular lines and a breach of the agreement would have been committed if any of its products had been consigned by an American line. When we remember the privileges extended to Australian ships in American waters, nobody will say that, if we curtail the privileges granted to American ships operating in Australian waters to the advantage of our own vessels, we shall have done anything wrong. The effect of the arrangement entered into by the control board with the shipping companies resulted in a saving of £40,000 per annum to the industry.
Sub-regulation 5 relates to insurance -
That the licensee shall insure each shipment of dried fruit3 with such person as the board determines.
The board received overtures from a large insurance company which desired to obtain some of the business. The board replied that it had made arrangements with other companies. As a result of the wholesale bargaining power given to the board by this arrangement, the saving to the industry in respect of insurance alone is conservatively estimated at £10,000.
But the sub-regulation to which the honorable gentleman directed his chief criticism was 6, which reads -
That the licensee shall soil all dried fruits on such terms and conditions iia are approved toy the board, and to such /purchasers through such agents and in such quantities as the board determine.”).
A perusal of the 1927 regulations will show that precisely the same set of conditions applied to both New Zealand and Canada, and although a specific pro- vision such as that to which objection is now taken was not inserted in the conditions governing the export to the United Kingdom, the general terms of export to that market were very, similar. Clause 4 of the 1927 regulations, which has reference to export to the United Kingdom^ governs insurance, shipment, appointment of agents, commission, storage, production of documents and completion of sale, only after the board’s approval has been obtained. It will be seen, therefore, that similar power was vested in the board by virtue of the general clauses governing the issue of licences to that market. They were not, however specified in such a particular manner as in the clauses governing the issue of licences to New Zealand and Canada. ‘The matter is one of draftsmanship alone, and the intention of the draftsman in framing the regulation in its present form was to give effect to the wishes of the board by embracing in one licence form the conditions which were formerly spread over the three markets, and for which there were three separate licence forms. Furthermore, the board’s power to restrict the licensees to such purchases through such agents and in such quantities as the board determines, has been exercised with decided advantages to producers generally in respect of fruit exported to New Zealand.
It would appear to be unreasonable to expect the board to control prices in overseas markets by means of a simple clause confining the licensees to fixed prices, if there were no over-riding regulation governing such important factors as commission, discounts, &c. The fixation of prices may be evaded if some one can say, “ We sell at such and such a price, less such and such a commission.” This kind of business is really what the clause seeks to prevent. Without this proviso the fixation of a minimum price could be defeated, and the objects and intentions of the industry, as carried out by the board, would be completely nullified. I do not propose to go further into a detailed examination of other paragraphs unless Senator McLeay wishes me to do so.
– Will the Minister deal with sub-regulation 16? It is very vital, and may conflict with the State act.
– It is sufficient for me to defend the Commonwealth act without offering any comment with regard to the State act, or trying to reconcile any of its provisions with the Commonwealth act. Sub-regulation 16, to which the honorable senator has directed my attention, reads -
That the licensee shall, whenever so required by notice in writing, signed by the secretary or an authorized person withhold from export the whole or any portion of any dried fruits intended for export.
It is admitted that this is a new provision, and that, on the surface, the powers sought to be given to the board are far-reaching.
-Would the Minister like to buy £1,000 worth of dried fruits for export with that proviso hanging over his head?
– I would rather have the £1,000 in any case. The worst construction that can be put upon the sub-regulation is that it could be misused if the board intended to do an injury to the industry. But, if we consider the constitution of the board - five of the eight representatives on it are growers, and represent the views of 94 per cent. of the producers of dried fruits in Australia - we must, I think, admit that it would have no desire to injure the industry or any section of it. The most severe critics of the board will, I believe, concede that it desires to assist the industry, and to this end it would administer litis sub-regulation conscientiously and in accordance with its terms.
Experience over a period of ten years indicates the necessity for such a provision in the regulations. The board must have power to protect the industry by controlling the destination of exports of dried fruits. It would seem to be futile to charge the board with the administration of the industry and the fixation of prices, and at the same time to deny it the means of achieving those ends. The provision is designed entirely to prevent a glut on the market by the shipment of large quantities of dried fruits at a particular time. It is not suggested that the fruit should be cast into the sea or destroyed. The sole pur pose is to ensure that the production shall be marketed in Canada, New Zealand, or Great Britain in such a way as to prevent a glut with consequent depression of prices. It may be that technically and theoretically the provision will make possible a very great invasion of individual liberty. It cannot be denied, however, that it will be beneficial to those who are engaged in the industry. Throughout the whole of the regulations it would be difficult to find any provision which confers upon the board powers or authority that arc not essential to the well-being of the industry. In fact nothing could better express the necessity for regulations such as these than a comment made by Mr. Justice Dixon in his recent judgment in the case of Crowe v. the Commonwealth. His Honour in referring to the regulations which Senator McLeay now seeks to have disallowed said -
No effective control of the export and sale and distribution abroad of such a commodity couldbe exercised except by close supervision and a detailed direction of the trade.
That was the desire of Parliament when it passed the Dried Fruits Act in 1924 and particularly when it approved of section 13 and the last section giving to the administration regulationmaking power. I admit that the regulation means an invasion by the Government of private enterprise, but the action has been taken under pressure from the people directly concerned, and I submit that where there is intervention bythe Government it is only common senseto concentrate the power of direction in as few hands as possible in order to ensure the most satisfactory results. Those entrusted with this power are experienced business men not professing to have any special knowledge of the dried fruits industry, and men who have had experience in the industry. The board represents an overwhelming majority of those engaged in. the dried fruits industry. If the regulations are disallowed, the effect will be to cause chaos in the industry.
– Perhaps Senator McLeay will withdraw his motion.
– I hope that he will. The honorable senator may be cherishing the idea that the repeal of these regulations will revive the regulations of 1927. There are two comments to be made on that. The first is that if the 1927 regulations please him, why does he disapprove of these regulations, because the difference between them is so slight as not to be worth quarrelling about. The other is that high legal authorities, including officials in the Attorney-General’s Department, are not prepared to say that the repeal or nullification of these statutory rules would revive the 1927 rules.
– If there is any doubt about the matter, why not remove the doubt?
– I do not know exactly what the honorable senator means by that. Parliament deliberately entrusted control of the industry to the board and the results have amply justified the action taken. I appeal to the honorable senator not to persist with his motion. The carrying of it will serve no good purpose; on the contrary, it may do a great deal of harm. This large and important industry affects a considerable number of producers in that portion of South Australia which abuts on the northwestern districts of Victoria. I warn the honorable senator that, if his motion is carried, the effect may be to bring about a state of chaos and do much harm to a new and important industry.
If the honorable senator persists with his motion and calls for a division, I trust that a majority of honorable senators will oppose it.
– This afternoon the members of the Opposition are in the happy position of finding that, on this subject, the Government has beencon verted to the policy of the Australian Labour party. That party has always advocated the proper control and orderly marketing of all Australian primary products. In Queensland primary production is being controlled more effectively, and with greater advantage to the growers and consumers, than in any other part of the world. At the moment I cannot say the exact number of boards in operation.
– The appointment of boards is an industry in itself.
– The boards in operation in Queensland control a large number of important primary industries, and as a result of their operations great prosperity has been brought to primary producers generally. The legislation on this subject passed by the Queensland Parliament is more advanced than that in any other State of the Commonwealth. Every visitor to Queensland realizes that thereis greater prosperity there than in any other State, due largely to the fact that the industries are under proper control, and that marketing is conducted on a most scientific basis. That has been achieved by making a comprehensive survey of what the State can produce, and by controlling production and marketing, not only in the interests of the producers and consumers, but also for the advantage of the State. The Senate is indebted to the Assistant Minister (Senator Brennan) for the well-reasoned statement which he presented to the Senate this afternoon. Yesterday some honorable senators made a deliberate attempt to convert me to’ their way of thinking on the subject then before the Senate, and I am hoping that this afternoon, Senator McLeay having seen not only the wisdom but also the righteousness of what the Assistant Minister has said, will withdraw his motion. He has now an opportunity to take cover with, honour, and to free himself from the wrath to come, particularly when those engaged in the industry realize what would be the effect of the adoption of his motion. The Assistant Minister said only one -thing with which I do not entirely agree, and on that point, perhaps, he has been misinformed. He said that governmental control of primary industries came about as a result of political parties bidding against each other. That may be true in some instances, but it is quite erroneous in connexion with the control and orderly marketing of primary production, because the members of political parties do not go through the country telling primary producers that they will do more for them than has been done by the supporters of any other political party.
– Did not Mr. Gibbons say that the Labour party would guarantee to the wheat-growers 7s. 6d. a bushel for their wheat?
– The honorable senator should know by now that no such offer was made. Governments have assisted in the control of numerous primary industries, because, prior to control., those engaged in them were carrying on operations under chaotic conditions. Senator McLeay should realize that, until control legislation was introduced, only a small quantity of dried fruits were being produced in Australia, and that, in consequence of the passage of legislation, business is now being conducted on a thoroughly sound and scientific basis. I understand that the honorable senator desires that some regulations shall remain operative, and that others shall be disallowed. He has been advised that he can not make a selection.
-hughes. - But the honorable senator has since been informed that ho may do so.
– In the first instance,, he was advised as I have stated. It is unfortunate that Senator McLeay should have aimed his first shot at a regulation which ensures effective control. Let us consider what happened in California, a country said to produce excellent fruit, which, however, is not superior to that produced in Australia. A gentleman who came to Australia from California said to me, “Do not let any one tell you that California can produce better fruit than can Australia. The American climate, sunshine, and products are not equal to those of Australia “. Last year the price of Californian dried fruits was £14 a ton, hut a little coterie of disgruntled individuals supposed to represent the producers acted in such a way that in one .year the price came down to £7 a ton. The position of the growers became so serious that government intervention was again sought, and they had to be paid a bonus of £10 a ton to keep thom off the dole.
– That is what a misguided minority can do!
– The honorable senator, who is now the leader in this chamber of a misguided minority, should have some knowledge on the subject.
Seven years ago California was producing 300,000 tons of dried fruits, but after seven years, in which there was no control, the production fell off by onethird. Over 123,000 acres of vines went out of production, because of the low prices offered for grapes. Does Senator McLeay want anything like that to happen to the Australian dried fruits industry? Seven years ago Australia was producing about 40,000 tons of dried fruits, but last year the production had increased to about 75,000 tons, duc entirely to the sound control exercised by the board., concerning which we have heard so much valuable information from the Assistant Minister. Senator McLeay referred to certain disadvantages which producers experience in respect of shipping but, if the present arrangements were altered, satisfactory control of the industry would bc impossible.
– The position with respect to Canada has now been altered.
– I know the extent to which it has been altered. A few weeks ago the honorable senator told us, with tears in his eyes, of the nefarious - he did not use that word - conduct of the board of control. He said that growers, who could not get their fruit away on the boat prescribed by the board, had been denied the right to ship by another vessel. The board did advise the exporters that they would be unable to ship their fruit by the Canadian Conqueror in April, and that their cargo could not be lifted until the following month. But the board pointed out that the shipment would be deemed to have been effected during April. Senator McLeay wishes the Senate to understand that he has a grievance because the shippers were not allowed to get their fruit away by a. certain vessel, and that they were thereby inconvenienced, but he did not tell the Senate that, under an arrangement with the board, if consignments arc despatched by the vessels of a certain line a. reduction of 20s. a ton in freight is available. That concession, on the production of 50,000 tons a year, is of sow’ consequence.
– Is the honorable senator sure that that reduction applies to shipments to Canada?
– I know that ihe Canadian Government gives a preference to Australian dried fruits of £19 n ton, and that there is nothing wrong in shipping by other than American vessels, which are heavily subsidized by the Government of the United States of America. On the 26th April, 1934, the board despatched the following letter to shippers : -
With reference to the board’s circular letter of the 23rd April, I am directed by the chairman to state that the board has had before it representations in regard to the delayed sailing of the SS. Hauraki for Vancouver.
In view of the special circumstances, I am to advise that licences for the shipment- of dried vino fruits by the SS. Hauraki during early May will be subject to the terms and conditions announced by the board in respect to shipments during April.
I hope that the board will stick to its guns. I heard this afternoon that that arrangement had been somewhat modified; to what extent I propose to find out later. Marketing for the industry cannot be satisfactorily controlled if any grower or his agent can ship by any line ho chooses. Such a practice strikes at the very root of marketing control. The same may be said in respect of insurance. After the Egg Export Control Board was established in Queensland, one misguided producer refused to send his eggs to be marketed by the board. He was prosecuted and finally - to put it in the vernacular - he went “ balmy “ over the matter. He barricaded his hut on his farm and arming his wife with an outofdate shot gun and himself with another obsolete weapon told the police, when the latter came to serve process, to go away, lie said that he was not going to send his eggs to the board, and that if the police did not go away he would blow out, their brains. Of course, the board went ahead with its business as the Dried Emits Export Control Board is doing, with tho result that this misguided young man had to relent. When the Assistant Minister was speaking, one honorable senator asked whether it would be fair to prevent a grower from selling his produce for cash, and Senator Abbott asked, in the course of this discussion, whether there was a control board for the marketing of wool.
– When the honorable senator was speaking of control boards, I asked him. whether he would approve of the establishment of a board for the marketing of wool.
– I have already expressed the views of the Opposition on that point. The wool industry derived one of its greatest benefits from the establishment of Bawra, and it suffered one of its greatest calamities when that organization was allowed to be served as this board will be served if Senator McLeay’s motion is agreed to. Many small growers at that time were growling because exception was taken to their selling direct to buyers who approached them on their selections.
– And offered cash in order to make bigger profits for themselves.
– That is so. Buyers, or their agents, do not follow such a course in the interests of the wool producer; they do so in their own interests. Only last year, when there was so great a shortage bf apricots all over the world that the price soared to £80 and nearly £90 a ton, buyers’ agents approached growers and offered them cash. They did this, not from philanthropic motives, but, as Senator Abbott has suggested, in order to make bigger profits for themselves by taking advantage of the fact that many fruit-growers, like many other producers, are all too frequently in need of ready cash. The incident to’ which I refer occurred in the Murrumbidgee area. The agent remarked that the grower had a good crop of apricots, and he was prepared to take the lot. He did not tell the grower that the ruling price for apricots at that time was anything from £80 to £90 a ton, but said ho would pay spot cash and give the grower £40 a ton. Of course, the unfortunate grower was tempted by the spot cash offer and sold his apricots at £40 a ton, the agent netting a handsome profit. At any rate, the grower did not get the balance; it went into the pocket of the buying agent or to the firm he represented. I congratulate the Assistant. Minister (Senator Brennan) on his address and the Government on the stand it is taking on this matter. I make a final appeal to Senator McLeay to extricate himself from an awkward position by withdrawing his motion.
.- From investigations which I have made I have come to the con- elusion that the existing legislation for the orderly marketing of dried fruits is essential to the well-being of the industry. Statutory Rule No. 30 has been adopted in the interests of the industry; it gives powers to the Export Control Board to take advantage of any privileges or benefits which may accrue from agreements in respect of insurance, shipping, or financial conditions in the export trade to various parts of the Empire. Trade treaties with Britain, Canada, and New Zealand involve responsibilities as well as ‘benefits. It is the duty of the board to act for the general good of the industry, and it can do this only by controlling exports. The objection that the export of dried fruits can only be allowed pursuant to a licence granted by the Minister on such terms and conditions as are prescribed, is answered by the simple statement that it is a statutory requirement, as will he seen on reference to section 13 of the Dried Emits Export Control Act of 1924, which reads -
For the purpose of enabling the board effectually to control the export of Australian dried fruits, the Governor-General may by proclamation prohibit the export from the Commonwealth of any dried fruits, except in accordance with a licence issued by the Minister, subject to such conditions and restrictions as are prescribed after recommendation to the Minister by the board.
All of the conditions governing the issue of licences, some of which have been objected to, have been authorized, some specifically and others in general terms, by various regulations, and they have been in operation since the establishment of the board in 1925. They were observed by all exporters of dried fruits, including the small section of South Australian dealers which now seeks the disallowance or modification of these licensing conditions. On behalf of these dissentients, Senator McLeay has stated that the board - consisting of three Government nominees, two of whom are commercial men with an intimate knowledge of export trade, and five growermembers elected biennially by the growers themselves - is dominated by an organization of 35 years’ standing, known as the Australian Dried Fruits Association. That the great majority of growers are members of this body is indicated by the fact that 94-J per cent, of the dried fruits production in Australia is handled hy it. The honorable senator would have us believe, apparently, that the Australian Dried Fruits Association, which is a voluntary organization, exercises an undue influence over the board. Of the 14,043 tons of dried fruits shipped to Canada this year, 12,226 tons was dealt with by the Australian Dried Fruits Association, the balance of 1,817 tons or 12$ per cent, being handled by outside selling agents. The independent growers, therefore, had more than a fair quota on the Canadian market. It has been stated that there are 1,500 growers in South Australia outside the Australian Dried Fruits Association which handled last year 17,639 tons of that State’s total production of 20,091 tons. There are 2,206 registered growers in that State. If 1,500 independent growers produced the remaining 2,452 tons, an average of 2i tons each, then the other 706 were responsible for 17,639 tons. The figures are palpably incorrect. Evidently Senator McLeay’s independents are “ backyard “ growers, who engage in the production of dried fruits as a side line. Again, if the independent growers number 1,500 out of 2,206, how is it that Mr. lj. D. Howie, the chairman of the Australian Dried Fruits Association, was re-elected recently as South Australia’s representative on the board, by a four to one majority? A total of 1,214 growers recorded formal votes. This does not indicate that the big majority of growers are dissatisfied with the existing legislation and the operations of the board. In the course of his speech, Senator McLeay gave the impression that the cash buyers with whom the independent growers , in South Australia dealt, gave better results than the Australian Dried Fruits Association. Such is not the case. During the last four years the advantage has been distinctly in favour of the organized marketing and pool-selling system. For two-crown currants the average price received hy growers operating under this system was £8 Ss. 4d. a ton better than the cash seller received ; three-crown sultanas showed an advantage of £8 2s. 3d. a ton, whilst four-crown lexias realized an extra £6 2s. 8d. a ton. Of course the consignment seller had to wait a little longer for his money, but it was as good as if it were in the bank. In the same four years, tlie Berri Go-operative Packing Company paid to Australian Dried Fruits Association growers £100,000 more for their fruit than if they had been left to the mercy of cash buyers. Both had the same markets available to them. These figures speak for themselves and show the value of giving to primary producers power to adopt organized marketing. Results justify the passing of the Dried Fruits Control Act and the subsequent legislation. From reliable sources I have ascertained that the principles and practices of the Export Control Board, in respect to the export of dried fruits from Australia, have been recommended almost entirely by the commercial members. The existing legislation and the operations of the board have been responsible for the present stable financial conditions of the industry and the wonderful expansion of production from 30,000 tons to 75,000 tons in ten years. Of that production 80 per cent, is marketed overseas. I hope that the regulations will not bc disallowed, or even watered, down ; otherwise, in regard to the orderly marketing of dried fruits, the word “ finis “ may well be written. I urge that the business be left in the hands of the board, which is actuated solely by a desire to help the industry. The statement having been made that the board has refused licences, I approached Mr. Bell on the subject, and asked him whether the charge was well founded. He answered with an emphatic “ No “. It would appear therefore that, so long as they keep within the regulations, the independent growers have the same privileges as are enjoyed by members of the Australian Dried Fruits Association. I shall vote against the motion.
– I rise to oppose the motion for the disallowance of these regulations. After the full and exhaustive speech of the Minister, there does not appear to be a great deal left to say. My rising to oppose the motion disproves the old saying that “ Great minds always run in the same groove “, because Senator McLeay and I? who, in this chamber, both represent South Australia, do not soo eye to eye on this matter. My re marks will be confined principally to South Australia - the State which is the principal producer of dried fruits, and the one in which the agitation for the disallowance of the regulations is most pronounced. Senator McLeay quoted a number of authorities in regard to government by regulation, among them being Lord Hewart, Professor Kenneth Hamilton Bailey, Sir John Peden, and the present Attorney-General of the Commonwealth (Mr. Menzies). The honorable senator quoted Mr. Menzies as having said that no legislative change should find expression in a regulation. I agree with that view, for should a regulation be inconsistent with the legislation under which it is promulgated, there is always the risk of its being upset by a verdict of the court. Regulations are formulated for the administration of legislation, and must be consistent with that legislation. The regulations which Senator McLeay asks the Senate to disallow have been subjected to the scrutiny of the High Court, which has ruled that they are in conformity with the act. In his sum.muning up, Acting Chief Justice Rich said -
Tlie objection that thu conditions transfer to the board a power of prescribing what the exporter must do exerciseable only by the Governor-General as the regulation-making authority is, in my opinion, made untenable by the very nature of the power which results from sections 13, 14 and 29.
The motion before the Chair really asks the Senate to upset regulations which the Acting Chief Justice of the High Court has said are in accordance with the act under which they., were made. The Minister pointed out that only two good reasons exist for disallowing a regulation - either that it is not in conformity with the act, or that it is objectionable to the people working under it. I take it that Senator McLeay has attacked these regulations on the ground that they are objectionable to some of those who work under them. I disagree with the honorable senator that there is anything objectionable in the regulations. In my opinion, they have been framed, not to hinder, but to assist the industry. Senator McLeay seemed to go out of his way to say that: the regulations were framed for the benefit of the Australian Dried Fruits Association, and that that body has a dominat- ing influence in moulding legislation dealing with dried fruits. The Australian Dried Fruits Association certainly dominates the dried fruits industry; but when the regulations were framed the association was not consulted in any way. lt is an independent body formed voluntarily in the interests of the industry. The dried fruits industry is controlled by a board of eight members, five of whom are elected by the growers, the remaining three being appointed by the Government. Naturally, the stronger force among tho growers obtains a preponderance of representation on the board. In this case, the stronger force was the Australian Dried Fruits Association. Had the independent growers been the dominant force, they would have had greater representation on the board.
The outstanding features of Senator McLeay’s speech were, first, the number of independent growers; secondly, the consideration due to them because of their numbers; thirdly, their production of dried fruits; and, fourthly, the prices obtained by them for their products. He set down the number of independent growers in South Australia at 1,500. I am not in a position to contradict his figures, hut I cannot understand them, seeing that there are only 2,260 growers of dried fruits in that State.
– On those figures, the independent growers ar© in the majority.
– If Senator McLeay’s figures are right, why have »at the independent growers obtained greater representation on the board? At the last election in South Australia for a member of the board, M-r. Howie received 978 and his opponent, who I assume was an independent grower, secured 236 votes. Only 1,214 growers voted ob that , occasion. The turnover of the independent growers also suggests that there i3 something wrong with the honorable senator’s figures, for out of a total production last year of between 60,000 ‘tons and 70,000 tons of dried-vin fruits, the independent dealers controlled less than 3,000 tons.
Senator McLeay also said that the independent growers were unjustly treated in that they were not given a fair share of the Canadian market for dried fruits. Of the 14,043 tons of Australian dried fruits sold in Canada last year, 12,220 tons were marketed through the Australian Dried Fruits Association, and only 1,817 tons by independent dealer.;. Those figures show that the independent dealers disposed of about 12£ per cent, of the dried fruits exported to Canada, although entitled on their production to only about 5 per cent, or 6 per cent.
As Senator McLeay claimed that the growers who sold then* products for cash to independent buyers received better prices than those who dealt with the Australian Dried Fruits Association, I submit the following table which gives a comparison of the prices paid by the two classes of buyers : -
It will he seen that only on two occasions did the growers derive any benefit from disposing of their crop to independent buyers; in every other instance the advantage was with those growers who dealt with the Australian Dried Fruits Association.’ Those figures prove conclusively that the co-operative society can, and does, pay a better price for the fruit than is paid by the cash buyer. Much distress reigns in the river Murray settlements, where the men have been experiencing hard times. Many of thom have difficulty in meeting their commitments to the Government, and are practically working under government control. Honorable senators will realize what a temptation it would be to any of these men if an agent were to offer them a cash price for their dried fruit.
– That applies in any industry.
– It applies far more when a man is financially pressed. If we allow the existing form of control to slacken, we shall leave these men open to any prospective buyer who may desire to take advantage of their position. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) cited a case in which £40 was paid for a product which was later’ sold for £70. The Minister has made a lucid statement of the position, and we would do an injustice if we disallowed these regulations. I hold no brief for the Australian Dried Fruits Association, but we must admit that it has raised the industry from a point at which it was practically moribund to its present stage, at which the growers are getting along fairly comfortably. The Senate should avoid any interference with the board’s work that would be detrimental to the best interests of the industry. I have no objection to the independent grower, who has a perfect right to continue to grow fruit, but he must be amenable to the laws of the country. If the independent individual can devise a better method of marketing, which will increase the price by even a few shillings a ton, I feel confident that it will be gladly adopted and the present form of control abandoned. I oppose the disallowance of the motion.
– When listening to the speech of Senator McLeay, I felt that a grave injustice was being done to a section of the dried fruits industry. After investigation, however, I have altered my opinion considerably. I have received several telegrams from independent packers and growers in South Australia, and, on inquiring into’ their case, I have come to the conclusion that the disallowance of this regulation would be a grave injustice to the industry as a whole. On the receipt of those telegrams from the interest supporting the motion moved by Senator McLeay, I met thirteen of its representatives in conference. I submitted to the delegates a series of questions for my own enlightenment. I asked how much of the dried fruit was controlled, exported or handled by the independent organization. The secretary of the organization gave 25 per cent, as the figure, but that must have been quite incorrect, because 88 per cent, is handled by the Australian Dried Fruits Association, in South Australia, and only 12 per cent, of the total by the independent organization. When one discovers that certain information submitted to him is incorrect, one is never quite prepared to accept without confirmation any additional facts which may emanate from the same source. The Senate is concerned a 3 to whether, these regulations governing the control of dried fruits are in the best interests of the industry as a whole, or are being used to the disadvantage and detriment of a particular section. Senator McLeay made some grave charges against the Dried Fruits Export Control Board, which were tantamount to an accusation of restraint of trade. The honorable senator also said that, in his opinion, the board is prejudiced against the majority of the independent growers. A further accusation which he made was that the control hoard is dominated by the Australian Dried Fruits Association, because six of its members are members also of that association. Dealing with the latter accusation, I ask, would those six men be working in the interests of the growers or not? I take it that they certainly would be, because it would be to their own interest to do so. Otherwise, I cannot conceive anything more stupid or foolish than for the majority of the growers to elect them. Why should the control board he prejudiced against independent growers, who handle so small a proportion of the total quantity of dried fruits? The independent packers and growers handle only 2,500 tons out of a total of 55,000 tons of dried fruits exported annually; and 20,000 tons are produced in South Australia. Senator McLeay stated that between 1,200 and 1,500 growers in South Australia sell all or portion of their fruit to the independent organization. As there are only 2,206 growers of vine fruits in South Australia, that is a remarkable statement. I believe that that number does not consist only of vine fruit-growers, but includes a fairly large number of tree fruit-growers.
– Does the honorable senator mean to say that if a person ‘has a plum tree he becomes a grower?
– I have heard of numbers of persons dealing with the independent association who have not more than half a cwt. of dried fruit to market. Some of the other members have bad not more than 2 cwt. This position applies throughout many districts in South Australia. Such people have been appropriately referred to as “backyard growers”. In the many years during which the Control Board has been in operation, it has evolved a system that has been most satisfactory to Australian growers. When I use the term growers, 1 do not include independent packers; I refer to the members of the Australian Dried Fruits Association and the Independent Growers Association. For the disposal of Australian production, the board has adopted the quota system. Taking Australia’s total production as being 75,000 tons, I find that 15,000 tons is consumed in Australia, 40,000 tons is exported to the United Kingdom, 16,000 tons to Canada, and 4,000 tons to New Zealand. The Australian quota is sold at a fixed price, usually about £56 a ton, and the New Zealand quota at about £40 a ton. The price obtainable for the fruit exported to Canada may ‘be higher than that ruling in England or New Zealand. Another point that must be considered is that Canadian payment is hy cash draft within 90 days, with exchange added. On investigation, I have reason to believe that the independent packers and growers’ organization is seeking to obtain control of the Canadian market, because it aproaches the grower and pays cash to him, and wants cash in return. The independent body does not wish to be controlled by having to send a quota of its produce to Canada and other quantities to the United Kingdom and New Zealand after the Australian requirement has been absorbed. It is looking for the cash draft market and trying to build up its business on that basis. The control ‘board issues licences to exporters and allocates the quotas for each importing country, on a percentage basis, to exporters of either the Australian Dried Fruit Association or the Independent Dried Fruit Association. The secretary of the Independent Association in Adelaide “informed me that, on one occasion when an application was made for a licence, the board refused it.
Investigating that case, I found that tho application form had not been filled in correctly and that the board could not possibly issue the licence on the basis that the applicant required. I propose now to refer “to the regulations which are so objectionable to the independent growers. Regulation 7, sub-regulation 2a, states -
That the licensee shall not sell any dried fruits overseas at a price loss than tlie authorized price.
The comment of the association is as follows -
Our packers are prepared to observe fixed prices for export provided they are allowed to supply their own clients and to supply those clients with the special class of fruit they desire. In common fairness, however, we consider wc should have some say in the fixation of any prices arranged in Australia for exports.
The independent growers and packers must admit that the representatives on the board which fixed the price were chosen by ! ballot. and because it did not have a sufficient number of supporters among the growers it was unable to have a, representative elected to the board. Sub-regulation 3e reads -
That the licensee shall ship all dried fruits through and ito such agents as are authorized by the board.
The comment of the independent association is that this is quite acceptable provided that it is limited to the United Kingdom as hitherto. Its regret is that it does not control all the Canadian exports. Sub-regulation 4 reads -
That the licensee shall ship all dried fruits through such person as the board determines.
The association comments that it does not object to shipping through an authorized agent, but does object to being allowed to ship only through and to such persons as the hoard determines. The independent association imagines that it will not get justice from the board. Sub-regulation 5 reads -
That the licensee shall insure each shipment of dried fruits with such person as the board determines.
The comment is -
This has never been enforced, and we would object if it were.
Sub-regulation 6 reads -
That the licensee shall sell all dried fruits on such terms and conditions as arc approved by thu board, and to such purchasers through such agents and in such quantities as the board determines.
The comment is -
This amounts to absolute prohibition ot trade, and will undoubtedly react on the industry.
There is no evidence that hitherto the system of control has reacted detrimentally on those engaged in the industry. I take it that something has happened to make necessary a tightening up of the regulations, and the result, is that some exporters fear that they will not be allowed to continue doing what they have been doing hitherto. Sub-regulation 10 reads -
That the licensee shall, not less than fourteen days prior to the export by him of any shipment of dried fruits, forward to the secretary or an authorized person in duplicate, an application, in accordance with Form C, lor authority to export those dried fruits.
This is the comment on that provision -
Impracticable and would preclude acceptance of many orders.
When I asked to be informed of any specific cases of hardship none was forthcoming, and I know of none except, perhaps, the case mentioned by Senator McLeay - the shipment which was refused because the fruit did not go forward by the vessel designated by the Canadian buyers. Sub-regulation 16 reads -
That the licensee shall, whenever so required by notice in writing signed by the secretary or an authorized person, withhold from export the whole or any portion of any dried fruits intended for export.
This is the comment on that provision-
This conflicts with the Pried Fruits Act which compels export of certain quotas of each variety of dried fruits. The act says certain percentages must be exported. The regulation gives power to an officer of the” board to prohibit export.
– That is a good regulation.
– I believe it is, and it is absolutely necessary if we wish to exercise effective control over the export of dried fruits.
The Minister stated that the new regulations of 1935 were almost identical with the regulations of 1927, but had been slightly amended to give the board greater control over shipments to all export markets. There has been considerable development of the industry since 1927, and I have no doubt that the board discovered holes in the act which the Government ha3 very wisely decided to close. Hence these additional provisions to prevent future leakages. The Minister pointed out tha!: it was necessary to restrict the number of agents handling dried fruits for the overseas market, in order to prevent underselling and unfair competition, particularly in Canada.
– Has there been direct underselling, or the payment of secret commissions ?
– There has been underselling by various devices.
– The penalty for such offences is a fine of £100.
– The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) instanced the position of the dried fruits industry in California, stating that seven years ago the production totalled about 300,000 tons a year. It should be explained that during .the prohibition years in the United States of America, growers who had vines for the production of wine, grafted currants and raisin grapes on to existing stocks, with the result that the production of dried fruits rose to about 250,000 tons in 1928. To-day they are getting about £10 a ton for 200,000 tons of their output which is sold in the home market. If they had adopted the system obtaining in Australia and, by means of a board, exercised control of the industry, they would be in a far happier position because the local market absorbs about 170,000 tons n year, leaving a surplus of only 30,000 tons which might be dumped in the world’s market as Queensland surplus sugar is dumped in London. Californian growers disposed of portion of their output in Canada prior to the entry into that market of. Australian producers, largely as the result of activity on the part of the Australian Dried Fruits Association, though I am aware that the Independent Packers Association” claims credit for having secured portion of the Canadian market for Australian exporters. The truth is that ten years ago the Australian Dried Fruits Association secured a preference for Australian growers of 3 cents ner lb. equivalent to about £14 a ton. The Ottawa agreement increased the preference by 1 cent per lb., and gave us an advantage of £18 a ton over American producers. Our export trade to Canada now amounts to about 16,000 tons a year. Preference in the New Zealand market also enables our producers to compete successfully against American growers. There is no control over the export of dried fruits from Greece or Smyrna, our principal competitors in the London market.
I am convinced that the board is doing its best to place Australian dried fruits on the world’s markets under the most favorable conditions, and I am glad to know that its efforts are meeting with success. I regret that Senator McLeay did not investigate the other side of the subject before submitting this motion for the disallowance of the regulations. Had lie done so, I feel sure that he would have hesitated before taking action which might seriously injure the industry.
Recently I met representatives of the Independent Dried Fruits Association in Adelaide with a view to ascertaining their views. There were thirteen representatives present. It was stated that 1,500 growers in South Australia dispose of their fruit through the Independent Dried Fruits Association, and that 500 growers sell for cash.
Some interesting developments have taken place in South Australia during the last few years; the most noteworthy being the decrease of the percentage of fruit sold outside the Australian Dried Fruits Association. The figures are as folows : -
These figures show an appreciable improvement in the quantity of fruit that is being marketed through the Australian Dried Fruits Association. Despite thu claims made on behalf of the Independent Packers Association it is evident that that body is not giving the growers such a wonderful deal as to encourage them to market a larger proportion of their output through that organization. I feel sure that, in the course of a few years, the Australian Dried Fruits Association will have complete control of the industry, and will handle the whole of the South Australian export quota as well as that for Victoria.
– Why not admit at once that the purpose is to secure a monopoly of the dried fruits export trade I
– The system which gives the best results for the grower is the one that should be approved. Prior to the appointment of the board the condition of the dried fruits industry was most unsatisfactory. Frequently exporters who sent dried fruits overseas received an expenses account which they were unable to meet. Since the act has been in operation, there has been a mostgratifying improvement of the industry. Some growers, who, ten years ago were almost bankrupt, are now financial. The Independent Dried Fruits Association declares that it is in favour of control, yet one or two of its member-; sought an injunction from the High Court against control by the board appointed under the act. I appeal to thu Senate no’t to disallow the regulations which are necessary to ensure the continued development of the dried fruits industry in Australia along satisfactory lines. I hope that my colleague, Senator McLeay, will withdraw the motion.
– The statements made during this debate seem to me to have been wholly black or wholly white. We have had one statement of the position of the dried fruits industry by the mover of the motion, followed by a strong reply from several honorable senators. There has been little attempt to tone down the two extremes of opinion. The Minister (Senator Brennan) stated his case very clearly and fairly, I thought, although I do not agree with all that he said. If 1 have any right to intervene in this debate I think it is because I am, probably, the only member of this chamber who is, in any sense, a grower. I do not know if either Senator Badman or Senator Collings has produced any dried fruits, but. I have been a grower for between 20 and 25 years. I may, perhaps, be said to be conducting a “ backyard industry “ as I have .only 10 acres under fruit, but by comparison with thesis who do not produce any dried fruits at all, I should be entitled to express my views on this subject. When the Australian Dried Fruits Association came into existence I was not faced with bankruptcy in connexion with, my currant crop, and I am not lushed with wealth as the result of its operations. The statements made on this subject have been pitched so highly that in speaking at this juncture it is somewhat difficult to attempt to do justice to. both sides. We are facing an antagonism of long standing. I suppose that every honorable senator realizes that it is only natural that the two parties to this contest should have their respective view-points, and that opinions have been expressed on both sides by extremists.
On the legal side, the High Court has decided that these regulations are in accordance with the act, and, therefore, if anything is susceptible to attack, it is the act under which they are framed. Senator McLeay, however, is quite justified in raising for discussion this important subject which is, or which should be, of interest to many honorable senators. My view in matters of this kind has been for years that there should be as little governmental interference as possible. In these days we are all agreed - most of us have been for some time past - that control in the grading and packing of dried fruits is essential, and that if it is advisable to introduce a home consumption price quotas and levies will be necessary. Apart from that, there are a great many in Australia who believe that it would bc far better for the growers if they were permitted to sell their own produce, whether it be dried* fruits, wheat, or even a relatively unimportant product such as oranges, instead of handing it to some one else for sale. I noticed with interest that the Orange Bounty Bill introduced by the Goverment does not in any way attempt to control the sale of oranges. It provides for the payment of a bounty on oranges exported to Great Britain, but t here is no complica ted machinery ‘setting out the manner in which they shall be sold.
– Does not the honorable senator think that, ultimately, all our exports will be sold under control?
– I should be sorry if that should ever be the case. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) said that Bawra controlled the sale of the whole of the
Australian wool clip, and that, when that organization went out of existence, it was a bad thing for Australia. Bawra performed good work, but it was concerned only with the disposal of wool sold at a fixed rate to the British Government.
– Had that organization continued in control, the position in the industry would have been much better than it is to-day.
– Bawra, which did not control wool as the honorable senator suggests, had its genesis in the minds of individualists who laid the benefit of their experience before the Government; on their advice that organization came into existence. I should be very sorry to think that any governmental or semi-governmental body should control Australian wool. The Dried Fruits Export Control Board has performed very good work in the interests of Australia. So far as I have been able to form an opinion, I think it is the most satisfactory of all the control boards, being constituted of men like Mr- Howie, who are caapble of keeping an open mind, and of conducting the industry as far as possible in the same way as it was conducted before a board was appointed. I have been through a number of the packing sheds under the control of the Australian Dried Fruits Association, and 1 have found that they are admirably conducted. At the same time, the members of the Export Control Board are perhaps too high-handed in’ some of their actions. In one instance some independent packers asked the board members to meet them in conference, so that they could express their views on certain phases of the board’s activities. There are some in this chamber who will say that such persons are a mere minority, and have no right to be heard, but the board is supposed to consider the viewpoint of every branch of the industry. This section of the growers wrote to the board on the 24th April asking for a conference, and, as no reply was received, another letter was despatched on the 8th May asking for a. reply. On the 9th May a formal acknowledgment of the letter was received, but it was not until the 24th May that a reply was received stating that no good purpose would be served by holding such a conference.
– Who wrote the letter asking for a conference?
– The legal representatives of that section of the growers. The letter from the secretary of the board stated that -
The board does not see that any good purpose would be served by the holding of a conference such as is suggested, but the board will give its customary earnest and careful consideration to any written representations advanced by any exporter of fruit or interested party.
It will be seen that the board is not using its power in a courteous and reasonable manner.
– Was the conference on the subject of co-operative marketing or on a legal matter?
– Certain views were placed before the board by the legal representatives of a number of growers. They stated, among other things, that they agreed with the general principle of control so far as grading and export quotas were concerned, but they were against restrictions of sales and distribution on fixed price markets. They suggested further that a conference would remove some of the difficulties and result in a modification of some of the regulations.
– If the honorable senator were elected as the representative of some political party with a definite policy, and a minority wrote asking for a conference to discuss another policy, would the honorable senator consent to such a conference?
– My own tendency is to hear the point of view of every section. I say quite deliberately that, when a dried fruit organization writes to the board of control asking for a conference, it would be more courteous to reply in a shorter period than one month. If the board did not propose to grant the conference, why did it not send a letter to that effect within a few days instead of waiting for a month ? There is a good deal to be said on both sides. One of’ the difficulties associated with the pooling system, and one open to attack, is that growers cannot obtain details from any pooling organization as to how amounts are made up or what mistakes, if any, have occurred. Naturally, every person or organization is liable to make mistakes. My answer to Senator Hardy’s interjections is that the independent growers have rights. Does the honorable senator suggest that because they are a small minority they have no rights and are not entitled to be heard?
– I claim that apparently they go very close to sacrificing those rights when they are not sufficiently interested in their industry to vote.
– They did vote. Mr. Howie is an immensely popular man who was elected by a four to one majority. I draw the attention of honorable senators, however, to the election of Mr. Russell to theState board. He stood practically as an independent representing the non-irrigation areas and was elected against two well-known members of the Australian Dried Fruits Association.
– Nine hundred growers did not vote and it is only logical to assume that those 900 men, or the majority of them, are members of the independent association.
– I do not know whether that is a fact or not. It seems to be extremely difficult to find out exactly how many members are in the respective organizations. Conflicting statements on this matter have been made to-day, and it may be that some growers sell to both organizations.
– Are all growers entitled to vote?
– HUGHES. - I think there is an acreage qualification. I emphasize that although the opposition to the Australian Dried Fruits Association is small, it is not negligible. Anybody who knows anything about the present state of affairs in the industry inSouth Australia cannot question that fact. Many growers are not satisfied with existing conditions and it may be that some of these do not turn up to vote, as they are not particularly in favour of either organization. Competition is desirable and, without saying that coercion has occurred in this instance, I am opposed to the coercion of a small minority. I am sure that all honorable senators agree that minorities have some rights. For instance, the Opposition in this chamber is composed of only three members, but they represent one of the great Australian political parties, and no honorable senator would attempt - even if it were possible - to deny them the right of speech in this chamber. It is a good thing to allow the expression of different points of view. The Commonwealth has three nominees on the board. Could not the Government give one of its nominations to a representative of the independent organization? I do not desire to say anything about individuals but it is a fact that the last Government appointee, whom I know personally and like, is also a director of the Australian Dried Fruits Association in South Australia. The memorandum compiled by the Acting Chairman of the Dried Fruits Export Control Board strikes me as being disingenuous. It does not place the facts fully before Parliament when it says, “so intent have been the principal commercial members of the board on absolute fairness that on no occasion have these gentlemen ever entered the offices of the Australian Dried Fruits Association “. The members of the hoard meet in other offices, so what is the value of that iissuran.ee? The fact remains that one of the three Government nominees, a commercial member of the board, is a director of the Australian Dried Fruits Association in South Australia. Yet there is not a word in this document to suggest that this is so.
– The honorable senator does not suggest that that is a Government document?
– No ; it emanates from the board, but it would have been much fairer if the fact I have indicated were stated in it. Six of the night members of the board are closely connected with the Australian Dried Fruits Association. Would it not be fair that the independent growers should have a nominee on the board? If they cannot get a member of the board by election, would it not be proper for the Government to place such a representative on the board to enable the point of view of this particular section to be expressed, to act, to some extent, as a check on other members of the hoard, and to enable him to become educated, if necessary, in matters affecting the control of the industry? If the Government does not propose to amend the act !by extending the hoard, it should see that this particular section is represented on the board, because the independent growers have their rights and should be safeguarded. On the surface, at any rate, the Control Board appears to have very great powers, but should the decision of the Privy Council upset the present control the position will he greatly changed and Parliament may have to decide whether or not the board has exercised its present powers fairly in the interests of the growers as a whole. I do not desire to make an attack on the board or on the Australian Dried Fruits Association. The latter is the dominant organization in the dried fruits industry in Australia at the present time. I admit that it is an efficient and well managed organization, and that the head men in it are fair-minded, although I have reason to believe that, in some instances, they are influenced by extremists outside. It is for the Control Board and the Australian Dried Fruits Association to ensure that they so exercise the great powers they have at the present time that, should a Privy Council decision upset their control, they will be in a position to go to the growers to ask for more powers. But if they take unfair advantage of their present powers, and commit such acts of discourtesy as, for instance, failing for a month to answer a letter written on behalf of a wellorganized minority in the industry, they cannot expect that members of Parliament will regard them with the same favour or that they will strengthen their hold over the growers as a whole.
– I ask the Senate to reject this motion. These regulations constitute machinery which, it has been admitted, has provided a model for marketing control in many other branches of primary production. The principle underlying this legislation is similar to that underlying the butter industry legislation, and, I believe, will be found to be the basis of the wheat industry legislation when it comes before this chamber. If it had not been a success - ‘and the proof of the pudding is in the eating thereof - there would be some reason for assuming that all is not well with the industry. Several honorable senators who spoke on conditions in the dried fruits industry in other parts of the world have demonstrated that this particular legislative machinery has succeeded in doing. something for the industry in Australia which has not been done for the producers of dried fruits in any other part of the world. This “legislation and the powers exercised under it enabled this industry right through the worst years of the depression to pay to the producer at least the cost of the production of his product. In no other part of the world was such a result achieved during those tunes of hardship. It has been pointed out that in California small minorities acted independently of other growers in the industry with the result that the dried fruits industry there was brought to its knees, and 123,000 acres went out of production. I do not overlook other explanations of this development, hut I ampha- size that the operations of those who claimed independence in the industry seriously contributed to such disastrous results in California. In Greece, low prices brought the industry to a standstill, and so serious did its position become that its disorganization was a contributing factor to the revolution which occurred in that country. In Smyrna, also, low prices crippled the industry, and. when the Government there intervened manipulations on the part of small independent sections took place with the result that the Government ultimately had to buy the whole of the crop and hold it against sale. Only in Australia has the industry achieved outstanding success, and this has been due entirely to this kind of legislation. Honorable senators are not seriously concerned that a few growers may have been injured under the present system or that the controlling organization may have been adjudged guilty of discourtesy to a small section of the growers. In passing, I point out that such allegations have not been proved. Nevertheless, we are asked to discard certain regulations which have been put forward by an organization which has made an outstanding success of this business. Under such circum stances, I prefer to adhere to the old adage that “ the proof of the pudding is in tho eating thereof”, and shall stand by the regulations. The board has been able to obtain preferences for Australian growers in Great Britain, Canada and New Zealand, in each of which, I understand, a tariff is imposed against foreign import;-. We would be ill advised to throw a spanner into the works of a legislative machine which has worked wonders for the Australian primary producers. I appeal to honorable senators to reject the motion.
.- I should not have participated in this discussion were it not for an interjection which suggested that the allowance paid to members of the board is a rather important factor in the administration of the board. I know two of the “commercial “ members of the board - Messrs. Bell and Thomas - fairly well. The former is managing director of Robert Harper and Company Limited and Mr. Thomas is managing director of W. C. Thomas and Sons Proprietary Limited, and also president of the VictorianChamber of Manufactures. The circumstances of those two gentlemen precludes any suspicion that the allowances paid to them would influence them in carrying out their duties.
We have advanced a long way during the last 30 years in the management of primary production. I was one of the prime movers in the formation of the first co-operative company in Victoria to deal with butter. Had it been suggested then that the day would come when governments would be asked to control the industry, the suggestion would have been laughed to scorn not only by the producers themselves but also by the governments of that day. But since then governments have had to come to the relief of various industries. The changes which have taken place have necessitated a re-adjustment of our views regarding the need for government control of marketing. I confess that in thi 3 respect my views have changed considerably. Nevertheless, I see grave danger in this form of control, and I should like the representatives of primary producers in this chamber to recognize it. There is a growing tendency to require the home consumer in Australia to pay a higher price for the primary producehe buys, in order that a bounty may be paid to the exporters of such products. So soon as the various control boards exploit that power unduly, and charge unwarranted prices for goods consumed locally, trouble arises. I do not think that the Dried Fruits Export Control Board has attempted to misuse its power in this direction, but a warning that the danger exists may not be out of place. We must not penalize the home consumer in order to confer benefits on exporters. Realizing that “ what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander “, I am somewhat exercised in my mind as to what would happen to me, a manufacturer, if it were suggested that the iron and steel industry, or the agricultural implement industry of Australia, should charge higher prices for goods sold in Australia in order that a bounty might be paid on goods exported.
I am also concerned to know why it was found necessary to tighten up these regulations. I do not think that the Senate has been informed of the whole of the facts. I do not know all of them myself, but I think that I know the reason for the amendments. I have been informed that some of the independent growers were “whiteanting “ the industry in Canada. They allowed discounts not on the invoices, but by actually sending the money to Canada. If that is so, one can understand why stricter control of the industry has been found necessary.
– Is there any evidence to support the allegations?
– I have been informed on good authority that such things are done.
– There is a fine of £ 100 for doing such things.
– The possibility of wrong practices creeping in is the reason why licences are necessary; it gives the Minister power to deal with known offenders.
– So far, not one licence has been cancelled.
– I understand that the practice to which I have referred was resorted to some time before these regulations were gazetted. In all probability, the men concerned have discontinued the practice.
Senator McLeay has done his job well, but I think either that incorrect information was supplied to him, or that he drew wrong inferences from the facts at his disposal. In view of the overwhelming body of opinion against the motion, he would do well to withdraw it now that the whole subject has been thoroughly ventilated.
– It was not my intention to speak on this subject, because I was aware that several honorable senators who were fully acquainted with the facts were prepared to refute the statements made by Senator McLeay when moving his motion. But as the discussion proceeded other matters were referred to, and I now feel impelled to make a few observations. It is somewhat unusual to find honorable senators advocating the representation of minorities. I know that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) and his two followers frequently claim, but to my mind wrongly, that although the Opposition is a small minority in the Senate it should be heard on all matters affecting the people because it represents 46 per cent. of the electors. The question we have to decide in connexion with this motion is whether or not the Dried Fruits Export Control Board is dominated by the Australian Dried Fruits Association to the detriment of growers generally. We have to decide tins question in the interests of the great body of growers, rather than of a few growers. Senator Duncan-Hughes said that, although, in a minority, the independent growers are a fairly strong minority. There are approximately 2,200 growers of dried fruits in South Australia, and they produce about 22,000 tons of dried fruits per annum. A simple calculation will show that the average production is about 10 tons to each grower. Figures which have been presented to us show that the 1,500 independent growers produce about 3,000 tons of dried fruits. That represents about 2 tons each. It will be seen, therefore, that the unit production for the other700 growers is about 27 tons, and that the minority group, which Senator Duncan-Hughes says should be represented on the board, is a very small group indeed.
– Even so, that group exports more dried fruits than are exported from New South Wales.
– I do not think that Senator McLeay would apply to himself the principle which he now advocates for other minorities. For instance, if minorities are entitled to representation after a popular vote, it may he that some other person should be sitting in the place now occupied by the honorable senator in this chamber. In an ordinary company, is it not a fact that the will of the majority of shareholders rules? There is nothing wrong in that, because we must assume that the welfare of the whole is not inconsistent with the welfare of the majority.
– Practically every royal commission during recent years has submitted a minority report.
– Senator McLeay said that the board acted improperly in refusing to meet the independent growers in conference. He accused the board of discourtesy in not replying to those who asked for a conference and implied that the board had acted arrogantly in this matter. I remind him that the hoard meets only at intervals of six or eight weeks.
– But it has a secretary.
– That is so ; but he could not authorize the holding of a conference.
– Was a month’s delay necessary?
– It may be that the letter was received immediately following a meeting of the board.
– The suggestion contained in the letter was so important that it should have been convoyed to all members of the board.
– The board probably thought, and rightly so, that, as it was a body constituted by an act of Parliament, the request for a conference to consider amendments to the act which constituted the board should be submitted to the Government. Surely that is a logical point of view. Senator McLeay, when dealing with the personnel of the board and its probable influence, stated -
It is interesting to note that one member of tlie board who was appointed by the Govern ment was Mr. J. B. Murdoch, a. prominent member of the Australian Dried Fruits Association. These mcn have done excellent work and they aru highly respected and esteemed in South Australia. But honorable senators will realize that, with six of the eight members of the Dried Fruits Export Board prominently associated with the Australian Dried Fruits Association, the existing regulations, and the power that the board has, may be . . .
I direct the attention of honorable se’nators to the words “ may be “, which are used in exactly the same sense as when the Labour party attacked a previous appointment of a member to the judiciary. Because a gentleman assisted to frame laws, members of that party suggested that his sense of justice would be warped and that he must be influenced in a certain direction. Senator McLeay assails their sense of equity and justice when he avers that, although these gentlemen are esteemed in South Australia, they “may be “ influenced to take certain action prejudicial to the interest of their immediate competitors. Later, in reply to my interjection, the honorable senator stated -
It is not our wish to destroy the board, but we wish to prevent it, dominated as it is by the Australian Dried Fruits Association, from doing an injustice to a large section of the. growers in the dried fruits industry.
The words “ may be “ occurring in the earlier part of Iris speech, when he showed an inclination to remain neutral on the point as to whether the board was dominated or not, were superseded by assurance that the board had been dominated by the Australian Dried Fruits Association. The words “dominated as it is” cannot be misinterpreted. If the board has been so dominated, that is only right and - proper, because the Australian Dried Fruits Association represents practically the whole of the growers. Where then lies the inequity? I fail to see any logical reason why the honorable senator should advocate that the extremely small’ and evidently discontented minority should have representation on the board. Having regard to the fact that the members of the board are elected by ballot - the surest system of ascertaining the will of the people interested - under no rule of logic or deduction can such a claim be substantiated. The independent grower is not sufficiently interested to take advantage of an opportunity when it, occurs to change the policy of the hoard. The voting returns are proof of that. Senator Duncan-Hughes stated that the result of the election may have been due to Mr. Howie’s personal popularity. I assume that the ordinary grower has sufficient intelligence to know that the policy that a candidate advocates must be taken into account as well as his popularity. Mr. Howie was elected by a, three or four to one majority, but 900 growers in South Australia failed to vote. I expect that the very men who were too lazy to vote are the persons now advocating the reform of the board.
-When I was first elected to Parliament, only 15 per cent. of the electors voted.
– But that does not imply that only 15 per cent. of the electors should vote to-day. Majority rule is the surest and most satisfactory method of electing a representative. I was gratified to hear Senator McLeay inform the Senate that the statement which he made previously about Mr. Howie was incorrect. In what I am about to say I desire to be perfectly fair to the honorable gentleman. Three weeks ago he stated that we must suspend judgment until we found whether or not the utterance attributed to Mr. Howie was correct. At the commencement of the debate to-day Senator McLeay, in a personal explanation, said that his remarks were without foundation. Three weeks have passed since the honorable senator made his allegation, and I venture to assert that he could have, if he had so desired, made the explanation many days ago. Why did he wait for this period to elapse before taking action to clear Mr. Howie’s name? I propose to read an excerpt from an official letter, addressed to Senator McLeay by Mr. Howie. In fairness to this gentleman, who has been, and still is, the leader of the dried fruits industry, his explanation should be placed on record. The statement completely refutes the assertion attributed to him about giving the independent packer a “ crack in the neck.” The letter is as follows : -
As regards thepersonal incidents in which any name is brought into prominence,I wish to state in regard to the statement alleged of me at Renmark to the effect that I saw an opportunity in the new regulations of giving the independent packer a “ crack in the neck,” I did not make such a statement. This meeting in Renmark was attended by a large number of growers, and Mr. W. F. McConnell, secretary of the Independent Packers and Producers Association. A full report of the meeting was made by a reporter of the Murray Pioneer, and no mention of such a statement by me is mode, but Mr. McConnell, in the next issue of the Dried Fruit Producer, quoted me as using the words in question. Immediately upon this coming before my notice I wrote to Mr. McConnell correcting him. Mr. McConnell published my letter, but endeavoured to justify my assertion that I had made this statement by saying that he had confirmed it with others who were at the meeting. I have since questioneda number of growers who attended the meeting, and not one of them recalls my utterance of such a statement.
If ever an honorable senator made amends for an incorrect utterance, Senator McLeay did so to-day, but I quote this letter in order to support the retraction by the honorable senator, and to show that the statement attributed to Mr. Howie emanated from the quarter from which one would expect it, and that is the secretary of the independent association. From this explanation honorable senators can draw their own conclusions which must react to the detriment of that association. Every aspect of the motion has been well debated, and there is no necessity for me to emphasize how essential it is to preserve these regulations. The DriedFruits Export Control Board has a definite record of benefit to every producer of dried fruits in the Commonwealth. I trust that the motion will be rejected.
– in reply - I ask leave to amend the motion by inserting, after the word “ That “, the words “ regulations 3 and 7 contained in “.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - Such an amendment may be made only by the unanimous consent of the Senate. As the objection of one honorable senator would be fatal, Senator McLeay will appreciate the risk that he runs by asking for leave. At an earlier stage the honorable senator might have arranged for another honorable senator to move the amendment.
Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.
– I rise to a point of order. Prior to the suspension of the sitting Senator McLeay obtained leave of the Senate to amend his motion by the addition of certain words, so that it is not now in its original form. I submit that he asked the Senate to assent to a course of action which is not within the competence of the Senate. The competence of the Senate is confined to consideration of the motion for the disallowance of regulations, submitted by the honorable senator in the terms of section 10 of the Acts Interpretation Act 1904-1932, which reads -
Where an act confers power to make regulations, all regulations made accordingly shall, unless the contrary intention appears -
he notified in the Gazette,
take effect from the date of notifica tion or from a later date specified in the regulations.
be laid before each House of the Parliament within fifteen sitting days of that House after the making of the regulation.
But if either House of Parliament passes a resolution of which notice has been given at any time within fifteen sitting days after such regulations have been laid before such House disallowing any regulation, such regulation shall thereupon cease to have effect.
The notice of motion to disallow the regulation was given within fifteen sitting days, but the Senate has had no notice of the motion as amended. If notice of motion were given to-day, and the motion were set down for consideration tomorrow, the Senate would not be considering it within the fifteen sitting days, as required ‘by section 10. Therefore I contend that it is not competent for the Senate to amend the motion and that consent of the Senate cannot validate what is expressly disallowed by the act. I only wish to add that when you, Mr. President, gave honorable senators an opportunity to object to the amendment of the motion, I did not take advantage of it because I would not then have had an opportunity to give reasons why I object to the alteration. I submit that the honorable senator is required, in his reply, to confine his remarks to the motion of which he gave notice within the statutory time.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - The point raised by the Assistant Minister (Senator Brennan) is very important, and is, perhaps, without precedent in the history of this cham ber. Senator McLeay obtained leave of the Senate to amend his motion. As the Minister has submitted, notice of a motion to disallow a regulation must be given within fifteen sitting days after such regulation was laid before the Senate. I am not prepared to say whether or not the amendment is a radical alteration of the original motion. But it is obvious that the motion in its altered form would not have been submitted to the Senate within the time specified by section 10 of the Acts Interpretation Act. I must uphold the point taken by the Assistant Minister ; and, therefore, the original motion only is before the Chair.
. - I appreciate the position that has arisen and I thoroughly understand the reasons actuating Senator Brennan in raising the point of order which you, Mr. President, have decided in his favour. Some time ago I was informed that it was not within the power of the Senate to disallow a single regulation, but on the following day the Assistant Minister advised that it was competent for this chamber to do so.
I am grateful to the Assistant Minister for the assistance which he has given to me in this matter. My main reason for objecting to certain regulations in Statutory Rule No. 30 which came into force on the 8th April, 1935, is not that I am opposed to control or fixation of prices in connexion with the dried fruits industry, but that I consider that three or four of the sub-regulations are altogether too drastic and would unduly trespass on the rights’ of a number of citizens. I was under the impression that, if my motion were carried the regulations which were in force on the 7th April would still stand. As there appears to be some legal doubt on this point, it is imperative, because of the far-reaching nature of these new regulations, that the Senate should know what are its powers in the matter of the disallowance of regulations. The Assistant Minister should give earnest consideration to this statutory rule, which contains nine regulations, and one of them has seventeen sub-regulations, including twelve paragraphs. Some of these provisions are very far-reaching in their effects. I understand that the Senate has not the power to disallow or amend a single subregulation or paragraph contained in a regulation. If it has not this power, 1 am afraid that before long we shall be facing a sea of trouble.
My motion is a protest against the present unsatisfactory state of affairs in the industry. In the course of this debate we have heard a good deal said about the success of the dried fruits industry in Australia. For that we have to thank the Commonwealth Government and State governments for passing legislation making possible the satisfactory development of the industry, and also the governments of Canada, New Zealand and Great Britain for the measure of preference which Australian exporters now enjoy in those markets. I was rather surprised that, with the exception of the Assistant Minister and Senator Duncan-Hughes, all those who took part in the debate this afternoon failed to note that I am supporting by motion all the regulations which were in force up to the 7th April, and that my opposition is directed against three or four of the new sub-regulations of regulation ‘7 which came into operation on the Sth April. The regulation reminds me of the story of the cynical draftsman who observed that, as razors were made to sell, regulations were drafted to pass. The statutory rule against which my motion is directed - by the President’s ruling I am not permitted to amend it - contains nine regulations, some sections of which I consider are unduly oppressive, yet we are told that we must accept or reject them in their entirety.
– The Senate has no power, by itself, to pass a law. If it had authority to amend a regulation, we should have the position of one House of the Parliament instead of two, being a law-maker.
– As even lawyers differ on so many occasions, I am not prepared, at this stage, to express an opinion on the point raised by the Assistant Minister, but I repeat that the Government should give the Senate a lead as to the correct procedure. My objection is to certain of the sub-regulations which came into force on the Sth April, and in particular to regulation 7, sub-regulation 6, which enacts that an exporter shall sell “ to such purchasers through such agents and in such quantities as the board determines.” Let honorable senators consider the position from the point of view of a seller who goes to Canada to appoint agents for the sale of his products. Before he can appoint an agent or enter into any contract to sell dried fruits at the price fixed by the board, he has to obtain the approval of the board as to whether the purchaser shall be allowed to receive the goods. From the view-point of those controlling packing sheds, such a position is most undesirable. A packer may purchase 1,000 tons of dried fruits, and after entering into the contract the board then determines whether the contract to sell may be carried out. If the board is to have the power to exercise such control over commerce, the Senate should give these regulations most serious attention. Let us consider subregulation 10. The members of the board may be in different parts of the Commonwealth, and the secretary does not possess the necessary authority to issue a licence, unless fourteen days’ notice is given for each shipment. The secretary may say that the person desiring to export is a reputable trader, that his licence is in order, and that he should be entitled to ship a consignment, but he has not the power to authorize shipment under fourteen days. It has been reported to me that after these regulations came into force a firm cabled from Colombo to Adelaide in September for a shipment to be forwarded within three days, but those desiring to comply with the request were reminded by the board that fourteen days’ notice had to be given. Is it any. wonder that there is such a strong protest against these regulations when such restrictions arc imposed? The Assistant Minister has said that the Senate has not the power to amend these regulations; but even the best of draftsmen are not infallible, and mistakes may occur. I remind honorable senators that before the Sanctions Bill’ was disposed of by the Senate last night, it was found necessary to amend it. That shows clearly that even at the last moment alterations were found to be necessary. Sub-regulation 16 of regulation 7 reads -
That the licensee shall, whenever so required by notice in writing, signed by the secretary or an authorized person, withhold from export the whole or any portion of any dried fruits intended for export.
The Commonwealth law provides that exports shall be withheld, and the State law provides that quotas must be exported. It is quite possible that purchasers would refrain from entering into contracts, because there is always a fear that these regulations may be used against them. I wish it to be clearly understood that I am in favour of reasonable control, and I trust that, if there is any friction under these regulations, the Assistant Minister will see that they are amended. Senator DuncanHughes said that if the Commonwealth decides to take a referendum as to the Commonwealth’s powers under section 92 of tho Constitution, these regulations will be quoted throughout the Commonwealth, as showing the effect of Commonwealth control. I am prepared to support any amendment of the Constitution to give to the Commonwealth greater power to deal with exports, but I trust that the Government will see that the regulations which it promulgates are not ridiculous, and that when they come before the Senate, we shall have power to amend them. Subregulation 17 of the same regulation reads -
The licensee shall comply with such other conditions as arc from time to time prescribed. lt is difficult to understand what is meant by that. It has given the independent packers in South Australia quite a scare. Reference was made this afternoon to the representation of minorities. Members of the independent organization in South Australia control eighteen of the 49 .packing sheds, and in addition to the dried fruits which this organization purchases locally, it obtains quantities from Victoria and New South Wales. In the first year of its operation, one independent packing shed handled 100 tons, and this year it has handled 700 tons of interstate fruit. Mr. Howie said that the Australian Dried Fruits Association handled S8 per cent, of the dried fruit produced in South Australia last year, leaving members of the independent organization 12 per cent. The members of the independent organization in South Australia were in business before the days of government control, and did not object to control until these regulations ‘ became operative on the Sth April. I understand that the Control Board objected because representations were made to it on behalf of independent packers by a firm of solicitors; but, in view of the nature of the regulations and the numerous technical and complex matters contained therein, it is only reasonable that they should obtain legal advice. This small independent organization exported in 1934 a larger quantity of dried fruits than was exported from New South Wales and Western Australia during the samo year, and those States have representation on the board. Some who are not familiar with the conditions under which the industry is conducted in South Australia object to the representation of minorities. In 1934, South Australia produced 20,000 tons of dried fruits, but the total production of New South Wales in that year was only 5,000 tons. We do not complain because New South Wales lias direct representation on the board, but the Assistant Minister should consider the suggestion of Senator Duncan-Hughes that, when another appointment is made, the claims of independent organizations in South Australia should not be overlooked. Unfortunately, some honorable senators do not appreciate the position which exists in the dried fruits industry in South Australia, where there are nonirrigated and irrigated areas. When the South Australian Dried Fruits Control Bill was introduced, one representative of the non-irrigated areas and two representatives of the irrigated areas were to be elected. Although the Australian Dried Fruit Association is a powerful organization, we should not belittle the independent organization which has done much for the industry in South Australia. Some honorable senators are apt to think that I am speaking on behalf of a merchants’ organization. Eighteen of the 49 packing sheds are supported by men, of whom 95 per cent, are growers. This organization, which was not formed until December of last year, is making headway and, by resolution, has decided to support reasonable control. Both the Australian Dried Fruit Association and the independent organization arc commercial -undertakings and my desire is that they shall work together amicably.I understand that some grower-members of the Australian Dried Fruit Association welcome the independent organization, which has livened up the industry and introduced healthy competition. Men have been sent to Canada and have done good business. One agent has been buying from the same source for years, but under these regulations confidence might not be retained and competition is likely to cease, giving one organization a monopoly which will not be in the best interests of the growermembers of the Australian Dried Fruit Association or the industry as a whole. Mr. Howie, who is one of the most respected men in the industry, on one occasion said : “ I believe that if any individual, however small his interests, is the victim of an injustice his case is worthy of consideration.” I cannot understand why I have failed to convince the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) that I and the independent growers are not against control of the industry. I am not opposing the regulations as they were up to the 7th April: indeed, we recognize that they were largely responsible for placing the industry in the prosperous position it enjoys to-day. We oppose some of the new sub-regulations which came into force after that date. With Senator Leckie I ask what are the reasons for these new regulations? Are honorable senators prepared to agree to them with out even inquiring why the old regulations have been superseded?
– Has the honorable senator heard any expression of dissatisfaction with the new regulations from members of the Australian Dried Fruits Association who represent 94 per cent of the growers?
– No. I have no desire to take any part in the work of the Australian Dried Fruits Association or the Independent Dried Fruits Association. I do not seek to express any opinion in this chamber on the merits of disputes between the rival organizations. I am concerned only with the principles which might be involved in such disputes. I have submitted this motion in an endeavour to ensure that justice shall be done to all sections of producers in this industry. I thank honorable senators for the patient manner in. which they have heard my case. There are many other points to which I should like to reply, but I appreciate the feeling of the chamber on this matter. However, I believe that I was justified in bringing the motion before the Senate. At all times I shall be prepared to fight any organization, even though it be as strong as the Australian Dried Fruits Association, in defence of principles. If I have done any injury to Mr. Bell or any member of the board, I am sorry. I. adopted this course in the interests of the growers as a whole, and I trust that the same healthy competition that exists today in the industry will survive, because this will be to the benefit of the industry as a whole.
– I move-
That to encourage the breaking down of barriers and in the interests of mutual understanding and peace among the nations of the world and to enable the founding of an international public opinion and literature -
It is imperative that a means of international thought exchange be estab lished by a common language to be compulsorily taught in their respectiveprimary and secondary schools;
For this purpose the Governmentbe asked to list this question on the Agenda of the next General Assembly of the League of Nations;
That the Government be asked to instruct the delegates representing Australia at the next Assembly of the League to take action to ensure the approval of the Assembly to the above ;
That the terms of this resolution be communicated to the House of Representatives with a request for concurrence therein;
That the right honorable the Prime Minister be requested tocommunicate the above to the governments of the United Kingdom, the dominions, and India, seeking their co-operation.
It may seem strange to honorable senators that a motion of this character should be submitted in this chamber and that I, a representative of the Country party, should move it. However, it involves a principle that is far above all party considerations.
– The wording of the motion suggests that all humanity is the honorable senator’s party.
– That is so. If I were taken to task by the producers of this country, whether they be associated with the primary or the secondary divisions of production, for taking up the time of the Senate on this matter. I would reply that all the difficulties through which the world passed during the recent depression have been the result of international, rather than national causes. Nations can apply all sorts of remedies to overcome local economic troubles but whatever a nation may do individually in this respect it is merely applying palliatives. We may give to the patient an aspirin or phenacetin tablet to relieve pain, but we cannot cure economic disease unless we attend to the external as well as the internal causes. No producer, whether primary or secondary, can prosper unless the trade and the business of the world as a whole are on a sound basis. Unless there is proper intercourse between nations, subject always to the local requirements of each nation, and the atmosphere of fright, suspicion, fear, hatred . and distrust, which for so long has afflicted this world, is dispelled, and an atmosphere of international understanding and trust is established, the affairs of the world cannot progress. I suppose that if I were to ask the average person what is the first essential for world peace, the reply would be that if one could get the nations to understand each other the danger of international t friction and war would he greatly minimized and the path to ultimate peace would be open. It is axiomatic that if we could establish understanding, backed by faith and mutual trust, among the peoples of the world, an opportunity would be presented to educate public opinion in succeeding generations in the ideals of peace, to which we all, irrespective of party, colour, creed, or race, subscribe. If international relationships are encouraged in an atmosphere of mutual understanding and trust we shall have a chance to establish throughout the world a state of confidence and harmony which must ultimately lead to permanent peace. But how can we understand each other when we cannot talk to each other? How can we understand each other when we cannot freely exchange our thoughts? To-day we have not the vehicle for such intercourse. The need for establishing better understanding between the nations of the world is being stressed to-day by many thinking people of all nations. In a statement published in the last issue of Nippon, a Japanese quarterly, Koki Hirota, the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs says -
To banish war is not, of course, a personal desire of myself alone. It is a common desire of the statesmen of all countries, none of whom wants to see hia fellow citizens sent to a battlefield in order to kill or be killed.
Why, then does war, so universally detested, come irresistibly, as it were, and so frequently as it has come in the past
There are a great many reasons, profound, complicated and often controversial. However, X only wish to mention one factor which constitutes indisputably an underlying cause of wor. It is the lack of mutual understanding between nations which generates needless antipathy, suspicion, and apprehension.
I regret to say that of all the great powers Japan is, perhaps, the one least understood by others. Not only because of Japan’s geographic position, but because of the wide difference between our language, our customs and manners and our mode of living and those of the Occidental peoples, they have so far failed to comprehend fully and correctly the character of our State, and the spiritual qualities of our race . . .
This gentleman, who has a great international reputation and is very influential among his own people, concurs in the opinion, which I am now putting forward, that the first essential to world peace is international understanding. Of course the world to-day has its pacts and the League of Nations - and it is right and proper that it should have such safeguards - but we cannot transform human nature in a day; we cannot achieve lasting peace by merely waving a magic wand. Only by applying ourselves patiently and assiduously to the task of educating and raising man’s thoughts throughout the world can we make progress to that goal. And so we come to my proposal for the establishment of an international thought exchange, which I advocated towards- the end of 1934, when I was privileged to address the Constitutional Association of New South Wales. I said then that the proposal postulated a common language. I am not concerned what language is adopted. I am not out to advocate any particular system, whether it be Esperanto, basic English or any other medium of thought exchange, or whether it be an existing language or a new and artificial system to be devised for the purpose. The main essential with which I am concerned is that in each country the language which may be agreed to by the nations of the world in conference shall be made an official language. This is a matter far above party politics, for it concerns humanity in the highest sense of the word. I therefore desire to keep the proposal entirely clear of party politics, and I welcome the interest and co-operation of men of every party, sect, creed, colour, and kind whatsoever.
By the discoveries and ‘ inventions which, in this rapidly-changing age, humanity has been permitted to make, mankind is surely being drawn closer together, so that it is only a question of time when many more international barriers must fall. We are in a changing age. By reason of such inventions as wireless and aeroplanes, the peoples of the world have already been throught more closely together than ever before. That is an interesting fact for men to ponder. In our lifetime we have seen great advances made in the realm of science. I do not say that in some respects, as perhaps in mathematics the ancients might not have eclipsed us; but, speaking generally, we have been privileged to live in an age which has seen greater progress than any other generation has witnessed. I knew as a young man Laurence Hargraves, who has been acclaimed the father of aviation in this country, and has received honours in other countries greater, perhaps, than in his own. I frequently visited his workshop at Point Piper, Sydney, where I saw him at work on his models. If in those days I had told my hard-headed business friends in the city what I had seen and that Hargraves had said that some day men would fly, they would sympathetically and kindly have tapped their foreheads, and smiled pityingly at the poor dreamer. There was a time when scientists said that man would never fly a machine heavier than air. They argued that a certain prehistoric reptile known as the pterodactyl was the heaviest thing that could fly. They could not visualize the mighty machines which carried loads weighing many tons from the sea coast to the gold-fields of New Guinea. The dream of Laurence Hargraves became an accomplished fact when Mr. C. W. A. Scott brought Australia within two days of Great Britain. We are not indulging in an idle dream if we determine to-night to light a torch which may light the way towards that temple of peace in which the civilization of the world must eventually worship or perish.
By the sound waves transmitted through the ether man’s thoughts expressed in words can be immediately made known to persons throughout the world. Thought is the most powerful factor for good or evil in the world; thought is stronger than nations. It is an axiom that if a man’s thought can be raised his achievements can be raised also. Similarly, if the thought-level of a nation is raised, the whole national outlook is improved ; and if the thought-level of all the nations of the world is raised, then humanity itself has proceeded a little further along the road which leads to peace and progress. It is now possible to exchange sounds through the ether; but how futile it i3 to do that unless we have a common understanding of the meaning of the sounds that we hear. I quote now from an article of mine which was published in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 28th September, 1934, and was warmly supported by that journal. Having dealt with matters to which I have already referred to-night, I went on% to say -
This brings us, then, to the thought of international agreement and international understanding. Let us remind ourselves that we already have had some experience of one or two fairly successful international conventions, e.g., the Postal Convention and the International Patent Convention.
The Assistant Minister (Senator Brennan) will bear rae out as to the nature of the International Patent Convention. It is a matter of common knowledge that at that conference the nations of the world agreed to standardize the principles underlying their patent laws, and put them into effect by legislation within their own borders. Although there are still slight differences in connexion with patents, the main principles are the same throughout the world, and are understood in every country. Having those conventions in mind, I proceeded -
I now advocate another convention, and that an international conference should be called to which each of the nations should be asked to send their best brains and educational experts, as well as such governmental representatives as may be deemed advisable. This convention should then examine all suggested languages, combinations or systems of thought exchange, with strict regard to simplicity; and, having once decided, the parties to such conventions should then bind themselves to legislate in their respective countries, making the teaching of the common language decided upon compulsory in their primary schools and carrying it on till the completion of the secondary education of the child.
The point which I wish to emphasize is the need to commence this teaching in the primary schools. At present in this country the teaching of languages is not begun in earnest until the children reach the secondary schools. My suggestion is that a commencement be made with the children in the kindergarten, and that the teaching should continue through the primary and secondary schools, with the result that in len or fifteen years there would be growing up in the world a race which could understand what was said when the wireless was turned on, irrespective of the country from which the broadcast came. The same would be true of writing and every other form of thought exchange. Gradually a common literature would grow, and we should then have achieved a true international thought exchange. One can easily imagine how the cream of the literature of the world would gradually drift into that common literature, so that, in time, the people of every nation would get a better understanding of the ideals and aspirations of their fellow-men of all nations. This is no dream, but a practical proposal which, if carried out, would cause the word “ foreign “ to lose its meaning and give place to “ neighbour “. We should then hear no more of the “ inscrutable mask of the foreigner “.. The world has not made such a success of its international’ relationships that it can afford to ignore any proposal which may lead to peace. The proposal which I submit is one which all can support, irrespective of nation, state, party, creed, sect, or class. It is of equal importance to Christian, Buddhist, Mohammedan, Hindu, Jew, and, indeed, to mankind of every race and colour whatsoever. In my letter to the Sydney Morning Herald, I stated that I proposed that a start bc made by a petition to His Majesty the King asking him to call the nations together. I. myself, intended to start such a petition so that the people of Australia may show to the world how to lay the foundations of that temple of peace at whose shrine mankind must worship or perish. This development need not be too far distant if we apply ourselves sincerely to the task. I suggest that this is something worth working for. Before introducing my proposal into the realm of politics, I submitted it to a number of bodies such as the Constitutional Association, the Legacy Club and others, and I was pleased at the enthusiastic reception given to it. I now wish to acknowledge the generous help which I have received from the Leader of the Senate (Sir George Pearce). Honorable senators will remember that a few weeks ago the business-paper contained notice of a motion asking His Excellency the Governor-General to communicate with the Home authorities suggesting that an international convention be called to consider the proposal. The right honorable gentleman, with that wisdom which is born of long experience, suggested that the motion be amended slightly, in view of the fact that in the League of Nations there existed the machinery to give effect more quickly to the proposal. I thankfully acknowledge his assistance, and express the hope that the motion will receive the support of honorable senators, for it deals with a subject which must appeal to all. Even the most apathetic senator can honestly say to himself: “ An international tongue can do no harm; it may do a lot of good; therefore it is worth giving a trial.” Of late, gibes have been cast at the usefulness of this chamber. Sections of the pre.3s have devoted themselves to a cheap form of humour, which pretends that honorable senators are sleepy old gentlemen who never do anything. The motion which 1 have moved affords the Senate - the senior chamber of the National Parliament - an opportunity to give an invitation to the world which, though it may be ridiculed by tlie press in this country, will be hailed with delight in other countries, and will receive their most sympathetic and serious consideration. Some honorable senators may regard me as being an optimist for expressing the desire to have this motion communicated to the League of Nations, in view of the present difficult circumstances confronting that organization. During the last few days I purposely refrained from participating in “the debate on the Sanctions Bill, because I did not wish to be drawn into some of the heated party controversy that so often manifests itself in such a discussion. I now direct attention to the fact that the League of Nations - I do not wish to arouse a controversy by referring to this matter - is a power for good in the world. It is backed by the noble foresight and the truly spiritual vision of the people of Great Britain, of whom we are proud to be the sons and daughters; their determination, sincerity, and sheer goodwill towards humanity will, I believe, do more to bring the nations of the world back to righteousness than all the guns, bluster, bluff, pomp, warring, speeches and platitudes of those who subscribed to the Covenant of the League and retired when, it did not suit them. During the last few months little Britain has done more than all others to lead the world back to the path of peace and goodwill. By its insistence on clinging to the one hope of the world - collective security - and maintaining at all costs the existence of the League of Nations, Britain has won the admiration and praise of even an influential section of the German nation. 1 believe that the League will prove to be a lasting institution, the foundation of a better order of things, and the genesis of a bigger, better and grander league which mankind will gladly join, recognizing that the only road to peace is mutual understanding. So I propose that an attempt be made to procure a common tongue throughout the world I am aware that objections will immediately enter the minds of some, honorable senators who, for the first time, have been called upon to consider this proposal. Often the statement has been made to me that the attainment of my objective will involve the abolition of
English and the native tongues of other countries. That misunderstanding frequently arises. There would be not the slightest necessity to get rid of any existing mother tongue. A child would be taught two languages, one, the international language, and the other the mother tongue that it would learn in the home of its parents. “When we consider that some of the peoples of Europe are required to speak four or five tongues, the difficulty of introducing a second or international language is by no means insuperable. In some parts of Czechoslovakia, I understand, one must have five or six languages, and in Switzerland two or three languages in order to make any headway. Not only would an international thought exchange be created, and the bottle-neck of interpreters and diplomats - who may or may not toss against us with a doubleheaded penny, as it were, because we are at the mercy of their translations - be abolished, hut the creation of an international literature, and an international public opinion would begin. Although we may he the chosen representatives of the nation, I confess that in the long run we are never the leaders. “We bow to public opinion; so do all so-called leaders throughout the world. In the course of time when an international public opinion has developed with a free exchange of the thoughts of the people of the world, and we are freed of the fogs of misunderstanding which cause suspicion and endless antipathy, we shall find a clear way towards a higher order and a better and nobler state of things. Although it may seem an exaggeration, this Senate has the power to light a torch to illumine that path through the jungle of human misunderstanding to the very steps of the Temple of Peace. By forwarding this resolution with our blessing, may we not be taking in our own hands our little trowels and mortar, and each of us adding a brick to that edifice. I commend this proposal in all sincerity to honorable senators, and emphasize that an international language is not an idle dream. It is just as practical as the establishment of the international patents convention. The onus would be upon the votaries of other systems to prove their case. The merits of the different systems might be discussed at Geneva, where they would receive an impartial hearing. In securing a . standardized pronunciation, scientific progress in the last 50 years would again come to the assistance of mankind. The gramophone has been invented, and some languages are now being taught in schools by this medium. The body which would decide the common means of thought exchange would, no doubt, commit the chosen words of that language to gramophone records, in order that a standardized pronunciation record could be multiplied in millions, and distributed among all countries. By this means the correct pronunciation of the international tongue could be acquiredby all races. At least it would be sufficiently general that children would be able to turn on the wireless, and not encounter the barrier of misunderstanding that, exists to-day. The unintelligible sounds of t o-day would be the expressed thoughts of every child, whether it lived in Moscow, Dresden, Berlin, London, Tokio, or New York. By that means it lies within our power at least to take a little step toward achieving that Christian ideal of “ peace on earth, goodwill to men “ to which we all earnestly aspire.
Debate (on motion by Senator Sir GeorgePearce) adjourned.
Senate adjourned at 9.13 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 November 1935, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1935/19351114_senate_14_148/>.