14th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Senate have an opportunity this session to discuss a scheme for national insurance?
– Yes. On the first reading of the Appropriation Bill, which I hope will he before the Senate soon, honorable senators may discuss any subject.
– Does the Govern ment subscribe to the views of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Employment regarding the introduction of a 40-hour week in Australia? If not,will it repudiate all responsibility for the statements made by Sir Frederick Stewart?
– In his statements in regard to a 40-hour week the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Employment’ expresses his own opinion and does not speak for the Government. There is, therefore, no necessity for the Government to repudiate any responsibility for his statements.
– In view of the many statements made regarding the need for an amendment of the Electoral Act in order to restore something like a balance of power in the Senate, and the need for dealing with other important matters connected with electoral reform, will the Leader of the Senate say whether the Government has under consideration legislation to amend the Electoral Act, and if so, will the Senate have an opportunity to consider it this session? If not, when will such opportunity be provided ?
SenatorSir GEORGE PEARCE. - It will take more than an amendmentofthe Electoral Act to restore the balance of power in the Senate. The honorable senator knows that it is not usual to announce government policy in reply to questions. The first reading of the Appropriation Bill will afford honorable senators an opportunity to discuss electoral reform.
– I did not ask the Leader of the Senate to disclose any item of government policy, but merely to give the Senate some information in regard to a report that legislation to amend the Electoral Act is contemplated.
-Is the Leader of the Senate in a position to say whether an invitation has been extended to members of the Congress of the United States of America to visit Australia? If nothing has been done in that direction, will he ask the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) to issue an invitation at an early date?
– The matter is under consideration.
– In view of the strictures passed by Mr. C. J. Cerutty, the Commonwealth AuditorGeneral, on the old-age pensions system in Australia, will the Leader of the Senate say when Mr.. Cerutty is expected to take up his residence in Canberra? Further, willhe inform the Senate how long Mr. Cerutty will have the right to deliver policy speeches to the people of Australia? Will Mr. Cerruty retire on a pension, and if so, to what amount will he be entitled on retirement?
– I understand that Mr. Cerutty will retire from the position of Auditor-General within a few weeks. I ask the honorable senator to give notice of the other pari of his question.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce any information to give to the Senate regarding the whereabouts of the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett). Further, can he say how many treaties with other countries have been arranged by Sir Henry Gullett,and with what countries they have been entered into?
– No search parties have been sent out to find the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties, as the Government has no uneasiness regarding his whereabouts. I ask the honorable senator to give notice of the remaining portion of his question.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce has furnished the following replies to the honorable senator’s questions : -
The Commonwealth Government, in agreement with the governments of the States, have agreed to joint action in order to secure a home price forwheat. The Commonwealth Governmenthas introduced its legislation for this purpose.
It is essential in order to provide some guarantee) for the wheat-growers for the coining harvest that the main wheat-growing States shall at once introduce their legislation.
So farNew South Wales and Queensland are the only States that have done so. Victoria, I understand, will introduce its legislation next week. Until the other wheatgrowing States have taken action, as agreed upon, the Commonwealth Government is not prepared to announce any policy for the forthcoming harvest.
The Commonwealth Government feels that the governments of the States should shoulder their obligation, and desires to point out that if no provision is made for the wheat-growers for the coming harvest the responsibility for that position will lie upon the States which do not take the action agreed upon.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice - 1.Is it a fact that Mr. Starling and Mr. Thorpe have been appointed to the Commonwealth Public Service Board as Assistant Commissioners ?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Prime Minister has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– Information is being obtained, and a reply will be furnished as soon as prac- ticable.
On the8th November, Senator E. B. Johnston asked the following questions, upon notice: -
With reference to the Loan (Farmers’ Debt Adjustment) Act 1035. under which £12,000,000 was approved for the relief of farmers’ debts, how much hits so far been paid to each State government for this purpose ?
Which States have so far passed the necessary legislation to enable them to receive the grants approved by the Federal Parliament For farmers’ debtadjustment under the said act?
The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
New South Wales, £5,000; South Australia, £10,000.
New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania. With regard to Queensland, proposed legislation is now being considered by the Parliament of that State.
Message received from the House of
Representatives intimating that it had agreed to the amendments made by the Senate in this hill.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Brennan) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The object of this measure is to provide for the control of the export of meat. The principle of export control has already been applied to dairy produce, dried fruits, canned fruits, and wine, and it is now proposed to extend it to meat and meat products.
Although the basic principle proposed to be applied to meat is similar to that applied to other primary products there are differences, in regard both to the circumstances under which control is sought, and the extent of the powers proposed for the board. Export control has usually resulted from representations by the industries concerned. This was illustrated yesterday in the discussion on the dried fruits industry. In respect of meat it has resulted from the negotiations recently conducted in London between the British and dominion Governments. The circumstances under which these negotiations were conducted are well known to honorable senators, but a brief review of them may indicate the necessity for the present measure.
For a number of years the United Kingdom has been practically the only world market for meat. Ten years ago, European countries imported approximately 300,000 tons of different classes of meat, but those imports have declined until they are now considerably less than 100,000 tons. For some years prior to the Ottawa Conference, all exporting countries were forced to concentrate on the British market, with the result that that market became glutted, low prices prevailed, and a general condition of disorganization existed. During the years preceding the Ottawa Conference, Australia’s beef exports fluctuated without any material expansion, but mutton and lamb supplies were on the increase, and Australia had become an important factor in the supply of mutton and lamb to British consumers. As a result of the agreements reached at Ottawa, supplies of meat from foreign countries were reduced, market conditions improved, and the way was opened for greater supplies from the dominions. Increased supplies of beef, mutton and lamb from the dominions practically equalled the reduction of foreign supplies, and, from the point of view of the British producer, market conditions for beef were not greatly improved. This condition also had its effect upon prices received for beef supplied by the dominions. During the second half of 1934, the general position was causing considerable anxiety to the Commonwealth Government because of the conflicting interests of the dominions and foreign suppliers, and the existence of the agreement with Argentina. Since July, 1934, the British Government has had the right to regulate meat supplies from the dominions, subject to their being granted a corresponding share of the import trade. Differences of opinion regarding the effect of the AngloArgentine agreement on the rights of the dominions rendered personal consultation between British and dominion Ministers imperative. There were two chief points at issue when the delegation sailed from Australia, namely -
Honorable senators are aware that the negotiations in London were attended with gratifying success from Australia’s point of view. The Australian delegation was able to ensure a market in the United Kingdom during 1935 for all the supplies which are available for export, and Australia has been able to maintain the remarkable expansion which has taken place in exports since 1932. In addition to the satisfactory result for all meat during 1935, an arrangement has been made in regard to mutton and lamb for the year 1936, under which Australia will supply up to 90,000 tons of these meats. If we succeed in supplying this quantity, Australia will have increased her supplies to the extent of 55 per cent. above the 1932 level, and 20 per cent. above the Ottawa base year - 1931-32 - which was thought at the time to be a figure beyond which a substantial increase was very unlikely. The supplies of beef from Australia in 1935 will exceed those of 1932 by 75 per cent., and those of the Ottawa year - 1931-32 - by 49 per cent. No arrangement has yet been concluded for beef beyond December, 1935. Negotiations in regard to future beef supplies are still proceeding.
The export of chilled beef from Australia is of recent origin. Prior to 1934 it practically did not exist. In 1934, Australia’s chilled beef supplies totalled 2,750 tons. When the delegation sailed from Australia in February last, the threatened check to chilled beef shipments was causing great concern. However, the efforts of the Government were successful in ensuring an unrestricted market for this commodity during the progress of the negotiations, and it is expected that the total supplies this year will be approximately 12,000 tons. Thus, the situation gives grounds for gratification, because we have so far ensured a market for all available supplies. However, there are other features of the situation which have been emphasized during the negotiations. It is the desire of the British Government that not only should there be some knowledge of the total supplies which are to be made available in any given year, but that there should be some regulation of those supplies during the year to ensure that the market shall be supplied according to its requirements. New Zealand has a Meat Board, which has been able to regulate supplies, and the South American meat trade is regulated in a very detailed maner. Hitherto, regulation of this type has not been applied to Australian shipments. It has been, felt that, to make future regulation of the British market fully effective, cooperation between all the governments and the British administration is essential. With this objective, a definite proposal arose out of the London negotiations as follows: -
There should be an Empire meat council, representative of the United Kingdom and other Empire countries interested in the supply of meat to the United Kingdom market. The functions of this council would be to consider the well-being of the Empire meat trade, and to review the working of any agreement which might be in existence.
There should also be a standing meat conference of all countries supplying meat to the United Kingdom market, to secure appropriate regulation of the flow of meat on to the British market in the light of supplies and of information regarding the trend of prices and production.
The Empire body would be quite independent of, and in no way subordinate to, the general body. Neither body would have any statutory power to interfere with the total volume of supplies from any dominion. Their function would be to regulate the market within the limits of government policy and the provisions of existing agreements.
The constitution of an Empire meat council and a standing meat conference was strongly urged during the negotiations by the British and New Zealand delegates, and it was also urged that there should be in each dominion a meat board affiliated with the Empire meat council. Without such a board, suitably constituted and with the necessary statutory powers, the Australian meat industry would be placed at a serious disadvantage, as compared with that of other countries, in attempting to give effect to any agreement that may be drawn up, and in ensuring that the utmost advantage should be taken of market conditions from time to time.
For about eighteen months the Commonwealth Government has had the assistance, in its negotiations, of a voluntary Meat Advisory Committee, composed of representatives of producers and exporters from each State. This Advisory Committee has sat in conference with Federal and State Ministers, and has given very valuable advice and support to the Government in the conduct of negotiations. The position has now beenreached, however, when some more definite and permanent form of organization is called for. It is necessary to establish a board, with statutory powers of a limited character, which will be so composed, and clothed with such powers, that it will be able to protect the interests of the Australian meat export industry and encourage its further development.
At the Commonwealth Meat Conference, held on the 5th October, 1935, which was attended by Commonwealth and State Ministers, and members of the Commonwealth Meat Advisory Committee, con sideration was given to a recommendation of the Advisory Committee that an Australian Meat Board be set up with power -
That recommendation had been considered and affirmed at conferences representative of the industry in each State; in some cases the resolutions of the State conferences went further and recommended a board with somewhat wider powers. These resolutions were also placed before the Meat Conference, together with a draft bill based upon the original recommendation of the Advisory Committee. The principal decision of the conference was that a board having defined statutory powers should be established. It also dealt in detail with the constitution and functions of the board. This bill has accordingly been introduced to give effect to the decision of the conference, and to provide for the appointment of a board with the powers necessary to meet the position that exists.
It is proposed that the board shall consist of eighteen members. One member shall be appointed to represent the Commonwealth Government. The meat producers will have nine representatives - one for each State, to be nominated by the stock-producer members of the Meat Advisory Committee in the States; one to be appointed on the nomination of the stock-producer members of the Southern Riverina Meat Advisory Committee to represent the meat producers of that district ; one to be appointed on the nomination of the Northern Territory Lessees Association to represent the meat producers of that territory; and one to be appointed on the nomination of the Australian Pig Council to represent the pig producers of Australia.
– Why will the Riverina have a special representative?
– The Riverina, for purposes of stock supplies, is practically a separate geographical area, as in this respect it cannot be considered to be definitely a part of Victoria or New South Wales. There will be three representatives of the meat-exporting companies - one for each of the States of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland; these will be nominated by the Minister, after consultation, wherever practicable, with the Meat Exporters Association in each of those States. There will be one member appointed to represent co-operative meat-exporting organizations.Four members will be appointed to represent publicly-owned abattoirs and freezing works which deal with export, such members to be persons occupying for the time being the following positions : -
The present occupants of these positions are Messrs. Merrett (New South Wales), Sunners (Queensland), Pope (South Australia), andFarrell (Western Australia). These gentlemen will be members of the board. The constitution of the board is designed to give representationto all sections of the industry, with a balance of representation on the side of the producers.
An executive of seven members has also been provided for, as it has been felt that if all executive actshad to be decided upon at meetings of a board consisting of eighteen members, the operations of the board would be unduly hampered. A special beef committee, to be appointed from within the board, has been provided for, to ensure that the complex problems surrounding the beef industry shall receive the special consideration that is warranted.
The provision upon which the whole success of the bill depends is that no meat shall be exported from Australia except under licence. Such licences will be issued by the Minister or a prescribed person to act on his behalf, but the board shall have power to recommend to the Minister the terms and conditions upon which licences to export meat shall be granted. It will be competent for the
Minister to refuse to grant a licence, or to decline to approve of any conditions laid down by the board. This is the principle which has been adopted in other export control acts, and it has worked in a highly satisfactory manner. In this case, however, control is not to extend beyond the powers necessary to regulate shipments within the limits of any export programme which may be fixed from time to time. Control of other products includes, not, only power to regulate shipments, but also the power to determine through whom such products are to be sold, and, in respect of dried fruits, canned fruits and wine, to require that such products shall not be sold overseas at less than the authorized price. The boards set up in respect of other Australian industries exercise very wide powers, and may, if the producers so desire, assume full marketing control over exports.
The main objective of the Australian Meat Board will be so to arrange clearances that full advantage maybe taken of overseas markets, consistent with the need for ensuring that the full season’s output shall be disposed of. The bill does not compel producers to export any propor tion of their output. They will be at liberty to decide whether they will sell in Australia or in overseas markets. If they elect to sell in Australia they will not be subject to control by the board in any way. Theboard will be financed by a method similar to that adopted in other acts, that is to say, by a levy on meat exported. Provision is made in a complementary measure for a levy not exceeding id. per quarter on beef, and1d. per carcase on mutton, lamb, pork and veal, with corresponding charges on other classes of meat exported. These rates may be reduced, but not increased, by regulation. In any case, the maximum rates are but a small impost on the industry. On the basis of export during the year ended the 30th June, 1934, the maximum levieswould have amounted to, approximately, £25,000. Obviously, that sum is very much larger than will be required to finance the administrative expenses of the board, but it is intended that it shallbe empowered to devote portion of its funds to defraying the cost of promoting the sale of
Australian meat overseas, by advertising and by undertaking any experiments calculated to . improvethe quality of meat intended for export, other provisions in the bill can be dealt with more appropriately in committee. I commend the measure to the favorable consideration of the Senate.
– The members of the Opposition will not oppose the passage of this bill, but they may suggest certain amendments in committee. We are in the same happy position that we were in yesterday. Again we are delighted to find that, although belatedly, the Government has at last been converted to at least one plank of the policy of the Australian Labour party in that it is providing for the effective control of primary production. We believe that if the people of Australia will tolerate this Government sufficiently long its conversion may some day, be complete. Meanwhile we are gratified to find that it is now proceeding along the Labour party’s straight and narrow path which leads towards national righteousness and progress. The proposed action of the Government is of special importance to the members of the Opposition, all of whom represent the State of Queensland which produces 90 percent. of the beef exported from Australia.
– Not 90 per cent.
– Fully 90 per cent. of the beef exported from Australia is produced in Queensland.
– The honorable senator is perhaps overlooking the fact that supplies from the Northern Territory may be included in that percentage.
– I repeat that 90 per cent. of the beef exported from Australia is grown in Queensland. We are gratified to find that somewhat belatedly the Government recognizes that private enterprise cannot any longer be entrusted with the management of this important primary industry. It has realized with Ruskin that “ Competition in all things is anarchy and death, co-operation is in all things harmony and life.” The Government now recognizes that competition in this and other similar industries is not in the best interests of the nation.
– This measure does not control competition.
-It does. For the last 25 years the members of the Labour party have been telling the people that unbridled competition brings ruin in its train. It was stated inthe House of Representatives that Vesteys have ceased to continue operations in Australia because of the extravagant demands made by Australian workmen. That is not true. Every one connected with the meat industry knows that Vesteys closed down their meat works in the Northern Territory, leaving expensive buildings and machinery in charge of a caretaker, not because of the demands of Australian workmen, but because it was to their advantage to obtain their supplies from Argentina.
– Vesteys are still operating in Australia.
– I know that, but they are not operating their extensive and expensive works. Vesteys did not discontinue operations in Australia because of the extravagant demands of labour.
– They did.
– Some years ago I travelled north from Brisbane with a representative of Vesteys, who should be competent to speak on the subject, and as the conversation occurred many years ago I shall not be breaking any confidence if I disclose the information then given to me. I asked if it was true that Vesteys had closed down their meat works in the Northern Territory because of the extravagant demands of labour. After denying the statement he said that the company could afford to pay any reasonable wages but at that time it did not suit them to carry on in Australia because they could make bigger profits from their operations in Argentina. Owing to the way in which Great Britain is conducting this business, particularly in respect of quotas, Argentina has now been given practically dominion status. The amount of British capital invested in Argentina is between £450,000,000 and £500,000,000, but the amount of British capital invested in Government securities in Australia is £560,000,000. For over 25 years Australia has given wonderful preferences to
Great Britain, but upon that point I shall have more to say later. Australia, unlike Argentina, has never defaulted in respect of its interest liabilities of Great Britain.
– New South Wales was about to default.
– That benighted State, under the leadership of Mr. Lang, proposed to set an example to the world ; but the proposal was thwarted by this Parliament.
– The people of New South Wales repudiated that gentleman.
– Yes, but only after some of us, including myself, had raised strenuous objections to his policy. The Argentine default in respect of interest due to Great Britain exceeded £200,000,000. When the ratification of the Ottawa agreement was being discussed by this chamber, the members of the then Labour opposition, including myself, stated definitely that the agreement would act detrimentally to the interests of Australia.
– Has it?
– Yes. The Ottawa agreement has been practically emasculated because of the other trade treaties that Great Britain has entered into with foreign countries. The preference which Australia extends to Great Britain - I do not suggest that it shouldbe cut down in any way - undeniably jeopardizes our opportunity to open up trade with other countries. The Labour party, which sees more clearly and immediately than any other party, the possible results of any (measure, was quick to recognize that danger.
– Is the honorable senator in favour of abolishing Empire preference ?
– No, but I maintain that Great Britain should be requested to make Empire preference really Empire, in the proper meaning of the word, instead of granting partial preference to the dominions, and giving more considerable benefits to foreign countries. The Ottawa agreement was made ostensibly to encourage the development of Great Britain’s home production and to give the dominions an increasing share of the trade of the United
Kingdom. Both were worthy objectives. The Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties (Sir Henry Gullett), said in his speech on the United Kingdom and Australia Trade Agreement Bill-
After 1933, no restrictions on dominion exports are contemplated.
That is a very definite statement. The Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page) himself went further than I would have the temerity to go in this chamber when he stated that -
Unless Australia can sell her produce freely in Britain it will not be able to meet its debt commitments. The Country party has always protested against restrictions on the export of Australian products.
I remind honorable senators, however, that the Minister for Commerce expressed that sentiment when the Country party did not share the Government of Australia. The Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), in a statement issued at the beginning of November, 1934, denied that the Government had assented to the principle of restriction. He said-
Both before and during the elections campaign. I clearly declared my Government’s opposition to any proposal which implied restrictions.
Since making that statement, the Prime Minister has visited the United Kingdom, but he found it impossible to secure that expanding share of the British market which was guaranteed to Australia by the Ottawa agreement. After the ratification of the Ottawa agreement, Great Britain commenced to enter into trade agreements with foreign countries, and strong condemnation of its pacts with Denmark, Argentina, and others was expressed by the Research Committee of the Empire Economic Union in its survey of Britain’s trade policy. This body is not a Labour organization and has no connexion with the Labour party, either in Australia or abroad. Its report emphasized that these pacts not only hampered agriculture at home but also endangered relations between the various countries within the Empire. Therefore, it declared, the agreements should not be renewed ontheir expiration. I emphasize these points, because the Labour party believes in the development of trade within the Empire, while first fostering our home market, because it is the best. If we can increase the purchasing power of the Australian public, the consumption of our primary products will be stimulated. The Labour party advocates a policy to attain this objective, which would make the conditions in this country attractive to our kith and kin across the seas, and in this way increase our population.
– Is the Australian market the best market for wheat, for instance?
– Obviously Senator Duncan-Hughes is incapable of understanding a definite statement. I said that the Labour party believes that the home market of Australia is the best possible market. I do not maintain that at the moment it is able to consume the greater proportion of what we produce, but I supplement my statement by saying that I would make it the best market by increasing the population and creatingpurchasing power sufficient to enable the people to buy greater quantities of Australian commodities. If that were done, there would be no further instances of under-nourished mothers, malnutrition and rickets, which result from the industrial and social policy of this Government. I am delighted with the present proposal because it is a step in the right direction. The Research Committee of the Empire Economic Union stated in its report -
In the past, the pursuit of foreign trade has almost been an obsession and some people have regarded it as a peculiar merit of its own. We must realize that there is no merit in obtaining from a foreigner something which can bc obtained from a Briton at home or overseas.
The agreement with Argentina provides for a 10 per cent, reduction of the quotas of chilled beef, but in respect of more than 10 per cent., that agreement provides for a corresponding reduction to b>* imposed by Great Britain on meat supplied from other countries as well as Argentina. It also stipulates that no levies shall, be imposed during the currency of tha agreement. We were told that great benefits to the meat industry of Australia would accrue from the Ottawa agreement, but from every quarter of the continent - newspapers, experts, and the industry itself - comes the testimony that the very opposite has been the result. This bill will have the advantage of giving the industry an opportunity to control export, and in addition, the authority which will be created by the measure will be able to take a general Australia-wide survey of the industry, and do the things that are so strenuously objected to in another primary industry, referred to yesterday by Senator McLeay. A costly Government delegation visited Britain this year. I do not know whether any honorable senator has been curious enough to inquire, or has secured the information, about the expense incurred by that large delegation.
– It is not all over yet.
– No ; Sir Henry Gullett seems to have lost himself abroad or become entangled in trade agreements. The numerous array of Ministers and Government officials failed to effect any satisfactory settlement of the meat export problem.
– ‘Where did the honorable senator get. that information?
– If it is claimed that the delegation did arrive at a satisfactory arrangement, the various authorities to whom’ I have referred must be wrong. If they are wrong, I err in good company. One newspaper of some standing in the community, says that the whole thing has been a huge bluff and it asks the question: “What has Australia got out of it?” The paper itself answers the .question in the one significant word : “Nothing”. Australia could not take advantage of the alleged opportunity to export more beef, because chilled beef is the only item mentioned and this branch of the industry in- the Commonwealth is only in the experimental stage. I admit that wonderful work is being done in that connexion and that shipments of chilled beef from Queensland have opened up in Britain in a highly satisfactory condition, due entirely to what the Queensland Control Board has been able to do through, the agency of Mr. E. F. Sunners and his associates. The authority to which I have referred stated -
Notwithstanding the assertions of Mr. Lyons and other federal Ministers, the marketing of beef in England is still in the air.
– From what authority is the honorable senator quoting?
– From the Sunraysia Daily.
– That is not an authority.
– Not only is this journal an authority, , but it is a greater authority on this particular subject than any of the honorable senators who have showed amusement at the mention of the name of the journal. If ever a representative in this chamber was an authority upon Empire trade, and an enthusiastic propagandist and protagonist of the policy, in Australia, South Africa, and elsewhere, it was ex-Senator R. D. Elliott. Honorable senators who expressed amusement at the mention of the Sunraysia Daily are merely revealing their own ignorance; their derision of an authority like ex-Senator Elliott is equivalent to impudence laughing at dignity. I shall now quote another authority.
– I hope it is a better authority than the last one.
– I propose now to quote very briefly from statements made by the Right Honorable Stanley Melbourne Bruce who, as the official representative of Australia in London should, and does, know a great deal about this business. Although I am not in the habit of throwing bouquets at my political opponents, I have to confess that, in respect of this Government’s activities in connexion with the Australian meat export trade, Mr. Bruce knows his job. When last ho was in Australia I and a number of other representatives of this Parliament had an interview with the right honorable gentleman in Brisbane, and I frankly admit that I was astounded at the wealth and accuracy of his knowledge of all phases of the trade.
– A Daniel come to judgment !
– I at least have had more years of experience than the honorable senator, and, therefore, I have a greater capacity to estimate worth when I discover it, even in my political opponents ; and as I have had a few labels attached to me in this Senate lately, the one added by the honorable senator will not perturb me. Mr. Bruce, in an address delivered to representatives of the Royal Empire Society at the summer school in Great Britain said, as reported in the Wellington Evening Post, a reput able anti-Labour journal of New Zealand, of the 10th October, 1934-
They would have to apply to Britain, in regard to agriculture, some system of rules such as Australia in the Ottawa agreement used for the development of its secondary consideration - manufactured products. The question that was occupying everybody’s mind just now was the beef industry in Great Britain. But there was a limit as to how far they could go in the production of prime British beef. In Britain a beast had to realize between £25 and £30, whereas in Argentina £8, and in Australia £10 would seem such remunerative prices that every one would be wanting to start growing beef. They wanted 5s.6d. a bushel for wheat in Britain, but close examination in Australia revealed that if the price only wont up to 3s. for the Australian farmer they would all be planting wheat. Mr. Bruce added: “But you have sot your limit, and if you stick to it you will be meeting the social and other sides, and you will not be putting an impossible burden on the people of this country.” Continuing, he said: “There are certain treaties with Scandinavia, Argentina, and Central Europe. I will make only this one comment : Whatever any one might think, their effect for the next two years will be nothing at all. That gives us a breathing space, but it seems to me that at the end of the two years the whole position should be reviewed, and Britain oughtto review it with a very grim appreciation of her own interests, and remembering that she is the only market in the world of real interest to the* agricultural countries. To those of us who imagine we are going to give themaximum to Britain it is essential that she should live prosperously. There is one thing Australia can take that the Argentine and Denmark can never take - that is your people.”
That is the point. Unless Great Britain concedes what was guaranteed to us under the Ottawa agreement, namely, an ever expanding share of the United Kingdom market, it has no right to expect us to continue the substantial measure of preference which we give to British products in the Australian market.
– That is exactly what we have enjoyed since the Ottawa agreement - an expanding share of the British market.
– We also undertook, as part of our bargain to reduce primage on imports from Great Britain. What about, that?
– The following appeared in a recent issue of the Sydney Morning Herald: -
It is understood that the British Government has proposed a combination of quantitive restriction of the imports of Australian beef, and a levy on beef and mutton, to assist the homo industry. Because delicate negotiations with Britain are pending on the future of Australia’s beef export industry, the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Stewart) declined to disclose the latest British proposals, details of which he received in a coded cablegram to-day from the High Commissioner (Mr. Bruce). Britain is empowered under the Ottawa agreement to regulate the imports of meat from the dominions utter 30th June last, but the Government was hopeful that representations it had made through Mir. Bruce for a continuance of the present export figures had been successful. The latest British move came as a surprise, and a strong case will be made out to minimize at least the effect of the British plan.
I arn reading these extracts to buttress ray argument that of all the dominions, the Commonwealth is the most entitled to demand from Great Britain an everincreasing share of the British market. By this I do not mean an increase to-day and a decrease, possibly next week.
– .lt is evident that Senator Hardy wishes my argument to be cribb’d, cabin’d and confined.
In your subheader replying to a statement by Mr. Randolph Bedford, M.L.A., regarding the value of preferences that Australia has (ranted to British manufacturers during the past 28 years von assert that “they are a myth
Some honorable senators apparently agree with that statement-
Such an assertion conveys an impression that the preferences we have granted Britain practically annum t to nil. mid therefore I cannot refrain from emphasizing that in effect what Mr. Bedford contends is quite correct.
Sir H. S. Gullett, M.H.R.. then Minister for Trade and Customs, stated: - “Innumerable attempts have been made to assess the actual annual money value of Australia’s preferences to British goods and the estimates lune varied us widely as from £3.000.000 to
[ hope that Senator Hardy is listening
If the exhaustive overhaul of the Australian tariff and trade in preparation for the Ottawa Conference gave emphasis to one fact more than another, that fact was the remarkable efficacy of our preference as an aid to British trade in this market. Then turning to statements made by the present Prime. Minister (Mr. Lyons) we find that lie also lays great stress on the value of the preferences we have granted Britain.
Speaking at Glasgow in June last, he said. “ Australia provided a margin of preference to Great Britain against the foreigner in amounts that varied up to 35 per cent.”
If they discarded all those goods which Australia had to bring from tropical countries, and things that Britain could not supply, they found that out of. every £10 worth imported into Australia, £7 worth came from Great Britain.
The position is as stated by Mr. Bedford, and this is proved by the facts as set out by Mr. Lyons at Glasgow, “ We have given our all to Britain, and now have nothing to barter for trade with her. The British Minister for Agriculture. Mr. W. Elliot, recently said, ‘Britain desires the development of Empire trade, hut ho added, ‘ the dominions must pav for their place in our market.’ “
What does he mean by that I wonder?
– Mr. Elliot, like the honorable senator, believes in keeping the home market for British primary producers.
– For that I do not censure him. The letter continued -
Mr. J. Lawson. M.H.R., New South Wales, with whom the interview took place, in an article referring to this statement, said Mr. Elliot meant we must buy our place in British markets by purchasing British goods, and the extent to which we were granted priority over foreign in British market would be determined by the measure of our purchases from Britain.
In other words, the silken ties of empire mean nothing. Mr. Elliot makes the definite statement that Australia will ger. nothing from Great Britain unless in return we are prepared to buy British goods.
– He is in agreement with the honorable senator - he wants the home market for the primary producers of Great Britain.
– In the consideration of this and other measures of like nature that come before the Senate, we must realize the importance of fostering trade within the Empire, because, owing ‘ to the growth of economic nationalism, countries which formerly were good customers of ours are now our keenest competitors in world market.?. We must not be tender hearted in our endeavours to increase Australian trad.1 with other countries. On every occasion, if we are to do the right thing by our producers, primary and secondary, we must strike a hard, cold, matter-of-fact bargain, empire sentiment notwithstanding
I am not blaming Mr. Elliot, the British Minister of Agriculture, for all that he has done, and is doing, to safeguard the interests of the primary producers of Great Britain. On the contrary, I freely admit that the course which he has taken is the only logical one in the circumstances. What I am trying to impress upon honorable senators opposite is that, merely because we happen to be a British dominion, we must not deceive ourselves that friendship and business can be mixed without one party to the transaction suffering. We have to put our commercial relations with Great Britain and the other dominions on a strictly business footing. I therefore welcome this bill because it is an attempt to do this.
– I do not consider that Great Britain is treating Australia as harshly as the honorable senator suggests.
– Nor does the honorable senator himself.
– If I have conveyed that impression to honorable senators, I wish to correct it. But I have a suspicion that they are indulging in the somewhat unprofitable occupation of making deductions, a proceeding which caused an eruption in this chamber only a day or two ago. If they deduce from my argument something which is not contained in it, then I must be the innocent victim of their incapacity to understand an argument. Mr. Elliot is doing the only thing possible for a British Minister for Agriculture; had he done less he should have been ejected” from the Cabinet. But, as regards this bill, we should not deceive ourselves regarding its implications and probable final results so far as the industries of this country are concerned.
– Mr. Elliot is not the Government of Great Britain.
– Of course not. He is, nevertheless, a more important figure in the Government of that country than is the honorable senator or T, myself, in the Government of the
Commonwealth. During the controversy about a year ago on this subject, the Premier of Queensland made an important statement with regard to the effect of export quotas on our primary industries. He addressed the following letter to the right honorable J. H. Thomas, Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, under the date of 29th June, 1934-
I desire to put before you the views and objections held by my Government in regard to the policy of quantitative regulation or restriction of meat imports to the United Kingdom, which has been suggested in certain quarters.
In the first place, as I have explained to Mr. Bruce, the High Commissioner, my Government is of the opinion that any approach in the direction of the imposition of quotas must be made by the imperial authorities, as we, in Australia, can take no responsibility for any proposal which in effect means the restriction of production and the arrestment of the developmental policy so vital to our present interests and our future prosperity in Queensland and other States of the dominion.
As you are aware, of course, the Ottawa agreement provided, in paragraph 4, schedule H, as follows: -
I shall not read the whole of the letter; but I draw attention to the following statement contained in it -
Secondly, it is the definite view of my Government that our frozen or chilled beef does not, in any serious degree, compete with the home-grown meat in this country; the frozen meat is sold almost exclusively in the poorer districts to those people who are unable to pay the prices charged for home-grown beef, and in the case of chilled, if there is to be any competition, it must be with the Argentine imports.
Although this bill does not deal with dairy products the following statement relating to trade agreements with foreign countries which appeared in the Australian Dairy Review is relevant to this discussion -
During 1933 and 1934 the United Kingdom Government entered into trade agreements with a number of foreign countries and in certain cases the commodities affected included dairy, poultry, and pig products. In the following paragraphs extracts have been made of the relevant sections, from those agreements in which tha aforesaid commodities are specifically mentioned. The duration of these agreements is as follows: Latvia and Estonia until July, 1934; Denmark until June, 1930; Norway and Sweden until July, 193G; Finland until November, 193C; Lithuania until December, 1936. The agreements with Latvia and Estonia which expired in July, 1934, were renewed in that month with certain alterations and will remain in force until December, 1930. In the 1934 agreement with Estonia, the commodities affected are butter, bacon, and hams and it is agreed that if quantitative regulation of eggs, milk powder, condensed milk, cheese, or poultry is introduced, the United Kingdom Government will endeavour to secure that imports of these products from Estonia will remain unregulated. In the 1934 agreement wit Latvia, cheese and poultry were included in the list of commodities which the United Kingdom Government undertook not to regulate. These agreements, which do not come into force until after ratification, have not yet been ratified.
The agreements can also be terminated if in any period of twelve months the amount of coal of United Kingdom origin imported into these countries i3 less than a certain percentage of total coal imports into thatcountry.
– This article deals with poultry and pigs, which are meat. I am pointing out that GreatBritain gives Australia nothing for nothing. Australia has granted to Great Britain a substantial measure of preference for a, quarter of a century, and is still giving that preference. As Britain’s third best customer Australia has a right to demand a full share of Empire trade.
– The honorable senator said that it is a cold matter-of-fact bargain.
– The honorable senator reminds me of a bad boy at school who does not intend to be satisfied. My enthusiasm is wasted on him. On the 3rd and 4th December, 1934, a conference convened by the present Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page) was held in Canberra, and was attended by a number of distinguished representatives from the several States. Addressing the conference, Dr. Earle Page said -
The policy of Great Britain in regard to. the restoration of British agriculture and the protection of British farmers ought not of itself prevent the expansion of Australian agriculture and pastoral development because of the enormous consuming capacity of the British people, which has made the English market the greatest agricultural market in the world. Unfortunately, however, Britain has entered into commitments with foreign countries which have limited her immediate capacity to absorb the whole of out production, notably meat because of her commitments with Argentine, and butter because of her commitments with Denmark and other European countries. We feel, however, that we must resist with all our strength the restriction of our exports’ into the markets of the British Empire and the English market in particular. If we cannot sell freely in the English market, we shall not bo able to pay interest on the money which has been lent to us for developing and expanding agriculture; nor win we bo able to buy in the world’s best market for such commodities the machinery and equipment necessary to enable us to carry on the policy for which the money was lent.
As I have already said, for the next eighteen months Britain is bound to a- large degree to suit her policy to the fact that she is tied up with a number of international agreements which involve the marketing by foreign countries in Britain of various products similar to those in which Australia specializes. If Britain had freedom of action to-day and was insisting on restricting our exports, there i; no doubt that we would have seriously to consider whether we would not have to abandon our natural and proper policy of progressive development of our own resources, and provide employment for our own people by following out at home the same policies that were being imposed on us from abroad.
There is no equivocation in that statement, which was made by the leader of the party to which Senator Hardy belongs. Yet Senator Hardy tries to discredit my statement that, while recognizing Britain’s right to develop its home market, Australia must demand an everincreasing share of the British import trade.
– That is what tha Country party stands for and what the bill provides.
- Dr. Earle Page went on to say -
Were we forced by British restriction to this point, it would involve the abandonment by Australia of her .efforts to establish a sane policy of encouragement of economic industries and, by means of prohibitions and other restrictions, however uneconomic the policy or means, to provide for our total requirements internally.
Such a policy I believe no Australian government has any desire to follow, but there are only two alternatives before us - either to expand by developing progressively our natural and economic industries, or to set about developing our unnatural and uneconomic industries. If Ave are forced by world policies to abandon the first, that we shall bo obliged, willy-nilly, to consider adopting the second.
Yet if I say the same things, my remarks, if not received with ribald laughter, are subjected to criticism, by way of interjection, by honorable senators, who should be better equipped mentally than to be guilty of such offences. In quoting the following extracts from a reputable Melbourne journal - one of the greatest daily newspapers in Australia - I do not tear sentences from their context or draw deductions : -
The annual conference of the Associated Chambers of Commerce was opened to the accompaniment of the always lofty and sagacious eloquence of the Governor-General. Subsequent speeches relating more specifically co conference business were, however, in certain instances somewhat disfigured by statements which challenge analysis. The main thesis was expressed in such phrases as “ The tremendous assistance that Britain gave to Australia in her time of crisis”, and “the part Great Britain had played iu helping to bring us safely through the depression “.
– Prom what newspaper is the honorable -senator quoting?
– I have quoted from the Melbourne Age, of the 23rd January, 1935, a newspaper for which, I am sure, Senator Payne has profound respect. The Age continued -
In the interests of truth, it is desirable to review such assertions. There is, of course, a type of spurious Australian whose” patriotism consists solely of a spirit of subordination to everything British. The validity of any argument, the accuracy of any statement, is discounted if it seems to fall short of blind approval of every phase of British policy.
I have not said anything so strong as that this morning. I have merely said that we must understand that Australia’s relations with Great Britain are on a business basis, and that Australia has the right to demand a quid pro quo from the Mother Country.
– Such a policy would bring disaster to Australia.
– I continue my quotation from the Agc -
For 25 years she granted Britain preferences amounting at times to £10,000,000 annually without receiving or seeing any reciprocity. . . . During the ten-year period 1922-32, Britain bought from us £472,000,000: we bought from her £537,000,000 . . . Since the Ottawa agreement was signed, Britain has made repeated attempts to have some of our staple exports restricted . . . Britain’s annual food bill is approximately £510,000,000. Of that amount, Britain herself provides -some £220,000,000, the dominions supply £120;000,000, and the foreigner £170,000,000. And yet, during the above mentioned decennium, Britain bought from Argentina £434,000,000 more than she sold her; with Denmark, she had an adverse trade balance of £410,000,000; with Australia, she -had a favourable balance of £05,000,000 . . Britain does not buy one pound of Austraiian butter, one pound of Australian meat, beyond what she finds she needs, and, as the foregoing figures prove, she prefers the imports of the .foreigner.
This is not the statement of a wild-eyed Labour supporter or of any member of this Opposition, but of a reputable antiLabour journal which is one of the biggest newspapers in Australia.
– It is as near to Labour as it can go.
– At any rate the Labour party has a lot of grievances against it. I have endeavoured to emphasize that I “believe in trade within the Empire, that’ we must develop that policy, and that we must recognize the tremendous difficulties under which Great Britain laboured during the last war when it learned for the first time in its history that it was utterly dependent for food supplies on countries situated a long distance away. Because of this, Britain proceeded to put its own house in order, and all it has done in this respect since the Great “War has been to that end. We should always try to understand the other fellow’s point of view. That is my attitude in this chamber; I would be much more severe in my criticism of honorable senators opposite if I did not try to put myself in their place, realizing that they have -a case although it may be only a case of sorts. Whilst we admit that Britain must increase -its capacity to produce its own food requirements, but when it is still unable to supply all its own needs, we have a right to demand .that, because of our loyalty to the Mother Country and the preference we give it over foreign countries, we should receive an ever expanding share of British trade.
This bill is mainly a machinery measure to give effect to the need, which the Government recognizes, for the control of .the meat export trade of this country. It embodies the general principle of collective action as applied to the control of primary production and export. The Opposition will support the bill, which, of course, will he carried. We may Iki ve something to say on different clauses in committee in an endeavour to improve the hill, hut we agree with its general principle.
– I fully anticipated that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings), in discussing this hill, would deal with the relations, particularly the trade relations, -between Great Britain and Australia at the present time. I also expected that he would trot out the old bogey of Argentina, and try to show that the United Kingdom, in spite of its political and sentimental links with the dominions, is really discarding preference to the dominions in favour of Argentina. Early in his speech, the honorable senator referred to capital which he claimed the United Kingdom had invested in Argentina. He declared that the amount of those investments was greater than the amount of British capital invested in Australia, and that the “commercial magnates” and the British Government would naturally favour Argentina in trade arrangements. As he has often clone before, the honorable senator pointed out that cold, hard commercial logic governs Great Britain’s trade relations with other countries. Not only does the idea persist in some quarters in this chamber, hut the nian in the street also believes that the British Government has infinitely more capital invested in Argentina than in Australia. A cursory examination of the facts will show that the reverse is the case. Some time ago, 1 inquired into this matter, first to find out how much British governmental capital is invested in Argentina, and secondly, >t>he .amount of British private capital invested in that country. A leading economist points out -
So far as can be found, the British Government has not itself made any investments in Argentina. A search of the finance accounts in British Parliamentary Papers, shows no mention of any Government loan nor Governmentguaranteed loan to that country, -and I think it would be correct to say that all British investments in Argentina, whether in the form of Government or other bonds, railways, or miscellaneous industry concerns, have been made by British individuals or companies.
– Is that a report prepared by the Bank of New South Wales?
– No, it has been compiled by an economist who has no association with that institution. ‘ If the Leader of the Opposition desires further proof as to whether the British. Government has a definite official stake in Argentina, I suggest that he should read the report of the British Department of Overseas Trade on Economic Conditions in the Argentine Republic, which was published in 1932.
– I did not say that the British Government had any money invested in the Argentine; I said British capital.
– Perhaps the honorable senator did not say so in so many words, but he implied that because of such investments the trade relations between Great Britain and Australia is being adversely affected.
– Certainly !
– The honorable senator also implied that favouritism was being shown to Argentina. I am endeavouring to prove that the honorable, senator was wrong. On page 25 of th& report to which I have just referred calculations made by the South American Journal are quoted giving the total amount of British capital in Argentina at the end of 1930 at £435,128,4S2, of which £271,277,626 was invested in railways, £58,714,253 in Government ‘bonds, and £105,136,603 in miscellaneous undertakings. An important point to be noted here is that ail of this capital was invested by private people, and not by the British Government.
– I pointed that out.
– ‘How can the honorable senator contend that the investment of British private capital in Argentina must influence British governmental policy in trade matters?
– Because the money power always influences governments.
– As there is only £435,12S,482 of British capital invested in Argentina, and a greater amount of British capital is invested in Australia, Australia should, according to the honorable senator’s logic, enjoy more trade with Great Britain to-day.
– That is my argument.
– I remind the honorable senator that he said that Britain will deal with its trade with Australia on a hard and cold commercial basis. I tried to make him use the word “ harsh “ in this connexion, but he saw the pitfall and skilfully skidded around it. He said that we can only expect a hard commercial deal from Great Britain. This, I presume, means that Australia must make concessions equally with Britain. But the honorable senator apparently failed to take the precaution to inform his mind regarding the balance of trade between the United Kingdom and Australia. Had he done so, he would have received a distinct shock; because the actual figures show that England has indeed been more than generous to Australia in this respect. The details of trade between Australia and Great Britain since 1929, are as follows: -
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– I have submitted those figures, because the Leader of the Opposition has implied that Great Britain is endeavouring to make a hard and cold commercial bargain with Australia. Taking the whole of the figures we find that for the period mentioned the actual balance of trade in favour of Australia was £164,759,659. Had the Leader of the Opposition taken the troubleto check the trade figures, he would not have argued as he did. He also stressed the point that Great Britain had favoured Argentina as against the dominions, and was more or less insisting upon placing restrictions upon Australian exports of meat. Since the Ottawa agreement was entered into the value of meat exported from Australia to the United Kingdom has been as follows: In 1932, £45,900,000; 1933, £48,500,000; and in 1934, £50,000,000. How can the Leader of the Opposition say that Argentina is given preferential treatment, and that Australia has been subjected to undue restriction ? A study of the comparative figures shows that in 1932 Argentina sold to the United Kingdom meat valued at £50,000,000; in 1933, £41,000,000; and in 1934, £47,000,000. The quantity of Australian beef exported to the United Kingdom in 1935, after the signing of the Ottawa agreement, was 84,000 tons. The Leader of the Opposition said that that agreement had not assisted the Australian industry, but the figures show an increase of 49 per cent. above the 1931-32 level. The reductions of the quantities supplied by Argentina after the adoption of the Ottawa agreement, based on supplies prior to that time, were: - Mutton and lamb, 35 per cent.; frozen beef, 35 per cent. ; and chilled beef, 10 per cent. Apparently those figures do not mean anything to the Leader of the Opposition, who, for party purposes, claims that Great Britain has imposed hardships upon Australia. I understand that the Government wishes to dispose of this measure this afternoon, and as I do not wish to deprive other honorable senators of the opportunity to speak, I shall refer to only one other point - the representation to be granted to the Southern Riverina on the Australian Meat Board. Some honorable senators may say that in this respect it is proposed to give representation to a minority, but I can assure them that if they analyse the figures for the Southern Riverina they will find that such is not the case. In 1927-28, the production of mutton and lamb in New South “Wales was 504,953 carcasses, but in 1933-34, it had increased to 1,981,666 carcasses, or 293 per cent. Practically the whole of that increased production has been in the southern portion of the State. In these circumstances the producers in Southern Riverina are entitled to the representation proposed to be given to them on the Australian Meat Board.
SenatorFOLL (Queensland) [2.22].- I am glad that the Government has decided to introduce this bill which provides machinery to ensure the effective marketing of Australian meat overseas. The measure is long overdue, because if there are any producers in Australia who have not received any practical assistance they are those engaged in producing and exporting meat. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) and Senator Hardy have spoken concerning the relations between Argentina and Great Britain. Argentine beef has secured an extensive market in the United Kingdom, owing to the careful manner in which it is selected, handled and marketed until it ultimately reaches the consumers. In the past Australian producers and exporters have been inclined to place their product on a ship and, after giving it a “ sailor’s farewell,” allow it to take its chance in the British market. Argentine producers have adopted totally different methods. They select the right type of beef, and watch carefully the details of slaughtering, shipments and marketing. They engage in extensive advertising, study the requirements1 of the consumers, and watch the possible market demand almost from day to day. They have also derived great advantage by shipping smaller beef. These and other factors were responsible for the paramount position they occupied in the market in the pea.k year 1933. I. agree very largely with the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) regarding the effrontery of Argentine producers, who believe that they should be placed in a position superior to that of the producers in the dominions. The conclusion I reached when in London recently was that a majority of the present British Government is overwhelmingly opposed to the attitude of Argentine producers; but at least three of its members are willing to place Argentina on the same basis as any of the dominions. The Australian delegation, led by the right honorable the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), and supported by the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Menzies), and other Ministers who were in London, was largely responsible for the improved position in which Australian exporters are now placed. Realizing the seriousness of the situation, the members of- the Australian delegation left the vessel on which they were proceeding to Great Britain at Naples, and travelled overland to London to place the views of the Commonwealth Government before the British authorities at the earliest possible moment. I do not agree with the Leader of the Opposition when he says that the delegation did not accomplish any good, because I know from personal experience that, as a result of Australia’s representations, Argentine interests were compelled to recognize that they must take a somewhat inferior position to thedominions. The Leader of the Opposition also referred to extensive sales of Argentine beef in Britain ; but, as I have said, this is due largely to the manne* in which the Argentine product is handled and marketed. Considerable work will have to be done before Australia will be able to compete successfully with Argentina, particularly as regards the type of beef produced. Owing to low prices many meat producers in Queensland, in the Riverina, and in other parts of Australia, have been unable to improve their herds. This has prevented them from producing meat of the type required, and has resulted in their being unable to secure a larger share of the London market. It will be the responsibility of the board to improve the marketing methods in London, and this should result in Australian exporters receiving a larger share of Great Britain’s meat business. Australian producers are compelled to face fierce opposition, particularly from certain members of the British Cabinet. I was privileged to hear a speech delivered by Mr. ‘Walter Runciman, when he addressed a conference attended by the delegates of the Empire Parliamentary Association at Westminster Hall, in London. I recognized in that gentleman a hard-headed business man, who is prepared to do business in the best market regardless of whether supplies came from Argentina or any other foreign country or the dominions. I should like to correct a few of the figures quoted by Senator Hardy regarding trade between Australia and Great Britain between 1920 and 1933. The honorable senator endeavoured to substantiate his arguments by quoting figures for certain selected years. Speaking on this subject in London, I said -
In 1934 Great Britain sold more than halt her exports of manufactured goods to Empire countries, and of the many types of highlyfinished goods, the Empire took from AO to 70 per cent, of Great Britain’s total -exports.
The four dominions - Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa - are sparsely populated countries. Their combined populations represent only 1.3 per cent, of the world’s total, yet they bought in 1934 no loss than 22 per cent, of the total exports of the United Kingdom. The emphasis which must inevitably be laid upon the foregoing important facts should not blind us to the importance which Great Britain, as a great trading nation, must attach to the maintenance of satisfactory commercial relations with foreign countries. During the fourteen years from 1920 to 1933 Australia bought from the United Kingdom no less than £667,000,000 worth of goods on a sterling valuation, and during the same period the value of Australian imports retained in the United Kingdom was £635,300,000, leaving a balance of nearly £32,000,000 against Australia.
– I quoted figures over a period of six years.
– The period of fourteen years covers a time of depression and prosperity, which is the only true basis on which one can arrive at an accurate estimate of the average trade between the two countries. For the same years, the total value of British exports to Argentina was £351,800,000, a figure just exceeding half the value of British exports to Australia. But the value of Argentine imports retained in the United Kingdom was no less than £930,200,000 showing a balance of £578,000,000 in favour of Argentina. If the post depression years alone are taken, the figures are’ necessarily on a less colossal scale. But during the three years L932-1934 the value of Australian purchases of British goods was £67,600,000 and the value of Australian imports to the United Kingdom was £144,600,000. The balance of £77,000,000 was just about sufficient to cover the annual interest bill which Australia pays to the United Kingdom. When dealing with these figures, it must be borne in mind, that it is impossible for Australia to export and import, on exactly the same basis. Allowance must, be made in our imports for the large interest bill which has to be paid in London. I remind Senator Hardy that, when the representatives of Argentina originally approached the British Government for the purpose of securing a beef agreement with Great Britain, they held the pistol at the head of the
British Government and said : “Unless you are prepared to take a certain proportion of our beef we shall refuse to meet our interest obligations to Great Britain.” No such threat was ever made by Australia or any other dominion when seeking trade treaties with Great Britain. To my mind it was largely because of the stand-and-deliver attitude of the Argentine representatives at that time that that country was enabled to get the concessions accorded it on the London market. In the same three years thu value of Argentine purchases from Great Britain was £38,400,000 and of Argentine exports to the United Kingdom £139,600,000, leaving a balance of just over £100,000,000 which is more than sufficient to meet a normal rate of interest on British investments in Argentina and far more than is required to meet the actual payments on account of British money invested in that country. In 1934 South Africa purchased £30,000,000 worth of British goods, whereas the whole of South America, with a population ten times greater than, that of South Africa, purchased only £28.000,000 worth of British goods. New. Zealand, in 1934, bought British goods to the value of £11,400,000, but the total value of British exports t(> China and Japan amounted to only £10,300,000. Canada bought £19,700,000 worth of British goods, and the United States took only £17,500,000 worth, showing that 10,000,000 British people in that dominion were more valuable to Great Britain than 120,000,000 people in the United States. The facts that India bought £36,600,000 worth of British goods and China £6,500,000 worth indicate the immense difference in the values of these two vast masses of population to the British manufacturer.
From my own experience, and from conversations with those who took a prominent part in the meat negotiations in London this year, I know that had it not been for the presence of the Australian delegation in the Old Country and its representations regarding Australia’s view of the import of dominion meat into the British market, we would not have received anything like the concessions that we are likely to get now. I sincerely trust that this meat board will realize the Government’s expectations of it. I believe that it has a great opportunity before it. By the proper organization of our marketing ‘ methods, the improvement of our herds, the supply of the quality of meat that is required on the British market, and the advertising of our product in order to persuade the British people themselves to acquire a taste for it, the board will do a tremendous amount of good for the beef industry of Australia.
– Evidently there is not much encouragement in the chamber for any honorable senator to dilate at great length on this bill. I am reminded of the story of a young peer who was addressing the House of Lords for the first time. When lie had finished his speech he was invited to explain his feelings. He said it was like talking to a lot of corpses in a charnel house by candle-light. 1 shall not say that addressing the Senate is an experience equal to that of the young lord, but one is discouraged by a similar lack of interest. Being first and foremost a representative of Queensland, I am particularly interested in this measure. The beef trade has had a hard struggle in the past few years, and any action by this or any State government which will improve conditions and prices will be welcomed by the industry. I realize the necessity for boards, and recognize that the development of keener competition between country and country makes it impossible for private enterprice to continue without governmental support. Therefore the governments of various countries have been forced to come to the assistance of private enterprise through the medium of boards in order that it may meet competition more successfully. The Minister explained that the board will have full and complete control, but in the next breath he stated that the producers will be able to sell at home and abroad as they please. There will be no distinction between home and foreign supplies, except that the board will control and regulate the supplies going from Australia to the markets of the world. The overseas market is practically confined to Britain. T hope that the board will give greater stability to the market and assist the producers. I notice that there is a representative for practically every section of the producing interests, but no representation is given to the workers. Apparently on the boards which are being set up in Australia the workers are ignored. The Labour party considers that the workers are part and parcel of the producing section; one may say that in the main, they are the producing section of the community. They are the strongest numerically in the actual expenditure of energy. Yet in all my experience I have never found a government prepared to give to the workers representation on a control board. In this instance the various interests in the meat trade - the abattoirs, the States and the producers - are represented. Even the Riverina has not been overlooked; I see no reason why it should be, and I compliment Senator Hardy on the recognition he is gaining for his proposed new State. Honorable senators have said that representation on the Meat Control Board has nothing to do with the worker, but I make bold to say that the workers are just as much interested in the industry as is the station-owner, the manager of the abattoirs, or any one else. Associated with the beef industry are two of the largest organizations in Australia - the Australian Workers Union, which has “a membership of S0,000, although not all of those men are engaged in the pastoral and beef industries, and the Meat Employees Union. Are they not entitled to representation? The commissioners of the State railway systems recognize the value of the co-operation of their employees; they invite them to offer suggestions for the improvement of control, and rail transport. The employees place their proposals in a box, and if a suggestion is adopted, the author receives extra remuneration. On many occasions the workers have given of their best in this direction, and have received a modicum of compensation for it. I recall that on one occasion this zeal rebounded against the workers. One railway employee, through the suggestion in the box, informed the controller that in his particular section, a number of mon could be dispensed with. The controller accepted the suggestion, but the foreman discovered the identity of the author, who was the first to be dismissed 1 If as a result of greater efficiency, production can be increased and the number ofworking hours reduced, the employees are entitled to share in the accruing benefits, instead of being dismissed. If that principle is recognized why have the workers been given no representation on this board? Any arrangement which would mean greater co-operation between employers and employees, and would ensure that such industry would care for its workers, would be a valuable reform. I am aware that the Minister will argue that the Arbitration Court will take care of the workers. Although, in the matter of hours and wages, the Arbitration Court can be relied upon to do this, innumerable questions which arise from time to time could be dealt with if the workers in all industries had representation on their boards of management. At one time, I was a member of an important trade union, but because the industry in which I was employed was in the hands of private enterprise we had no voice whatever in its control. We on this side take the view that the workers should have representation on all public and semi-public bodies. Senator Collings this morning reminded us that profit and not sentiment was the determining factor in all trade and business relations. Since the signing of the Ottawa agreement, under which Australia was promised an expanding share of the British market, the British Government made an agreement with Argentina with regard to chilled beef imports, and this instrument has tied the hands of British Ministers in their negotiations with the Commonwealth as regards exports of Australian chilled beef. There is, however, no restriction upon the quantity of frozen beef which may be exported from this country to Great Britain, but of late years British consumers have shown a decided preference for chilled beef. Dealing with the restrictions imposed by the British Government on imports of chilled beef from Australia the Brisbane Telegraph, in its issue of the 5th September, 1935, made this comment -
We confine ourselves just now to an inquiry as to why there should be more severe restriction on Australian chilled beef than on Australian beef chilled or frozen. In the current calendar year Britain has agreed to accept from Australia 84,350 tons of beef, of which 12,300 tons may be despatched in chilled condition. Other countries are allowed to send the bulk of their shipments chilled. Why is this? It is difficult to see how a chilled carcase can in any way be a greater detriment to the home producer than a frozen carcase; or if it is, why foreigners may specialize in chilled, as against frozen, and dominion countries must do the opposite. At the present time, as revealed in our news columns the other day, despite the temporary cattle shortage, the quantity of beef available for export as chilled at the Brisbane abattoirs exceeds the allowance for the whole of Queensland, so it is foolish to pretend that the trade is not suffering a restriction.
That is the case for chilled beef. There is restriction on the quantity which may be exported to the United Kingdom, and as time goes on we may expect greater restrictions to be imposed. This tendency makes it all the more necessary for the industry, as a whole, to be thoroughly organized, in order that the production may be marketed to the best advantage. I should like to deal with this subject at greater length, but as the time available for the discussion is limited I shall content myself with saying that, because of the limitation of the available markets and because of the restrictions that are being placed on exports, control of the meat industry is necessary, and the time is rapidly approaching when we, as legislators, instead of appointing boards to handle the complex problems that arise from time to time, should seek deeper for the basic causes with a view to evolving other and more effective schemes for the expansion of our primary and secondary industries. I support the bill, but recognize its limitations.
that Queensland was responsible for over 90 per cent. of the total beef exports from Australia was challenged, and I have obtained a recent copy of the Commonwealth, Year-Book in order to establish the facts. I find that in 1930 there were, in round figures, 5,500,000 head of cattle in Queensland, out of 11,500,000 head in the Commonwealth. The consumption of beef per capita in Queensland is probably much lower than in other States of the Commonwealth, owing to the warmer climate. Although Queensland has only one-seventh of the population of the Commonwealth, yet it produces approximately one-half of Australia’s cattle ; thus it is obvious that this State would be in a position to provide 90 per cent, of the beef exported. livery one must, I think, admit that the day of the middleman in the sale of our primary products is rapidly passing, and that the future control of primary industries must be in the hands of boards representative of the producers themselves. They realize that, if they are to secure a reasonable return for their labour, they must organize as the workers in other industries have organized. I assume that most honorable senators at some time or other paid a visit to the Mother Country, and I think they will agree with me when I say that, after a steady diet of frozen beef and mutton on the voyage, the change to fresh meat on the railway journey to London is* much appreciated. Because of their proximity to the British market, the meat producers of the Argentine Republic, our strongest competitors in the export beef trade, have, in more recent years, been able to market their beef chilled instead of frozen. Our exporters have, however, succeeded in applying the same process to Australian exports with the result that Australian beef is now landed in London in splendid condition and is in increasing demand. It is gratifying to know that this bill provides the machinery for the more effective control of the meat export trade, and that it will help us to secure a larger share of the British market. I consider that the most satisfactory commercial relations are those which are founded on a strictly business basis. In our business relations with Britain, so far as Britain is concerned, there is 99 per cent, business and 1 per cent, sentiment. Because of the large amount of British capital invested in the Argentine Republic, that country, in its business relations with Great Britain and as a competitor of Australia, may be regarded as a British colony, and we may be sure that British capitalists with investments in Argentina will use every means in their power to prevent Australia from getting an expanding share of the British market in chilled beef or mutton. Some honorable senators opposite believe that, because Australia is a British dominion, we have always received special treatment in the British market. It will be within the memory of most honorable senators that, during the war years, our primary products were sold in Great Britain at much below world parity. It would be safe to say that, had we received world parity for our wheat and wool during those years, Australia would be the richer by hundreds of millions of pounds; indeed one estimate which I read was that the amount lost by our producers would have been sufficient to pay off the entire external debt of the Commonwealth. The bill should assist to put the Australian meatexport business on a sounder ‘basis, because the distribution of produce is almost as important as its production. In the British market Australia has to fight the British capital, invested in the meat business in Argentina.
One honorable senator said that the wool-growing industry could not he managed by a hoard such as is proposed in this bill, or by an organization similar to Bawra. I remind him of the wonderful service rendered to Australia by Bawra, and go so far as to say that had that organization been continued, the. wool industry, particularly in the depression years, would have benefited considerably.
– Bawra was not a body similar to the hoard proposed in this bill. There was no need for such control of the wool-growing industry as is proposed in this measure.
-Bawra gave great satisfaction to the producers of wool.
– It also put money into the pockets of the workers. The industry was helped without ‘being subjected to control similar to that proposed by this measure for meat.
-I remind Senator Abbott that an association of graziers, with head-quarters in Roma, Queensland, lately issued an appeal to members of Parliament to bring about a better state of affairs in regard to the marketing of wool, and actually invited them to make suggestions for improvement. In my opinion, Bawra should have been continued.
The Opposition is prepared to allow this bill to pass to-day, hut its willingness to do that should not he taken as a precedent. It is asking rather too much to expect a bill of such importance to be passed through all its stages in one short sitting. Should the Government attempt to make a practice of this procedure, I shall do my best to prevent it. I regard this measure as a step towards national socialism, which should have been taken years ago in the interests, not only of the producers, but also of the people of Australia generally.
I come now to the composition of the board. It would appear from clause 5, which sets out the various interests which are to be represented, that the board will consist of at least sixteen members; there may be as many as twenty members. The Opposition is of the opinion that the workers who are engaged in the various technical processes connected with the meat industry should have representation on the board. There is no desire to take the control of the industry out of the hands of the. other interests, but it would be of value if the board contained some men with technical knowledge of the various processes of meat production, from the rearing of the cattle to the freezing of the meat and its shipment abroad. The Opposition will move an amendment to give representation to the workers, but, it knows that it will not be accepted by the Government. Nevertheless, we are of opinion that the board would be strengthened by the inclusion of one or two men with a practical knowledge of the various processes associated with the production of meat.
– Hughes. What about representation of the consumers?
– I should have no objection to the consumers of meat in Australia being represented on the board. I go further, and suggest that it might be well to appoint some person to get in touch with consumers of meat in England in order that their requirements might be ascertained.
The Opposition commends the measure because it will tend to eliminate middlemen, cheapen costs, and increase the value of stock, as well as lead to a better understanding of the requirements of overseas consumers. One reason why Argentina meat interests have been such powerful competitors is that they know what the
British consumer wants. I hope that the board will be successful in its efforts to develop the Australian meat industry.
– I had not intended to speak on this bill because the Leader of the Country party in the Senate (Senator Hardy) has already expressed the views of the party; but I now rise ‘because of some suggestions made ‘by members of the Opposition. The Minister pointed out that the principle underlying this bill is the same as that underlying other legislation dealing with the dried fruits and dairying industries. In those cases control boards were established at the request of the producers themselves. Opposition members seem to have entirely misunderstood the control of the wool industry by Bawra. The wool industry was never compulsorily controlled by Bawra. Should the present ‘Opposition ever occupy the treasury bench and attempt to force legislation upon the wool industry, it would do well to remember that “ It is manners to wait until one is asked.” When the wool industry, which has been the mainstay of Australia through the lean years, sees fit ‘to ask for control, it will he time for Parliament to intervene.
– in reply. - I shall be brief in my reply. During the discussion of the ‘bill, Opposition speakers said that the Ottawa agreement had proved a failure. I shall give some figures to show that, so far from being a failure, it has conferred a great advantage on Australia.
– It has been an outstanding success.
– The following table shows the exports of beef, mutton and lamb from Australia during recent years -
It is expected that the supplies ofbeef from Australia for 1935 will exceed the figures for 1932 by 75 per cent., and those of the Ottawa year by 49 per cent. In respect of mutton and lamb, the arrangement represents an increase of 55 per cent. above the 1932 supplies and 20 per cent. above the figures for the Ottawa year. In the light of those figures, it is futile to argue that the Ottawa agreement has been a failure.
Senator J. V. MacDonald said that the Opposition proposes’ to move an amendment to alter the constitution of the board. I point out that this is not an industrial measure and that industrialists as such are not entitled to representation on the board.
– The board will be concerned with a great industry involving the conditions of employment of hundreds of employees.
– The board will have nothing to do with such conditions; these can be neither improved nor made worse by anything which can possibly be done under this bill.
-Are not the employees interested in the industry?
– They are, but only in the sense that the ladies of Melbourne may be said to be interested in the welfare of Australia. The bill relates merely to the control of exports.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
.- I move-
That after sub-clause (2) the following paragraph be inserted: -
Two members to represent employees.
I said all I desired to say on this matter in the course of my secondreading speech and I do not propose now to elaborate those remarks.
– I move -
That sub-clause 10 be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following new sub-clause -
The members appointed to represent publicly-owned abattoirs and freezing works which deal with meat for export shall be -
the person for the time being holding the position of Metropolitan Meat Industry Commissioner in the State of New South Wales;
the person for the time being holding the position of chairman, Queensland Meat Industry Board;
the person holding at the commencement of this act the position of general manager, Government Produce Department, State of South Australia or in the event of that person ceasing to hold that position or ceasing in pursuance of this section to hold office as a member of. the board, such person as is appointed by the Governor-General on the nomination of the Metropolitan and Export Abattoirs Board in the State of South Australia;
the person for the time holding the position of general manager, Western Australia Government Meat Works, Wyndham.
Each member shall hold office during the pleasure of the Governor-General.
No principle or alteration of meaning is involved in this amendment; it is merely a drafting revision.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move-
That after sub-clause 10 the following subclause be inserted: - 10a. The members appointed in pursuance of paragraph (i) of sub-section 2 of this section shall bo one person nominated by the Meat Industry Employees’ Union of Australia and one person nominated by the Australian Workers’ Union.
Clause 5, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 6 to 15 agreed to.
Clause 16 verbally amended, and as amended agreed to.
Clauses 17 to 21 agreed to.
Clause 22. (Moneys in fund uninvested may be lodged in bank).
– I ask the Minister to explain the significance of the provision that moneys lodged in the bank to the credit of the Meat Export Fund shall be held to be “moneys of the Crown”. What would be the position of a claimant who brought an action against the board for heavy damages? Would he be prevented by this provision from obtaining damages against the board?
SenatorBRENNAN (Victoria- Assistant Minister) [3.30]. - The honorable senatorwill find that a later clause of the bill touches upon the subject which he has raised. The members of the board are not personally liable for anything which they have done in good faith. Doubtless the honorable senator is concerned because the clause provides that the moneys shall be held to be moneys of the Crown, but that does not invest the board with what is legally termed the “ shield of the Crown “. The board is liable to be sued as a corporation, but the fact that its moneys are to be safeguarded does not place its members on a higher pinnacle than they would otherwise be.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 23 to 28 agreed to.
Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Motion (by Senator Brennan) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
– Can the Assistant Minister (Senator Brennan) state why the southernRiverina is to be given representation on the Australian Meat Board. I may have been absent when this point was explained.
.- The southern Riverina is a large and important mutton and lamb-producing centre. It is out of direct contact with Melbourne on the one hand and with Sydney on the other, and as it is in a somewhat unique geographical position it has been decided that it is entitled to representation on the board.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
[3.37].- I move-
That the hill be now read a second time.
The bill contains some minor amendments of the New Guinea Act which experience has shown to be desirable. As honorable senators are aware, the New Guinea Act 1920 made provision for the acceptance of the mandate for the Government of the Territory of New Guinea and for the establishment of civil government for the territory. That act provided for the appointment of an Administrator of the territory, who is charged with the duty of administering the government on behalf of the Commonwealth. Provision was also made for the Governor-General to make ordinances having the force of law in and in relation to the territory. Amendments of a minor nature for the purpose of facilitating the administration were made to the act in 1926.
In the New Guinea Act 1932 a measure of local government was granted to the territory. The power given to the Governor-General in the principal act to make ordinances for the territory was repealed, and legislative functions were entrusted to a Legislative Council. The amending act also made provision for an Executive Council to advise and assist the Administrator. Ordinances passed by the Legislative Council are not in force until assented to by the Administrator or by the Governor-General, and ordinances assented to by the Administrator may be disallowed by the GovernorGeneral. The New Guinea Act 1932 came into operation on the 9th May, 1933, and the Executive Council and the Legislative Council were established from that date.
The proposed amendments are set out in clauses 2 and 3 of the bill. Clause 2 amends section 12 of the principal act. This section provides for the appointment of an Executive Council consisting of nine members, who are to be appointed by the Governor-General, and who are to hold office during his pleasure. Eight of the members are to he officers of the territory and onemember is chosenby and from the nonofficial members of the Legislative Council. If the non-official members of the Legislative Council fail to choose one of their number for appointment as a member of the Executive Council, the Governor-General may appoint a nonofficial member of the Legislative Council, or any other person not an officer of the territory, to be the non-official member of the Executive Council.
Under section 12, the GovernorGeneral may, in the event of illness or absence from the territory of an official member, appoint a deputy. Such deputy has all the powers of a member. There is, however, no power to appoint a deputy non-official member. Meetings of the Executive Council’ are held at Rabaul, and it has been found that the nonofficial member may, on account of absence from the territory, from Rabaul, or on account of illness, not always be available to attend such meetings. It is,’ therefore, proposed that provision be made for the appointment of a deputy non-official member to act in the place of the non-official member when he is unable to attend owing to illness” or absence from the territory, or when he lias been exempted by the Administrator from attendance at any meeting of the Executive Council. It is further proposed that, when a deputy of a non-official member is attending a meeting of the Executive Council, he shall exercise all the powers and functions of a member of the Executive Council. He will be selected in the same manner as is the non-official member, and will be appointed by the GovernorGeneral.
The next amendment concerns section 25 of the principal act, which authorizes the Legislative Council to make standing rules and orders “with respect to the order and conduct of its business and proceedings. Pursuant to that authority, the Legislative Council made standing orders which included a provision to the effect that the Administrator should appoint such times for holding each session of the council as he thought fit, and for proroguing the council from time to time. The standing order also provides that there shall ‘he a session of the council at least twice in each year. The Crown Law authorities have expressed the opinion that such a standing order is beyond the scope of the authority vested in the Legislative Council to make rules, and that the power purported to be given by the standing order is a matter which should he dealt with by legislation. The Legislative Council had its inaugural meeting convoked by instruction from the Governor-General on the 3rd May, 1933.
In the absence of provision in the act in relation to the fixation of .times for meetings of the council, an instruction must be issued by the Governor-General to the Administrator upon each occasion it is desired that the council should assemble for the conduct of business. .It is most desirable’ that the Administrator should be in a position to call the council together for business when he deems it advisable. It is therefore proposed that provision be made to authorize the Administrator, by notice published in the New Guinea Gazette, to appoint such times as he thinks fit for holding sessions of the council. He is to have power also to prorogue the council. Honorable senators will appreciate that there is nothing very contentious in the bill, and I commend it to the favorable consideration of the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Collings) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn till Wednesday the 27th November, at 3 p.m.
Senate adjourned at 3.44 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 November 1935, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1935/19351115_senate_14_148/>.