14th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch) took the chair at 3 p.m., andread prayers.
The following papers were presented : -
EllsworthRelief Expedition -Report by Captain L.C. Hill, Commanding Officer of the Royal Research Ship Discovery11.
Post and Telegraph Act -Regulations amended Statutory Rules 1935, No. 121.
Transport Workers Act - Regulations amended Statutory Rules 1936, No. 20.
Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1936, No. 28.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motionby Senator Brennan) read a first time.
SenatorBRENNAN (Victoria- Acting Attorney-General) [3.5]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Under the Financial Relief Act 1934 provision was made for payment of a subsidy of 15s. a ton on all artificial manures used for purposes other than wheat-growing during the year ended the 30th June, 1935. Land cultivated for wheat was excluded because provision was made under other legislation, for assistance to wheat-growers. The closing date for making applications for the subsidy was fixed at the 31st October, 1935, but owing to various circumstances many farmers who would have been entitled to the subsidy failed to submit their applications within the time fixed by the act. One reason was that the closing date for a previous year’s subsidy was the 30th November, and apparently a number of farmers thought that they would have until that date for lodging applications under the act passed last year.
– No specific reason can be given for making the alteration, except perhaps that it was thought it would be more convenient, for the administration of the act, that applications should be lodged a month earlier than in the previous year. The alteration misled those farmers who failed to read carefully the application forms, and therefore were unaware that applications should be lodged not later than the 31st October. Furthermore, in some of the States the dry season caused many producers who intended to harvest their wheat for grain, to cut their crops for hay, and as they wereunable to state, up to the date fixed for the closing of applications, what proportion of their crop would be cut for hay and what proportion for grain, they were unable to take advantage of the provision made for financial relief. The Government, realizing that there was much to be said in extenuation of the failure by many farmers to lodge their applications in time, decided to extend the closing date for applications in respect of the 1934-35 subsidy to the 30th April, 1936. Section three makesthis provision. The other amendment simply provides that whereas in the principal act the sum of £325,000 was set apart for the purpose of the act, this bill enacts that “ such sums as are necessary” shall be provided.This does not mean that further heavy additional expenditure will be incurred. Just at the moment we do not know what amount will be required to meet the new claims which will now come in, because the department has no record which would indicate how many additional farmers arc likely to submit applications; but we do not think that the additional amount required will be very great.
Senator COLLINGS (Queensland) [3.10J. - Members of the Opposition do not intend to oppose the passage of this measure, for we are in sympathy with every proposal that has for its object the granting of assistance to primary producers. This bill will afford financial relief to those sorely in need of it, and will encourage the production of fertilizers; we also recognize that it will improve the productive capacity of the land to which the fertilizers will be applied. Nevertheless, we emphasize that the continual appearance of amending bills shows either that this legislation was too hurriedly considered by Parliament, or that those entrusted with, the responsibility of drafting it were not acquainted with the whole of the facts. The Minister has said that certain conditions arose which made it impossible for the producers to submit their returns by the time fixed in the original measure; yet we have no guarantee that the fixing of the closing date six weeks from now will give those farmers who are interested in this legislation sufficient time to complete their returns. In dealing with measures for the relief of first one primary industry and then another, no attempt, apparently, is made to take a reasonably long view of all the steps that are necessary to assist them adequately. We should take a broad survey of the requirements of these industries’. Of course, we realize with some satisfaction that this Government, or some other Ministry, will, sooner or later, have to make a complete survey of the basic facts, and cease tinkering with secondary and primary industries, if we are to avoid the annual presentation of bills designed to assist them, and cease placing those engaged in them in the position of mendicants. Having said that, the Opposition welcomes this measure. We consider that the producers concerned are more than entitled to the assistance proposed.
– i Whilst I appreciate the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) concerning the claims of primary industries, it is well to remember that, in discussing the original measure, a number of honorable senators pointed out the anomaly that in the event of a producer cutting his crop for hay lie would be deprived of the subsidy. At that time the Leader of the Opposition allowed the bill to go through without comment or criticism. The best time to deal with legislation of this kind is when the original measure is submitted to the Parliament. Of course, no government can foresee every difficulty that may arise, and perhaps in future legislation which involves the fixing of a date on which applications for assistance shall close discretion will be given to the Minister to extend the date if he deems it to be desirable to do so. Farmers often meet with difficulties in submitting their applications by a fixed date. The adoption of my suggestion would avoid the necessity for amending legislationand prevent, tirades by the Leader of the Opposition such as that delivered by him this afternoon.
.- When this legislation was under consideration previously, Senator DuncanHughes, Senator Badman and I pointed out .the “impossibility of giving effect to it. It is now stated that on the 31st October many farmers did not know whether they would cut their crops for hay or strip them for wheat. In another bill, under which it is proposed to give financial assistance to wheat-growers, clause 9 states -
The prescribed authority in any State may fix a date after which applications from wheat-growers for assistance under this act will not be received.
I suggest that the provision in the bill under consideration should be altered to read : “ on a date to be fixed by the prescribed authority “. This would get over the difficulty. Many hay-growers cannot complete their applications by the 31st October.
– This measure applies only to fertilizers used last year.
– Nevertheless, I consider that the two bills should be drawn on similar lines. The subsidy is to be paid with respect to fertilizers used up to the 30th June in any year. I can forsee that when future legislation to grant assistance to wheat-growers is brought down, and probably a home-consumption price is fixed for wheat, no bounty will be paid to the growers. Therefore, with no bounty in respect of wheat, there can hardly be a subsidy on fertilizers or other requisites of primary producers. If the wheat bounty ceases, no Government assistance will be received by those who sow their crops after the 30th June, which is really mid-season. In many areas in the Wimmera district, wheat is sown after the 30th June, and the growers will not be quite sure how much of it is to be used for hay and how much for wheat; but I can anticipate a year when all the barley-growers will not get any assistance whatever. The Government should make these two measures coincide by fixing a date to be proclaimed by regulation.
– I commend the Government foi’ having introduced this measure. I have sent in many applications from bona fide farmers whose forms were lodged too late. In some instances, the applicants did not know that last year the date was a, month earlier than in the previous year. They intended to harvest the crops for grain, but owing to drought, they had to cut them for hay. I suggest that in future, more publicity should be given to the closing date. Such information could easily be disseminated through the press, and particularly through those newspapers which circulate in country districts. I receive a good deal of literature from the Government concerning its various activities, but I cannot recall having received any notification drawing attention to the earlier date for the closing of applications for these payments in respect of fertilizer used last year. However, the Government is quite properly remedying the injustice caused through this omission, and I commend it for introducing this measure.
.- When the bill which this measure seeks to amend was before the Senate on the 4fh December, Senators Gibson, Badman and Uppill took exception to the date fixed for the closing of applications for these payments, and supported the view which I put forward. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) on that occasion said -
The Opposition, being in agreement with commercial measures of this nature, will support this bill.
To-day, however, the honorable senator criticized the Government for having passed a bill which he, on behalf of his party, openly supported in this chamber.
– Surely the fixing of a date is the job of the people responsible for the drafting of the measure.
– That was all the honorable senator had to say until a later stage in the debate. I pointed out difficulties which would be likely to arise and a number of other honorable senators agreed with me. Now, in fact, such difficulties have arisen. The Assistant Minister in charge of the bill (Senator Brennan) objected that any amendment to alter the date would involve an additional appropriation, and a new message from the Governor-General recommending such appropriation; he promised, however, that he would bring the suggestion made by myself and other honorable senators under the notice of “the Government, adding that at that stage no extension of time for the receipt of applications could be granted. I take it that the Government is now honoring the undertaking then given by the Assistant Minister. Foi the purpose of putting the views of myself and other honorable senators on record, I moved in committee that the closing date for applications should be extended to the 30th November. The Government took exception to that, as it was perfectly entitled to do, and urged that my amendment could not be accepted by the Chair. The Chairman eventually ruled against my amendment. I have no criticism to make concerning that ruling, but by interjecting on that occasion that my amendment did not come within the scope of the bill, the Leader of the Opposition showed a second time that his party was against any extension of the date beyond the 30th October.
– The honorable senator will remember the circumstances of that ruling.
– There are three pages in Hansard covering that debate, and that report contains nothing to show that the Opposition has any advantage over the Government in regard to this bill. Rather is the contrary the case.
– The Opposition certainly supports this measure. We have voted for other bills of a similar nature, but it does not follow that because we support such measures in the immediate interest of the f armors, we uphold, on general principles, the Government’s action in continually tinkering with the farmers position. Our view differs entirely from that of the Government. Because, under certain circumstances, a subsidy is proposed, and we, realizing the need of the farmers for such assistance, support that vote, it does not mean that we support the Government entirely. My Leader has made it perfectly clear on many occasions that this Government has been backward in dealing with the farmer’s needs in respect of the low prices which he receives for his products. We contend that, long before this, the Government should have taken action to place the farmers in such a position that these frequent measures of assistance would not be necessary. We hold that the time is ripe for the Government to deal with the basic needs of the farmers and to stabilize the various industries, as far as it is within its power to do so. However, when measures of this nature are brought before Parliament, and the farmers are in need of such assistance, we naturally support such legislation, and we see no wrong in doing so. The remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) cannot be characterized, as Senator Hardy has done, as a tirade against the Government, nor can Senator Duncan-Hughes’ comment on his remarks be regarded as just criticism. My Leader advanced logical arguments in an endeavour to put the Government on the right path. However, we cannot help it if Ministers have become senile, or have reached a stage where they cannot absorb advice. So long as we are young enough to give sound advice, we shall continue to do so in the hope that some day the Government will take it or give honorable senators on this side of the chamber an opportunity to deal with fundamental phases of the problems confronting the farmers so as to obviate repeated appeals on their behalf for assistance from this Parliament.
– What is the honorable senator’s scheme?
– It is impossible for me within the time at my disposal to present my scheme in such a way that it could be grasped by the honorable senator. The Labour party’s view on this matter has been placed before him time and time again, but apparently he has been incapable of absorbing it, not because he has not the mental capacity to do so, but because his psychological make-up leads him to believe that honorable senators on this side of the chamber are incapable of putting forward any practical suggestion.
– Members of the Opposition hold definite views on these matters and are keenly desirous that something should be done to deal with the fundamentals of the farmers’ problems. However, simply because a measure of this nature received our support, it does not follow that we also support unreservedly the constant introduction of measures of this particular type. That is our explanation.
– Honorable senators cannot now understand it.
– Senator Arkins is another honorable senator who cannot understand plain English.
– The Government is to be congratulated on having introduced this amending legislation because undoubtedly many farmers were not aware of the correct date for making applications for assistance under the act of last year. During the recess I met a number of men who, because of the lateness of their applications, had not been able to obtain any subsidy for fertilizers used by them, and judging by the numerous letters sent out by the authorities in Perth to farmers in Western Australia, it would appear that many more of them had “ missed the bus “. I am pleased to see in the bill a provision extending the time for making applications from the end of October, 1935, to the end of April, 1936. I also note with satisfaction that the
Opposition in this chamber is not attempting to delay the passage of the measure. It probably knows that many farmers are waiting for this legislation to be proclaimed in order that they may receive funds of which they are sadly in need. The bill has my hearty support.
– In supporting the bill, I point out that the real reason for its introduction was a request for assistance received from a number of farmers in the marginal districts of South Australia who, because of seasonal conditions, were forced to cut for hay crops which they had intended to reap, and this decision could not be made until after the closing date for the receipt of applications. This bill is of great importance to South Australia, because in that State there are large numbers of growers of barley who do not participate in the bounties payable in respect of wheat. The price of barley last year was low, and these producers have had a difficult time. I have pleasure in supporting the bill which will give to them much needed assistance.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Brennan) rn”A a first time.
– I move - That the bill be now read a second time.
The explanation which I gave in respect to the bill with which the Senate has just dealt applies to this measure also. Owing to the difficulty of estimating the sum which will be required, the bill substitutes the words “ such sum as is necessary “ for the amount of £275,000 set out in the principal act. Honorable senators will realize that, owing to the many and varied kinds of production in which fertilizers are used, and indeed, the varying quantities of superphosphates required in different soils and under different seasonal conditions, it is most difficult to estimate the sum required. In committee an amendment will be proposed with the object of fixing the date for the lodging of applications as the 31st December instead of the 31st October. It is thought by that date primary producers should be in a position to indicate the quantity of fertilizers used in the production of crops other than wheat for the year ending the 30th June, 1936. For various reasons, the closing date for the receipt of applications in respect of the year ended the 30th June, 1935, was fixed previously at the 30th April, but as those reasons do not apply in respect of the present season, the date has been fixed at the 31st December.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 9 (Appropriation for relief to primary producers).
– This clause provides that section 3 of the principal act is amended by omitting the words “ the sum of two hundred and seventy-five thousand pounds “ and inserting in lieu thereof the words “ such sums as are necessary “. The amount mentioned in the bill previously passed was £325,000, and that mentioned in this clause is £275,000. Will the Acting Attorney-General (Senator Brennan) explain .the variation of the two amounts.
– The amount of £325,000 was the amount appropriated for the 3935 season. The amendment now being made refers to the amount for the 1936 season. The words “ such sums as are necessary “ will be substituted for the specific appropriation of £275,000 in respect of that season. The measure, in the amended form will contain the words “ such sums as are necessary “.
.- It is wise to leave the amount open because so far as one can foresee large quantities of fertilizers will be used this year. The quantity being used is increasing annually and the amount provided in thu first instance may be insufficient. Will the Acting AttorneyGeneral (Senator Brennan) state why the period has been extended from October to December? “Why not extend it to April ?
.- The 31st October was the closing date fixed originally for the receipt of applications last year, but experience has shown that this year many applications ave likely to bc received after this date. Accordingly, it is proposed to extend the period for a further two months. In the case of the 1934-35 season, there were various reasons why .the closing da’e should be extended to April, 1936. Tor instance, certain persons had been advised to submit applications after the closing date originally fixed. Again, some persons would not have received the necessary application forms before the closing date. These reasons are not likely to obtain in respect of applications for the present season. For the current year, however, there is no reason why those entitled to the subsidy should not submit applications by the 31st December, as that will be six months after they have used the fertilizer. We have not been unmindful of the peculiarities of human nature, but we do not think that there can be any possible injustice in fixing the date at the 3l8t December.
– At some country post offices the necessary forms were not available.
– They will be available this year. Difficulties arose last year because some country post offices apparently were not supplied with the necessary forms. No such complaint can be made this year.
– In view of the statement of Senator Gibson that large quantities of fertilizers will he used this year, can the Acting Attorney-General state whether the Government has considered discontinuing this form of assistance to primary producers in the future?
– The Governmnent must deal with circumstances as they arise. . It is pleasing to have the assurance of Senator Gibson, who has an extensive knowledge of rural production, that greater advantage is likely to be taken of this form of assistance which the Government is providing. Perhaps we may assume that, in consequence of the benefits which the primary producers are deriving their prosperity will be so pronounced that they will not need further subsidies in this form.
Clause agreed to.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend Die bill by inserting, after clause 2, the following clause: - 2a. Section S of the principal net is amended by omitting the word ‘’ October “ and inserting in its stead tha word “ December “.
– I do not quite understand why, in the bill which we have just passed, the date fixed for the closing of applications for assistance is the 30th April, 1936, and in this bill the time fixed is the end of December. I thought the purpose was to bring the two measures into line in this particular aspect.
– The measure which the Senate has just passed dealt with applications which should have been lodged for fertilizer subsidy in respect of last year’s operations. This bill deals with the provision to be made for fertilizers to be used up to the 30th June of this year. Those who may be entitled to this form of assistance may lodge applications up to the 31st December.
– ls it not likely that some farmers will be misled about the dates?
– I do not think that is probable, having regard to the amount of publicity that has been given in connexion with the failure of farmers to lodge their applications within the time fixed under the act passed last year.
Request agreed to.
Clause 3 -
Section (! of the principal act is amended by omitting the words “ out of the amount appropriated by this act” and inserting in their stead the words “ out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund which is hereby appropriated accordingly “.
– I move -
That the House of Representatives be requested to amend the clause by inaerting after the word “amended “ the Tetter “ - (a) “, and by adding at the end of the clause, the words - “; and
b ) by omitting the word “ October “ and inserting in its stead the word “ December “.
The effect will be to extend the date from October to December, thus giving effect to the intention of the Government. This was overlooked when the hill was being dealt with in the House of Representatives.
Request agreed to.
Clause agreed to, subject to a request.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with requests; report adopted.
Sitting suspended from3.59 to 8 p.m.
Bill brought up by Senator Brennan and read a first time.
[8.1]. - I am sorry to say that the House of Representatives has not yet passed the bills which we expected would bo ready this evening. I therefore move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till 12 noon to-morrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at8.2 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 17 March 1936, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1936/19360317_senate_14_149/>.