14th Parliament · 1st Session
The Deputy President (Senator Sampson) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
Report (No. 4) brought up by Senator J. B. Hayes and -by leave - adopted.
On the 20th May Senator Guthrie asked the following question, upon notice: -
How many of the bombing planes ordered from Great Britain by the Commonwealth Government for defence purposes have been delivered?
If orders for bombing or any planes placed by the Government in Great Britain cannot be delivered in reasonable time,will the Government seriously consider the advisability of obtaining urgent requirements from Germany?
Iam now in a position to inform the honorable senator as follows: -
It is not. in the public interest to supply this information.
No departure from the approved policy of equipping the Royal Australian Air Force with types of aircraft standard in the Royal Air Force and other air forces of the Empire is contemplated.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.On the 15th May Senator Hardy asked the following question, without notice: -
Asthe Government has declared that, in the establishment of inter-capital night air services, provision isto be made for four new landing grounds on the Sydney-Melbourne suction, will consideration be given to the establishment of a ground at Wagga, and the classification of that centre asan intermediate stopping place?
I am now in a position to inform the honorable senator that consideration is at present being given to the matter of additional ground organization required on the Sydney-Melbourne section of the proposed inter-capital night air mail services - wireless, emergency landing grounds, night-flying facilities, &c. In selecting flying routes and locating intermediate landing grounds to meet the needs of fast night air mail services of the nature proposed, various relevant factors will receive consideration, including the claims of Wagga and other centres for inclusion in the Sydney-Melbourne section.
On the 20th May Senator E. B. Johnston asked the following question of the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice: -
Has the attention of the Government been drawn to statements made by Major Brackley of Imperial Airways, condemning Darwin as unsuitable for a sea-plane base ?
If so, will the Government review the claims of Wyndham as a sea-plane base, andas the main air port of entry for Northern Australia?
If not, why not?
I am now in a position to inform the honorable senator as follows : -
The Minister for Defence has seen certain statements in the press purporting to represent Major Brackley’s views as to the suitability of Darwin for a sea-plane base, but no direct advice upon the subject has yet been received from Major Brackley. 2 and 3. The Commonwealth Government is not responsible for Major Brackley’s present survey which is being undertaken on behalf of Imperial Airways. The Minister for Defence is taking steps to bring the honorable senator’s representations, in regard to Wyndham as a sea-plane base, to the attention of Major Brackley. There is, however, no intention on the part of the Commonwealth to change from Darwin as the main port of entry for the present Australian land-plane service from Singapore.
The following papers were presented : -
Naval Defence Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1936, No. 63.
Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules1936, No. 68.
Meat Export Control Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1936. No.58.
Prune Bounty Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1936, No. 57.
Wheat Growers Relief Act - Rugulations amended - Statutory Rules 1936, No. 67.
Order of the day for the resumption of the debate from the 28th November, 1935 (vide page 2025, volume 148) read, and (on motion by SenatorAbbott) discharged.
Consideration resumed from the 20th May (vide page 1927) :
Clauses 195 to 209 agreed to.
Upon the application of any person about to leave Australia the Commissioner, Second Commissioner or a Deputy Commissioner, may issue a certificate -
that that person is not liable to pay income tax; or
that arrangements have been made to the satisfaction of the Commissioner for the payment of all income tax that is or may become payable by that person.
.- I think that I am right in saying that the ordinary procedure adopted by a person who is about to go overseas is for him to go first to the shipping office for a steamer ticket. When he reaches the booking office he is told that a ticket cannot be issued until he produces a passport. He then proceeds to obtain a passport, whereupon he is informed that it cannot be issued unless he produces a clearance from the Commissioner of Taxation. He goes from one department to another until eventually he reaches the Commissioner of Taxation. I understand that the Commissioner has recently adopted the practice of asking some one to guarantee payment by the traveller of his income tax if it becomes due during his absence from Australia. As a general rule a traveller begins to arrange for his passport and ticket and to pay any taxes due by him during the last fortnight before he leaves Australia. He finds himself in need of a guarantor and asks a relative or friend to act in that capacity for him while he is overseas. The friend agrees to do so. I contrast this procedure with that which obtains elsewhere. In England there is no necessity for an individual to get the permission of the Commissioner to go abroad. England is only a few miles from the Continent, but so long as one’s passport is in order, a traveller can visit France, Belgium, Italy and other European States whenever he pleases.
The procedure in the Commonwealth is most cumbrous, particularly in view of the fact that no one is likely to leave Australia unless he has some means, and therefore should be in a position to meet his obligations.
– That does not apply to theatrical artists. They have no assets here, and once they leave these shores they are lost to the Commissioner.
-I am neither criticizing the general principle of the clause nor seeking to abolish it. I am endeavouring to improve the method whereby some individual, who has no personal liability in the matter, might be heavily mulct in a law’ suit as a result of guaranteeing a friend. The financial position of a prospective traveller is often most difficult to determine, except by the Commissioner, and a guarantor might find himself liable for a large sum of money in respect of income not previously assessed, as well as future assessments. In Australia it has always been assumed that a tax does not accrue from day to day; it becomes assessable on the 30th June. But if the Commissioner thinks fit, he can require payment from the traveller in respect of any amount which is not due before granting a certificate. No provision is made in the bill for the Commissioner to require any third party to make himself personally liable for any default on the part of the traveller. I am informed that it has been attempted to make the guarantor responsible under this clause, but that the claim was eventually dropped. The committee should make it clear that there is no obligation on anybody, except the estate of the traveller himself, to pay for any taxation liability. In order to put the matter on an equitable basis, I move -
That after the word “ payment,” paragraph (b), the words “out of the assets of that person “ be inserted.
That limits the liability of the traveller to his own estate, and does not cause any friend, who may guarantee him on the spur of the moment, to be personally liable.
– Any guarantor is liable for the amount which he guarantees.
SenatorDUNCAN-HUGHES.- But there is no provision in this act for a guarantee.
SenatorFoll. - A traveller may take all his assets with him.
– That is so; but the Commissioner has the power to make him pay everything assessed against him before he leaves the country. Therefore, nothing else remains to be assessed against him until the 30th June next. I grant that Senator Foil has advanced what is a possible case, although a traveller who leaves Australia with the whole of his assets in his suitcase cannot be a man of much substance.
– He may have realized on all his assets.
– It is not, I should think, an easy matter to collect the whole of the proceeds and leave Australia without leaving sufficient means behind to meet the demands of the Commissioner. I contend that the claim of the Commissioner is not against the third party at all ; it is against the assets of the taxpayer himself, and therefore should be limited to him.
– The complaint of the honorable senator is directed against what he considers to be the severity of the administration of this and complementary clauses. When a person desires to leave Australia, he may apply to the Commissioner to issue a certificate first, that he is not liable to pay income tax. If all the demands of the Commissioner are met, the applicant obtains hiscertificate immediately.
– Without any guarantee?
– Yes, if the applicant has a clean sheet no obstacle is placed in his way of obtaining the certificate. Secondly, the intending traveller can obtain a certificate when arrangements have been made to the satisfaction of the Commissioner for the payment of all income tax that is or may become payable by that person. I have known of cases in which trouble has arisen in this connexion, and it has been necessary for an intending traveller to get his bank or some financial institution to guarantee his income tax. The Commissioner has no means of ascertaining a person’s financial position, unless that person is prepared to lodge securities such as Government bonds or title deeds with him. I emphasize that the arrangements are in the hands of the taxpayer himself. If some person consents to act as guarantor, surely he must accept the responsibility to the Commissioner for the payment of any assessment. Nobody is forced to be a guarantor. This is a matter of ordinary business between the intending traveller and the third party. While I oppose this amendment, which I consider would reduce the facilities of the intending traveller as well as increase the difficulties of the Commissioner, I want the committee to know that this matter has been discussed departmentally because of some complaints made regarding the cumbrous nature of the administration, and the difficulty experienced by some taxpayers in obtaining guarantors. The law as it stands is elastic, and there are several ways in which arrangements can be made to satisfy the Commissioner. I fail to follow the argument of Senator Duncan-Hughes that if the guarantee has been given by some individual, the liability on him should be limited to the amount of the value of the estate of the taxpayer. If the taxpayer has the assets, he can lodge transferable securities with the Commissioner. In other circumstances, the Commissioner acts on the good faith and integrity of the guarantor. He accepts the guarantee, and that is the only reason why he issues the certificate. The matter is being discussed by the Commissioners with a view to making the system less cumbersome, and obtaining a more direct method. It has not given rise to a great deal of trouble, but admittedly it has caused some irritation.
.- TheMinister appears to claim that the Commissioner can withhold permission if he chooses to do so, and that a guarantee can be demanded from anyone who is going overseas, although neither this clause nor the act makes specific provision for that purpose.
– I suggest that the basis of the arrangements is on the broadest possible terms.
– The Minister will agree that the guarantee is demanded, but in this clause there is no provision for any such guarantee; and the system may work out most inequitably, so far as the guarantor is concerned. The Minister stated that the matter is one for discussion by the various commissioners, but no State Commissioner of Taxation ever issues a certificate to a prospective traveller; it is issued by the Federal Commissioner, who cannot give a discharge in respect of any taxes which may be due to the State Commissioner.
– In most of the States the same person acts as Commissioner for both Federal and State Governments.
– Yes, but in the capacity of Deputy Federal Commissioner. I have travelled abroad, but I do not think that I ever had a clearance from a commissioner in respect of State tax; invariably it is issued in regard to Federal tax. The Commissioner has no right to demand this guarantee. The liability should be limited to the assets of the man who is going away ; this would prevent, in future, a guarantee from being required by prospective travellers. The Minister has admitted that there is considerable merit in my contention, because he has said that the Commissioners will give careful consideration to the matter. I ask the committee to decide it now.
– This matter is purely one of administration, not of legislation. The honorable senator’s complaint is well justified; but only if the Commissioner makes a guarantee by a third party, who may be a stranger, a sine qua non - an essential condition precedent to the issue of a certificate.
– If transferable bonds are lodged with the Commissioner, he will accept them as sufficient guarantee.
– Yes. If we have the assurance that the requiring of a guarantee is not a hard and fast practice, we cannot cure anything by legislative action.
– I give that assurance.
– I cannot understand why Senator Duncan-Hughes should move the amendment, because the clause has doubtless been drafted with the object of dealing with the entrepreneur and with vaudeville and other artists who visit this country, and who carry practically all their assets in one bag. Some who travel from one country to another with extraordinary facility, earn £50 a week, but spend £55 weekly. In these circumstances the Commissioner should have power to obtain a guarantee that their income tax will be paid before they leave Australia. Some artists, pugilists, wrestlers and others earn enormous sums.; I have heard of one who made a net profit of £30,000 in Australia.
– Even if the amendment be carried, the clause will still remain operative.
– I realize that, but as the Minister pointed out, provision must be made to obtain the tax by means of a guarantee. An ordinary Australian citizen who wishes to go abroad would not experience any difficulty in making arrangements with the Taxation Department, and I believe that in many cases a clearance could be obtained at the office where passports are issued without even visiting the Taxation Department. I shall oppose the amendment.
.- I agree with the views expressed by Senator Duncan-Hughes, because even if the amendment be carried, I do not think that the powers of the Commissioner will be in any way curtailed. The clause provides that upon application the Commissioner or a Deputy Commissioner may issue a certificate that arrangements have been made to the satisfaction of the Commissioner for the payment of all income tax that is or may become payable. The Commissioner has power to accept or reject a guarantee, and that right will remain.
[11.34]. - It is obvious that, if the amendment moved by Senator
Duncan-Hughes be agreed to, guarantees will not be obtainable in future. At present the law provides that, if a taxpayer proposes to leave Australia before paying the income tax due by him, he can arrange for a person to guarantee payment. If the amendment be carried, and the taxpayer does not return, or the tax is not paid by the guarantor, the guarantee will be worthless. Certain persons who come to Australia to engage in boxing or wrestling contests receive very large sums of money.When they have fulfilled their engagements, and wish to leave Australia, the Taxation Department informs them that they cannot depart until they have paid the tax, or satisfied the Commissioner that it will be paid by someone else. Boxers or wrestlers are usually under engagement to some persons in Australia who may take them, say, to New Zealand; and in such eases their manager guarantees to pay the tax due by them. If such persons have no assets in Australia, what would be the value of the guarantee if the amendment were carried ?
– Such cases are rare.
– Instances of that kind do arise. I appeal to the honorable senator not to press his amendment, because, if it is adopted, it will re-act against taxpayers, and interfere with the satisfactory arrangements which ate now made between the Commissioner and taxpayers.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator Duncan-Hughes’ amendment) be so inserted - put. The committee divided. (Temporary Chairman - Senator B adm an.)
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 211 to 217 agreed to.
Clause 218 (Commissioner may collect tax from person owing money to taxpayer).
– This clause, which is similar to a provision in the present act, is so drastic that it should be most carefully reviewed. In the ordinary course, such a procedure is not permissible. The power given to the Commissioner to collect the tax from a person who does not owe money to the Commissioner, but who owes it to a person indebted to the Commissioner, may lead to an extraordinary state of affairs. The person who owes money to the taxpayer may also be indebted to others urgently awaiting payment, but under this provision the Commissioner can demand the payment of the whole of the money due to him regardless of the claims of other creditors. The Commissioner has the power to seize sufficient of the cash assets of such persons to satisfy his claim.
– The honorable senator contends that, in the matter of claims, the Commissioner should not have priority.
– Not without recourse to law.
– ‘The Commissioner would have that right under a garnishee order issued by the court.
– Garnishee proceedingsput other creditors on the qui vive and give them an opportunity to get something also.
– A debt to the Crown takes priority over other debts. That is the law.
– That may be the law but it does not seem to be equitable; I suggest that we should consider whether we should perpetuate this provision. I would like to hear the Minister’ on this point.
– The honorable senator recognizes, I think, that this provision only repeats the law as it has been in operation for some time. Prior to the simplification of the law which gave priority to Crown debts, the Commissioner was placed in the position of an ordinary person taking out a garnishee. If he resorted to such proceedings his garnishee took priority over all others in the field. We have substituted simpler methods, shortcircuiting what could be done by a tedious process of law. That is the basis of this provision, any rigours of which must be attributed to the law which gives priority to Crown debts.
– In ordinary garnishee proceedings the court finds as a fact that a debt is owing by a third party ; in this instance does not- the Commissioner merely presume that the money is owing, whereas there may bc a dispute as to whether it is really owing.
– If the Commissioner makes a mistake in that respect he has no power to recover; the money has to be due in actual fact.
– That is the point
I desire to make clear.
– Companies which are held responsible for the payment of tax on interest on debentures held by absentees suffer an injustice if they cannot recover payment from such absentees. To protect them it has been suggested that sub-clause 3 of rlau.se 125 should be repeated in this clause.
– We are providing for the position of companies later, and if that provision is not satisfactory, I shall agree to recommit this clause.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 219 to 252 agreed to.
Clause 253. (Deduction of special property tax from preference shareholders.)
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted lo follow clause 253 : - “ 253a. Any amount which has been paid to the Commissioner by a company under the provisions of clause 88a of the Income Tax Assessment Act J 931, or of clause 253 of this act, and which amount has been deducted from the preference dividend due to a shareholder shall, on the shareholder satisfying the Commissioner that his total net income was less in any year, in which a deduction was made, than the statutory exemption of £250, be refunded by the Commissioner to the shareholder.”
Clause 253 contains a provision to which during the last three or four years I have repeatedly referred, pointing out an injustice which it inflicts on a large number of small preference shareholders. I shall recapitulate my arguments on this matter in the hope that something may be done to remove this injustice. That clause repeats a provision contained in the Act of 1931 whereby companies were given the option of deducting from dividends on preference shares a proportionate share of the amount of special property tax paid by the company. Our income tax law has always recognized that a very large number of people do not come within its purview because they are not in receipt of an income on which tax could be justly levied. Yet, under this provision, if a person has a total income of only £5, and that income happens to be derived from dividends on preference shares, special property tax is deductable from it by the company. Thus a person .who is relatively poor is taxed at the highest rate.
– If a person is not liable to tax. it cannot be deducted.
– These shareholders are not liable, but they have to pay. Clause 253 reads -
A company which has paid or is liable to pay special property tax may, notwithstanding anything contained in its memorandum or articles of association, or in any other document or agreement, deduct from any dividends payable to the preference shareholders of the company an amount equal to the amount of special property tax which it has paid or is liable to pay upon taxable income distributed to its preference shareholders. I have here two printed notices received by certain people from United Provisions Limited. One notifies a preference shareholder of a dividend of 4 per cent, on 250 preference participating shares, and forwards a cheque for £9 3s.’ 4d., rep- resenting the dividend less 16s. 8d. for special property tax. This shareholder is not obliged to pay income tax at all, because his income does not reach the statutory minimum. Yet he has to pay this heavy property tax.
– Because he is a member of a company which is liable to property tax.
– In the second case the dividend is £25, and the deduction for special property tax £21s. 9d., the shareholder receiving a net dividend of £2218s. 3d. As this man has an income very much in excess of the statutory minimum of £250, he gets the advantage of the provision that the first £250 of income is not liable to the property tax. This is an instance where a taxpayer who is better off, gets full advantage of the law, whilst another taxpayer, who is relatively poor, is penalized.
– If the former is a taxpayer whose rate is over 2s., he is taxed at the company rate, so it cuts both ways.
– The unfortunate individual whose income is so small that he cannot take advantage of the statutory exemption of £250 a year, must pay the special tax on income derived from preference shares.
– Is the company forced to deduct this tax from the dividend ?
– No; only a few companies do this. I am not blaming the company; the fault lies with the law.
– Cannot such shareholders obtain a refund of the tax?
– I have suggested that the Commissioner should make a refund on receiving a declaration by the shareholder that his total income for the year has not reached the amount of the statutory exemption ; but I have been told by Ministers, and by officials of the Taxation Department, that the administrative difficulties would be too great to permit of such an arrangement. I fail to see that any difficulty would arise. If, over a period of four or five years, a person had received an annual income of less than £250, any amount deducted on account of the special tax oh income derived from dividends on preference shares could not fairly be said to belong to the department.
Senator A. J.McLACHLAN (South Australia - Postmaster-General [12.5] . - On the surface, the proposed new clause appears to contain an element of justice, but I submit that it abrogates the whole of the principles underlying the taxation of the income of companies. The argument which the honorable senator has used in regard to preference shares could be applied to ordinary shares. In regard to income earned by an individual in his private capacity, he would not get the benefit which Senator Payne has proposed. Who has to bear the burden of the special tax on income derived from property? The. shareholders mustbear it, and in the long run it falls on the ordinary shareholders. The company deducts the tax, and if under the proposed new clause the preference shareholders are exempt from the payment of it, the whole of the burden will fall on the ordinary shareholders of the company, for the reason that, as preference shareholders are entitled to dividends at a fixed rate out of the profit available, the special tax on property income has to be deducted from the remaining profits before any dividend can be distributed among the ordinary shareholders. The contention has been advanced that the statutory exemption, which is the right of the individual, should be extended. The honorable senator seeks to impose on the department the burden of refunding the amount of the special tax to a particular class of persons. The proposal would benefit thousands of shareholders, and completely undermine the principles of company taxation.
– It does not affect the principles of company taxation.
– The honorable senator cited the case of a man receiving about £10 a year by way of dividends on preference shares, from which amount a deduction had been made to meet the special tax which the company had paid. If the company had that income, and the special property tax was applicable to it, why should not the shareholder have to pay it? I am ‘instructed that, if the proposal of Senator Payne were accepted, the administrative work of the department would be reduced to a state of chaos.
– Why do so few companies exercise the option of deducting the tax from the dividend?
– Because most of the companies take the burden of this tax upon themselves.
– I have not made any criticism of the arrangements made by the department to collect the tax, nor do I suggest that any company is at fault in this matter. My contention is that the law provides that poor people shall “not be taxed. The statutory exemption has been fixed as high as £250 a year, and the law says that any person whose income is less than that shall pay no income tax at all. Yet cases arise in which persons whose total income is much less than £250 a year are compelled to pay this heavy special tax. I claim that the principle of the income tax should be recognized in every clause of this bill. But this is not done, because a person who has no income other than that received by way of dividends on preference shares is forced to meet this particularly heavy impost.
– But, as shareholders in companies, they have a responsibility to the taxpayers of this country.
– That is not the point. It is interesting to see the honorable senator supporting the big man, and showing no sympathy with the underdog. What administrative difficulty would arise if I wrote to the Commissioner of Taxation, and said that I was receiving £50 a’ year in dividends on preference shares, and had no other income whatever? I would merely ask for a. refund of the amount paid as special property tax ? It would be only necessary for the Commissioner ‘tfr maKe an investigation to verify my statement; and the refund could be made.
. -Senator Payne, I think, has a false orientation of the clause which we ar, considering. We are dealing with the taxation, not of an individual, but of a company. Assume that a company has to pay ls. in the £1 property tax, and that a number of the shareholders have total incomes, as Senator Payne has suggested, under £250 a year. It is said that the Commissioner should refund to them a certain amount of this tax. Obviously this would mean that the total company tax would not be paid as required by law, and, therefore, such a suggestion is impossible, unless the refunds were paid by. the shareholders with taxable incomes. If we agreed to the proposal submitted by Senator Payne, the Taxation Commissioner would no longer receive the full amount of the special property tax from the company, because the non-taxable shareholders would obtain a refund of portion of it.
– Does the honorable senator think that the taxpayer whos<? case I have presented is treated fairly?
– It is not a question of what is fair to the individual ; we are dealing with the taxation of a company or corporation.
– The individual shareholders pay it.
– We are not dealing with individual shareholders, but with a company. Prom the moment that the Taxation Commissioner refunds some of the tax the company no longer pays its proper tax. It would not be a question of administration. It would be an illegal act on the part of the Commissioner.
With respect to every agent and with respect also to every trustee, the following provisions shall apply: -
– I move -
That after paragraph (e) the following paragraph be inserted: - (ea) He is hereby indemnified for all payments which he makes in pursuance of this Act or of any requirement of the Commissioner.
If the proposed new paragraph be agreed1 to, I shall move for the insertion of a similar new paragraph in clause 255. The present act contains this provision in regard to both agents and trustees, and persons in receipt or control of money for non-residents, but it was deliberately omitted from the draft bill as being superfluous. In the House of Representatives a doubt was raised as to whether, in certain types of cases, it was not open to argument that the paragraphs would give the taxpayer some indemnity over and above the guarantees provided for in the other paragraphs of the section. The Crown Law officers are of the opinion that there is something in that view and consequently the Government decided to re-insert these paragraphs, in conformity with a promise given by the Treasurer (Mr. Casey). I think that the new paragraph will meet the point raised by Senator Leckie.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 255- (1.) With respect to every person having the receipt control or disposal of money belonging to a non-resident, who derives income from a source in Australia or who is a shareholder, debenture holder, or depositor in a company deriving income from a source in Australia, the following provisions shall, subject to this Act, apply: -
Motion (by Senator A. j. McLachlan) proposed -
That after paragraph (c) sub-clause (1), the following paragraph be inserted: -
he is hereby indemnified for all pay ments which he makes in pursuance of this Act or of any requirement of the Commissioner.
.- I am not sure as to the meaning of the proposed new paragraph. Under paragraph b a person in receipt or control of money for a non-resident is authorized to retain so much of it as is sufficient to pay the tax which is, or will become, due by the non-resident. In respect of royalties he may have to make several payments during the year to his principal overseas, and it would be unreasonable to require him to go to the Commissioner every time that he sends a remittance overseas in order to ascertain the liability of his principal. Moreover, I doubt whether the Commissioner wouldbe able to tell him the amount of that liability, because the royalties would vary from time to time.
– The tax does not become due until the assessment notice has been issued. The man could protect himself.
– Not unless he continues to represent his principal. He might have sent to his principal overseas all the money received by him, and in the following year receive no money at all.
– In order that the point raised by Senator Leckie may be re-examined, I shall consult with the departmental experts. In the meantime, I suggest that the new paragraph be agreed to. If necessary, the clause can be re-committed.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 256 to 265 agreed to.
Proposal for Re-distribution of Victoria.
Debate resumed from the 20th May (vide page 1868) on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce -
That the Senate approves of the distribution of the State of Victoria into electoral divisions as proposed by Messrs. F. W. Parkinson, P. Campbell and H. McTaggart, the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of distributing the said State into divisions, in their report laid before the Senate on the 27th day of March, 1935, and that the names of the divisions suggested in the report be adopted with the exception that the name “ Deakin “ be substituted for the name “ Mernda”.
[12.25] . - Honorable senators may remember that, following the census taken on the 30th June, 1933, commissioners were appointed to propose a redistribution of the electoral divisions in the States of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. Such action is authorized by section 25 of the Electoral Act which provides that a re-distribution may be undertaken -
Reports were duly received from the respective commissioners, submitting proposals for the redistribution of the electoral divisions in each of the States specified, and those reports were tabled in Parliament on the 28th June, 1934. The proposals of the commissioners were subsequently adopted by Parliament in respect of the States of New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia, and, as a result, the new divisions in those States were brought into effect prior to the general elections held on the 15th September, 1934.
With respect to the States of Victoria and Western Australia, however, the original proposals of the commissioners were disapproved by the House of Representatives, and, as time did not permit of fresh proposals being obtained and dealt with before the dissolution, the’ 1934 elections in those States necessarily had to be held on the existing boundaries.
The motion agreed to by the House of Representatives on the 5th July, 1934, in relation to the original proposals submitted by the commissioners in regard to Victoria, was as follows: -
That thi* House disapproves of the distribution of the’ State of Victoria as proposed by the Distribution Commission, and requests the Minister to return the same to the commission with the view of a fresh distribution being made of this State having regard to community of interests and the margin of allowance provided for in section 19 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act.
Sub-section 2 of section 24 of the Com’ monwealth Electoral Act reads - - If. either House of the Parliament passes a resolution disapproving of any proposed distribution or negatives a motion for the approval of any. proposed distribution, the Minister may direct the distribution commissioners to propose a fresh distribution of the State into divisions. .
Pursuant to ‘.the resolution of the House of Representatives, the Minister for the Interior . duly directed the commissioners for the State of Victoria to propose a fresh distribution. Their fresh proposals for the distribution of the electoral divisions in that State are now before the Senate.
The proposed redistribution involves jio alteration of the number of electoral divisions in Victoria, the number of members of the House of Representatives to which that State is entitled on the basis of its population as disclosed by the 1933 census, being twenty, as at present; but, as will be seen from the table furnished in the Commissioners’ report, a realignment of the boundaries of the divisions in that State is necessary in order to provide a more equitable basis of representation than now exists. For instance, in the metropolitan area the Division of Henty, as at present constituted, contains more than twice as many electors as are embraced in the Division of Melbourne, whilst as regards country divisions, Flinders contains over 30,000 more voters than does Ballarat,
It may be remembered that the first proposals submitted by the distribution commissioners for Victoria provided for the elimination of the country division ot Corangamite and the substitution therefor of an additional metropolitan division. The fresh proposals submitted by the commissioners are less drastic, in that the existing basis of ten metropolitan and ten country divisions is preserved; and whilst the marginal difference in enrolment between the average of the metropolitan divisions and the average of the country divisions has been increased from 2,930, as provided in the first proposals, to 8,068, the numbers allotted to the several divisions under the fresh proposals are, in all cases, well within the margin permitted by the law.
Honorable senators will observe that, r; is proposed to name the new division created by this redistribution “ Deakin “ in honour of the late Honorable Alfred Deakin, one of the most outstanding of the great men associated with the foundation of the Commonwealth. The late Mr. Deakin commenced his parliamentary career in the Legislative Assembly of Victoria in 1879, later holding office in that State as Solicitor-General, Commissioner for Public Works, and Chief Secretary. He took a prominent part in the federal movement, and was a member of the delegation sent to London in 1900 to secure the passage of the Constitution Bill through the Imperial Parliament. The late Mr. Deakin was a member of this Parliament from the inception of the Commonwealth until his retirement in 1913. He held office as Attorney-General in the first Commonwealth Ministry, and, subsequently, on three occasions as Prime Minister, he guided the destinies of this country wisely and well. Several divisions in other States bear the names of notable men associated with the foundation of the Commonwealth - Parkes, Barton, Reid and Watson in New South Wales; Griffith in Queensland; and Forrest, in Western Australia - and it is thought fitting that as the opportunity now presents itself the name of Deakin should be similarly perpetuated in Victoria.
.- If this constituency had been called by any name other than Deakin, which has been substituted for Mernda, I would have raised the strongest objection. Mernda is my home, and its euphonious sound seems to be truly reflective of the beautiful valleys and mountains in the vicinity. In this instance, the man is worthy of the district, and the district is almost worthy of the man.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
[12.35]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a first time.
I take this opportunity to reply to a question asked on the 13th May by Senator Brown in connexion with Australian publicity methods in London. At the time, I suggested to the honorable senator that this subject could be appropriately dealt with during the debate on this measure, and I promised him that I would have the matter investigated. Senator Brown asked whether I had noticed the criticism of Australian publicity methods in London, which appeared in the Sydney Labour Daily, of the 12th May, 1936. The criticism was embodied in a paragraph containing the following statement by Mr. Gordon Donkin, described as a well-known world traveller, to members of the Millions Club : -
Mr. Donkin said Australia House was costing a lot of money and needed great assistance. Its influence was lessened by the fact that several States had moved from the building to offices nearer the heart of London. The displays were unsatisfactory, the windowdressing ‘being bad, and the photos being rarely changed. A good scheme was to show films of Australia in the6,000 schools in England, he suggested.
In regard to the statement of Mr. Donkin that the influence of Australia House had lessened because several States had moved to offices nearer the heart of London, it is pointed out that with the exception of the office of the AgentGeneral for South Australia, which was transferred from Australia House in 1935, the agencies-general of the States, which are not at present located in Australia House, are in its near vicinity, as are also the offices of the High Commissioners of Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and Southern Rhodesia, the furthest away from Australia House being no more distant than Trafalgar Square. Therefore, I fail to understand how Mr. Donkin’s allegation in regard to the loss of influence of Australia House owing to the removal of the offices of several States nearer to the heart of London, can be sustained. The agenciesgeneral for Victoria and Tasmania are still accommodated at Australia House; the agencies-general for New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia are housed nearby in The Strand. The Agent-General for South Australia now has his office at British Industries House, Marble Arch, London. My knowledge of London may be becoming hazy ; but I doubt whether Marble Arch is nearer the heart of London than are the places in the vicinity of The Strand.
The High Commissioner’s office reports that the displays in the Exhibition Hall at Australia House and in the available windows are by no means unsatisfactory, although it is recognized that improvements could be made if more money were available for the purpose. The High Commissioner’s office states, however, that more money, if provided, could be better expended in directions and places giving access to the greatest number of people, as is already done with the great bulk of trade publicity funds.
With respect to the suggestion by Mr. Donkin that it would be a good scheme to show films of Australia in the 6,000 schools in England, the High Commissioner’s office reports that this matter has been thoroughly explored and, having regard to all the circumstances, particularly the difficulties of the education authorities, it was considered that this avenue of publicity is best utilized by the present arrangement under which scholars are invited to attend exhibitions of films which are arranged away from the school premises, but in co-operation with the school authorities. The High Commissioner’s office cites as an instance, which is by no means solitary, the fact that on the 15th May last a display of Australian films was arranged for school children at the Regent Theatre, Sheffield, which accommodates 2,000 persons.
– I desire to refer briefly to the foreshadowed activities of the Commonwealth Government in stimulating the search for oil in Australia. It is recognized that the position is serious; a cable message in to-day’s press supplied an additional reason why a stimulus should be given to the search for oil, not only in Australia, but also throughout the British Empire. In view of the threatened shortage of supplies in Sarawak, it is more than ever clear that a successful outcome of the efforts of the Government will be of incalculable advantage to the British Empire. That shortage may be of vital importance, in relation to the Singapore Naval Base and the defence of the Pacific. If Australia can supply some of the oil requirements for defence and other purposes, it will render immense assistance to the Mother country, and indeed, to the British Empire. I commend the Government for approaching this matter, with due recognition of its real importance, and to some extent overlooking the more economic features of oil production in relation to its commercial aspect in world affairs. Recently, I asked the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) a question in connexion with the value of the shale oil field at Murrurundi which, I have reason to believe, is of real importance, and in relation to which the honorable member for New England (Mr. Thompson) and I will probably, at an early date, approach the Government. For the information of honorable senators I desire to foreshadow some of the reasons that we propose to advance to the Government in support of our contention that the field at Murrurundi which, at one time, was worked by the British Australian Oil Company, should be thoroughly explored. Perhaps I shall have the sympathy of Senator Leckie in view of his remarks this morning, because my feelings in regard to my native place at Murrurundi are akin to the sentiments that he expressed about’ Mernda. In the Upper Hunter district there is a shale deposit known as the Teemi Field. When it was being operated, I represented my district in Urn legislature of New South Wales. Owing to industrial troubles and lack of capital the company, which had successfully produced commercial petrol and marketed it in Australia, was obliged to cease its activities. This property lay in the hands of the liquidator for some considerable time; but, subsequently it was purchased, I have been informed, by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. The Government should pay particular heed to that fact. Gradually the whole of the works were dismantled. A remarkable aerial tramway, which brought shale from the mine to the retorts at Murrurundi, had been constructed. It also has been removed; possibly it was not an economical proposition. The assets of the company included a large depot at Hamilton, Newcastle, where crude oil was refined; this too, has passed into the hands of new owners. To-day all of the retorts have been removed and in their place stand the containers of the Shell Company. What the arrangement was in connexion with the removal of that plant, I do not know; perhaps it is not of vital importance to my remarks. Nor am I certain of the identity of the interests which control the lease, but if it is not being properly exploited it i» open to the Government of New South Wales, in co-operation with the feder.il administration, to take steps to develop the field. I urge upon the Minister ihe necessity for paying particular attention to this deposit. The answer which he gave to my question was not an adequate one, but I realize that it was supplied to him departmentally and was not of his own framing. It simply stated -
When Messrs. Crichton and Conacher, Scottish shale oil experts, visited New South Wales during- February, 1935, they inspected Newnes, Marangaroo, Wollar, and Baerami deposits, hut technical officers of the Mines
Department of New South Wales, who accompanied them during their tour of inspection, didnot consider the Murrurundi field to be of sufficient importance to justify examination.
In contrast to that answer, when I was a member of the legislature of New South Wales, the Minister for Mines assured me that just before the mine closed the company had found what was then considered to be a most valuable shale deposit for commercial oil.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– There is ample material for the purpose of the inquiry in theNew South Wales Mines Department. Some years ago, in the State Parliament, the then Minister for Mines furnished to me a considerable amount of information relating to shale deposits in New South Wales.
Honorable senators will have noticed that this morning I obtained the discharge from the business paper of my motion in favour of the creation of an international thought exchange. I adopted that course because, under the Standing Orders, it is not competent to anticipate the discussion of a motion which appears on the business paper, and that would have precluded me from discussing it on the first reading of this bill. The discharge of the motion gives me the opportunity which I desired to deal further with this important subject. Another reason for my action was that the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) has asked honorable senators to refrain from discussing the position of the League of Nations during this difficult time through which the world is passing. In anything which I may say this afternoon I do not propose to offend in that direction. The terms of my original motion indicated that, at that time, I did not desire the Government to be primarily responsible for the steps necessary to give effect to it. All I asked was that the Senate should express its opinion, which would be submitted to His Excellency the Governor-General for transmission to His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain. I knew, of course, that in due time, the Senate’s expression of opinion would be returned for the opinion of the Commonwealth Government as His Majesty’s Australian advisers. But this matter is of much wider significance. It affects not only the British Empire, but the whole world, and I believe that such an expression of opinion would be welcomed by the British Government. The motion, in its original form, read -
That to encourage the breaking down of barriers and in the interests of mutual understandingand peace among the nations of the world, and to enable the founding of an international public opinion and literature -
It is imperative thata means of international thought exchange be established by a common language agreed upon in conference of the nations, such language to be compulsorily taught in their respective primary and secondary schools.
For this purpose this Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia urges that the nations be invited by His Most Gracious Majesty the King to send their representatives to a world convention.
That this resolution be conveyed to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral for submission to His Majesty with the humble prayer of this Senate that action be taken accordingly.
At the suggestion of the Leader of the Senate I agreed to alter it to the form in which it appeared on the noticepaper this morning. The main point is that the invitation should go forward with the approval of the British Government. It is immaterial whether it should be extended to the governments of other countries through the League of Nations, or whether it should be issued in the name of His Majesty’s Government. If, as I firmly believe, honorable senators are sincere in . their desire to forward this proposal, the cause of world peace will, undoubtedly, be advanced. As honorable senators realize; changes in world affairs of the deepest significance have taken place since I placed my motion on the notice-paper of the Senate some months ago. It is possible that the Government would, quite rightly, . have hesitated to take the action suggested in the motion in its original form ; but the real essence of the proposal is contained in paragraphs 1 and 2 which invite an expression of opinion in favour of the suggested international conference. I therefore intend, when Parliament reassembles after the approaching recess, to restore the motion to the notice-paper either in its original form or in some simpler language which may, perhaps, be more acceptable to the Government and honorable senators. Shorn of all trimmings, the motion which I introduced some months ago affirmed the desirability of an international conference to be attended by the educational experts of all countries, whose function would be to examine the suggested languages, and recommend the adoption of one for the interchange of thought among the peoples of the world. I am not so much interested in .he particular language to be chosen - whether it be basic English, Esperanto, Chocktaw or Sanscrit. My concern is that, after careful examination of the proposal, the nations should bind themselves to adopt one particular vehicle of thought for universal use. Similar proposals have already been accepted internationally, as witness the conventions relating to patents and postal administration. Standardized laws relating to these subjects are operating quite successfully, and the same results would follow the adoption of an international language if the nations would agree to have it compulsorily taught in all their schools. It would be immaterial whether or not the League of Nations accepted t lie approved language, or whether it retained French and English for the purposes of its deliberations. The important thing to remember is that once there was agreement among all nations to use a particular language, in from ten to twenty years a considerable proportion of the world’s population would be exchanging ideas in a language -understood by all when the wireless receivers were turned on, and we should then have the growth of an informed international public opinion. There would also be the development of an international literature, flowing in a common groove, all of which, I suggest, would make for world peace.
– H. G. Wells contends that basic English is the language of the future.
– flow futile it is to discuss what language should be chosen !
– Wells is a man of wide learning and experience.
– So, no doubt, is the honorable senator. My concern is that at the international conference, which I have suggested should be held, one language should be selected for universal use. I admit that English would have a strong claim for selection, because at least 500,000,000 people throughout the world speak it in some form, and already English is compulsorily taught in the schools of many foreign countries. 1 firmly believe that the adoption of my proposal would be the first step along the pathway to peace. I do not suggest, of course, that world peace is to be achieved by the waving of a magic wand. The establishment of peace among the nations must be a gradual process; but I believe that the adoption of a particular language for universal use would be a definite start. Many notable public men in other countries share this belief. Koki Hiroto, the new Prime Minister of Japan, declared not long ago that the greatest underlying cause of war was the misunderstanding, mistrust and suspicion existing _ between the peoples of different countries, due to the difficulty of exchanging ideas on national aspirations. I direct the attention of honorable senators to the opinion expressed by a gentleman who is competent to speak on radio development, not only in Australia, but also in other countries. I refer to Mr. E. T. Fisk, who is recognized as one of the three greatest authorities. Marconi comes first, and either a gentleman in the United States of America or Mr. Fisk is undoubtedly entitled to the second place. Whatever qualifications may be possessed by the others, one “is safe in saying that Mr. Fisk is one of -the greatest living authorities on radio matters. On the 5th May, Mr. Fisk, when interviewed by the Sydney press, stated -
The time waa approaching when it would he possible for one individual to address at least 150,000,000 people simultaneously in their homes in all parts of the world. The enormous potentialities of this development were not fully realized. One of the greatest possibilities was that mutual understanding among the people of the earth would come more readily by this means than by any other, and that, ultimately, same way would be found of broadcasting in a common language which would bc simultaneously understood by all listeners.
That is the considered opinion of Mr. Fisk. On the same date he wrote to me as follows: -
I certainly think it is desirable that everything possible should be done to institute and establish an international language for thu purpose of world-wide broadcasting. 1 out convinced that the day is approaching when broadcasting stations of world-wide range will lie listened to simultaneously by millions nf people in different parts of the world.
After dealing with another subject, he said -
Australia was among the (pioneers of worldwide broadcasting on short-waves, and, in recent years, many of the leading countries have developed this system.
A few years ago we would have been regarded as fools had we suggested that the means of communication which now exist would be in such universal use. The letter continued -
With short-wave receiving sets, it is possible in Australia to listen to broadcasts from Great Britain, Germany, France, Holland, Poland, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Russia, Siberia, Dutch Bast Indies, India, Japan, United States of America, and other countries. Many of those, world-wide stations already broadcast news and propoganda in English and in other language*!. He went, on to state -
The rapid expansion of world-wide broadcasting which is now taking place, opens up possibilities of incalculable importance to the human race.
If expansion of broadcasting opens up possibilities of incalculable importance to the human race, surely the subject of an international thought exchange demands the immediate attention of the Seriate. In these circumstances, I claim the support and sympathy of the members of this Parliament and of the people of Australia. I hope that this Parliament will take the lead in establishing the means of interchange of thought by moans of an international language, and that it will .have the .support of public opinion.
Mr. Fisk continued
Thu greatest among these possibilities is that of propagating and fostering mutual understanding. Radio science and engineering have provided the means for much promulgation, but it is the work of other authorities to ultimately eliminate the remaining barrier by establishing the language which will be simultaneously understood by the many millions of people who will ultimately be able to listen in their own homes to broadcasting stations of world-wide range radiating from every country in the world.
For some time I have been delivering public lectures on my proposal, and have always found enthusiastic approval and support of it. As Mr. Fisk points out, science has provided the means, but it is for bodies such as the Senate, to make it possible for science to take full advantage of the means which are now available.
– We have the service of wireless, and the other must necessarily follow.
– Exactly. Why should there be any hesitancy on the part of the authorities? This is a matter which should be considered seriously by this Parliament. Recently, I had the privilege of visiting New Zealand, where I discussed the proposal with members of both political parties in the NewZealand Parliament, from whom I received gratifying assurance of sympathetic interest and support. I received such assurances, not only from the Prime Minister and his supporters, but also from Mr. Forbes, the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Coates, and others. I was offered, and availed myself of the opportunity, of a national broadcast from 2YA, Wellington. Since my return to Australia, I have received letters assuring me of sympathetic interest from the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Oppose tion. Before leaving New Zealand I was assured that a motion similar to the one I moved in the Senate would be introduced by Mr. W. J. Lyon, a supporter of the Government, who was entrusted with moving the adoption of the addressinreply. Last week I received from the Prime Minister of New Zealand a letter stating that he would discuss the matter with Mr. Lyon. A portion of that letter read -
As I have already indicated, you may depend upon it receiving our sympathetic consideration.
Later in the day I received a cablegram from Mr. Lyon, which read, “Will introduce motion next week.” I have since learned that the New Zealand Government feels that there may be some difficulties associated with the discussion of a motion in which the League of Nations is involved; but, quite apart from the action which the New Zealand Parliament may take. I trust that the Senate will support the motion which I intend to move in the next session. How can we hope to eliminate the barriers of which Mr. Fisk speaks if we do not make a start ? Surely we are not bound by that maxim of the conservative. “ Nothing shall ever be done for a first time.” I believe that honorable senators will not agree with the suggestion that we should not take the lead in matters affecting humanity, but must wait until we are driven to do so ‘by public opinion. There is no reason why we should emulate Gilbert’s “Duke of Plazatoro,” who led his army from behind. It is an established parliamentary rule, supported by May and other leading authorities, that within its constitutional rights Parliament is master of its own business. In this instance I suggest that the Senate has the right, and it is its duty, to request that action be commenced in the centre of the Empire. Since moving the motion some time ago, I have been agreeably surprised at the support I have received from persons in Australia, the United States of America, Canada, and Great Britain. In one newspaper, with a very wide circulation, in the United States, over a column was devoted to the subject, and wholehearted approval given. Included in the letters which I have received is one from Dr. Ross, K.C., D.C.L., of Montreal, Canada, who, as some honorable senators will know, is a well-known lecturer on economics and social questions. I acknowledge the courtesy extended to me by the Leader of the Senate in affording me this opportunity to deal further with this subject, and to withdraw the motion appearing on the notice-paper, in order to have thi? opportunity to deal with it. I am not insensible of the help I have received in this respect. The wife of Major-General Sir W. H. Beech, CB., C.M.G., D.S.O., apparently the honorary secretary of an influential social movement in England, said -
I am certain that England would meet your suggestion wholeheartedly, and so would our new King. Do not hesitate to go ahead, and God he with you. as we all are.
Koki Hiroto. the new Prime Minister of Japan, whom I have, already quoted in the Senate, emphatically expressed his belief that want of understanding through wide divergence of language was one of the underlying causes of war. Sir James
Barrett wrote -
Your plea for a common language falls on many sympathetic ears.
The Bishop of Armadale 3aid -
I am deeply interested in your article on thought exchange . . . and to attain this harmony among the nations, understanding, appreciation and exchange of ideas arc essential.
At the invitation of numerous bodies and societies, such as the New South Wales Constitutional Association, the Legacy Clubs, the Modern Languages Association, the London Peace Society, Rotary Clubs, large churches, and at luncheon gatherings, I have submitted my proposals, and in every case enthusiastic approval has been expressed. I do not ask support merely on the grounds of friendship, but I appeal to the heads and to the hearts of honorable senators. I believe that, if action were taken in the direction I suggest, it would not be long before the trouble and turmoil through which nations of the world are- now passing would commence to diminish, and there would be a better understanding between the nations. At a luncheon given to the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page), prior to his departure for England, he delivered a speech from the view-point of the party I represent in this chamber, in which he said that nothing is more vital to the primary ‘ producers or to the secondary producers than the relationship which exists between the peoples of the world. The depression through which we passed recently was not really local in its origin. We may devise marketing schemes for the disposal of pur dried fruits, wheat, butter, and other primary products, but such methods of dealing with trade depression are like giving a patient phenacetin - the drug allays the pain, but does not attack the root of the malady. The root cause of our economic troubles to-day oan be traced to the dislocation of world trade following the Great War, which forced every country to look selfishly to its own particular interests. We must deal with the underlying cause of our present trouble, and, as Mr. Hiroto hinted, a certain way to do this is to enable the nations of the world to understand each other better. But to-day, vp. cannot do this, because we do not speak a common language. Let us reason out this matter and attempt to lay down a common basis of intercourse by establishing a common means of thought exchange.
– It is not the intention of members of the Opposition to prolong the debate on the first reading of this bill. We shall content ourselves by speaking on the items with which we are particularly concerned when the schedule covering the departmental Estimates is reached. At this juncture, however, I assure Senator Abbott that he can rely on all the support which the Opposition can give for the attainment of the ideal which he has just so eloquently expressed. I feel sure that every honorable senator agrees that the establishment of a common thought exchange is desirable, as a means of accomplishing that ideal. I assure Senator Abbott that, among his friends on this matter, he will not have stronger supporters than members of the Opposition.
Senator JAMES MCLACHLAN (South
Australia) [2.48]. - At this juncture I wish to deal with a matter which is of great importance to a section of primary producers in South Australia. A few days ago I asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Commerce (.Senator Brennan) whether it was the intention of the Commonwealth Government in the near future to offer any assistance to growers of oranges to increase their export trade. To that question I received the following reply : -
In granting assistance for 1935 exports, the Government marie it clear to the industry that no further assistance would be rendered unless the industry itself established an organization to deal with its own problems. This organization has not yet been established, and accordingly the question of assistance for the forthcoming season has not been considered.
The citrus-growers of South Australia have done everything in their power to bring about co-ordination in this industry throughout the Commonwealth. Unfortunately, they have not been successful in that direction. I feel sure that other honorable senators will recognize that it would be unfair to penalize South Australian citrus-growers, simply because growers in other States will not fall into line with them in their endeavours to establish a sound export trade. Reviewing briefly the organization of the citrusgrowers, I point out that in 1921 thu Murray Citrus Association was formed, and a year or two later a Federal Citrus Association was formed, with which was affiliated the growers’ associations in South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales. Four years ago the New South Wales association ceased to function, the only association remaining in that State in which the citrus-growers were interested being the Federated Fruitgrowers Association, which practically controls the fruit industry in that State. The citrusgrowers of New South Wales are prepared to rejoin the ranks of the citrusgrowers generally, provided that the head-quarters of the organization i* established in that State. The other associations are not prepared to agree to this because they believe that Melbourne is more suitable and central than Sydney.
It is unnecessary for me to- remind honorable senators that, in 1934, a conference, representative of the Victorian Citrus-growers Association, the Murray Citrus Association, and the Federated Fruitgrowers Association in New South Wales, decided to ask the Federal Government for a guarantee of 16s. 6d. a case on export oranges. To that proposition this Government replied that it would guarantee to the growers up to about 13s. a case. At another conference, held in 1935, it was decided to ask for a bounty; that was granted, and honorable senators will recall that, in the dying stages of last session, it was increased considerably. The citrus-growers generally appreciated that action very much. 1 point out. however, that citrus-growers in South Australia did not reap very much benefit from the grant made in 1934. Certainly neither of these proposals originated with the South Australian growers, but they sent delegates to each of the conferences concerned. In April, 1934, the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page) called a conference of citrus-growers at which he placed before delegates an expert opinion on the proposals by Mr. Lowan, an officer of the Development Branch of . the Prime Minister’s Department. Mr. Lowan concluded his report, which was a lengthy one, as follows: -
The per capita consumption of oranges in Australia, exceeds that of all countries except the United States of America, with which it compares very favorably, lt follows, therefore, that even assuming a wider internal distribution could be arranged, the possibility of appreciably reducing our surplus by that means would not be great. Thus large-scale export would appear to be essential if curtailment of production is to be avoided.
That conference adopted a resolution outlining the nucleus of an Australian association, and suggested to the Commonwealth Government the formation of a committee to deal with the export trade. That conference also elected a subcommittee to draw up a constitution with the object of placing it before this Government. I emphasize that that conference was called by Dr. Earle Page, and that at it he was accompanied by governmental officials including Mr. Lowan. Its resolution was implemented, and then an extraordinary situation arose. Although the conference, being representative of the Victorian, New South Wales and South Australian citrus associations, was virtually an interstate conference, and arrived at its resolution unanimously, the Federated Fruitgrowers Association of New South Wales commented on the proposals as follows : -
That the board is opposed to the imposition of any levy or excise on growers for the purpose of the creation of a fund for assisting export of oranges to the United Kingdom. That, in respect of the draft constitution under discussion (i.e., for the Federal Citrus Advisory Council) the Federal Government he asked to submit any proposals of this nature to the State organizations before anything is done by the Government.
In effect, this association suggested thai the proposals should be remitted to its own State organization before anything should be done, although the New South Wales delegates were a party to the original proposals. In the circumstances, practically nothing has been done along the lines decided upon by the citrus-growers generally to foster their export trade. I emphasize that if this Government expects the citrusgrowers to develop their export trade it must at this juncture come to their assistance. Surely an export trade in oranges is of sufficient importance to justify encouragement by the Common-
Senator James McLachlan. wealth Government. The net return a case on oranges exported to England for each of the last three years was as follows: 1933, 4s. 2d. ; 1934, 3s. 9d.; 1935, 2s. 3d. The members of the South Australian Citrus Association and the Murray Citrus Association asked this Government to guarantee a return of 15s. a case of oranges in England. This price would mean a net return of 5s. a case to the Australian growers. I do not think that this is an exorbitant return. To ensure this price it will be necessary for the Government to provide a bounty or guarantee of about 3s. a case until the export trade is firmly established. The growers do not ask that this bounty bo permanent. They are prepared to levy themselves in this matter. All that they require is that the Government should assist them in this way for a period o!’ from three to four years until the export trade is firmly established. As an indication of the growers’ earnestness in thi? matter, I mention that the South Australian Citrus Association sent a representative to England to investigate thihome market, and last year the growers of that State exported 21,7 61 cases ‘ to that country. This man did remarkably good work, and he is now making another visit overseas on a similar mission, li the South Australian Citrus Association is prepared to bear the cost of pioneering the industry, surely it is deserving of some support from the Commonwealth Government. The Victorian Citrus Association has agreed to a levy for the purpose of providing a bounty on export-.. I emphasize that these people are prepared to help themselves, and the Government should have no hesitation in helping them for a certain period.- T cannot understand the action taken recently by the Acting Minister for Commerce (Mr. Thorby). In a letter, which he wrote to the Minister for Agriculture in South Australia (Mr. Blesing), he said, in effect, that the primary task confronting the industry was the improvement of quality and the grading of fruit. We admit that that must be done, but no association which desires to establish a market overseas would send other than its best products there. Speaking in Tasmania recently, the Acting Minister for Commerce (Mr.
Thorby) indicated the probable formation of an Empire fruit council, which, he said, would probably allot quotas along lines similar to the procedure followed in respect of meat. Should that council be established, it would be essential for Australia to have supplies of fruit on the English market this year, in order to qualify for quotas later. The primary producers of this country expect great results from the Ottawa agreement; and, if further agreements are to be entered into, we should, beforehand, establish a trade in citrus fruits, so that when the negotiations take place, there will be some basis for representations on behalf of that industry. For that reason alone, the industry should be encouraged. In the view of the association, a market in the United Kingdom is necessary as an outlet for our surplus production. The association does not suggest that government assistance be provided indefinitely, but only in the developmental stages,” in order that the industry may be established on an economic basis, and placed in an independent position. “When grants were made to the States to assist the wheat-growing industry, the States were led to believe that the distribution of the money would be entirely in their hands. When this subject was before Parliament in December of last year, Senator Brown advocated that the Commonwealth should stipulate the conditions under which the money should bc distributed. We were then told distinctly that the State governments would have the right to distribute the money as they liked. Senator Johnston thought that provision should be made for distribution on an acreage basis; but he also was told that the manner of distribution would be left to the States to decide. The people of South Australia were, therefore, astonished when ‘ the distribution in that State was made on an acreage basis, and especially when they were informed that that was the result of instructions from the Commonwealth Government. If it is contended that the Constitution necessitated the disbursement of the money on an acreage basis, I ask why, in previous years, grants were made on a bushelage basis? If a distribution of money on a bushelage basis was constitutional in 1934, why was it not con stitutional in 1935? In reply to a question as to the method of distribution in Victoria, I was informed that, in that State, some of the money was distributed on the basis of acreage, and the balance by means of reductions of freight and transport charges in respect of wheat sold, or delivered for storage, pending sale. I do not understand the basis of distribution in Victoria, and therefore I ask the Minister to clear this matter up.
– When, some months ago, Senator Abbott spoke to . his motion on the subject of an international language, I was in the unfortunate position of having just made about three speeches, and I thought that that was sufficient for one day. I am in somewhat the same position to-day, and therefore I shall not speak at length on the subject. Nevertheless, I do not desire to lose this opportunity to say that, in my opinion, the Senate is a most suitable place for a proposal of this kind to be discussed. I am in general accord with Senator Abbott on this subject; but I realize that there are thousands of people in the community who regard his proposal as impracticable. I remind such people that there was a time when Signor Marconi and Mr. Edison were regarded as wild theorists, whereas to-day millions of practical men are perfectly satisfied to use the results of their inventions. I understood Senator Abbott to say that this alternative language was not intended to be more than a subsidiary means of communication between peoples who would still retain their native tongues.
– No interference with any person’s mother tongue is intended.
– HUGHES. - I mention . this point because I think that there is some confusion in relation to it in the minds of the general public. There is a tendency to think that the adoption of a common language involves the sacrifice of their own literature. I wish to emphasize that that is not so.
– The Czechoslovakians have about seven mother tongues, and the Swiss, three or four. It would not be any hardship to those who have only one mother tongue to adopt an additional one which all could understand.
– A discussion of this subject involves a consideration of the probable result of the general adoption of the honorable senator’s suggestion. In that event, what language would most likely be selected as the subsidiary language of the various nations ? I think that I ought to say that, if honorable senators fancy that, as a matter of course, English would be the language selected - either in its present or in its basic form - it is extremely probable that they will be disappointed.
– I see no possibility of the nations of the world, in their present frame of mind, adopting a language which is based on English. Can wo imagine that the German nation,which has developed nationalism to the highest pitch, or the Italian race, will adopt a language which is essentially English? If this matter is pressed on them, I think we must face the fact that it will not be possible to have any but a neutral language adopted. Esperanto is a notable instance of a neutral language.
– All neutral languages have their roots in other languages.
– That is so. English is, as I think we will all agree, a magnificent language. It has grown by slow degrees from a number of sources - Greek, Latin, Arabic, and others - whereas Esperanto is based on a scientific arrangement of some” of the prevalent languages in Western Europe. I hold strongly the view that Esperanto is a scientifically designed and beautiful language, and has great claims for adoption as an international medium. Any person who favours the adoption of an international language, in the belief that thereby his own mother tongue will be preserved to the exclusion of all others, is, in my opinion, doomed to disappointment. With the world in its present state, I can see no possibility of any arrangement being arrived at except on the basis of a subsidiary language which is essentially neutral. Subject to that qualification, I most cordially compliment Senator Abbott on having brought this matter forward. He has placed before the Senate one of those really big ideas which should he followed up. The honor able senator can rely on any support that I can give when the matter comes before the Senate later.
– I agree with Senator DuncanHughes that the difficulty associated with the adoption of a common language is that of national prejudice. Each nation has its own literature and traditions, its people love their mother tongue, and will not willingly adopt another language. Honorable senators should remember, however, that the proposal of Senator Abbott is for an auxiliary language - an addition to the mother tongue of the people of every nation. The adoption of an international language would not destroy the traditions of any people, because they would still be preserved in their several mother tongues. Senator Duncan-Hughes expressed the opinion that any proposal to make English the accepted auxiliary language would be doomed to failure because of national prejudices in Europe, and I would add also, in the Orient; but I remind him that English is used to-day by approximately 300,000,000 people in their business communications, and is the official language of probably 500,000,000 people. One reason for the great use of English throughout the world is that it is the language of the 127,000,000 people of the United States of America, that great country which was once a British colony. The influence of Britain in India and other eastern countries, and of the United States of America in Mexico, Argentina, Chile and other American republics makes English also known .by an additional 100,000,000 people.
– They speak Spanish principally.
– Yes; but the auxiliary language of South America today is English, because, commercially, South America is linked with the north. When Senator Abbott referred to the international thought exchange I asked him whether he would consider the possibility of adopting basic English as an auxiliary language on which an international thought exchange could be baaed. Do honorable senators understand what basic English is? The Oxford Dictionary, which is the most remarkable publication of its kind, contains hundreds of thousands of words which compose the English language; but basic English is reduced to 850 words.
– The same can be done with French or German.
– No; Ogden has proved that. Remarkable to relate, many countries, including Japan and various European States, are to-day adopting the idea of basic English because of its simplicity. The Society of Basic English in Great Britain has published many works, including the classics in abridged form, and books on astronomy and economics. Already a book dealing with the League of Nations has been published in which modern English is transposed into basic English. Probably a vocabulary of 60,000 words would be contained in the original work; but on opposite pages the same facts are set forth in basic English, which is limited to 850 words. Honorable senators will admit that that hardly seems possible. English has, unfortunately, become a jargon language. If we desire pure and undefiled English, we are obliged to go back to Bunyan, or to the Old and the New Testaments. As appearing in those pages English is found in all its glory, and it tinkles along in all its simplicity, t desire that Australia should be first among the nations of the world to request the League of Nations to take action to establish an international language. The influence of radio has spread through all countries, and, to-day, there are approximately 90,000,000 wireless sets receiving messages from all parts of the earth. That is representative of modern progress; it leads one to believe that the establishment of an international language is not a remote possibility. Senator Sir George Pearce cited the American Civil War as an indication that language does not tend to preserve peace; but I remind him that history shows that 250 years ago civil, war reigned in England. To-day, however, “the Yorkshireman, the Lancashireman and the Dorsetman are distinguishable from one another only by their dialects, and even these show a tendency to disappear. Reading H. V. Morton’s In Search of Scotland, recently, I noted that the author stated that 160 years ago the Highlander was a barbarian. That, of course, is merely his opinion. A means of intercourse to enable men of different races to converse with one another in a common language and understand one another’s ideals and aspirations is the greatest incentive to them to work for the maintenance of peace in the world. Is not that peace worth striving for? Recently, I saw a film of the graveyards in France containing hundreds of thousands cf little wooden or concrete crosses in memory of men who were killed in thiprime of their life. Having regard to such experiences, is it not worth while to endeavour to remove the cause of war? Let us not always have counsels of despair. Humanity has infinite possibilities. To be always thinking in the past, and believing that ‘to-day we cannot do something to solve the greatestproblem of all - the peace of the world - is a disgrace. I hope that some day the League of Nations will attempt to create an auxiliary language by which men will be able to understand one another, and make a concerted effort to usher in an era of universal peace, when man will work for man, each for each, and all for all.
The population of Australia is a matter of serious concern. Six and threequarter million people hold a continent of approximately the same size as the United States of America. While Australia has not the advantages of the water-ways of the American continent, its average climatic conditions may be superior. The population of the United States of America is 127,000,000. Figures show that the computed average natural increase of population in Australia is 110,000 annually; by 1973, therefore, the population will be about 7,500,000. The following table enables a comparison to be made with other countries: -
Every two years the Russian increase exceeds the total population of the Coin.monwealth, whose low natural increase is. undoubtedly, a serious matter. Public men to-day realize the gravity of it, and the danger is appreciated in Great Britain also. I quote from a document received from the Empire Migration Settlement Group -
During the last few years the problems of Empire migration and overseas settlement have been widely ventilated, and many avenues leading to their solution have been discussed, both in the House of Commons at Westminster and elsewhere.
That a policy of Empire development and settlement is necessary to the welfare both of the United Kingdom and of the dominions, is generally agreed. But it is evident that there are differences of opinion as to whether the time has yet arrived to give effect to such a policy, and as to methods of doing so.
In the hope of its being of service at thin juncture, we have prepared and now offer for consideration, a short summary of what has recently transpired, and of the arguments advanced for and against early action and a change in methods.
The following is a summary of recent events, bearing on the question: -
In the House of Commons, the opinion that the 1922 Empire Settlement Act, with its grant of £3,000,000 annually has not come up to expectations, has been frequently, and warmly expressed.
According to the dominions’ secretary’s figures over £30,000,000 which might have been expended on Empire migration, is unspent; it is also known that for the last five years over 50,000 persons desirous of migrating have not been accorded facilities to do so. Several attempts made in the House of Commons to amend the 1922 act have come to nothing, the most recent being in 1933, when the dominions’ secretary spoke favorably to the principle of the amending bill’ then before the House.
In 1932, theJoint Parliamentary Committee on Migration, in its report to the Government, urged an overhaul of migration policy, and machinery, recommending an early resumption of migration, and the better organization of settlement overseas.
In 1033, the Empire Development and Settlement Research Committee issued its report, urging an early resumption of migration. An outstanding feature of this report was its recommendation of large expenditures on Empire development and settlement, as a means of relieving unemployment both in the United Kingdom and in the dominions.
Early ill 1934, over 300 members of the House of Commons signed a resolution urging the Government to take up the question of organized overseas settlement without delay.
In the House of Commons there are” Approximately 600 members, and more than one-half of them are definitely satis fied that the time is opportune for reconsideration of this matter -
Inter-departmental Committee on Migration Policy was published - a document of a negative character, discouraging to hopes of an early resumption of migration. It threw cold water on efforts to organize overseas settlement, and discountenanced in particular group settlements. Nevertheless, it carried matters forward a step in two regards -
It is remarkable that, with the solitary exception of the report of the Inter-depart mental Committee on Migration Policy, all the reports and resolutions referred to have been definitely in favour of an early resumption of migration, with organized settlement overseas.
Whether we like it or not Australia must endeavour to secure additional population. A policy of closer settlement in the agricultural and other primaryproducing districts must be adopted. The Empire Migration Settlement Group aptly deals with this point. Although much can be said against bringingmigrants into Australia while our own people are unemployed, there are twosides to the subject, which canbesummed up as follows: -
That migration is not merely a product of prosperity, but is itself a producer of prosperity, for - if properly financed - it increasesemployment, produces a new wealth, creates-, demands for manufactured goods and for services, and acts generally as a fillip to tradeand business.
That where schemes of organized settlement’ on the land have failed in the past they havefailed owing to avoidable mistakes, and’that we can, and must, take our lesson from them.
– More unemployment !
– We have heard that complaint from the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) or his friends for the last 25 years-. I have no doubt that, if we examined the reported utterances of public men when Australia bad a population of only 1,000,000, we should find references to the need, first to provide employment for those already in this country ‘before seeking additional population from overseas. The Leader of the Opposition knows very well that in Northern Queensland there is room for at least 10,000,000 people, and that no other part of Australia is so inviting to an aggressor. It is wrong for the honorable gentleman and his friends to object to migration schemes on the ground solely that there are still some unemployed people in this country. If Australia had twice its present population there would be less unemployment than there is at the present time, because then we should have a wider home market, which is the best market for our primary producers. The intense nationalism that has been displayed in other countries is contracting our overseas markets, so we must give more attention to the development of the home market. The circular of the Empire Migration Settlement Group stated further -
That the history ofEmpire migration and of Empire trade shows that migration has never waited on markets; on the contrary, that markets havebeenbuilt up by migration; that “ trade follows migration, and migration encourages trade “ ; and that “ every migrant from the homeland who successfully establishes himselfoverseasis a customer for British goods, and provides employment for other workers both in the United Kingdom and overseas.”
This is the reverse side of the picture. People in England recognize that an increase of population in Australia will mean wider markets for British manufactured goods.
– Apparently the honorable senator’s suggestion is that Britain should shift its unemployed to Australia. He expects us to attain to prosperity by taking Britain’s unemployed.
– The honorable senator must agree that we cannot afford to neglect the settlement and development of this country. The statement continued -
That there is no reason for further delay; that it is a mistake to think that migration from the United Kingdom to the dominions is not possible as long as there is unemployment in the dominions; that on the contrary, unemployment - both in the United Kingdom and throughout the Empire - is being fostered by the holding up of migration from the United Kingdom to the dominions.
The right honorable Lord Middleton is president of this organization, and many members of the House of Lords and the House of Commons, as well as some of the most influential men in Great Britain, are on the committee. The establishment of a similar council in Australia, to cooperate with the British organization, would have beneficial results to this country. Already we have delayed too long action in this important matter. If a movement were started to set up a similar body in this country, there would be no lack of influential public and business men seeking appointment to it. Within the last few days I have received an interesting letter from Mr. Gordon Bennett, the editor of The Farmer and Settler, one of the leading newspapers in New South Wales circulating among those connected with rural industries. This gentleman is widely known for his valuable contributions under the penname of “Uncle Wiseman”, and also as one, who for many years, has taken a great interest in land settlement. He writes -
I hope you have had time to “ chew over “ carefully my closer settlement scheme.
I have been doing a little speaking on the subject throughout the country during the last few months, and I have been astonished at the very strong opinions that I find existing all over the State in regard to this subject.
I have taken a keen interest in closer settlement in New South Wales, and at various conventions of our party I have submitted resolutions for the furtherance of such proposals. I have been particularly impressed by the scheme submitted by Mr. Prell, an experienced grazier in the Goulburn district. Doubtless, many honorable senators are familiar with Mr. Prell’s proposal for specially devised machinery and the application of artificial fertilizers to approved pasture lands, with a view to the settlement of a large number of land-holders on small areas. Mr. Prell is well known as a practical man of wide experience, and I believe that the results which he has reported from his scheme in the Goulburn district are a revelation to many people. It was the subject, recently, of inquiry by a select committee of the New South Wales Parliament.
– Where would be the market for the produce of those new settlers ?
– The principal products would be wool and mutton, and, as the honorable senator knows, very little difficulty would be experienced in selling wool. Nor is it expected that there would be any trouble in marketing mutton and lamb.
– There is a problem; not a market.
– I understand that there is a good market for mutton and lamb in Australia, and I am convinced that the adoption of the scheme would yield excellent results.
– Many people in this country cannot afford to buy mutton or lamb.
– I should be very sorry, indeed, to think that there was any truth in the honorable senator’s statement. He knows that the average Australian fares very well.
– Thousands of Australians never see lamb, and the present State Government is not doing anything for them.
– They are much better off to-day than they were under the government which the honorable senator and his friends supported. It is said that people have short memories ; but I am convinced that the people of New South Wales will not soon forget what happened to them under the State government which preceded the present administration. Mr. Bennett goes on to state -
While my scheme does not exactlyfit in with that of Mr. Prell at the outset, it would receive a decided impetus were Mr. Prell’s suggestion adopted, and were he given an opportunity to prove the success ofhis plan by applying it to the area he has in mind. His scheme would only cost about ?35,000. It would provethat tableland country is capable of being improved, with the proper sowing of introduced grasses, to be made to maintain a family on 200 acres.
Mr. Bennett’s proposal is to re orientate the business of grazing - to improve pasturelands by the application of artificial manures, thus encouraging the settlement of efficient graziers on small areas. His experiments have proved that this is possible on the tablelands of New South Wales, and there is no longer need for the continuance of the present system of broad acres in the grazing industry. To my mind he has also devised a workable scheme which I should like to see given a thorough trial in agricultural districts.
– Artificial fertilizers cannot be applied indiscriminately to pasture land ; only on areas with an adequate rainfall is the system possible.
– Mr. Prell’s scheme is, I understand, a new idea in pasture development.
– And a good one.
– I am glad to have the honorable senator’s assurance that the scheme propounded by Mr. Prell is sound. I know that that gentleman is regarded as one of the most successful graziers in New South Wales, and he is convinced that the application of his scheme to approved areas will be entirely successful. Mr. Bennett continues -
If his scheme works out satisfactorily, and I am confident that it would, and my scheme were applied, there would be an immediate opportunity for hundreds of thousands of land-seekers to establish themselves on homemaintenance areas in the good districts of the State.
I entirely agree with that statement. Admittedly many attempts have been unsuccessful; the attempt to settle returned soldiers on the land was a colossal failure, due in many cases, not to the quality of the land, but to the unsuitability of the settlers. If inquiries were made in the farming districts of New South Wales, and in fact, in any State, it would be found that 90 per cent. of the failures are due to the unsuitability of the settlers. It was once thought that any man who settled onthe land could become a successful farmer, but experience has shown that considerable theoretical training and years of practical work are essential before a man can work his holding profitably. Some may say that that is ridiculous, but as farmers have to combine technical skill with very hard work for long hours, it will be realized how difficult it is to make a success of farming operations. We shall have to do as is suggested by Mr. Gordon Bennett, the editor of the Farmer and Settler, whose scheme has been placed before the people of New South Wales and has received substantial support. It has also been largely embodied in the scheme suggested by the select committee of the New South Wales Parliament. Our natural increase is so small that even 40 years hence the population will not exceed 8,000,000. This is astounding when we remember that we are holding a sparsely populated continent at no great distance from countries in the north occupied by peoples numbering hundreds of millions. In the matter of closer settlement, we appear to be powerless to improve the present unfortunate position.
– Does the honorable senator seriously suggest that we are powerless?
– That has frequently been stated. Thank. God there are still in our midst men endeavouring to lay down the foundations upon which an edifice worthy of this young nation will yet be built. One of the main essentials is to rear healthy Australians so that we shall be able to increase our population to such an extent that in the years to come we shall have not 7,000,000, but 40,000,000 or even 50,000,000 people willing and able to develop and hold this great country.
– I am sure that every true patriot and virile Australian is grateful to find that the Government is making a laudable effort to place the defence of Australia on a sound and self-contained basis. The stimulus given to the search for oil is opportune, even if overdue. The recent Italo-Abyssinian war should be a warning to those who prefer to neglect our defences and rely upon the good-will and assistance of another nation or group of nations in times of national emergency. As Australia is an island continent, many people pin their faith on an efficient and powerful Empire navy, which really means the Royal Navy. Support from the British navy may have been possible before the Great War, but it could not be expected to-day. In any case, why should we “loaf” on the Mother Country? If ever Australia is threatened, Great Britain will have sufficient troubles and responsibilities of its own. The heart of the Empire is not likely to be un covered to meet any critical situation confronting Australia, and we would have to do our best, pending the arrival of a fleet superior to that of the enemy. From whatever standpoint our strategical position is viewed, Australia must possess a strong, self-contained air force. Such a force, acting alone, would not be sufficient to prevent the hostile occupation of this continent. An efficient and highly trained mobile army working in co-operation with the other arms is essential. Amateur strategists are prone to allow their enthusiasm for the youngest branch of our defence forces to influence them unduly, and to overlook its limitations. They underrate possible opposition, and ignore the increasing improvement made for offensive and defensive operations by sea-borne fighting craft. No nation desiring to acquire this continent would rely upon its naval and air power alone. I have been unable to ascertain what the Labour party really means by “ adequate defence “. It has been said that its policy means defence within our shores, when the situation demands - a kind of waitandsee policy. Surely the members of the Opposition do not think that an army can spring up as if by magic when ;i state of national emergency arises! The Australian Imperial Force achieved its fame after three years’ training and experience in the hard school of war. Under peace conditions, Australia can attain a reasonable standard of training and efficiency if given the men and material. The Government rightly realizes the necessity to establish reserve-: of modern equipment and material. A progressive programme is being followed, and, in due course, ample reserves will cither be visible or capable of fulfilment when desired. Meanwhile, what is being done to create a reserve personnel? The old Australian Imperial Force is no longer a force to be considered. In future, the militia must supply our reserves, but its strength is so weak, and its training so scrappy in consequence of this weakness that the discharged personnel cannot bc classified as dependable reserves. Each year, Parliament votes pay for 35,000 of all ranks for twelve days’ training, but not one-third of that number draws the full twelve days’ pay. Commanding officers, with the help of mayors, aldermen and citizens’ committees have had “ drives “ for enlistments, and have expended money, time and energy to this end, but with heartbreaking results. Their experience has been like pouring water on stone and expecting it to produce grass. All employers are not unpatriotic. Flash uniforms and busbies will not attract young Australians. The voluntary system, which has been given a fair trial, has failed. It will never be satisfactory until the Labour party gives that system its full support, and throws its weight behind the Government. An increase of pay, especially during camp periods, will have to be provided. Is it fair to ask the man on the basic wage to give up a week’s wages for a paltry 4s. a day for a six-day camp? The pay should he increased to at least 8s. a day, as it was 25 years ago. There is one phase of our defence system in which enthusiasm is not lacking or which at least responds . to a little encouragement. I refer to the rifle clubs, the members of which are potential infantrymen - the branch of the militia forces that is so much under strength. At present, there is a good deal of unrest owing to the reduction by one-half of the annual allowance of free ammunition. The Government should encourage, rather than penalize and antagonize, a body of citizens voluntarily and without pay doing something to fit them to take their place in a national army if they should ever be called upon to do so. I strongly urge that an amount be placed on the Estimates next year to meet the expenditure involved in restoring the 100 rounds >f ammunition for each official member. It is the young men who have taken up rifle shooting as a Saturday afternoon pastime who should be encouraged ro remain in the clubs, because once their interest is lost by the withdrawal of practice ammunition they spend their Saturday afternoons in some other form of recreation.
There are some anomalies in the
Repatriation Act, and the regulation thereunder, to which I direct the attention of the Minister. For instance, a man named Brown applies for a war pension. The Medical Board is not sure if he is entitled to a pension, *o he goes into a repatriation hospital for observation; he may be detained there for two or three weeks, or perhaps longer. While in hospital, he receives a sustenance grant of two guineas a week under regulation 113 i, that being the amount of the war pension he is seeking. If he is a married man, his wife and children receive a small additional amount. Another man named Smith applies for a service pension. His annual income is under £80 - the statutory earnings permissible for such a pension. The Medical Board is undecided in his case, so he also goes into a repatriation hospital for observation and treatment in the hope that his disability, which precludes him from regular employment, be diagnosed and ‘treated. He may be refused a pension. Unlike Brown, he gets no assistance for wife and children while he is in hospital. He may have had casual work for two or three days in each week, but while he is in hospital, which may be for a month, his wife and even his children have to endeavour to earn a few shillings to keep the home going. The Minister should bring this anomaly under the notice of the Minister for Repatriation. Another anomaly is instanced in the case of a man - whom we may call Robinson - who applies for a service pension on the 1st January, and whose pension is approved on the 8th May. Both he and his wife benefit as from the 1st January. Another man - say Jones - who receives an invalid pension of 18s., knowing that the service pension is greater, applies for it on the 1st January. Assuming that his application is approved on the 8th May, he would receive the pension only as from the latter date.
– He would have been receiving an invalid pension while the other was in receipt of no pension at all.
– There is something in that; however, section 45a of the act should be investigated with a view to removing anomalies of this nature.
– One pension may be greater than the other.
– The invalid pension is 18s. a ‘ week, and the service pension for a. man and wife is 30s. I suggest, however, that these cases could be brought into line without involving much additional expenditure. Such action, would be an admirable gesture on the part of the Government.
– I congratulate Senator Abbott on having introduced the subject of an international thought exchange, and on his speech thereon. I promise full support of his proposal, which is designed to accomplish what I consider to be a great humanitarian ideal.
I support the request made by my colleague from South Australia, Senator James McLachlan, for assistance to citrus-growers to enable them to improve their export trade. I hope that the department will act immediately in this matter to see if something along the lines suggested can be done. Apparently the Government’s unwillingness to act is due to the refusal of the citrus-growers of New South Wales to fall into line with the proposals of growers in the other States. In a Sydney shop recently I was amazed to be informed by the vendor that he had only American oranges in stock. To see what these were like I bought one; it was the worst orange I have ever tasted. Even if the growers in New South Wales persist in their attitude on this matter, I suggest that the Government would be justified in acceding to the request of the South Australian growers.
In regard to the trade negotiations with Belgium, I feel sure that all honorable senators hope that a long-term agreement will soon be arranged, in order that the barley-growing industry in this country may be stabilized. South Australian growers supply 80 per cent, of the total harley produced in Australia.
A matter deserving of the fullest consideration of this Government is the cost of living allowance for Commonwealth public servants resident in Canberra, particularly those on low salaries. It was stated recently by the Commonwealth Statistician that the cost of living here is now 20 per cent, higher than in any of the other capital cities. I trust that, in view of the improvement of our economic conditions, and in order that justice may be done to these people, the Government will restore this allowance. Coupled with this problem is that con fronting families in which two or three boys are approaching the age of employment. Replacing of these young people in industry iis a serious problem for parents residing in Canberra. I urge the Government to act in this matter as soon as possible. It must be obvious to all honorable senators that this problem will become more pressing as time goes on, and that if it is not dealt with quickly and effectively a serious disability will be placed on residents of the Federal Capital Territory during the next 20 or 30 years.
Last year I drew attention to the unsuitableness of the workshop provided for linesmen at the Causeway. This may seem to be a matter of little consequence, but it is of the greatest interest to the men concerned. I was told by the PostmasterGeneral last year that something would be. done in the matter, and that an amount had been placed on the Estimates for improving this workshop, but we find that these men are still forced to work, in all seasons, in what is little more than a dog-box. Such conditions, I feel sure, would not be tolerated in industry.
In view of our economic recovery, and the consequent increase of employment, I am very sorry that so much has been said recently in regard to the introduction of a 40-hour working week in industry. I say definitely that it would be in the interests of this country as a whole if consideration of this matter were left solely to the Arbitration Court.
– Does not the honorable senator think it is a national matter ?
– Yes; but I think that the Arbitration Court is the proper authority to thresh it out; I regret that some people have seen fit to endeavour to make political capital out of it.
– Does not the honorable senator think that this Parliament should give a lead in the matter?
– We would be giving a lead if we left it. entirely to the Arbitration Court. If this Parliament is not prepared to follow that course, it would be proper for it to say clearly where it stands in the matter. I shall not go into it in detail, but to members of the Opposition and their friends, who have been talking so much about it - and I give them credit for being genuine in their desire to improve the standard of living - I say, without hesitation, that, if they thoroughly analyse the problem, they will realize that the introduction of a 40-hour working week in industry will increase the costs of industry, while, at the same time, tending to lower the standard of living. I ask honorable senators who support such a proposal to bear in mind three or four contingent matters. Firstly, is it suggested that a 40- hour working week shall be appliedin primary industries? “We can easily imagine that, if this were done, the price of milk, to name only one commodity, would rise tremendously, and that, through similar increases in respect of other commodities, the cost of living, generally, would undoubtedly rise. Furthermore, in this connexion we must bear in mind that we have to meet interest on our national debt which, to-day, is approximately £1,250,000,000. Again, do honorable senators who support the 40-hour working week proposal remember that we must pay an old-age pensions bill, amounting to £14,000,000 annually, and pensions to soldiers, amounting to £12,000,000 annually? In considering this matter we should keep these related financial obligations in mind. I suggest that members of the Opposition should weigh these aspects carefully, and then ask themselves whether they are not leading the people they profess to be assisting to a fool’s paradise.
– What of the 200,000 people whose labour is not utilized to-day ?
– There will always be a certain percentage of unemployables, but, in view of the improvement which is taking place in governmental finance, the time is not far distant, if Governments will push on with essential works, when this problem will be overcome. Undoubtedly, work makes more work. In this connexion, also, we should bear in mind our financial obligations in respect’ of our railways, both State and Commonwealth. I ask honorable senators opposite to visualize the effect of a 40-hour working week if applied to our railway employees. If We earnestly desire to improve our standard of living, our slogan should be : “ More work and more money.” I suggest that, in considering industrial matters of this nature, the Government should start from the bottom and increase the real wages of those engaged in industry, in order that they may be enabled to reap the benefits from our increasing prosperity to which they are justly entitled. [Quorumformed.]
[4.14].- Senator Abbott dealt with the matter of shale deposits in New South Wales. I feel sure that my colleague, the Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan), who is a member of the sub-committee of Cabinet dealing with this matter, has noted the honorable senator’s remarks.
asked for government assistance for the export of citrus fruits. There is an old saying that “ Heaven helps those who help themselves.” In the government policy for the granting of assistance to primary industries, one of the desiderata is that those who arc engaged in production should organize themselves.
– They have done that.
– One State has held out.
– It is, of course, desirable that all the States should co-operate; but I see no reason why two States should not decide to organize. Every recipient of a bounty is in favour of bounties; but the mere granting of a bounty does not strengthen an industry, because it does not of itself provide for any permanent improvement. Everything that Senator James McLachlan said to-day about what those in this industry intend to do was said when the Government first paid a bounty to them. The promises then made have not been fulfilled. We shall not get anywhere with an industry which fails to organize itself, for, in addition to governmental and financial assistance, organization within the industry is essential. The dried fruits industry has succeeded only because it has been organized. Before that development took place, hundreds of thousands of pounds were paid out without any permanent benefit resulting. Only when the whole industry adopted a definite policy, and became organized, thereby enabling the Government to assist it by finding markets, did progress take place. The same can be said of the dairying industry, and of others. Those engaged in the citrus industry must take notice of these things. They were warned by the Government that the bounty would not continue, and that they must organize themselves. The bounty was given merely to tide them over the period required for organization. I suggest that honorable senators, to whom representations in favour of bounties are made, should impress on those who approach them the need for organization. I shall bring the honorable senator’s representations under the notice of the Acting Minister for Commerce (Mr. Thorby).
Senator James McLachlan, in referring to the distribution of the wheat bounty, said that some department had stated that it would be unconstitutional to distribute the money on a bushelage basis, whereas that difficulty would not arise if distribution were made on an acreage basis. It makes a great difference who distributes the money. It is certainly not unconstitutional for the Commonwealth to distribute a bounty on any basis that it thinks fit; but the Slates are forbidden to pay bounties on primary production. It may be that that is the explanation of the difficulty. I shall have the matter inquired into further. Section 91 of the Constitution reads -
Nothing in this Constitution prohibits a State -from granting any aid to or bounty on mining for gold, silver, or other metals, nor from granting, with the consent of both Houses of the Parliament of the Commonwealth expressed by resolution, any aid to or bounty on the production or export of goods.
In view of that provision, it would have been necessary to get legislation passed by the States, and also a resolution of both Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament.
– Can the right honorable gentleman say whether the Government would allow the citrusgrowers of Victoria and South Australia to form an association?
– I cannot answer that question off-hand; but I should say that the Minister would not allow one State to sprag the wheel. I remind the honorable senator, however, that Western Australia also exports oranges, and that there must be some considerable degree of uniformity. At this stage, I cannot reply to the honorable senator other than to say that the Constitution does not prevent a State from distributing a grant on an acreage basis, although there may be doubt as to its right to distribute it on a bushelage basis without the passing of a resolution by both Houses of the .Federal Parliament. “
I listened attentively to the interesting remarks on defence by Senator Brand, which, I am sure, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Parkhill) will study. His remarks as to the alleged anomalies in the Repatriation Act will be brought under the notice of the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Hughes). I may add that, when introducing service pensions, the Government recognized that there would be a natural desire on the part of those who would become eligible for them to press for extensions which would make them equivalent to war pensions. In this matter, we must be careful, because this class of pension is different from a war pension. It may be that those who point to these so-called anomalies do not realize that their agitation would gradually cause service pensions to become equivalent to war pensions. I think that I am right in saying that the organizations representing the returned soldiers deprecate any agitation in that direction.
– That is so.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.What are called anomalies are not really anomalies, but differences in the classes of pension. I shall bring the honorable senator’s remarks under the notice of the Repatriation Commission.
I assure Senator McLeay that the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties is doing all that he can to expedite a treaty with Belgium.
The honorable senator raised a question which I thought was dead, when he referred to the Canberra allowance. I should like him to tell me why a public servant living in Canberra is more entitled to an allowance than is the same class of public servant living in Queanbeyan.
– If the cost of living is higher in Canberra-
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.But is it higher? Some time ago this subject was investigated exhaustively. The Government ascertained the cost of living figures, not only for Canberra, but also for hundreds of other towns. If the claim for an allowance to public servants in Canberra is based on the cost of living, and if it is agreed that all public servants are to be treated alike, there is no justification for treating public servants in Canberra differently from similar public servants in a number of other places. If there is to be an allowance to those living here, because of the cost of living being higher than in, say, Sydney, then public servants living in other parts of the Commonwealth are equally entitled to an allowance.
– Is not the cost of living in Canberra 20 per cent. higher than in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.There are other places besides Canberra in which the cost of living is 20 per cent. above that of the capital cities.
– Surely there is no place in which the cost of living is higher than in Canberra?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.There are plenty of such places. I know of towns in which the cost of living is 40 per cent. higher than in the capital cities, and, moreover, where the disabilities are greater than in Canberra. I assure the honorable senator that all the factors which he has mentioned were taken into consideration when the Government decided to discontinue the Canberra allowance. That concession was given, not because of the cost of living here, but because of the decision of the Government of the day to remove the Federal Capital from Melbourne to Canberra, thereby necessitating the transfer of a. number of public servants. They had either to come to Canberra or leave the Service. At that time there was a great disparity between living conditions in Canberra and Melbourne. The allowance was limited to those public servants who were compulsorily transferred to Canberra. It was always regarded as a temporary allowance. When the initial stages associated with the transfer passed, there was no justification for treating public servants stationed at Canberra differently from similar public servants in a number of other centres of population. To restore the Canberra allowance would be, not to remove an anomaly, but to create further anomalies.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce) read a first time.
[4.32].- I move-
That the hill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to seek formal Parliamentary approval for the expenditure, on public works, of the sum of £17,513 paid for out of the Treasurer’s advance for the financial year 1934-35. The main item in this expenditure is the additional £13,572 for telegraph and miscellaneous servicesfor the PostmasterGeneral’s Department.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
– Will the Minister supply some particulars in regard to the provision of £817 for the purchase and installation of apparatus in connexion with the film industry?
[4.35]. - This amount was required for the equipment of a second theatre at the film censorship office, for the projection of new pictures. A corresponding saving was made under the new works vote of the’ Customs Department.
A small theatre in which films may be screened is necessary, and this vote refers to it.
.- Will the Minister explain why the additional amount of £13,572 devoted to business undertakings by the Postmaster-General’s Department is so large?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - (Minister for External Affairs) [4.37].- Of this amount £6,500 was required for the purchase of teleprinters for the use of public companies and others, the demand for which arose after the Estimates had been prepared. This equipment is revenue-producing. The additional expenditure on item 1 was offset by savings under item 2 - national broadcasting services - the expenditure being £202,000 as compared with the appropriation of £244,000 for the year. The balance is made up of a number of miscellaneous items.
Schedule agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
[4.40]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
It has been the practice to introduce a bill of this character, from time to time, to make a formal appropriation of £10,000,000 for the payment of war pensions at the rates determined by Parliament, and no alteration of these rates is sought to be made under this measure. This is a formal measure to finable the payments to be met, as they fall due. At present approximately £2,000,000 is available from the previous appropriation, but this amount will be entirely exhausted in the payment of war pensions before Parliament re-assembles after the coming recess. It is, therefore, necessary to obtain authority for the appropriation of a further amount so that payments of war pensions may be regularly met.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and reported from committee without amendment or debate ; report adopted.
[4.42]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill is designed to implement the forecast on this subject contained in the budget speech in September, 1935. The Treasurer then said - “As a result of further investigation into means whereby the Commonwealth can assist in the .problem of relieving unemployment, at has been decided, subject to satisfactory arrangements with the States, to make provision from revenue for an amount of £100,000 in 1935-36, to be used in the form of contributions towards interest and sinking funds on loans for the public works of local authorities.
It is known that many local governing bodies are debarred from proceeding .with public utility schemes by reason of the consequent debt service being beyond their rateable capacity. It is hoped that, as a result of consultation with the State governments, a scheme can be evolved under which, with joint help on the above lines from the Commonwealth and State governments, a number of such public utility proposals may be undertaken, with consequent amenity value to country districts as well as absorption of men who are now unemployed.”
The measure in its present form has been drafted, following considerable correspondence and discussion with the State governments, which have signified their general agreement with its provisions. The proposal originated in an endeavour by the Commonwealth Government still further to assist the employment position. It has become yearly more difficult to help the States in this most important aspect of public affairs, by making capital grants to the States from loan moneys, owing to the fact that the Commonwealth Government’s share of loan moneys available reduces the amount of moneys directly available to the -States for their own purposes. Capital grants by the Commonwealth to the States from loan moneys mean in reality little more than relief to the States of interest and sinking fund charges. It was, therefore desired to adopt some plan whereby the
Commonwealth could extend further effective help to the States in respect of employment along new lines.
The annual grant to the States will he £100,000 for a period of ten years, beginning with the present year 1935-36, and will be for the purpose of subsidising interest and sinking funds on certain of the loans raised by local public authorities for public works purposes. The other principal provisions of the present bill are -
The bill represents a new method of providing increased employment over what it is hoped will be a wide area. Normally, local bodies outside the capital cities cannot offer such good security, and so cannot borrow on such’ good terms as the great metropolitan local bodies. The provisions of this bill will put selected local bodies on a considerably improved basis, and it will be possible for public works, such as water and sewerage, gas, electricity, public hospitals, &c, which could not otherwise be put in hand for years ahead, to be undertaken in the near future. The bill will consequently make possible an appreciable degree of decentralization of public works expenditure, which hitherto hasbeen largely concen trated in or about the capital cities. Loans raised by local public bodies, under- the benefits of this bill, will provide an attractive field of investment, with adequate provision for meeting the service of the debt for many years. Indeed, in a. great number of cases, the whole of the life of the loans will be covered. The annual amount of £100,000, provided for in the bill, will be allocated to the States on the basis of their relative populations as at the 30th June, 1935, and will be as follows : -
These amounts may seem somewhat small but they do not include capital payments towards relief of interest and it should be noted, also, that the States will contribute an equal amount. On this basis the expenditure should be fairly considerable.
– Is there an agreement between the Commonwealth and the States as to the terms upon which the grants are being made?
– I understand that there is an agreement.
– I am pleased that the Government has introduced this bill, which contains two principles to which I desire to direct attention. The first is that the Commonwealth is granting to State Governments sums of money towards the payment of interest and sinking fund contributions on necessary public works in rural districts throughout the Commonwealth. This is a principle to which every member of the Senate should subscribe. Assistance in rural development is undoubtedly a responsibility of the Commonwealth Government. My only regret is that the amount of £100,000 a year for ten years is not larger. I realize, of course, that we cannot expect the Government to legislate for a longer term, but I hope that at the expiration of the ten years the principle will be continued, because it would be unfair to expect local governing bodies in country districts to incur heavy expenditure on public works on the lines indicated in this bill, if, later, the assistance were to be withdrawn.
– The actual amount will be at least £200,000 because of contributions from State Governments.
– That is so. The State Governments have undertaken to set aside an equal amount for thecarrying out of local public works.
-Local governing bodies will also be expected to make contributions, so it is probable that the total amount available will be between £300,000 and £400,000.
– I entirely commend the Government for the assistance which it is giving towards the construction of local public works in the various States.
The second principle of the bill to which I direct attention is the basis of distribution. The Government has decided to apportion the grant on the basis of population, including that in metropolitan areas, although those areas are practically excluded from the benefits of the measure. I dissent entirely from this principle which is unjust to States with huge areas sparsely populated.
– The money has to be provided on that basis.
– Not necessarily. The higher male population in some States means that they make larger contributions to the Customs revenue. I approve of the principle contained in the Federal Aid Roads Act introduced by Mr. S. M. Bruce when he was Prime Minister. The money made available under that act was distributed in the ratio of two-fifths according to area and three-fifths on the basis of population. I regret that the Government did not adopt that principle in this bill. I invite honorable senators to consider for a moment the vastness of this continent and the problems confronting the governments of States with large areas and small populations.Western Australia comprises one-third of Australia and has a coastline very much greater than that of any other State. South Australia, excluding the Northern Territory, which does not benefit under this bill, will receive only £8,700 and Western Australia £6,650. The amount to be allocated to these two States which, together, contain about one-half the area of Australia, excluding the Northern Territory, is only £15,350, as against £84,650 to be made available to four States in a more advanced state of development, and containing the bulk of the population. Almost the whole of the grant goes to the populous eastern States.
– Does the honorable senator contend that the grant should have been allocated on an area basis?
– That basis should have been considered because, as I have explained, it has been adopted in connexion with other legislation of a comparable nature. Figures relating to the distribution of population are of interest in this debate. The census figures published in the Commonwealth Year Book disclose that in New South Wales 47½ per cent. of the population lives in the metropolitan area, and, excluding provincial cities and towns, only 30 per cent. in rural areas. The following table shows the distributions of population in the several States -
The money to be made available under this bill will be expended almost entirely in extra-metropolitan areas. It is unjust that the great populations of Sydney and Melbourne should have been taken into consideration in the apportionment of the grant, thereby giving, most of the money to New South Wales andVictoria.
– The people in the more populous States will bear their share of the taxation necessary to produce the grant.
– Our purpose should be to have a well-balanced distribution of population throughout the
Commonwealth. We can hardly expect to achieve this result if, in legislation of this nature, more consideration is not given to those States with sparse populations. Under this bill the States of Western Australia and South Australia, about one-half of the area of the Commonwealth, excluding the Northern Territory, will will receive only 15 per cent. of the grant. The State of Western Australia, comprising one-third of Australia, will receive only 6½ per cent. This is a most unjust distribution, and I strongly object to it. The Bruce-Page Government distributed the roads grants on an area basis, and’ this Government should distribute this money in the same manner. I am glad that the bill has been introduced, but the distribution should have been on more equitable lines.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [5.1]. - in reply - I was interested to hear Senator Johnston speak of the method of distribution adopted by the Bruce-Page Government in connexion with the roads gram, because J was the Minister who proposed that the distribution of that grant should be on the basis of area rather than of population. In distributing a roads grant, areas must of course, be taken into consideration, because the area determines the length of roads. The large States have many more miles of roads than have States of smaller areas. The grants to be made under this measure are to be used for the payment of interest and sinking fund charges on approved State public works, such as water and sewerage schemes and electric lighting and gas services, and obviously the distribution must be on a population basis.
– What of the hospitals?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The population determines the number of hospitals required. Population must reach a certain point before water and sewerage supplies, or gas and electric services, can be provided.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 -
In this act, unless the contrary intention appears - “ approved loans “ means loans the terms of which have been approved by the Government of a State; “ public authority “ means any authority constituted by or under the laws of a State; “public work” includes, in respect of any State, work declared by the Government of that State and approved by the Treasurer to be a public work.
Amendment (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That the definitions of “ public authority “ and “ public work “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following definition - “ ‘ public work ‘ means any work -
which is constructed or is tobe constructed by the Government of a State or by a local government authority or is a hospital or public health institution; and
which is declared by the Government of a State to be a public work and is approved by the Treasurer of the Commonwealth; “.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 3 to 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 (Conditions of grant).
[5.4]. - The circulated amendments, which arise out of correspondence between theCommonwealth and the States, do not affect the principle embodied in the bill, and are being made to clarify the clause.
Clause (on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce) amended to read -
Any moneys paid in any financial year to a State under this act (in this section referred toas “the moneys”) shall be paid upon the following conditions: -
where the Government of a State has made on or after the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and thirty-five, a contribution under subparagraph (ii) of the last preceding paragraph - the amount by which the interest and sinking fund charges, which would have been payable in that financial year on a loan representing the total capital cost of the public work, are reduced by the making of the contribution; or
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
[5.14]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The object of the bill is to provide a further measure of financial assistance to the States for the purpose of relieving unemployment by means of the development of forestry and the metalliferous mining industry. Under the Loan Appropriation (Unemployment Relief) Act 1934-1935 an amount of £322,000 was provided for the purpose of assisting forestry, and £283,750 for assisting the metalliferous mining industry in the States. The grant for forestry was made on a £1 for £1 basis, except in South Australia and Tasmania, and it was agreed also that not less than 20 per cent. of the money would be used for the purpose of providing employment for youths. This condition is being observed, although difficulty is being experienced in several States in finding sufficient youths for the work. Upwards of 5,000 men have found reproductive employment in the improvement of State forests generally, including regeneration, thinning and restocking, and the provision of firebreaks and access roads, as well as the eradication of noxious weeds.
The grants provided by this bill are based upon the amounts originally made available following a conference held in December, 1934, when schemes were submitted by State forestry departments, and a programme was drawn up. The whole of the provision of £283,750 for mining was made available to the States as a grant, subject to the condition that if any portion was used for advances a similar amount would be provided by the States for that purpose. There is evidence that some 6,000 additional men have been placed in employment, whilst the production of gold has increased considerably, notwithstanding industrial disputes in two important centres of production. I venture to say that no other expenditure to relieve unemployment has produced such good results.
In respect of mining two conferences were held. At the first of these, held in December, 1934, the requirements of the States were examined and a schedule of requirements was compiled. That schedule formed the basis of assistance under the original act. At a further conference which was held in October, 1935, to review the results, the need for continuing the scheme for a further period was enunciated, and programmes were altered to cover the years 1936 and 1937. In determining the apportionment of the money to be provided under this bill for assistance to metalliferous mining, the Commonwealth was guided by the requirements set out in the amended programme, and not by the amounts originally made available. The present measure is designed to continue the assistance for forestry and mining on a diminishing scale for a further period of two years. The amounts allocated to the States are -
The funds made available are supplementary to amounts normally provided by the States for mining and forestry. The total amount of assistance for the relief of unemployment by these measures to be rendered up to the 30th June, 1938, will be: mining, £493,750; forestry, £563,500; total, £1,057,250.
– Why has no allocation been made to South Australia for mining in 1937-38?
– These were the amounts agreed upon at the conferences to which I have referred. I feel sure that honorable senators will recognize the usefulness of this method of increasing employment. :
– Were these amounts agreed upon at conferences between the Commonwealth and State Governments ?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Yes.
.- Naturally, when money is being handed out to the States, especially for specific purposes - in this instance for the relief of unemployment - one does not like, to raise objections. Apparently the Commonwealth has - got the- money to spare and is merely handing it to the States, but this practice accentuates what I said last night concerning the undesirable dependence of the States upon the Commonwealth ; the principle of such dependence is wrong. The States should act independently in matters of this kind. Furthermore, all of the State governments levy special taxation for the relief of unemployment, and there has been no diminution of that impost, although unemployment has” decreased greatly during the last two or three years. I do not raise objection to this measure, except to point out that the system it embodies is wrong. Before very long we shall have to devise means of overcoming the dependence of the States upon the Commonwealth in this way. It is a new and dangerous condition, which arose during the depression years. No doubt these grants will come as “gifts from the gods “ to the particular States, but, I repeat, the principle underlying them is wrong and should not be perpetuated.
– Speaking solely in regard to the amounts allocated to South Australia, I ask the Leader of the Senate whether the facts concerning these allocations were not these: South Australia requested the Commonwealth to make up the amount which it proposed to devote to forestry to £17,000, which was equal to the grant made for that purpose in 1934-35, and the Commonwealth replied that it could not make a grant higher than the amount at which it now stands. On the other hand, in respect of the mining industry, the State had sufficient funds to enable it to carry on for the present. That this was the attitude adopted by South ‘ Australia is clearly shown from the report, which reads -
In addition, a fund was established jointly by the Commonwealth and States for subsidizing on a £1 for £1 basis the work of mining development. This latter fund is far from exhausted, and money is still available for assisting genuine developmental opera tions. There is no reason to doubt that funds for mining development will be available for some considerable time to come. The sum in hand will suffice to meet the requirements for a few years.
As- it possessed the necessary money for mining operations it was very proper for South Australia not to ask for any more. The Minister suggested that a request for an amount for mining was not made by South Australia, perhaps because it could not use the money in that direction. South Australia was only too anxious to use any money it could secure for forestry, and it applied for an amount for this purpose greater than that allocated here. It seems to me to be a little hard that, in such circumstances, the allocation to a State could not be balanced up. Far from being open to criticism in this matter, South Australia took a very proper course in saying that it had sufficient money for mining and, therefore, would not ask the Government for any grant in that respect.
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [5.28]. - At first glance it would appear that South Australia has suffered some injustice, but I understand that, at these conferences, a certain method was adopted in respect of the distribution of the grant for mining, and a totally different method in respect of the distribution of the grant for forestry. It was decided that the amount to be given to each State for forestry should be half of what had been given for this purpose in the preceding year. South Australia, I understand, had requested less in the previous year because it had been spending a larger amount on forestry than had some of the less populous States; therefore, it did not need so much money for that activity. In respect of mining the allocations were made according to the capacity of each State to use the money usefully. South Australia’s allocation this year appears to be below the proportion to, which it is entitled on a population basis, but this position arose in the way I have indicated. The States brought up their own proposals at the conferences.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
– I move -
That the bill he now read a second time.
The provisions of this bill refer solely to the territories under the authority of theCommonwealth. By clause 2, the definition of “ Australia “ in the principal act is amended in such a way as to ensure that the act shall apply of its own force, to all the territories of the Commonwealth. This is already the case in relation to Papua, but the new definition extends the application of the act to territories governed by the Commonwealth under mandate from the League of Nations. The Commonwealth, as a signatory to the International Telecommunications Convention, has the obligation to enforce the international wireless laws wherever it governs. It is therefore desirable that it should be in a position to see that the duties involved in enforcing these laws, such as the allocation of wavelengths to avoid interference between stations of the Commonwealth and the territories, and by these stations with those of other countries, are effectively performed. No difficulty has been experienced, either in the Commonwealth or Papua, as a result of the control of wireless in that territory and in Australia proper by the Commonwealth Government. The LieutenantGovernor of Papua is consulted wherever possible, and is kept informed of all developments. The Administrator at Rabaul has requested that a similar arrangement be made for the mandated territory of New Guinea, and the extension of the application of the act to that territory will greatly facilitate the performance of the Commonwealth’s obligations under the Convention. It will also make for uniformity throughout the Commonwealth and the territories under its jurisdiction in the regulations dealing with the control of wireless telegraphy. Clause 3 contains a provision which is intended to clarify the position which arose in Papua recently, when a person was prosecuted for operating wireless apparatus without a licence. The magistrate before whom the complaint was made took the view that he had no jurisdiction to hear cases in respect of offences against the Wireless Telegraphy Act. The inclusion in section 9 of the principal act of the newsub-section 3. contained in clause 3 of the bill will remove any further doubt in this connexion. Honorable senators will gather from whatI have just said that the bill does not in any way affect the application of the act to the Commonwealth proper.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Interpretation).
– The definition of “ Australia “ reads - “ ‘ Australia ‘ includes the territories under the authority of the Commonwealth and the territorial waters of the Commonwealth and of any such territory “. Can the Minister say what is understood by the term “ territorial waters”?
– The wording has been taken from the Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1905. There is considerable conflict of opinion as to the limits of the territorial waters of any country. Our understanding of the term has always been that it means the waters to a distance of 3 miles from the shore, but, having regard to the provisions of the Constitution, the territorial waters of the Commonwealth may extend further. A former Attorney-General, who is now Chief Justice of the High. Court, expressed an opinion on the subject some time ago, but even that opinion was not accepted by all parties. Australia has jurisdiction over the waters within the 3-mile limit at all events, and it may be that its jurisdiction extends beyond that limit. Whatever the. extent of the territorial waters of the Commonwealth may be in law, the Government desires to have jurisdiction over them in relation to wireless communications.
– I wish that the matter were clearer. We are asked to pass legislation which is to apply to the territorial waters of the Commonwealth. In reply to my request for a definition of “ territorial waters “. the Minister referred me to an earlier act. I now ask whether that act defines “ territorial waters of the Commonwealth”?
– The Minister says that the term means at least the waters within the 3-mile limit. It meant that 35 years ago, but there have been many changes since then. The extent of the territories under the authority of the Commonwealth are ascertainable : it would be well if we knew definitely whether the territorial waters extend 3 miles or further, before agreeing to this bill.
– As I have already explained, the definition has been taken from the Wireless Telegraphy Act of 1905. One does not come prepared with a thesis on an abstract question, concerning which there is considerable doubt, in order to discuss the meaning of a measure of this kind. I cannot carry the matter further. There is no authority who can say definitely how far the territorial waters of the Commonwealth extend.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill deals with four main subjects -
There are other minor matters which will be dealt with as we reach them in committee. The object of an Acts Interpretation Act is to lay down certain principles for the interpretation of words and phrases which frequently occur in statutes. It gives a uniformity to defini tion and does something to prevent mistakes. The present law as to the interpretation of statutes is contained in two main acts - the act of 1901 and the act of 1904. Each of them has been amended on many occasions. The act of 1901 and the amendments thereto is now known as the act of 1901-1932, whilst the body of the law produced by the amendments to the act of 1904 act is known as the act of 1904-1934. I shall refer to the act of 1901 as the principal act and to the other as the act of 1904. The first of the four main purposes of the bill is the incorporation of the provisions of the act of 1904 into the act of 1901. The effect of that will be that whereas at present we have to look to at least eight or nine acts, although they are very short ones, in order to find what the Acts Interpretation Act really is, we shall, when the present bill becomes law, be able to find in the one act all of the provisions relating to the interpretation of acts. Under the present system of drafting, by which a codification of laws passed is kept up to date, it is unusual to find Commonwealth legislation relating to one particular subject, contained in more than one act. But prior to 1905 there was no such consolidating machinery as exists to-day, and the acts were more scattered than they have been since that date. The result is that, as both the act of 1901 and the act of 1904 were passed before the year 1905, each has, to a great extent, preserved its individuality. The relations between the act of 1901 and the act of 1904 have been not so much those of mother and daughter, so to speak, as those of sisters. The act of 1901 itself requires amendment, and the Government has taken advantage of the opportunity to effect the incorporation which is now before honorable senators for their consideration. Although they are going into the one act it does not mean that the provisions of the act of 1904 will become non-existent; on the contrary, with the exception of an amendment as to retrospective regulations and some minor drafting amendments making for greater clarity, the existing provisions of the act of 1904 will still remain the law of the Commonwealth. There fore, to a very large extent, the Senate is being merely asked, so far as that incorporation of the provisions of the act of 1904 into one act is concerned, to assist in the process of codification, but not to pass new laws.
The second main provision is the date of the commencement of acts of Parliament. The present law is contained in section 5 of the act of 1901 -
When the Federal Cabinet was in Perth last June, representations were made to it by members of the legal profession of that State that many times they were obliged to deal with cases in which persons were charged with offences against the laws, of the existence of which they had no knowledge. It is a well known principle that ignorance of the law does not excuse; but that does not cover the complaint of the legal practitioners in Western Australia. Their objection lay in the fact that copies of the laws did not have time to reach them before they were actually in operation. The Federal Cabinet recognized the force of those representations and the following provision is contained in clause 5 of this bill - “(1a.) Every act to which the Royal Assent is given by the Governor-General for and on behalf of the King on or after the first day of January, One thousand nine hundred and thirty-seven, shall come into operation on the twenty-eighth day after the day on which that act receives theRoyal Assent, unless the contrary intention appears in the act.”.
The effect of this provision will be to postpone the operation of acts passed on and after the 1st January, 1937, for28 days; that is to say, during that period such acts will be dormant. As the result of this provision legal practitioners in distant States will have an opportunity to obtain copies of new acts, and thus acquaint themselves with their provisions before they have the effect of law. As it may be necessary sometimes to bring an act into operation rather more speedily than the period of 28 days, provision is made for this contingency in the words “unless the contrary intention appears in the act “. The ordinary practice, however, will be that acts, which are assented to by the Governor-General, will come into operation on the 28th day after the date on which such assent is given.
The third main heading is the application of the Acts Interpretation Act itself. The present law is contained in section 2 of the act of 1901 -
This act shall apply to all acts of the Parliament, including this act, and shall be binding on the Crown.
For many years it was considered that when the Acts Interpretation Act was amended,such amendment applied; not merely to future acts, but to all Commonwealth acts, whether passed before or after the commencement of the amendment. That may excite criticism from some honorable senators asbeing an instance of retrospective operation; but it has always been held in English law that so long as retrospective operation merely extends to procedure and matters of machinery, it does not offend against the spirit of English law. Therefore, the Acta Interpretation Acts were considered to apply , to the acts in existence, as well as to future acts. But in a recent case before the High Court, Mr. Justice Dixon suggested that amendments of the Acts Interpretation Act would apply only with respect to acts passed after the date of the amendment. Therefore, it is proposed to make it clear that such amendments apply to past, as well as to future acts. Sections 15a and 19a of the principal act, which were, inserted in 1930, and section 9b of the act of 1904, which was inserted in 1932, are expressly made to apply to acts whether passed before or after the commencement of those sections. Those two provisions can now be deleted, if clause 4 of this bill becomes law. Clause 4 states -
The Acts Interpretation Act 1901, and that act as amended from time to time, shall, unless the contrary intention appears, apply, and be deemed to have applied, to all acts of the Parliament including this act.
The next important matter is the power to make retrospective regulations. This principle is of interest to honorable senators. It was referred to recently in the third report of the Standing Committee on Regulations and Ordinances, and was discussed in this chamber only last week. Almost all of the regulations, which are passed under the authority of an act of Parliament, are governed by section 10 of the 1904 act-
Where an act confers power to make regulations, all regulations made accordingly shall, unless the contrary intention appears -
) take effect from the date of notifi cation, or from a later date specified in the regulations;
be laid before both Houses of the Parliament within thirty days of the making thereof, or, if the Parliament is not then sitting, within thirty days after the next meeting of the Parliament.
But that provision has been altered by the act of 1932, under which regulations must be tabled in each House within fifteen sitting days after the making of the regulations, and may be disallowed by resolution of either House if notice of motion to disallowis given within fifteen days of the tabling of the regulations. Honorable senators may offer some criticism to the measure, but I believe that I shall have no difficulty in committee in satisfying them that whatever powers to make retrospective regulations are proposed in this bill are absolutely necessary in these days when the scope of acts of Parliament is so wide. Honorable senators will remember also that the matter of retrospective operation of regulations was dealt with in a High Court case. A wireless regulation had been made which purported to reduce, as from a past date, the payments due to certain broadcasting stations from the revenue received from licence-fees. The validity of the regulation was challenged, and the matter was litigated in the High Court. In its judgment the majority of the court decided that the relevant section of the Acts Interpretation Act did not permit of the making of retrospective regulations under acts in relation to which that section applied. The regulation, which was declared invalid by the High Court, was deemed to have commenced on the 1st November, 1927, a date much prior to the notification of the regulation in the Gazette. Several regulations have retrospective operation; but in respect of most of them, the time during which they were deemed to be operative has expired. I mentioned only last week a regulation relating to some payments made in London under the DriedFruits Export Control Act. The making of that regulation, I should add, was the only way in which justice could be done to the men affected by it. Later it was disallowed, but in the meantime, the obligation to the men concerned having been discharged, the regulation had no further force.
– What is the explanation for the long delay in settling that matter?
– The validity of payments made under that regulation was first challenged by an officer of the Auditor-General’s staff in London, and steps were at once taken to put the matter right.
– It took the AuditorGeneral nine years to discover the invalidity.
-I understand that many years elapsed before it was discovered. The Government cannot, without giving rise to grave legal difficulties, make a clean sweep of all regulations having retrospective effect. They have been examined in some detail, and it has been discovered that most of them were designed originally, not to restrict the rights of citizens, but to confer benefits, and action is being taken to see that everything shall be in order in future. The bill, therefore, seeks authority, in certain circumstances, to make regulations with retrospectiveoperation if necessary. Clause 11 inserts after section 40 of the principal act, a number of headings and sections, dealing with offences and penalties, instruments and resolutions, and regulations. Proposed new section 48 reads - (1.) Where an act confers power to make regulations, then, unless the contrary intention appears, all regulations made accordingly
This is in conformity with the statutory provision that, as laws must have the approval of both Houses of the Parliament, regulations which are disallowed by one branch of the legislature shall not be valid.
– There is a definite qualification of that principle in sub-clause 2 of clause 12.
– That was designed to cover the position that arose in connexion with the dried-fruits regulations; but as six months has elapsed since these regulations were disallowed, the provision to which the honorable senator has referred will be eliminated from the bill. There are other minor amendments, with which I shall deal when the bill is in committee. In clause 10, there is a provision to be contained in a new sub-section of section 30 that, where an act or omission is an offence under an act of a State, or an act and an ordinance of a territory of the Commonwealth, and where the offender has been punished under any or either of those acts or ordinances, he shall not be punished twice for the same offence.
I hope I have satisfied honorable senators that there is nothing very drastic in the new provisions of the bill. It is’ essential that some power to enact retrospective legislation should vest in the executive. Some rather extravagant fears have been expressed with reference to a number of regulations having retrospective effect, but I doubt that we could have had a better illustration of the need for such authority than was furnished to us in the regulations made underthe Dried Fruits Export Control Act. It is desired to have this limited power with such additional safeguards as may be deemed to be necessary. There is nothing in this bill to restrict the power of the Senate or of the House of Representatives to disallow regulations made under any act.
Debate (on motion by Senator Collings) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6.13 to 8 p.m.
In committee (Consideration resumed from page 1999).
Clause 266 agreed to.
Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) proposed -
That the report be adopted.
Amendment (by Senator A. J. McLachlan) agreed to -
That the bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of clause 23.
In committee (Recommittal) :
The following income shall be exempt from income tax: -
– I move -
That at the end of the clause the following paragraph be inserted:- “ (s) the income of -
The income of religious, scientific, charitable or public educational institutions is exempt from taxation under paragraph e. This provision is a repetition of the exemption provision in the present act. Some religious denominations provide for their own insurance risks by means of a fund governed and controlled by the denomination to which the profits, if any, from the transactions enure. It has been represented that a religious denomination which carries its own insurance risks through a company, should be accorded the same exemption as is conceded to the insurance funds of other denominations. Such a company does not come into competition with the ordinary commercial insurance companies because of the fact that its assurance business is transacted solely in connexion with church buildings and schools. A company is formed to facilitate financial and legal transactions, as well as re-insurances with other insurance trading bodies. Whatever savings are effected by the company enure to the benefit of the reserve funds, and thereby to the benefit of the various churches through rebates on premiums. In the circumstances it is considered that, asa matter of equity, such a company should be brought within the exemptions provided in the act.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as further amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with a further amendment; reports adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 8.12 to 9.30 p.m.
[9.30]. - As the business which we had expected from the House of Representatives is not yet available, I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at9.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 May 1936, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1936/19360521_senate_14_150/>.