14th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– by leave - I have to announce, with very great regret, the death of the Honorable Arthur Stanislaus Rodgers, on the 4th October.
The late gentleman represented “Wannon in the House of Representatives ‘ from 1913 to 1922, and again from 1925 to1929. He was appointed an Honorary Minister in July, 1920, and in December, 1921 received the Trade and Customs portfolio. He occupied this position until February, 1923.
It was my good fortune to be associated with Mr. Rodgers during the whole of the period that he occupied ministerial office. I know how highly he was regarded, because of both his personal character and the marked ability which he displayed in the performance of his duties as a Minister and as a member of this Parliament. He was assiduous in promoting the interests of returned soldiers and in the early post-war period, in particular, did much to assist in the repatriation of our returned soldiers. I move -
That this Senate expresses its deep regret at the death of the Honorable Arthur Stanislaus Rodgers, a former member’ of the House of Representatives and Commonwealth Minister of State, places on record its appreciation of his distinguished public service, and tenders to his widow and family its profound sympathy in their bereavement.
Senator COLLINGS (Queensland).I associate the members of the Opposition with the motion, and heartily endorse the remarks of the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce).
– The members of the United Country party also wish to be associated with the motion. I was not personally acquainted with the deceased gentleman during his term in this Parliament, hut met him constantly during the. economic crisis in 1930-31 and following years, and say unhesitatingly that he was one of the best advocates for a re-adjustment of the conditions of the primary producers whom I have yet encountered. (His speeches were characterized by the utmost vigor, and he left a deep and lasting impression upon those with whom he came into contact, particularly throughout the country districts of Victoria. It is with regret that my colleagues and I note his passing.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
– by leave - During recent weeks a number of questions bearing upon trade treaty negotiations have been asked by several honorable senators. I am now in a position to inform the Senate that provisional trade treaties between the Government of the Commonwealth and the Governments of Czechoslovakia and Belgium have been signed. Both of these treaties will come before Parliament for ratification before being put in operation, and the necessary bills will be introduced at an early date.
– by leave - In the House of Representatives on the 13th March, 1936, the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), in answer to a question by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin), indicated that no approach had been made by the Government of the United Kingdom on the subject of the resumption of migration, and gave an undertaking that, in the event of negotiations being entered into with that Government, the Governments of. the States would be fully consulted before any decision was arrived at. That statement correctly . indicated the position at the time, and the promise contained therein has not been departed from in any way.
On the return from London of the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page) and the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) during August last, it was ascertained that discussions had taken place with British Ministers regarding the conditions that exist in Australia in relation to migration and land settlement, and migration generally. During the course of these discussions my colleagues indicated that, if the States were agreeable, it might be possible to resume limited migration in respect of the following categories: - (a) Domestics; (b) farm boys; (c) the Big Brother Movement; and (d) the Fairbridge Farm organization. My colleagues made it clear that the resumption of migration on any substantial scale dependedupon the improvement of Australia’s economic position, which, in turn, depended largely upon the expansion of markets and the improvement of prices for Australia’s export commodities.
In addition to the Commonwealth Ministers mentioned, the Premiers of New South Wales and Queensland were also present at these discussions in London.
The subject of migration was informally discussed at a meeting of a subcommittee appointed by the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers held in Adelaide in August last. Following the decision of members of the subcommittee that definite proposals should be sent for consideration to the various States, a letter was addressed to the Premiers on the 16th September, 1936. A copy of this letter has been laid on the table of the Library. A perusal of it will make it quite clear that the Commonwealth was not attempting in any way to force migration upon the States. The purpose of the letter was to ascertain whether any State considered itself in a position to absorb migrants and, if so, whether it desired Commonwealth assistance.
At the present time, assisted migration is restricted to the granting of passages ro wives and minor children of migrants who arrived in Australia prior to the 1st January, 1930, to fiancees of migrants settled in Australia, and to children introduced hy the Fairbridge Farm School in Western Australia.
The State Governments have transmitted from time to time many requests by Australian residents for assistance to enable relatives from England to join them in this country. Reports which have been received from voluntary organizations in several States indicate that the demand for boys for farm work and of girls for household duties exceeds the supply. In the circumstances, the Commonwealth deemed it advisable to give to the States an opportunity to indicate whether the present limited scope of assisted migration was considered irksome.
It will be observed that the action taken by the Commonwealth Government i3 entirely in accord with the promise made by the Prime Minister on. the 13th March last. Co-operation by the States is most important, and they are being fully consulted as to their views. Apart from one formal acknowledgment, no reply has been received from the Premiers. The Government considered that, while the matter was under consideration by the Governments of the States, any disclosure of the contents of the letter of the 16th September might be ;i source of embarrassment to them. It will be appreciated, moreover, that” it is not, generally the practice to make public a communication addressed to any party until that party has had an opportunity to consider the matter. No reason is apparent why that procedure should have been departed from in this instance.
Honorable senators may have observed that this matter was given publicity in the press over the week-end. No statement has, however, been made by or with the authority of the Commonwealth Government. Any information obtained by the press must have been received from other sources.
The following papers were presented -
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments - Department of the Interior - H. C. Hughes and E. G. Jackson.
Sales Tax Assessment Acts (Nos. 1 to 9) - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1930, No. 132.
Science and Industry Research Act - Tenth Annual Report of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, for the year ended the 30th June, 1930.
Apple and Pear Bounty Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1930, No. 128.
Navigation Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 103(1, No. 120.
Customs Act and Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1930. No. 137- -No. 138.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at South Perth, Western Australia - Foi postal purposes.
– Will the Minister in Charge of Development state what action, if any, has been taken by the Government and/or the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in connexion with the proposal for the extermination of rabbits by the dissemination of disease?
– Myxomatosis, which the Government has in contemplation as a killer of rabbits, has been imported into Australia under the authority of the Department of Health. No steps will be taken for its dissemination until it has been thoroughly tested out, so as to ensure that all other animal life> as well as bird life, is immune from attack by it. Experiments which were conducted over a considerable period in England proved that in that country, under different climatic conditions, it attacks nothing but the rabbit.
– Will the Leader of the Senate state whether the Government has considered the desirableness of sending to England for the coronation festivities direct representatives of the farmers and workers who do the useful work for Australia.
– The whole subject of visitors to England for the coronation celebrations is at present under the consideration of the Government. I can say no more than that at this juncture.
– Can the Leader of the Senate state whether Mr. S. M. Bruce, Australian High Commissioner in London as reported in the Sydney press yesterday, proposes to retire from that position before the expiration of his term of office, and if so, who is likely to be his successor? Is it not time that the Senate received some consideration in the appointment of the High Commissioner, thus affording an opportunity for the present Leader of the Senate, or some other representative of the Government in the Senate, to follow in the footsteps of Mr. Bruce along the Strand?
– I am not quite clear as to when Mr. Bruce proposes to retire, and I have not seen any correspondence on the matter. L note the obvious desire imported into the question of the honorable senator to get rid of the Leader of the Senate.
– Can the Leader of the Senate state whether the Prime Minister, just prior to the last election, made the following statement: -
The return of the Ministry will mean a continuation of reproductive works such as the unification of railway gauges.
How many miles of railway line have been constructed following upon this promise ?
– I daresay the Prime Minister did make the statement. In spite of considerable opposition, the Commonwealth Government, ‘by arrangement with the State Government concerned, is engaged upon the construction of a most useful link in. the standardized railway system, namely, that between Port Augusta and Port Pirie.
– I ask the Leader of the Senate the following questions: - (1) Is he aware that in musical circles in Sydney, and in other capital cities, there is a considerable volume of opinion in favour of retaining the services of Dr. Malcolm Sargent, the distinguished visiting conductor, now in Australia under engagement to the Australian Broadcasting Commission? (2) Is he aware that representations to this effect have been made to the Australian Broadcasting Commission? (3) Will he call for a report from the Australian Broadcasting Commission to ascertain (a) whether such representations have been made; (b) what answers, if any, have been given to such representations? (4)
As Dr. Malcolm Sargent’s engagement with the Australian Broadcasting Commission will tormina to shortly, will he treat this matter as urgent?
– The employment or appointment of distinguished musicians isa matter for the Australian Broadcasting Commission, but I shall make inquiries as to whether representations have been made as suggested by the honorable senator, and. in order to learn the views of the commission on the subject.
– Before appointments of musicians from overseas art made by the Australian Broadcasting Com mission, will the Postmaster-General take steps to ensure that the commission shall give full and generous consideration to the claims of highly qualified Australian musicians capable of filling the positions?
– I have no right to dictate to the Australian Broadcasting Commission in this matter. The functions of the Government are limited to approving of the appointment of the six most highly paid officers of the commission, but I know for a fact that the commission does on all occasions give the most favourable consideration to the claims of local talent when making appointments.
-Has the Minister representing the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties received any informationregarding the progress of the trade war between Japan and Australia ?
– I deprecate the suggestion that there is a trade war between Japan and Australia, apart from the measures ordinarily employed by countries to protect their own industries. It is unwise to refer to such measures as a trade war. I have no statement to make at this stage.
– In view of the great interest which has been aroused in the shipping war in the Pacific, I ask the Leader of the Government whether he has observed a statement published in the press by a Mr. Brendon Dowling, a passenger on the American liner Mariposa, that the construction of two fast, modern ships of 20,000 tons each is being considered by a powerful overseas syndicate with a view to their being employed on the SydneyAucklandLos Angeles run or on the Sydney Auckland- Vancouver run? Is this syndicate in any way associated with any of the important British shipping lines at present trading to Australia?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.I cannot say whether the suggested syndicate is in any way associated with existing British lines. Negotiations in regard to the Pacific shipping services are at present proceeding between the Governments of the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the Commonwealth, and as soon as an agreement has been reached a statement will be made to both Houses of the Parliament.
asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate, upon notice -
In view of the figure, 15,707, given by him as the number of the employees of the Commonwealth working 40 hours or less, what is the total number of employees of the Commonwealth Government?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The total number of employees of the Commonwealth Government is approximately 47,900.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will Parliament have an opportunity of discussing the question of an aviation policy for New Guinea and Papua during this session?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The matter of the future control and development of aviation in New Guinea and Papua is receiving attention. The Government’s policy in this matter will be determined in the light of further inquiries and investigations which are to be made in the territories by representatives of tie local administrations and the Civil Aviation Board. I am not yet in a position to indicate whether these investigations and consideration of the reports to be submitted thoreon will be completed in time to permit of an announcement of the Government’s proposals during this session of the Parliament.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.Steps have been taken by Fairbridge Farm Schools (Incorporated) to establish a school in Victoria in conjunction with the Northcote trustees. The establishment of a school by Fairbridge Farm Schools (Incorporated) in New South Wales in conjunction with the Committee of Rhodes Scholars is being proceeded with.
askedthe Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. Yes. Unfortunately, owing to line plant congestion in tin’s area, it has not been practicable to satisfy all applications for service, but steps have been taken to overcome the difficulty by the establishment of a new telephone exchange at Nedlands, which it is anticipated will be opened in the near future.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Brennan) read a first time.
Debate resumed from the 1st October (vide page743), on motion by Senator
That the bill be now read a second time,
– At the outset I desire to congratulate the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) on his excellent contribution to this debate last week. In , a sense he fired a considerable amount of my ammunition ; nevertheless, I desire to make some observations on this bill, because I am au fait with conditions in the industry. In fact, I am closely associated with it, and am in possession of first-hand knowledge which I desire to bring to the notice of honorable senators. The necessity for the introduction of this bill arises from the low prices generally prevailing on the market of the United Kingdom this season and the prohibitive cost of transport An examination of this industry reveals that overseas freight charges alone amount to more than one-half of the average gross price obtained by growers for their fruit. That is a heavy impost for any industry to bear. At the beginning of this season we were led to believe that, owing to an improvement of the conditions on overseas markets generally, and through the partial failure of the British crop, a stable market could be anticipated by Australian growers. In this connexion, authorities on marketing were most emphatic, and particularly did they . stress that the more favorable conditions would be experienced in the earlier part of our season. Unfortunately, this view was shared by many other persons, and the encouraging reports resulted in Australian growers shipping their fruit to the United Kingdom at a much earlier time and in greater quantities than usual. The consequences were disastrous to the consigning growers, because the market was overloaded, and the effect was reflected in the steadily declining prices for the fruit. Each succeeding month saw a reduction of prices,, although the fruit was of good quality, and was well packed. It is computed that the net loss to Tasmanian shippers alone for the past season has been not less than £194,000. This information is contained in an excellent report which has been prepared by Mr. Limbrick, B.A., B.Sc, who, after a careful investigation of the matter, submitted a few weeks ago a report on marketing and the industry generally to the Tas.manian Government. The position prevailing in Tasmania is in line with that iii the mainland States which export fruit. Some of them send a considerable proportion of their crop overseas, but not in the same proportion as the little State of Tasmania. The low returns which the mainland States have received for their fruit are similar to those of the Tasmanian growers. Owing to encouraging reports in the earlier part of the year, most of the exporting States placed an undue proportion of their fruit on the overseas market, and, although the balance which was left for consumption on the mainland brought slightly improved values, when compared with returns for previous years, the returns were not sufficient to compensate for the disastrous prices on the overseas markets. One of the prime factors affecting the marketing position is the inability of Australian growers at the present time, owing to the financial difficulties of other countries, to place a fair proportion of their crop on the Continental market. A few years ago, Australia disposed of approximately 1,500,000 cases of apples in Europe; the principal market was Germany, although Holland also purchased a considerable quantity. The European market was a goo’d one, too, but in recent years it has been practically closed to us. That, naturally, has reacted on the market of the United Kingdom.
– What is the explanation for the closing of the Continental market to Australia?
– The inability of European countries to finance purchases except by a system of barter. This quantity of 1,500,000 cases of apples, which hitherto had been sold on the Continent, is one of the prime factors in the disorganization of the markets. If wo were to add that quantity of fruit to the British market, prices would recede to almost vanishing point; if it was withheld from export, and placed on the local market, the same result would accrue in Australia. I was interested to hear the Leader of the Opposition describe the system of deliberately allowing quantities of fruit to rot in the orchards as being both scandalous and wicked. The hon orable senator was quite right; I have seen the fruit being allowed to go to waste, but that could not be avoided. Time and time again in Tasmanian orchards this has happened, but such a policy does not reflect discredit on the growers. They would willingly have sold that fruit for about ls. a case or ls. 6d. a bag at the orchards, if it were not for the difficulty of transport and distribution. At times enterprising persons visit the orchards with horse and cart, purchase a quantity of fruit at the rate of ls. a sack and hawk it in the towns. It is regrettable to see fruit going to waste in the manner which the Leader of the Opposition described; but I stress that the difficulties of transport and distribution are the responsible factors. “Whilst I am unable to speak with certainty of the conditions in other States, I do know that in Tasmania the apple industry is conducted most efficiently. Furthermore, the problem of marketing has been attacked by the industry during the past few years from almost every angle. In the past much criticism has been voiced in regard to the packing and general “get-up” of fruit for export, and the opinion has frequently been expressed, by both official and private visitors to the United Kingdom, that if the fruit were packed in a manner equal to that of our competitors, the problem would be solved. In effect the critics said : “ If you send the best of your fruit overseas and arrange it attractively in cases, your sales will be all right “. They also stated that this would result in a sufficiently increased demand to compensate for the loss of the continental market. Their advice was heeded; the best quality fruit was shipped overseas and was attractively packed and labelled. But their predictions were disproved by the actual test, because despite an added cost of 6d. a case expended on. improved case materials, attractive labelling, &c, strict control regulations equal in severity to any of a similar kind in the world, and an intensive advertising campaign in the United Kingdom, a satisfactory increase of price was not obtained. Every season Australia has a surplus of 1,500,000 cases of prime fruit which is the unbalancing factor in the industry.
– Which country is the most serious competitor with Australia on the British market?
– I should say the United States of America and Canada. During the last season I watched the prices closely, and I discovered that the returns for fruit from the United States of America were invariably a shade lower than those received for Australian fruit. The United States of America was, undoubtedly, dumping fruit in Great Britain in order to relieve its local position.
– The principle difficulty, then, is one of price?
– Yes. The result of the overseas shipments in 1936 is so discouraging as to make the situation of the bulk of the growers in Tasmania really heart-rending. The prices which have 1,een realized this season have proved most disastrous, and it is essential for the growers to seek the assistance of this Government, although they are reluctant to do so. This bill which is now being considered by the Senate is the reply to their appeal for aid, and I regret that from its substantial surplus revenues the Government has not been more generous in fixing the bounty to be paid for exported apples and pears. The sum of 4~J-d. a case is the extent of the assistance which it offers to the stricken industry. It may interest honorable senators to know how the costs of producing and marketing a case of apples are made up. The freight charge is 3s. 6d. to which must be added 7-id. for exchange, making 4s. 1-Jd. payable at Hobart. Insurance, wharfage, levy and shipping charges account for another 4id. ; packing costs’ - that is, the cost of eases, wood-wool, wrapping paper, labels, &c. - total about 2s. a case ; and the cost of actually growing the apples, including the cost of spraying, cultivating, pruning, and other labour, is between 2s. and 3s. I should say the average would be about 2s. 3d. a case. That would bring the total cost of putting a case of apples on the English market to 8s. 9d. Australian currency. Let us assume that a particular case of apples brings 8s. 6d., English currency, on the London market, although very few did so last season. Landing charges, com mission and other charges would be ls. 6d. a case, which would reduce the price to 7s. a case. To that we should have to add exchange amounting to ls. 9d., which would bring the price to 8s. 9d., Australian currency. That, as I have said, is the bare cost of production in Australian currency. The return, therefore,, would just cover the cost. We have been told time and time again in recent years, that we have made a great mistake in concentrating our shipments on the port of London. It was said that we should distribute our fruit, sending some to Glasgow and some to Hull, and that if we did so the returns would be better. That procedure has been tried. I have numerous account sales in my hand showing the returns obtained from auction sales of Tasmanian, South Australian and Western Australian apples at Glasgow, Hull, and London. Shipments sent on the Clan Farquhar went direct to Glasgow and were sold there on the 4th June. The prices obtained for the various lots varied from 4s. 6d. to 6s., 6s. 6d., 6s. 9d., 7s., 7s. 3d., 7s. 6d., 8s. and Ss. 6d. A few Granny Smith fancies brought lis. a case and some lis. 9d. a case. The average price was about 6s. 3d. a case. Shipments exMoreton Bay sold at Hull on the 22nd June this year brought 6s. 6d., 6s. 9d. and up to 8s. >?d. a case. The returns from sales in London on the 10th June were very similar. It will be seen, therefore, that the statements that we were stupid to concentrate upon the port of Loudon had very little foundation, for the prices obtained at Glasgow and Hull were not any better than those obtained at London.
Another aspect of this subject has always puzzled me and it puzzles me still. For some years now I have been sending a case or two of apples home every year to friends in England. This year I sent a. couple of cases to a lady living at Wembley, who, after the war, spent some years in Tasmania, .and is well acquainted with the Tasmanian apple industry. I sent her a case each of Cleopatras and Cox’s Orange Pippins by the Raranga which left the Tamar on the 28th February this year. The vessel was slow and ray friend did not get the apples until well on in April. Subsequently she wrote to say how pleased she was with the fruit. I direct attention to the following passage from her letter, dated the 10th May: -
The apples readied us on Thursday. They were well packed and almost have the bloom on them. The Cleopatras are too good to cook, and we arc eating them raw. It is really a shame to bake them. The Cox’s Orange Pippins are of marvellous flavour. I only found three with bitter pit and none bruised. The applegrowers will bc satisfied with this year’s price, for Cox’s Orange Pippins are selling at 9d. per lb. in the shops.
The thing that puzzles me is that the market reports from Moore and Company, of London, regarding the Raranga shipment were very disappointing, being to the effect that the whole shipment landed in very bad condition. It was said that the packing was bad, that the fruit was slackly packed, with the result that it opened up bruised. It was also reported that the apples were badly infected with bitter pit; in fact, the whole shipment was inferior.
– Did the fruit which the honorable senator sent to his friend go by the same ship?
– It did. The two cases I sent were packed at the Clarence Point Co-operative packing shed on the Tamar. It is extraordinary that my friend at Wembley should speak so highly of the apples, and that the market report of fruit packed at the same place and sent by the same ship at the same time should be so ghastly. My friend i3 well acquainted with orchard practice and knows what she is speaking about. How can it happen that two cases of different varieties open up in such good condition, almost carrying the bloom on the fruit after their long voyage, while other cases are condemned out of hand ? Only five apples with bitter pit were found in the two cases I sent to my friend, while the market report states that the remainder of the shipment was badly infected with this disease. Surely, it is possible to do something to clarify a position like this. We have sent numerous persons to Great Britain to investigate marketing conditions there, but I think it would be a good idea if we had some of ‘our own people there regularly to police the business. It is an extraordinary thing that Cox’s Orange Pippins should be selling at 9d. per lb. That would give a return of about 30s. a case. It is strange that, irrespective of the price that our apples bring at the Coven t Garden Market, or anywhere else, the retail selling price in the shops in the London suburbs varies very little. Why should it remain static? If our growers could get a net return of even 2d. per lb. for the apples they send to the London market they would be extra* ordinarily well pleased.
Fruit-growing is the principal primaryproducing industry of Tasmania. It supports about 18,000 people. We hear a good deal from time to time about the desirableness of closer settlement, hut a visit to the Franklin district of Tasmania would indicate how effective closer settlement has been in that district. The people are established on small holdings, and are doing excellent work. They are fine people, and it is unfortunate that they have been hit so hard.
I have had sent to me the account sales for 300 cases of excellent Jonathan fancy apples shipped by an old friend who was in my own brigade. He actually received a debit note from the agents for £6 14s. in respect of that shipment. This is a deplorable state of affairs. The fruit industry of Tasmania circulates more real money in that State than any other industry there. The people engaged in it pay approximately £600,000 per annum in overseas shipping freights, and it is most unfortunate that they get very little, if anything, for their enormous labour, involving a turnover of more than £1,000,000 a year. Overseas shipping freights are definitely too high. The freight on fruit must be paid at Hobart. In pre-war days, the freight on apples was 2s. 6d. a case. To-day, it is 3s. 6d. a case, plus 7½d. for exchange, making 4s. l£d. in all.
– But the honorable senator knows that that 7-£d. is retained at the other end.
– I happen to know the most intimate details of this business, for I am closely associated with it, and the Assistant Minister should not attempt to “ teach his grandmother to suck eggs “. The 7£d. taken by the shipping companies under the heading of exchange is definitely an extra charge. I suggest that if this subject were investigated, it would be found that a large proportion of this money paid at Hobart by the fruitgrowers is used by the shipping companies in Australia to pay loading charges, port dues, wages, and accounts for provisions, &c. Although the 7i&. is called exchange, in actual fact it is nothing more nor less than an increase of freight by ?id. a case. Almost all other cargo freights are paid in London. I believe in supporting British shipping companies, but I am convinced that serious investigations should be made into the methods of the shipping monopoly in handling Australian fruit. It is of no earthly use for the Commonwealth. Government to shut its eyes to the situation. This great and well-established apple industry cannot stagger any longer under the exorbitant charges imposed on it by protected shipping companies. I had hoped that the Government would grant a bounty of at least 7-Jd. a case this year, although I felt that ls. a case would be necessary to keep hundreds of growers on their holdings. Although I hope that the hill will be passed by the Senate, it is only a partial compensation for losses incurred, and I am confident that before long further assistance will have to be given to the growers. I trust also that when the money is disbursed, it will be paid to the growers themselves, rather than to their agents, and that right early. If either the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page) or the Assistant Minister (Mr. Thorby) could spare a fortnight or three weeks to accompany me through the south-western portion of Tasmania, as well as the Tamar and Mersey districts, he would see the sturdy type of men and women engaged in this industry, and realize that their claims have not been overstated. The Government should not think that the passing of this bill will relieve it of any further obligation towards the growers of apples and pears. As I have said, further assistance will be necessary if these people are not to relinquish their holdings to become a charge on the community as dwellers in the cities. I commend the Government for the assistance which it proposes to give to the growers through this bill, but I wish that it had been more generous.
– Although not now personally interested in the apple and pear growing industry, either directly or indirectly, I was interested in the apple industry in New South Wales some years ago. Instead of granting bounties to the growers of these fruits, the Government should take cognizance of happenings in the English market. It is astonishing to learn from private sources that apples for which the growers receive 6s. 3d. or 6s. 6d. a case are sold in the British retail market at about 30s. a case. I do not know whether that is because the loss from bitter pit reduces the return to the grower, but the discrepancy between the wholesale and retail prices is so great that an investigation is warranted.
– The trouble is tha; there are too many middlemen.
– If the middlemen are acting independently of one another, the competition should he keener and prices better. If they form combines, the results will, of course, be different. I understand that an export case contains between thirteen and fourteen dozen apples. On the mainland of Australia it is difficult to obtain apples over an extended period at ls. a dozen, but the price realized by the grower in the English market is only about 6d. a dozen. There would be no difficulty in obtaining 3d. a dozen in the big cities of Australia if regular supplies were maintained all the year round. People would rush them at the price. Now they find difficulty in obtaining them at ls. a dozen, and sometimes as much as ls. 6d. per dozen is charged for them. It would appear that in their desire to capture the English and Continental market the Tasmanian growers have lost sight of the market of the mainland of Australia.
– No. Growers in the other States have forced the Tasmanian growers to seek oversea markets.
– I still believe that there is a large market available on tinmainland of Australia for good apple-1 at a price that the people can pay.
– Good apple? cost threepence each in Sydney to-day.
– The people generally cannot afford to pay that price. I am afraid that our primary producers ure so concerned with prices that they overlook the fact that a bigger turnover at lower prices would give them equally satisfactory results. The people will buy n good commodity if they can afford it; but apples at 3d. each are beyond the reach of the average household. I am convinced that, provided good quality apples can be placed on the market all the year round, the people of this country could consume the bulk of the Australian crop. I do not know whether the apples which Senator Sampson sent to a friend i7i England were specially selected.
– No; the apples were of fair average quality.
– The same care that was exercised in dealing with the apples sent by the honorable senator should he exercised in respect of ail apples which are exported. I agree that the apple industry should be assisted - and it may bo that the proposals embodied in this bill are little enough by way of assistance - but I still maintain that the discrepancy between the wholesale price and the retail price in England is too great. Judging by what Senator Sampson has told us, it would almost appear that those engaged in the apple trade in England are “ crooks “ who issue faked reports regarding diseased fruit and pile up their charges to such an extent as to compel exorbitant prices over the retail counter. The solution of the difficulty may be found in the exporters undertaking the distribution of their own fruit in Great Britain. In all our marketing there is a tendency to concentrate on the price to the producer, and to ignore the price charged to the consumer. If more consideration were given to the ability of the consumer to buy fruit, we should probably get nearer to the solution of the problem confronting the producer. High prices inevitably lead to glutted markets. It is high time that these matters were thoroughly investigated, in fairness to both the Australian producer and the English consumer.
– in reply - The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) was incorrect in saying that the
Government had simply taken £20,000 from the bounty and given it to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
– I did not put it that way; I said that £20,000 had been taken from the bounty for research and investigation in order to improve the product.
– The honorable gentleman gave the impression that the bounty was some fixed sum from which the amount set aside for research was taken.
– The bounty has been reduced progressively from £130,000 to £100,000, and then to £80,000.
– The Government is under no obligation to pay to this or any other industry a fixed amount of bounty each year. In regard to the apple and pear industry, it decided to grant assistance by setting aside a certain stun for disbursement among the growers, and a further sum for scientific research. Other honorable senators have complained of the meagreness of the bounty, and have expressed regret that the Government has not been more generous I am not sure that a government should be generous when dealing with public funds which it holds as trustee for the people. The Government was as generous as it could afford to . be, having regard to the financial position of the country generally.
As to the figures which have been given, showing the losses sustained this year by growers, I point out that Tasmania sells about 60 per cent, of its output on consignment; whereas the other States sell from 70 per cent, to SO per cent, of their crop on an f.o.b. basis. The only complaint received by the Government this year has come from Tasmania; but because discrimination between States is not constitutionally permissible, the other States will participate in the bounty.
– “What is the estimated expenditure with a bounty of 4-Jd. a case?
– A bounty of ls. a case would represent a total expenditure of about £275,000 j so that, on the basis of 4£d. a case, something over £100,000 is involved.
– On the figures given by the Assistant Minister, the bounty will not reach that sum.
The other matter on which I desire to comment is the remarkable statement made by Senator Sampson. It is all very well to say that there are too many middlemen in the industry, and to complain about the exorbitant rates charged by a shipping monopoly, but the honorable senator gave a striking concrete example showing that the growers must attend to several matters themselves before they can justly blame other persons for losses in their industry.
– We have had a “ go “ at the shipping monopoly.
– The Government has not lost sight of the problem of shipping freights as it applies either to this or to any other industry, and that matter is still being dealt with.
– But the robbery continues while the Government sleeps on the job.
– I do not concede that robbery by the shipping companies is going on, or that the Government is sleeping on this matter; I concede that the costs of transport are very heavy, but to what extent they, are inordinately, or unjustly, heavy I am not in a. position to say.
– In spite of that the Government sold its line of steamers.
– The sooner Ave obliterate the memory of the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers the better.
– Those ships have not been paid for yet.
– I have no desire to enter into an argument on this matter with the very small, but very active minority in this chamber. I thank honorable senators for tlie support they have given to this measure, and I hope thai; the bill will be read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
– I move -
That iiic hill bc now read a second time.
Honorable senators are no doubt aware of the difficult position in which citrusgrowers generally, and those in New South Wales in particular, have been placed during the past few years in finding an outlet overseas for their surplus crop. This difficulty may be ascribed in part ro the effects of the depression, and in part to the Loss of the New Zealand market at ohe end of 11)32. .In order to relieve this position and to assist the citrus industry to establish a permanent export market for oranges, the Commonwealth has, during the last three years, granted financial aid to growers. In announcing its intention, to grant a bounty in respect of the 1935 season, the Government intimated to the industry that no further Commonwealth assistance would be considered unless steps were taken to establish an organization which would take care of the orderly marketing of oranges overseas, deal with production and marketing problems in Australia, nui speak with authority for the citrus industry.
Some steps have been taken with a view to the establishment of a board in relation to the industry, but unfortunately, there is lack of unanimity as to the means by which the board should be financed. In the meantime representations to the Government have been made by citrus organizations seeking tie granting of a bounty on exports for 1936. To these representations the Government has consistently replied that it would not give consideration to the matter of a further bounty until the industry had taken steps to establish the organization which it agreed to set up. In May, 1936, the Australian Agricultural Council again dealt with the matter of the organization of the citrus industry, and decided to re-affirm a resolution adopted by it in 1935 as to the establishment of an Australian Citrus Board. The council also urged the Government to continue the bounty on citrus fruits for one more season pending the establishment of such a board.
In view of the fact that the New Zealand market is still closed to a large quantity of Australian fruit, and in order to assist the citrus industry until it has had a further opportunity in which to organize, it is now proposed to grant a bounty of 2s. a case on oranges exported to all destinations other than New Zealand, during the 1936 season. The extension of the bounty to cover other markets beside those of the United Kingdom should encourage exporters to exploit possibilities that may exist in this direction, more particularly in respeot of Canada, and ports en route to the United Kingdom, such as Colombo, Aden, and Malta. The bounty will be payable to the exporter of the oranges. It is provided, however, that the exporter shall pay to the grower of the oranges the amount of the bounty received by him in respect of the oranges, unless he proves t.o the satisfaction of the Minister that he purchased the oranges from the grower and paid to the grower the amount of bounty in addition to the ordinary purchase price of the oranges. It is estimated that the cost of the bounty for 1936 will not exceed £10,000.
In submitting the bounty proposals contained in this bill, the Government wishes it to be understood by the citrus industry that no Commonwealth assistance beyond that now proposed will be considered unless the industry gives further attention to the marketing and production problems associated with the industry. Even then, the Government is not prepared to give any undertaking that a bounty will be granted as a matter of course in respect of oranges exported in any year. Consideration must always be given to the actual position in respect of any particular season, and also to the efforts of the industry to assist itself. I ask honorable senators to agree to the motion for the second reading of the bill.
– The Opposition does not propose to oppose this measure. We agree with the principle that the Government should come to the assistance of industries, whether primary or secondary, which are in need of assistance. When I say so much, however, it does not mean that we approve of what I might call the unscientific, piecemeal, and “no policy at all “ method which the Government applies in such instances. It appears that, when an industry gets into trouble, it comes along to the Government and says so, and the Government merely does what, in its wisdom, it thinks fit at the moment to do, but declines all the time to do the only scientific thing in the matter, and that is to deal fundamentally with the tragic position, which an earlier debate this morning once more disclosed exists in connexion with the production and consumption of all of our primary products. The same observation applies to our secondary industries. Here, again., as I have so often stressed in this chamber, because of the ever-recurring nature of this legislation, is evidence that private enterprise, cannot be trusted to do its job thoroughly and efficiently, whether it be in the production, distribution, or marketing of a commodity, or in connexion with the prices charged to the consumer, or the benefits accruing to the producers. We shall never be able to trust private enterprise in this direction until another government assumes control and deprives predatory vested interests of the opportunity to exploit either producers or consumers. This kind of thing should not be allowed, but it goes on to-day. I know that the Assistant Minister (‘Senator Brennan) is as kindly a gentleman as any honorable senator, and that, when he says that the Government is investigating the charges being made by overseas shipping companies, he believes that it is honestly doing its job in this direction. I point out, however, that the Government has been considering this matter ever since I was elected to this chamber about four and a half years ago. It is still investigating it. It should also investigate the depredations of the whole line of thieving sharks that stand between the producers in Australia and the consumers overseas, and take constant toll of products towards the production and distribution of which they contribute very little, if anything at all, of value. The Government should have the courage, ability and understanding of the problems confronting the orange-growers to submit ;i proposal tinder which they would receive a fair return for their labours, and at the same time the consumers would not be compelled to . pay extravagant prices. The members of the Opposition in this chamber support a. high protective policy, hut do not believe in revenueproducing tariffs. Tariffs which bring in excessive revenue are not really protective. Manufacturers and others sheltered behind high tariffs should not be allowed to exploit the workers, or to compel consumers to pay unnecessarily high prices. The same applies to primary producers. Careful investigation should be made to ascertain exactly what the fruit-growers and their employees in the orchards actually receive for their labour. Unless adequate assistance is given to the growers of citrus and other fruits their orchards will deteriorate and all the labour employed in bringing them to a state of productivity, which sometimes means years, will be lost, and efficient production will become impossible. This measure is at least an attempt to give a section, of the primary producers a share of the wealth they produce. I trust that the day is not far distant when a government will be in power which will ensure to all engaged in primary or secondary production a fair return for their labour, and that there will be no opportunities for exploiting the people. It 13 unreasonable to expect the growers of apples, pears, prunes or oranges to come to Parliament from time to time for a “ hand out “ and be satisfied. A thorough investigation should be made into all the facts surrounding the production of citrus fruits, and the best manner in which to assist those engaged in the industry. When we have a government with the courage and ability to handle these ever-recurring problems, this and other industries will be placed on a sound basis, and it will be unnecessary for contributions of the kind we are now considering to be made from time to time from Consolidated Revenue.
– The ever-recurring payment of bounties demonstrates the tragic incompetence of the Government. The Assistant Minister (Senator Brennan) stated that the Government does not propose to continue to pay the bounty to orangegrowers unless the industry becomes properly organized. Who is responsible for the lack of organization? Why is the industry not controlled as it should be? What efforts have been made by the Government in the direction of lifting the embargo upon the importation of Australian citrus fruits into New Zealand? The Labour Government now in office in that dominion is anxious to overcome many of the difficulties with which New Zealand has been confronted for some time, and I am sure that the people there would welcome the opportunity to purchase Australian oranges. The Commonwealth Government should make an earnest attempt to increase the purchasing power of the Australian people so that larger quantities of fresh fruit could be consumed. According to a statement published a few days ago, approximately 30,000 persons in New South Wales are still on the dole, and consequently cannot purchase the fruit which is so essential to health. The Minister for Health (Mr. Hughes) was informed by a deputation that 618,000 persons in New South Wales had applied to hospitals in that State for medical assistance, and that in many instances their condition was due to malnutrition. As large quantities of oranges are mown in Australia, supplies should be available to the people at reasonable prices. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) is right in continually focusing the attention of the people upon this important problem. I read a statement the other day in the organ published by the supporters of the Douglas Credit system to the effect that if every person in Australia ate an apple a day, the whole production of Australian orchards would be absorbed, and I suppose the same could bc said in respect of oranges. If larger quantities of this essential fruit were available to the community many of the diseases which now exist would be eliminated. We support the bill and had an amendment been moved to increase the bounty to be paid to the growers of apples and pears I should have voted for it. I am in favour of the bill and trust that the Government will do all in its power to increase the purchasing power of the people so that oranges and other essential commodities can be obtained more readily.
. -I should like the Assistant Minister (Senator Brennan) to state if there is any possibility of the embargo upon the importation of Australian oranges into New Zealand being lifted? On many occasions when dealing with the difficulties associated with the development of an export trade, we have said that the most profitable market for many of our products is in New Zealand. The fact that the New Zealand market is not open to Australian producers has been keenly debated at different times, and I am very dissatisfied with the present position. I do not agree with some honorable senators who say that the Now Zealand Government has placed an embargo on Australian oranges because we have prohibited the importation of New Zealand potatoes.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– The Government should continue its efforts to regain the profitable New Zealand market for the Australian citrus-growers, and remove the disadvantages which have been placed on the shoulders of the growers, particularly those in New South Wales. A report in a leading newspaper stated -
Selling Oranges in New Zealand.
So acute is the citrus fruit shortage in New Zealand that at timescases of oranges are raffled by auctioneers, the New South Wales fruit delegation revealed on its return by the Awatea to-day.
Although there is an embargo on Australian fruit, consequent upon the Commonwealth embargo on New Zealand potatoes, a small quota of South Australian oranges is allowed in during the peak season. Supply of these oranges is so short, however, that at times there are not enough for even one case each for country wholesalers.
Then the auctioneer takes off his hat and tickets are drawn from it for the privilegeof buying one case at a price double that in Sydney.
That is the market of which the Australian citrus-growers are unable to take advantage. The article continued -
TheMinister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill), who also returned by the Awatea, said he had discussed the embargo with Messrs. Fraser and Nash, of the New Zealand Ministry. “ They said they are unable to do anything at present,” he said, “ because they arc importing a considerable quantity of oranges from Jamaica.”
There is a big difference between the statement by Sir Archdale Parkhill that New Zealand was importing large quantities of oranges from Jamaica, and the statement by the fruit-growers delegation that the shortage of citrus fruits on the New Zealand market was so acute that cases had to be raffled because only one case was allowed for every seven wholesalers. The article proceeded -
Mr.P. S.Macdermott, president of the New South Wales Citrus Export Association, who, with General J. Heaneand Colonel E. E. Herrod, president and secretary of the New South Wales Fruit-growers Association, gave evidence before the New Zealand Fruit Marketing Inquiry, said he had received the impression that if the Federal Government were able to offer New Zealand some quid pro quo there should not be much difficulty in having the market opened again.
It is high time that the Government gave to honorable senators greater details of the reason why Australia cannot regain the New Zealand market. I have been told by a prominent New Zealander that the difficulties of the situation concern, not merely citrus fruits, but the whole trade relations between the two countries.
– Potatoes enter into the matter.
– Undoubtedly; but the issue goes much beyond citrus fruits and potatoes. New Zealand claims that approximately 50 per cent. of the total Australian imports are admitted free, whilst this Government claims that it admits free about 87 per cent. of New Zealand exports. New Zealand has replied that analysis of the figure shows that the estimate of 87 per cent. is excessive There is no questioning the fact that in New Zealand there is a definite misunderstanding of the whole of Australia’s trade policy, and this should be cleared up so that Australia should once more be able to exploit the New Zealand demand for citrus fruit. Every year this Parliament is called upon to provide a bounty of from £10,000 to £20,000 to enable the export of citrus fruit to oversea markets other than New Zealand, but that is not the way in which the problem should be tackled. Annual grants merely help the growers to carry on, but do not make foi’ stability. Apart from internal organization of the citrus industry in Australia, the only method by which it can be placed on a permanent footing is by regaining the profitable Kew Zealand outlet. i ask the Leader of the Senate (Sena tor Pearce) whether it would be practicable to let the Senate have the full details of the negotiations which have occurred between the Commonwealth Government and the Government of New Zealand on this subject. If the papers wore tabled, honorable senators would be enabled to form their own conclusions as to what is the obstacle to the success of the negotiations. It appears that each government blames the other for the impasse. Meanwhile, the market remains beyond reach, and no guarantee exists that it will ever bo regained. New Zealand is not only a member of the British Empire, but also our closestneighbour, and it does not say much for our Empire co-operation that differences should exist between tlie two dominions.
[2.30]. - The embargo against Australian oranges was imposed by New Zealand on the ground that the Mediterranean fruit fly occurred in certain fruit districts of Australia, and that the New Zealand Government wished to prevent its introduction into the dominion. Furthermore, at that time the Government of New Zealand was hoping to develop the export of apples to the United States of America, and in order to do so it had to meet a stipulation by the United States of America that, if it were to take apples from New Zealand, the Dominion Government must be able to certify that it did not allow entry of fruit from any country affected by the Mediterranean fruit fly. That has been the contention of the New Zealand Government right along. The Commonwealth has been endeavouring to meet that objection and has been able to meet it partially by demonstrating to the Government of New Zealand that orangegrowing districts in South Australia are not” infested with the fruit fly. On receipt of that assurance, New Zealand agreed to allow the import of oranges from. South Australia, and it is satis factory to be able to say that the export of oranges from that State to New Zealand almost equals in quantity the total export of oranges from Australia to the dominion before the embargo was imposed, lt is obvious that this relaxation of the embargo will mean some benefit to the whole of the citrus-growers in Australia, because the export of oranges grown in South Australia considerably relieves the pressure on the local market. Not long ago the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page) sought to obtain a further lifting of the embargo and asked the New Zealand Government to admit oranges, providing they were accompanied by government certificates that the areas from which they came were free of Mediterranean fruit fly. It is contended that, in addition to South Australia., there are districts in other States which are not infested with the fruit fly. New Zealand refused to entertain the proposal, and said that it would accept no further oranges from Australia, whether they were accompanied by a government certificate or not. Of course, the New Zealand Government has a perfect right to impose its own policy. As an instance of how that policy operates, I need only to say what is occurring with respect ‘to Norfolk Island, which is under my administration. Norfolk Island produces oranges of very good quality, and the fruit fly does not exist there. Formerly those oranges had a good market in New Zealand. Time after time t] rough the Department of Commerce, we have sought to induce the Government of New Zealand to admit oranges from Norfolk Island, but it has refused to do so, and, ironically enough, the great majority of the people producing oranges on Norfolk Island are persons who have gone there from New Zealand, not from Australia. I think that honorable senators will see that the Commonwealth Government has done all that it can do to induce New Zealand to relax the embargo at any rate, so far as to admit oranges from districts certified to bo free of Mediterranean fruit fly.
– If the Government of New Zealand were agreeable to the tabling of the minutes of the conferences, what would be the attitude of the Commonwealth Government?
– I cannot answer that question; but I shall place the honorable senator’s suggestion , tore the Minister for Commerce. The general purport of the negotiations was as I have. stated. In the House of Representatives an attempt was made, by a ministerial supporter, too, to put the whole of the blame for this trouble upon the Commonwealth Government; but honorable senators appreciate from what I have said that the whole of the blame does not rest with the Commonwealth Government.
– Do not potatoes come into the negotiations?
Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.That, again, involves a question of plant disease. Representations were made to the Commonwealth Government that New Zealand potatoes were infected with corky scab, and that their importation would endanger the Australian potato-growing industry. The Commonwealth Government accordingly placed an embargo on imports of potatoes from New Zealand; but, so far as I know, that is not a bone of contention to-day.
– It was at one time a Bone of contention; but New Zealand is now exporting its potatoes to Jamaica and Argentina.
– So far as I know, New Zealand has not in any way receded from the position it took up, when representations were first made to it through the Department of Commerce, in regard to the Mediterranean fruit fly. The Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill) has recently been in New Zealand, and I have .10 doubt will report fully to his colleague the Minister for Commerce (Dr. Earle Page) regarding negotiations that took place between him and the New Zealand Government on this subject. At any rate, up to the visit of the Minister for Defence, the Government of New Zealand had not in any way relaxed its opposition to the importation of Australian oranges, because of the danger of Mediterranean fruit fly. I am informed by officers of the Commerce Department that when a request was made for permission to increase the quantity of oranges to be exported to New Zealand, the dominion authorities did not even counter that request by asking to be allowed to export potatoes to Australia; they simply refused to negotiate on that basis. As this matter has been raised in the Senate, I thought that the position of the Government in regard to it should be made clear.
– I am pleased that the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) has made this explanation, because the matter has been disturbing the minds of a large section of the New South Wales public, and has not previously been thoroughly elucidated. The Minister said that the Government had determined not to gran a bounty to any primary producers until they had shown interest in the organization of their own industry.
– The citrus industry is a difficult one to organize.
– Yes, and the Government should take a hand in the work. Funds could be made available for the purpose. There is scope for useful investigation on the western coast of the United States of America, where the citrus industry has been put into a remarkably successful position. What has been accomplished there stands, I think, without parallel as an effort by a primary industry to organize its markets.
The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) took me to task for interfering with him in the making of his own speech, but I had no desire to influence him in that regard. He believes that the only panacea for marketing ills i; governmental* control. I know of no instance of that method having prove( successful, but I am aware that excellent results have been obtained in various parts of the world by means of cooperative efforts on the part of the producers. Where governmental interference in industry has been tried, the national interests have not always been well served. I remind the honorable senator that in New South Wales, some years ago, a Labour government saw fit to enact what was called a profiteering prevention act. The net was thrown out, and, after fishing for some time, what sort of fish do honorable senator.? imagine was caught? The first culprit to be discovered was a Labour ex-Lord
Mayor of Sydney and he was eventually prosecuted ! Successful marketing organization cannot be obtained unless those carrying out the work are free from selfish or personal interests.
I commend the Government for bringing down this bill, and urge that definite action be taken to organize the citrus industry in New South Wales. The margin between success and failure is small; and every effort should be made to build up a secondary industry alongside the primary industry by the proper utilization of the by-products of the fruit. The Government seems to have chastised the growers for not having achieved success in the organization of their industry, but I should like the Ministry to work hand in hand with them, with a view to making the production of citrus fruits as successful in Australia as it is in some other parts of the world. Australia produces remarkably good oranges to-day, as compared with those grown 25 years ago. The improvement is almost incredible. This country grows some of the finest citrus fruits to be found in any part of the world, and it is regrettable that the industry is impoverished because of lack of markets. The ravages of the Mediterranean fruit fly prevent the growers from participating in the valuable New Zealand market. The present dispute with New Zealand seems to have developed into a battle between the growers of oranges and the growers of potatoes, and the sooner the disabilities which affect those products are wiped out the better it will be for all concerned. The New South Wales citrusgrowers have suffered long and fairly patiently, and I hope that ere long the industry throughout Australia will be so well organized that it will be placed on a permanent and sound basis, and become one of our greatest primary industries.
– Probably nine out of every ten Australians consider that the position of the citrus industry to-day is attributable to the recent commercial relations of Tasmania and the mainland States with New Zealand. As a Queenslander, I consider that every effort should be made to overcome the difficulty that has arisen, owing to the loss of the important New Zealand market by Aus tralian primary producers. That market is capable of absorbing the whole of our exportable citrus products. I have heard nothing lately to induce me to change my opinion that the present trouble is due to the policy adopted by the Government in regard to the desire of potato-growers in Victoria and Tasmania, and possibly another State, to prevent the importation of potatoes from New Zealand.
– The Minister has just said that New Zealand has not raised that aspect of the matter.
– The disagreement over potatoes is, undoubtedly, the origin of the dispute regarding oranges. In addition to that, a. duty of 6d. per lb. has been imposed on New Zealand butter. That dominion consumes more of our produce than we take from it; the ratio would be three to two, if not two to one. New Zealand is not content to allow this adverse balance to continue. If the Japanese, irritated by our recent trade disputes with them, were to say that because we do not like their language, their race, or country, and do not care a hang for them, we have subjected them to particular trade disabilities, any member of the Commonwealth Ministry could reply by pointing his finger across the Tasman Sea, and saying : “ Look at the trouble we have had for many years in our commercial dealings with our sister dominion New Zealand.” If the Japanese business men who recently visited Australia had access to the minutes of conference proceedings between Australia and New Zealand, which Senator Hardy properly asked to have placed on the table of this chamber, they would be quite satisfied that Japan had not been singled out in recent trade negotiations for particularly harsh treatment. Yet New Zealand is a particularly patriotic dominion. It even imposed conscription in order to assist the Allies in the Great War. Japan, like New Zealand, is one of our good customers. The United States of America has been a poor customer of Australia, and the people of that country might well say that we object to them because of their Yankee twang, or their mixed European origin, and that those are our special reasons for the tariff action which we recently took against thom. A perusal of the minutes of conferences, and of the history of our negotiations with New Zealand, would show that hy no means is the United States of America singled out for hostile treatment. Over the last ten years our relations with our sister dominion have not been happy, and we now have the spectacle of the present Government viewing the situation with hopeless futility, and making no statesmanlike contribution towards the satisfactory adjustment of the dispute. About two years ago, Sir Frederick Stewart, an amiable man, who undoubtedly has the interests of the masses of this country at heart, visited New Zealand as Minister for Commerce. He was accompanied by quite a retinue of officers. But, despite his earnest endeavours, no satisfactory settlement of the dispute resulted. There was also a visit by Senator Massygreene, when he was a member of the Ministry, but no better understanding was arrived at. It has been said that difficulties have arisen in connexion with corky scab and Mediterranean fruit fly: but all honorable senators, with a knowledge of the history of the dispute, know that the basic cause of the trouble is commercial antagonism between producing interests in the two dominions. “Four States in the Commonwealth are engaged in the production of citrus fruits - New South Wales has probably the largest output, being followed closely by South Australia and Victoria, whilst Queensland is also a large, producer- - and two States are engaged in potato-growing on a large scale. If we are ever to extricate ourselves from the tangle which now exists, it seems that Ave should make a definite move by inviting representatives of the Government of New Zealand to visit Australia to discuss the matter.
– Why not send an Australian delegation to New Zealand?
– We have already sent two delegations to New Zealand, but no results were achieved. A new government is in power in New Zealand, and I suggest that this fact should be taken into consideration, and that an invitation should be extended to that Government to send a delegation to Australia to meet representatives of the two industries concerned. I feel sure tha t the present Government of New Zealand would not regard this matter as one of politics. In returning a Labour Government, the people of New Zealand have made political history. We all recall that, when the first Labour Government was returned to power in Australia, the London financiers were greatly perturbed until that great figure in finance, Mr. Baillieu, said that, after all, a Labour government would not be a bad thing for Australia. There is no likelihood of the Labour Government in New Zealand cutting this Gordian knot with a sword. It has been suggested by Senator Hardy, and members of the House of Representatives, that a heart-to-heart talk should take place between the Australian growers of potatoes and citrus fruits, in order that a national policy in respect of those commodities might be evolved before a meeting with representatives of the Government of New Zealand is arranged. It is only by constant reiteration of our demands that the differences may bc satisfactorily settled : unless something definite is done, the position will quickly go beyond redemption, and there will be no cure for the troubles that beset us. It is quite easy to adopt a. policy of allowing things to “ slide “. Bills of this kind are merely palliatives, and do nothing to solve the problem. It has been said that the citrus-growers are now in a more flourishing condition than they were before the New Zealand embargo was imposed.
– New Zealand is at present importing from Australia the same quantity of oranges as it did before it imposed the embargo.
– Nevertheless, the citrus-growers in the eastern States have had to seek a market for their surplus production in the United Kingdom. Time and again we have seen evidence that the British people are not prepared to keep an open market for Australia, or the other dominions. The policy of Major Elliott, Minister for Agriculture in the British Government, for the granting of a larger share in the British market to Australian producers was turned down by a majority at a meeting of the Conservative Parlia- mentary party in Great Britain, the largest party in the British House of Commons. It is a part of the defence policy of Great Britain to provide not only for the maintenance of a reserve of foodstuffs, but also to increase its own production in order that it might withstand a siege of from twelve months to two years. All our arrangements with Great Britain, are subject to that policy. -The trouble in connexion . with citrus fruit has forced us to go to Britain as a client seeking greater patronage in respect of a commodity which we had not previously marketed there. I agree with what was said by members of the House of Representatives during the debate on this bill, that the present position of the negotiations between Australia and New Zealand in connexion with this matter is farcical. We should at least attempt to evolve some real plan for the settlement of the differences before the new year, and to this end we should first call a conference of growers of citrus fruits and potatoes in Australia, to ascertain if they can come to an amicable agreement. Then we should invite the Government of New Zealand to send a delegation to Australia to discuss the matter with Australian representatives. We should abandon the present policy of playing one industry against another. Such a policy should not remain unchallenged by the members of this Senate.
– While the bill has my hearty approval, I deplore the necessity for its introduction. It seems to me an anomalous state of affairs -that it should be necessary to introduce a bill of this character to subsidize the growers of citrus fruits, while a profitable market exists in New Zealand for our surplus production. New Zealand is only two or three days voyage from Australia, and our fruit can lie landed there quite fresh. Because we have lost that market, however, we now find ourselves compelled to subsidize the citrus-growers to enable them to ship their surplus production to what is undoubtedly an uneconomic market. This bill provides for the expenditure of £10,000 by way of bounty; but, so faT as I can judge, that is a mere fraction of the loss which arises from our inability to supply the New Zealand market.
– That loss is particularly felt bv the growers in New South Wales.
– That is so. It is seriously affecting the producers of that State, who ^produce the finest oranges and citrus fruits grown in the world. The Leader of the Government in the Senate pointed out that citrus fruits grown in New South Wales and some of the other States is refused entry into New Zealand because of the danger of the introduction into that dominion of the Mediterranean fruit fly. While I do not profess to know a great deal about this matter, I believe that that danger is more imaginary than real. The right honorable gentleman also pointed out that Norfolk Island, where a good class of citrus fruit is grown, which is completely free of the Mediterranean fruit fly, is also denied a share of the New Zealand market. The right honorable senator also said -that the exports of citrus fruits to New Zealand from South Australia at present are equal to the total Australian exports prior to the imposition of the embargo. That is poor consolation to the citrusgrower. Having regard to the improvement of the quality of citrus fruits during the last few years, it is only reasonable to assume that, but for the imposition of the embargo, we would have had a greatly increased trade in the New Zealand market. So far as I can judge, there seems to bc more in this dispute than appears on the surface. There is a reason, but I judge from tlie remarks of the Leader of the Senate that the Government does not know what it is. This fact, I suggest, should spur the Government to further activities in .an endeavour to ascertain the cause for the failure, and take steps to meet it. To me it is little short of a tragedy that the very fine oranges produced in Australia should be sold at a loss when, within two or three days transport by sea there is a large and valuable potential market for them. I hope that notwithstanding the failure, hitherto, to reach an agreement with New Zealand, the Government will renew its efforts; otherwise we shall probably be asked to pass another bounty bill next year. That should not be necessary if our fruit has access to the New Zealand market.
– As the State which I assist to represent in this chamber is involved to some extent in the negotiations with New Zealand, it is fitting that I should offer some observations on the bill. It is strange that we cannot reach an agreement ‘ with the sister dominion for the marketing of Australian oranges in that country in sufficient quantities to meet the demand. I strongly support the bill, but deplore the fact that the negotiations have not been successful. Senator Hardy read extracts from newspaper reports this afternoon indicating that the demand iu New Zealand for Australian oranges was so keen that up to 42s. a case was realized recently. I know that oranges can be landed in New Zealand from South Australia for Ils. a .case. Growers in that State say that they can show a profit from at 5s. 6d. to 5s. 9d. a case at the orchard. For some years an organization of citrus-growers on the Murray River has had a representative in New Zealand, in the person of Mr. Mueller, who has done good work in fostering the demand for South Australian oranges in that country. We in South Australia are aware that good oranges are also grown in Victoria and New South Wales, particularly in the Griffith irrigation area. Senator Arkins this afternoon reminded the Senate that the citrus-growers in New South Wales were a long suffering people who now feel that they are entitled to some form of assistance. To me it is remarkable that oranges should be dearer in Sydney and the provincial centres of New South Wales than in South Australia which, by exporting such large quantities to New Zealand, relieves the selling pressure on the home market. The reason is, I believe, to be found in the activities of a number of profiteers who hold up the market and prevent the growers from ob”taining any benefit from the higher prices realized. It is farcical that the people of New Zealand who are anxious to obtain good clean fruit from Australia, should be denied this privilege because the Commonwealth Government is unable to reach an agreement with the Government of the sister dominion. We are informed that the trouble is not due to the desire of New Zealand producers to export potatoes to Australia, but arises from agreements with other countries, particularly the United States of America. As the Leader of the Senate told us this afternoon, New Zealand has an agreement with the United States of America with regard to the export of apples, so that if Australia exports oranges to New Zealand, that country may be prevented from exporting apples to the United States of America, because of the risk of the introduction of the Mediterranean fruit fly. That is given as one reason why Australian citrus-growers have not been able to establish themselves on the New Zealand market. There are other reasons. As the result of inquiries which I made in Sydney two or three years ago, I discovered that a number of unscrupulous exporters were shipping inferior fruit, and . that objection was taken by New Zealand, not on the ground that there was risk of introducing the Mediterranean fruit fly, but because the fruit w.as not good enough. I should add that the fruit to which objection was taken did not come from the Leeton or Griffith irrigation areas. I hope that action will he taken without further delay to clean up the position in New South Wales so as to facilitate an agreement with the sister dominion of New Zealand, thus obviating the need for further legislation of this nature for which the taxpayers have to foot the bill. It seems extraordinary that New Zealand which is capable of absorbing annually between 500,000 and 600,000 cases of Australian oranges should be able to obtain only from 140,000 to 200,000 cases, with the result that the price for the Australian fruit is so high.
– That is because of its quality.
– The quality of oranges exported from South Australia is excellent. So keen is the demand in New Zealand for this class of fruit that recently, so we were informed in the newspapers, lots were drawn at an auction sale for the right to purchase cases included in a shipment of Australian oranges.
– The restriction of the quantity marketed in .New Zealand is the trouble.
– I and other honorable senators, I am sure, would like to know ‘why the negotiations for an agreement with New Zealand have not been successful. Perhaps an agreement would be reached if the Government co-opted the services of some representative citrus-growers to assist in the negotiations.
– in reply - Senator Badman and other honorable senators spoke of the fancy prices which were being realized in New Zealand for oranges exported from South Australia.
– Fancy prices are being realized also in Sydney.
– The fact is that, as a general rule, Australian oranges do not command fancy prices in New Zealand.
– I said that oranges were landed in New Zealand from South Australia for11s. a case.
– That is true. I suppose we have all read of the classical definition of news - “ If a dog bites a man, that is not news ; but if a man bites a dog, that is news “. Accordingly such an item has front page publicity in the newspapers. Much the same may be said about the fancy prices realized for Australian oranges in New Zealand. Recently newspapers featured 30s. or 40s. a case. Naturally that news commanded the widespread attention of the reading public; but when oranges realize normal prices the fact is recorded not on the front pages, but in the commercial columns. Ordinarily sales of Australian oranges in New Zealand range from 17s. to 22s. a case. Senator Arkins urged the Government to promote organization of citrusgrowers in order more effectively to market their product. In my second-reading speech, I said that the industry had been informed that unless it took steps to organize itself and control the marketing of its output, it could not expect further assistance from the Government. Steps for the formation of an organization were taken some time ago. The matter was discussed at a meeting of the Agricultural Council, but difficulties were experienced in getting the States into line. However those obstacles have since been surmounted and steps are being taken to establish an organization, which we hope will do all the good things that are expected of it. It will not confine its activities to the marketing side of the problem; it will deal with all the troubles that affect the growers of citrus fruits. The investigation will be under the control of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and will, it is believed, fully justify the grant of £20,000 made to the council for that purpose.
Senator Collings apparently is looking forward to the day when the Government shall have complete control over primary industries; but, as I said on other occasions, his ideal State is one in which every person will have plenty of work to do, but will have to do as he is told. In regard to general policy, the honorable gentleman and members of the Government are as far apart as the poles. The same remark applies to the observations of Senator Brown, who spoke of the tragic incompetence of private enterprise. One has only to look at the world and see how much private enterprise has done to acknowledge the falsity of his criticism. Our view is that it is not the duty of the Government to put the citrus-growers on their feet; it is our duty to help them, in crises like the present, thus enabling them to put themselves on their feet.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Definitions).
– In earlier legislation dealing with the payment of bounties, I have directed attention to the definition of export case. In this clause it means - a case, the inside measurements of which (clear of divisions) are approximately as follows: -
Length 24 inches;
Depth 111/2 inches;
I suggest that provision should be inserted to ensure that in return for the bounty, the industry in its many ramifications should assist other industries. To that end the definition of “export case” should be amended to read - “ export case “’ means a case manufactured from native timbers the inside measurements of which . . .
Although large numbers of fruit cases are manufactured from imported timbers, native timbers are proving to be quite aa suitable for the purpose. This bill presents an opportunity to encourage the use of Australian timbers. I do not propose to move an amendment of the definition, but I cannot see any legitimate reason for not accepting the alteration I have suggested. If agreed to, it would encourage the making of cases from native timbers and reduce the importation of timber from abroad.
3.1 6] .-The Leader of the Country party (Senator Hardy) will realize that, he has raised an important matter of public policy. In assuring him that in various ways the use of native timbers is encouraged, I point out that in some markets cases made of hardwood are not accepted. My colleague, the Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan), assures me that in parts of South Australia, cases made of locally grown timber are proving entirely satisfactory. The making of cases from Australian grown timber is given every encouragement.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 agreed to.
Clause 4. (Specification of bounty).
– Paragraph c reads - oranges described ns “Plain” within the moaning of regulation 48a . . .
Can the Minister say whether “ Plain “ oranges are diseased, or of small size, or of a particular variety?
– The term “ Plain “ refers to small oranges which, perhaps, have some external blemish.
, - Paragraph a relates to oranges exported during the whole of the year 1936 whereas paragraph 6 refers to navel oranges exported between the 1st January and the 23rd July of this year. Can. the Minister give the reason for the different periods?
– Oranges will not arrive at their destination in good condition if exported after the dates mentioned. That is particularly so in respect of navel oranges.
– Paragraph d deals with oranges exported as gifts. .For several years the Queensland Preference Leauge has sent jams and other commodities to the value of many thousands of pounds to the Old Country either as gifts or for advertising purposes. The growers of the oranges are not concerned as to whether their product is exported by one organization or another, but they are concerned with the bounty. Why should they not benefit from the export of oranges by’ such organizations, as I have mentioned? The purpose of the bill is to assist the growers of citrus fruits.
– It is not thought reasonable that a bounty should be paid in .respect of goods sent abroad as gifts.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 5 (Rate of bounty).
– The Assistant Minister (Senator Brennan) will recollect that of the £20,000 provided last year for payment of a bounty on oranges exported, only approximately £10,000 was expended. Should a similar position arise this year, and oranges to the value of, say, £5,000 be exported, will the Government consider increasing the rate of bounty in order that the whole of the vote may be expended ?
– The bounty if based on a payment of 2s. a case not on a distribution of £10,000.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 6 (Payee of bounty).
– Sub-clause 2 reads -
The exporter of the oranges shall pay to the grower of the oranges the amount of the bounty received by him in respect of the oranges, unless he proves to the satisfaction of the Minister that he purchased or otherwise acquired the oranges from the grower or his agent and that the payment, if any, made lo the grower or his agent for the oranges included an amount which represents the bounty paid in respect of the oranges.
Can the Minister say who will receive the bounty of 2s. a case and how it is proposed to conserve the interests of the grower whose fruit is exported through a dealer? Should a dealer incorrectly state the number of cases of oranges exported by him on behalf of a grower, how will the grower know how many of the cases of oranges sold by him to such dealer have been exported, and how many have been sold in the home market?
Senator BRENNAN (Victoria - Assistant Minister) [3.24 j . - The bounty will, in the first instance, be paid to the exporter of the oranges. After the announcement of the bounty exporters automatically included the amount of the bounty in the price paid by them to the growers, and will be entitled to retain the bounty when it is received from the department. In order to protect the grower of the oranges it is provided that the exporters shall pay to the grower of the oranges the bounty received, unless the exporter can prove to the satisfaction of the Minister that he paid to the grower the amount of the bounty in addition to the ordinary purchase price of the oranges.
– The method of denning export oranges is somewhat haphazard. Dealers in citrus fruits will, in most instances, dispose of them in both the local and the export markets. Should a dealer purchase 50 cases of oranges from a grower and dispose of half of them locally and export the remainder, what is to prevent him from telling the grower that only twenty cases have been exported? And how would the grower be able to prove that more than twenty cases of his oranges were exported?
– There may be difficulties, but the provisions of the bill, embody the best means that can be devised to protect the interests of the growers.
.- Senator Badman has raised a matter of tremendous importance. I agree with him that the grower of the oranges may have great difficulty in proving how many cases of his fruit have been exported. The Minister’s reply does not satisfy me, as a business man, that the interests of the growers will be adequately protected. Parliament does not intend that the bounty shall be paid to any one other than the grower of the oranges.
– Could not the Government see the bills of lading?
– That would not suffice. An exporter may buy 50 cases of oranges from one grower and 50 cases from another, and export half of the total quantity purchased. What is there to prevent him from telling each of the growers that all his oranges were sold in the home market?
– The return in the home market differs from that in the overseas market.
– A dishonest dealer could, deprive the growers of the bounty.
– That sort of thing does not happen.
– I can scarcely believe that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) is so innocent as he appears to be. These things do happen frequently, and will continue to happen unless means are taken to prevent them. I want to ensure that the bounty is paid to the grower. The Government should endeavour to tighten up the regulations to that end.
– I think that I can be acquitted of any charge of innocence in this matter, for I have had a fairly long commercial experience and have never hesitated to say what I think of the. astuteness of those engaged in private enterprise. But the grower of oranges does not usually send his fruit away to be packed; he either packs it himself or has it packed in a community packing shed, which preserves the identity of his product. The cases containing his fruit are branded with his name or other sign of identification.
– If a grower consigns 1,000 cases of oranges through an agent, those cases are branded with certain marks, and the agent must account to the grower for the oranges sent to the destination marked on each case. In his account sales he will show that, of the total number of cases of oranges purchased by him, so many were sold locally, so many in another Australian market, and the remainder exported by a certain vessel or vessels. If the agent does not keep accounts of that nature, and provide the grower with those details in his account sales, I can only say that business methods- have changed considerably during recent years. In Queensland some time ago, the agents of primary producers did not keep such records which prevented produce from being traced. Some growers who visited the city to see their produce sold, discovered, when they received their returns, that the prices alleged to have been received were much lower than those actually paid. The State government then compelled every grower to brand his packages, and made the agents supply a definite statement showing the destination of each brand, what had become of the produce, and the prices obtained. In Queensland, there is now no opportunity for fraudulent practices to be adopted. It appears to me that there is nothing in the contention of Senator Badman that the growers will not receive the bounty. In spite of the fact that I have not got a very good opinion of some commercial men, I would be sorry to learn that there are men who would do as Senator Badman suggests.
– During the temporary absence from the chamber of the Assistant Minister (Senator Brennan), I shall deal briefly with the relationship between the orangegrowers and the Government. While there is no difficulty in South Australia, where the bulk of the oranges are grown in the Murray valley, where there are large packing sheds under control of cooperative organizations, I am inclined to think that there is no way of overcoming the possibility of isolated cases of fraud such as have been predicted by Senator Badman. Sub-clause 2 of clause 6 provides -
The exporter of the oranges shall pay to the grower of the oranges the amount of the bounty received by hint in respect of the oranges, unless he proves to the satisfaction of the Minister that he purchased or otherwise acquired the oranges from the grower or his agent . . .
He must satisfy the Minister. If honorable senators will refer to clauses 8 and 9, they will see that adequate provision is made to enable the Minister to make the necessary inquiries and for the imposition of penalties. The growers, who must have been fairly treated in the past, otherwise the Department of Trade and Customs would undoubtedly have heard of it, are alive to the fact that they are entitled to the bounty, and the only way to pay it is through exporters. I assure honorable senators that the provisions made in the clauses I have mentioned are sufficiently comprehensive to prevent exploitation. It may appear at first that the drafting is somewhat loose, but this method has to be adopted in order to facilitate the payment of the bounty. It is almost impossible even for exporters who contemplate adopting unbusinesslike tactics to deprive the growers of the bounty.
– Notwithstanding what the PostmasterGeneral (Senator A. j. McLachlan) has said, I still maintain that there is an opportunity for unscrupulous exporters to deprive the growers of the bounty. Some time ago, the fact was brought under the notice of the Government that exporters of wine, who should have paid the wine bounty to the producers retained, it for their own use. In this instance, also I believe that it is possible for unscrupulous exporters to deprive the orange-growers of the money to which they are entitled. An agent reports to a grower from whom he has received oranges the destination of the product, but a dealer who makes an outright purchase does not have to report to any one.
– What would he do with the bounty?
– He may obscure it by faking his books. The bill provides that the exporter shall pay the bounty to the grower, but how is the grower to prove how many cases of his product were exported? The grower not the exporter is entitled to the bounty.
– The exporter must prove thathe has paid the bounty to the grower.
– I still maintain that there is an opportunity for an unscrupulous exporter to mislead a grower, and in that way deprive him of his money.
.- I was rather inclined to support the Minister’s contention that the grower is fully protected until he referred to clauses 8 and 9. Clause 8 merely provides that a person shall not obtain or attempt to obtain payment of any bounty which is not payable by means of any false or misleading statement. What does that mean?
– That does not mean payment to the grower.
– Under clause S, an exporter is not compelled to pay the bounty to the grower.
– Under that clause, a penalty is provided for an infringement of the act, and clause 9 gives to the Minister power to withhold payment in certain circumstances.
– Clause 6 provides that the exporter of the oranges shall pay to the grower the amount of the bounty received by him, but it does not say that he has to pay the grower before the oranges are exported. I am somewhat doubtful concerning the actual position; I believe that the grower should be more fully protected.
– I direct the attention of the Assistant Minister (Senator Brennan) to clause’ 6, sub-clause 1, which reads -
The bounty shall, subject to this section, be payable to the exporter of the oranges.
That is the first stage. The intention of the Government is to pay the bounty to the growers who have suffered a loss owing to low prices obtained overseas. The second stage is covered by sub-clause 2, which reads -
The exporter of the oranges shall pay to the grower of the oranges the amount of the bounty received by him in respect of the oranges . . .
Is there not an opportunity for an exporter to inform a grower that he had exported only 20 per cent, of his oranges when he has actually exported 50 per cent.? How is the grower to ascertain the actual quantity shipped by the exporter?
– The exporter applies for the bounty, which constitutes a public transaction, and will be on record. Senator Badman then visualizes an exporter, who, knowing that his transactions are on record, wrongfully retains the bounty in spite of the provisions in clauses 8 and 9. The great bulk of these transactions are made by honest men and are open and above board. The majority of the exporters are willing to carry out the law, but in this as in every other commercial transaction there may be isolated persons who will take advantage of .a loop-hole. In any case, only a small quantity of oranges would be affected. The Minister has almost inquisitorial powers to ascertain whether even in the smaller transactions an exporter has acted dishonestly. These provisions are inserted only to meet exceptional cases, because generally speaking, punitive or inquisitorial provisions are unnecessary. It is unreasonable to suggest that exporters as a body are dishonest persons.
– I know that the packers at Renmark, Berri and Waikerie, in South Australia, brand all their cases, and that products from these sheds can be identified readily; but I am thinking of the growers who sell from 50 to 200 cases to a dealer. I trust that under the regulations it will be compulsory for growers’ names to be plainly marked on each case for export, and that the agents shall record the names of the growers whose product is exported. Until this safeguard is provided, I shall not be satisfied that the man who is entitled to the bounty will in every instance receive it.
– By what method does the honorable senator suggest that every possibility of fraud could be guarded against?
– I suggest that the name of the grower of each case of oranges exported should be imprinted on the case, and that the agents should be compelled to inform the Government of the number of cases shipped for each grower. Then the Government would know to whom the bounty should be paid, irrespective of what channel the fruit had passed through.
– It must be remembered that the exporter is the claimant, although the final recipient is to be the grower. The exporter cannot” receive the bounty unless he can show that he has exported the number of cases of oranges on which the bounty is claimed. No injustice or, at any rate, inequity would be done to a grower if he could not produce proof that he was entitled to the payment of the bounty. What has been envisaged by Senator Badman might possibly occur in respect of very small consignments sold by a grower and subsequently included in a larger consignment for export, but if it cannot be demonstrated that the fruit has been exported it cannot be claimed that wrong has been done by the non-payment of the bounty. All that a person can expect is justice according to law.
Clause agreed to.
Clause7 (Condition of payment).
– This clause reads -
A payment of bounty shall not be made under this act unless the claimant for that bounty has, in accordance with the regulations, lodged an application therefor on or before the thirty-first day of March, One thousand nine hundred and thirty-seven :
I desire to know exactly who, under this clause, will be the claimant for the bounty? Will he be the exporter or the grower ?
SenatorBrennan. - The clause contemplates that the exporter shall be the claimant. It is conceivable that a grower may also be an exporter.
– A grower does not usually export.
– No, but that does not alter the fact that the application for the bounty must be made by the exporter. If the grower exports he automatically becomes the exporter and, at the same time, the claimant for the bounty.
– According to my reading of the previous clause, the claimant for the bounty clearly must be the exporter, irrespective of whether he is an exporter or a grower. The claimant is the exporter, but the beneficiary is the grower. If the exporter fails to make application for the bounty within the prescribed time, will the grower be the loser? I do not know whether that has ever happened, but it appears to be possible.
– The honorable senator has brought forward a case which contemplates neglect, or, at least inaction by the exporter, as a result of which the grower might be deprived of the bounty; but, in the first place, both the exporter and the grower would be alive to the fact that a bounty was being paid on export. Presumably, when growers and exporters enter into business relations they work on a basis of friendship, and the agent would like to do for the grower what any good agent would do for a good customer. It might, however, be possible that through forgetfulness the exporter did not lodge application for the bounty, but for that to happen there would also have to be forgetfulness on the part of the grower. In such an event the Minister is empowered to extend the time in which application for bounty may be made, and however late the application were made it could be met. If either the exporter or the grower came to the Minister and pleaded forgetfulness or oversight, the Minister could, in his discretion, accept the application.
.- The Minister asked Senator Badman by what method he would guard against all possibilities of exporters defrauding the growers of the bounty. I suggest that any person who exports oranges should be compelled at the time of making application for the bounty to make a declaration to the Commonwealth Government as to the identity of the growers. The growers could then be informed by the Government of the amount of the bounty that was being paid on the oranges exported on their behalf. That I think would effectually close the door which Senator Badman regards as being open.
– The honorable senator has outlined what is’ the usual way of administering legislation of this kind. He has stated exactly the steps which would be taken by the department. I assure the committee that there is in existence already a large number of regulations dealing with this matter, and that if any further regulations be necessary to ensure that the spirit of this legislation shall be carried out they will be made.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 8 to 11 agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 30th September (vide page 664) ou motion hy Senator Sir George Pearce -
That the papers he printed.
– When this debate was adjourned last week I was referring to the very great relief that the budgetary position has received from the fact that the Government has been able to discontinue the assistance given to the wheat industry, which, in 1934-35, amounted to £4,050,000. That amount was distributed amongst the wheat-growers at the rate of 3s. an acre, and 3d. a bushel of wheat produced. In 1935-36 the assistance given by the Commonwealth Government to this industry was greatly reduced, and was distributed on a basis which, at any tate, did not suit the wheat-growers of Western Australia, who, in that year, were unfortunate in having a very much lighter crop than usual. Consequently, the amount distributed totalled only £1,916,000 which is much less than half of the amount distributed in the previous year. The farmers in Western Australia received ls. 10£d. an acre, as compared with 3s. an acre and 3d. a bushel in the previous twelve months.
– Was that all that was distributed?
– In addition, the small amount of £161,000 was distributed for drought relief, the sufferers receiving assistance by way of sustenance. All of the other States received much larger amounts per acre than the rate of ls. lOd. paid in Western Australia, and considerable dissatisfaction was felt in that State at the method of distribution then adopted. This year the position, from the viewpoint of those suffering from drought in Western Australia and possibly some other portions of Australia, is much more unfortunate. The Treasurer (Mr. Casey), in the budget speech, said - fu view of the fortunate and substantial improvement in the price of wheat, it is unnecessary for the Commonwealth to contemplate further assistance to wheat-growers during the present financial year.
We all rejoice that the price of wheat has so substantially improved. But that fact is of little benefit to the farmer who is suffering from severe drought conditions and has little or no wheat to sell. He is placed iti further difficulty because the increase of the price of wheat has brought about an increase of the cost of seed wheat. It is a matter for regret that the Government did not make any provision for wheat relief this year. Following on the visit of the Assistant Minister for Commerce (Mr. Thorby) to certain wheat districts of that State in which the farmers had suffered severely during hist season, it was thought that a sum of at least £150,000 would have been provided for in the budget for drought relief, particularly in view of the fact that though in the preceding year a sum of £161,000 was provided for that purpose, it proved inadequate to meet the needs of the farmers. It was estimated by the deputations which waited on Mr. Thorby that the amount required to carry those settlers through to the next harvest was £150,000 in addition to the £161,000 already granted. That amount should have been provided for in this budget. In view of the sympathetic manner in which Mr. Thorby received the farmers in the drought-stricken areas, even at this late hour I urge the Government to provide £150,000 in the budget for drought relief. If that were done, it would relieve in the wheat-growing districts the intense disappointment that followed the publication of the budget speech.
The outlook for the coming harvest in the northern and north-eastern districts of Western. Australia is, I am afraid, quite as alarming as, if not more serious than, it was last year. It is true that in those areas quite good rain fell last week, but press reports and telegrams which I have received point out that the rain fell too late to be of much benefit in many districts. The crops in some of the eastern and northern districts which were planted on heavy soil had already dried up. Even now in the northern and north-eastern districts the position is very uncertain in regard to the crops that have survived, but those planted on light lands will give some return if adequate rain subsequently falls. [Extension of time granted.] The following telegram received from Perth and published in the Age and other metropolitan newspapers of the eastern States shows the position in those outlying districts: -
Western Australia is facing the probability that iu the large wheat-growing area of the north there will be no harvest this year. The Wialki ( north-cast ) district of the Wheatgrowers Union has sent a telegram to Mr. T. H. Powell, president of the union, who is in Canberra, as follows: - “Ask you to bring matter before Federal Government. Northeast district still 400.000 short account last season’s drought. Crop prospects little better this season. Water shortage worse. Urge Federal Government re-impose Hour tax for four months. £1,000,000 assistance required. Crops dying; farmers becoming desperate”. The Primary Producers Association is endeavouring to arrange a deputation to the Acting Premier, Mr. Troy, to discuss thu situation, with the object of co-operating in an application to the Federal Government for assistance. Even if rain comes within a few days it will be too late to save the crops.
Rain did come a week later -
The crops on heavy land have gone beyond recovery and are being fed off.
At that stage it seemed that the Government would have to face a request for £1,000,000 for drought relief. I notice that the new Premier of “Western Australia, Mr. Willcock, has asked the Treasurer for £500,000 to enable him to carry on. It is suggested that the Federal Government will probably meet the position by making £500,000 of loan moneys available to the Government of Western Australia. That, however, does not conform to my idea of how the difficulty should he overcome. It appears to me that if the Government borrows an extra £500,000 from the Loan Council for this purpose, it will probably be compelled to lend it to the drought-stricken farmers, who would be obliged to pay interest on the loans granted. That is a burden which, in their present position, the wheat-farmers of Western Australia could not afford to carry, nor should the State Government, in its present financial position, be expected to meet the heavy interest payments on that sum. It is the duty of the Federal Government to make provision in this budget for whatever extra drought relief is required for Western Australia this year. At least £500,000 should be made available, but I am inclined to fear that not less Ulan £1,000,000 will be required in Western Australia alone. Drought relief is certainly a federal responsi- bility. I read in the press within the last few months that Mr. Roosevelt. President of the United States of America, has accepted losses incurred by primary producers owing to seasonal conditions as a proper responsibility of the Federal Government. I hope that in this respect the Commonwealth Government will follow the lead given by Mi-. Roosevelt. The fact that last year the Government* provided a sum of £161,000 for drought relief in Western Australia and in previous years provided sums of money for that purpose, shows ‘that the provision of sums of money for drought relief has already been accepted as a federal responsibility. I have received from Mr. H. Leslie, secretary of tho Wheat-growers Union, Wyalkatchem, the following telegram : -
Representative meetings of wheat-growers Wyalkatchem to Westonia and northern areas held Kununoppin to-day gravely concerned at critical position. Following message as under received from combined meeting o< traders in these areas. Message reads -
In view of disastrous failure of present crops and unsympathetic treatment of country traders in past by government, traders reluctantly decide discontinue all credit. Your immediate action ensure future supplies imperative.
That information covers large district? in Western Australia. Wyalkatchem is only 140 miles from Perth, and the districts covered extend to Westonia and the Southern Cross goldfields, and includes the northern areas as well. This telegram gives further support to my statement that from £500,000. to £1,000,000 will he required for drought relief in Western Australia this year. I again urge the Government to make the necessary provision in this budget. Compared with the budget brought down two years ago, this budget has been relieved of £4,000,000, which was the amount granted for the assistance of the wheat industry in Australia. The Treasurer, I am sorry to say, airily dismisses the whole subject in a small paragraph, saying that “In view of the fortunate and substantial improvement in the price of wheat, it is unnecessary for the Commonwealth to contemplate further assistance to wheat-growers during the present financial year “. No wonder the Federal Government has found itself able to make so many remis- sions in every direction. Relief lias been handed out in all directions except to the governments of Western Australia and South Australia and the grants of these States have been reduced by £470,000. Though I commend the Government for its decision to grant relief from taxation as much as possible, I deprecate the fact that it is being done partly at the expense of the droughtstricken wheat-farmers of Western Australia and the wheat industry generally.
– It is surely not done at the expense of the wheat-farmers!
– Relief to the extent of £470,000 has been granted at the direct expense of the State Treasuries of Western Australia and South Australia, because the annual grants to those States, which should have been put on a more stable basis, have been reduced by that amount. The fact that this budget is relieved of the former provision for assistance to the wheat industry, which in 1934-35 amounted to £4,000,000, and in 1935-36 to £2,000,000, undoubtedly makes it a lot easier for the Government to grant concessions, desirable as they may be, in every direction. I maintain, however, that concessions should not have been given to the community as a whole at the expense of the drought-stricken farmers of Western Australia,. The two States whose grants have been reduced by the Commonwealth Grants Commission this year suffered very severely from drought last year. Yet in 1935, when similar conditions prevailed over a comparatively limited area in Western Australia,the Federal Government made available £161,000. It is essential that provision should be made for a greater amount this year, because of the unfavorable seasonal conditions over a wider area in that State, as indicated in the telegrams which I have read. I protest against the exclusion of the wheat industry from the budget provisions for the payment of the fertilizer subsidy, because this year wheat-growers are not receiving other forms of assistance. Two years ago, they were given 3s. an acre on the area cropped for wheat, and 3d. a bushel on the production. That was a reasonable proposal, and no objection was raised at that time in either House of the Commonwealth Parliament to the exclusion of the wheat industry from the fertilizer subsidy because growers were then receiving other assistance. Now that that assistance has been entirely withdrawn, there is no logical reason why the wheat industry should not participate in the subsidypayable on fertilizers. I protest also against the reduction of the subsidy from 15s. a ton to 10s. a ton.
– The honorable senator is a bit late. That bill has been passed.
– It is not too late -for the Government to deal justly with wheat-growers who harvest their crops for grain. If it wishes to assist them, the Government can bring in a supplementary bill. The exclusion of wheat-growers who harvest for grain from the provisions relating to the payment of fertilizer subsidy, whilst every other form of primary production is included, 13 an injustice which cannot be defended. I therefore, urge the Government to do the light thing by making provision in a supplementary measure for the payment of the fertilizer subsidy to the wheat-growers other than those who cut for hay. This unjust discrimination is strongly, resented by wheat-growers in Western Australia and South Australia, which depend more than any other State for their financial stability on the prosperity of the wheat industry. This year growers in those States are suffering from adverse seasonal conditions.
Last week the Premier of Western Australia (Mr. Willcock) sent a telegram to the Commonwealth Treasurer urging that a much greater measure of assistance should be made available for drought relief to Western Australia either by way of a grant or by provision from loan funds. I repeat that the right course is to continue the policy which has been followed from the time of the Scullin Government, namely to make a definite grant to the industry. The unjust reduction of the grant for Western Australia this year from £S00,000 to £500,000 has seriously interfered with the ability of the State to meet claims for drought relief. It would seem that Western Australia this year has been chastized not with whips but with scorpions, because in its time of greatest need for financial assistance to meet claims for drought relief, the Commonwealth Government has, on the recommendation of a biased Commonwealth Grants Commission, reduced the grant to “Western Australia by £300,000. I hope that the Government will do the right thing without delay, and restore the grant to £800,000, the amount paid last year. “When the budget reaches us from the House of Representative’s 1 hope to be able to deal with other national problems.
– I congratulate the Government on the presentation of a satisfactory budget, but I also condemn it for reducing the grant to “Western Australia from £800,000 to £500,000. The Lyons Government is to be complimented for the many excellent proposals contained in the budget, which is a reflection of the economic recovery of Australia during the last twelve months. I entirely disagree with the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings), and with his survey of the economic position of Australia. There seems to be a rift somewhere in the Labour party, because the statements made by Senator Collings are at complete variance with* observations made by one of his colleagues in tlie House of Representatives shortly after his return from a long trip abroad. I refer to the statement made by Mr. “ Texas “ Green, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, upon his arrival at Fremantle recently. Mr. Green is not only an omnivorous reader of books and labour dailies and such like literature; he is also a seasoned, traveller and experienced observer. Therefore, his references to conditions in other countries should carry more weight than the utterances of other Labour members, who prefer to remain closer to their own hearth. Mr. Green has also had valuable experience as a Minister of State. Under one government, he was for a period Minister for Defence, and later held the portfolio of Postmaster-General, so that his knowledge of Australian economic conditions is more accurate than the views of the Leader of the Opposition in thi3 chamber who, I gather, has not travelled abroad for very many years.
– I know more about Australian conditions than the honorable senator does.
– 1 doubt it. The mournful picture drawn by the Leader of the Opposition of the slums in our capital cities and the conditions of our unemployed generally are not, I suggest, a very good advertisement for Australia. This “knocking” of one’s own country should cease. The Leader of the Opposition has good reason for serious reflection concerning some of the statements which he made in this chamber last week, because they were certainly not in the best interests of the Commonwealth. As having some bearing on his views of the employment situation, I remind him of a rumour which I heard recently that the Sydney Municipal Council was seriously considering the removal of the benches in the domain, because as a result of sane Government in Commonwealth and State spheres there were now few unemployed to occupy them.
– There are 30,000 persons on the dole in New South “Wales.
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD.There is not that number. This continual “ knocking “ of Australian conditions by the Leader of the Opposition is a disservice to the Commonwealth. I remind the Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan) of his recent utterance that. Australia could dig itself out of debt by an increased production of gold - a statement with which I am in entire agreement.
I do not think that enough is being done to increase the gold production of the Commonwealth. Land which cannot grow wheat may contain gold; and if the Minister in charge of development would, in collaboration with the State Ministers for Mines, pursue the search for gold with greater vigour, the problem which seems to worry the Lender of the Country party (Senator Hardy), namely, the payment of interest on our overseas debt, would be nearer to solution. I urge the Government to give to this subject its most serious consideration.
I congratulate’ the Government on its policy of tax reduction, which I hope will long continue. It is a most favorable sign of the times when a Treas- urer is able to reduce taxes. One effect of such a reduction is an easing of the situation in relation to unemployment. In this connexion I urge the Government to allow as deductions from income the school fees paid by parents for the education of their children.
SenatorFoll. - The deduction disappears when the child reaches sixteen years of age, just when the expenses are heaviest.
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD.Even before the children reach that age, many parents are put to great expense in educating them. The burden is particularly heavy where there are several children in a family. Parents who, at their own expense, endeavour to give their children a good education, at private schools or otherwise, should be encouraged in every way. Desirable citizens of this class should be allowed to deduct school fees from their taxable income.
The Treasurer’s budget speech contains the following reference to the Commonwealth Grants Commission : -
The commissionhas reiterated statements made in its previous reports that the adoption of an automatic formula for the determination of those grants over a period of years is not practicable,and has based its recommendations on the amounts necessary to raise the finances of the claimant States approximately to the level of the other States. The effect of this method is to reduce the grants when the finances of the claimant States show a greater improvement than those of the non-claimant States, and vice versa. South Australia and Western Australia both improved their economic position more than the average in 1934-35, i.e., the year on which the commission bases its conclusions, and reduced grants are recommended accordingly for those States.
I submit that the reduction of the grants proposed for “Western Australia and South Australia is unreasonable. After many weeks, and the consideration of reams of evidence, the commission has arrived at certain conclusions.
– Much of it was expert evidence.
– I submit that, although the claimant States were unanimous in urging the appointment of a commission, the Treasury officials of the Commonwealth and the States could have produced results quite as satisfactory without the taking of such a volume of evidence and the incurring of heavy expense.
– Does the honorable senator agree with the principles underlying the commission’s recommendations?
– I am afraid that I do not agree with much that the commission has done. There was a time when I favoured the appointment of such a body, and, indeed, 1 was glad when the commission was appointed ; but now, after three years’ experience of it, I am of the opinion that the heads of the Treasuries could have done as well
– In any case, there would have to be some direction as to the principles on which conclusions should be founded.
– It is impossible to adopt an automatic formula which will prove satisfactory, because the granting of assistance to the States requires a lifelong knowledge of the conditions in each State - a qualification which not one member of the commission possessed, in relation to Western Australia. There is a great discrepancy between the per capita payments to the three States to which assistance is to be given. In respect of Tasmania, the proposed payment is £2 12s.; for South Australia it is £2 5s., and for Western Australia £1 3s. Without wishing to damage the case of either Tasmania or South Australia, I submit that a per capita payment of £1 3s. to Western Australia is unreasonable when compared with a grant of £2 12s. to Tasmania. It is ridiculous to suggest, as those figures do, that the position of Western Australia has improved to such an extent as to require a grant of only £1 3s. a head, and that Tasmania has retrogressed so far as to justify a per capita payment of £2 12s. What is true of the per capita payment is applicable to many of the fin dings of the commission. For instance, that body has seen fit to criticize the land settlement policy of Western Australia. Can any honorable senator mention a State which has not incurred losses in connexion with its land settlement schemes? No doubt the commission had in mind the group settlement scheme of Western Australia, of which, I submit, it has not a profound knowledge. I cannot understand why that scheme has been singled out for special attention.
In another paragraph of its report, the commission stated that Western Australia had a surplus at the end of the financial year. That may be,, if we accept the report of the Treasurer of the State, but there seems to be some doubt in the minds of the members of the Legislative Council of Western Australia as to the exact amount of the surplus. Indeed, one member of that body, for whose opinion I have a high regard - I refer to the Hon. J. J. Holmes, M.L.C., who has had a life-long experience of public life - has gone so far as to suggest that the State has not a surplus at all because of the nonpayment into the sinking fund of the interest due on deficits over a number of years since the passing of the Financial Agreement Act. In the Western Australian Hansard, volume 4, page 130, Mr.. Holmes is reported to have said that, had the interest payment of 4 per cent, been taken into account, the State, instead of having a surplus of £80,000 would have ended the year with a deficit of more than £1,000,000. That statement, coming from such an authority, robs the report of the commission of much of its force.
It would appear from the commission’s criticism of the cost of social services in Western Australia that its members have not a sufficiently intimate experience of the State to appreciate the vast distances that have to be travelled, and the consequently increased cost of providing services. Apparently, it does not realize that the cost of maintaining a policeman in Victoria may be less than one-quarter of the cost in Western Australia. Moreover, educational costs for a school unit in Victoria or in any of the eastern States are probably less than half the cost in Western Australia. A similar disparity exists in regard to water supplies and other public undertakings. It will be seen, on reflection, that the relative costs of social services in Western Australia must necessarily be higher than in the other States; yet the worthy gentlemen who constitute the commission appear to have overlooked those facts. I suggest, for the consideration of the Government, that there should be a more equitable distribution of surplus federal revenue. I strongly urge that the reduction of the grant to Western Australia, as recommended by the commission, be not made, particularly as that State is now suffering from almost unparalleled drought conditions. Not since 1914 has Western Australia suffered so severe a drought as that which it is now experiencing. This is not the time to reduce the grant to that State. Nor is it wise, for the sake of a paltry £300,000, to upset the budgetary position of the State and encourage a revival of the movement for secession.
– Surely the people of Western Australia do not blame federation for the drought!
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD.Conditions in Western Australia may not be known to Senator Dein; but I can assure him that the reduction of the grant to that State is likely so to inflame the people that the movement for secession will be revived. I strongly urge that the grant to Western Australia be restored to £800,000, the amount paid last year.
– On a previous- occasion I was prevented by the Standing Orders from dealing at length with the activities of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and I therefore take this opportunity to bring under the notice of the Senate certain facts which are of importance to the people of Australia. One is safe in saying that there is a good deal of dissatisfaction, not only in New South Wales,. but also in the other States, with the manner in which broadcasting in Australia is controlled. Wireless transmission possesses some unusual features in. that news and entertainment are presented in a way that is comparatively new, and it also provides a means of imposing further taxes on the people. In these circumstances the majority of theAustralian people are interested in broadcasting, and in the manner in which it is controlled. It was only fair to expect that in its early stages there would be difficulties, particularly in the form of” control; but in spite of such difficulties we should expect a display of commonsense by those responsible for managing such a huge business as that conducted’ by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The activities of the commission- have been centered largely in New South Wales, owing to the fact that it is the most densely populated State of the Commonwealth, and that it is fairly central among the eastern States. At times members of the commission have been men of experience who have exhibited tact and business acumen, but there have been others who have been tactless and unfair in their methods of dealing, not only with commercial men, but also with talented artists who have come under their control. Some of the incidents to which I propose to refer occurred some time ago, but I was unable to deal with them when they were prominently before the public. Shortly after I became a member of the Senate I attempted to ventilate the peculiar happenings surrounding the -visit to Australia of Captain Adkins who was brought to Australia by the commission to conduct its military band. Adkins was said to possess remarkable talent, and stand high in the musical world in Great Britain. I listened to many of the broadcasts of the band under his baton, and I had an opportunity to ascertain that he is an uncommon and somewhat freakish individual. I was surprised, however, to discover later that he was responsible for some remarkable acts, some of which were most repugnant to me. A number of Australian musicians had been brought together to form a military band under the direction of a most admirable man named McAnally, who possessed the highest credentials as a bandmaster; and who placed at the disposal of Captain Adkins a combination of musicians that could not he surpassed in any part of the British Empire. The evidence I have concerning the character of Adkins was obtained, not from one individual, but from several. I am informed that -
Captain Adkinshas proved himself to be a man of violent temper, extreme vulgarity, who uses disgusting, unprintable language. His addiction to beer and whisky, in addition, stamp’s his conduct as unbecoming to an officer and a gentleman. The importation of such a character is undeniably detrimental to the interests of Australia., in general, and music, in particular. He boasted that he intended to discipline Australians.
– Who made that statement?
– A man who played under his direction.
– Why not give his name ?
– The statement can be verified.
– Why not give his name? It is pretty rotten to make such a statement under the protection afforded to the honorable senator.
– The statements, methods and language used by Adkins were also rotten. I have a fairly direct knowledge of his conduct, and I am positive that the statement which I. have quoted, however distasteful it may be, is correct. When abroad as a “ digger “ I learned that certain British officers said that Australians would not submit to discipline.
– But this is all second hand stuff.
– It is not. Australians will submit to discipline when necessary. Captain Adkins came to Australia, and in running the rule over his band, used vile and vulgar language and adopted certain strange methods with the result that some musicians would not sit under his baton. This occurred during the depression when men who could ill afford it declined to play under his direction. Other men, although incensed, stuck to their work, because they could not afford to relinquish it. I maintain however, that those who left their positions should be reinstated or compensated in some form for the loss they sustained. The document from which I have quoted continued -
When he got on the ship at Fremantle, he said: “I put my fingers up to my nose and say a sailor’s farewell to Australia.”
I do not wish to go into all the unsavoury details associated with the visit of Captain Adkins, but in view of whatI know occurred the commission should have terminated his engagement and allowed him to return to England.
– Was he a good conductor ?
– According to experts he did not possess outstanding ability. He appeared in unnecessary military uniform, and was in control of a combination of Australian musicians who for some months had been trained by an Australian. Some thousands of pounds were expended in equipping the band, and notwithstanding his unsuitability as a bandmaster, no action was taken by the commission. Although this occurred some time ago, I should like the Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan) to say whether the men who were victimized can be compensated. I do not know why Captain Adkins’ behaviour was not made the subject of comment in this chamber. I am astounded that a man of his character was allowed to travel about the country insulting Australians.
That is merely one period of the history of the broadcasting commission. I should like this chamber to take notice of other events in its history, most of which happened under the management of Major Conder. It is now generally accepted that his appointment was a mistake, and that he was a failure.
– All of this has been brought up in this chamber before.
– What I am about to refer to has not been raised here. Under Major Conder’s management of the commission many men were relieved of their positions, and immediately snapped up at lucrative salaries by the commercial broadcasting stations.For instance, Mr. C. C. Fawkner, who, for a long time, had looked after the literary side of the commission’s activities, was dismissed. I have had many chats with that most admirable gentleman, and he told me some astounding things, but, unfortunately, he asked me, notfor personal reasons, but for certain other reasons, to regard them as confidential. I learned from him many surprising things associated with the management of the national broadcasting system that certainly called for explanation. Immediately Mr. Fawkner was dismissed, another man was appointed to take his place at twice the salary. If one inquires into Mr. Fawkner’s qualifications one must be astounded that he was ever allowed to leave the service of the commission. Another man who parted with the commission and was immediately appointedto a position by a commercial station was a Mr. Lyons. Captain Stevens also resigned, and was immediately taken over by a B class station.
He is regarded as one of the most outstanding men in Australian broadcasting circles.
– There are a dozen similar examples in Queensland.
– I do not doubt it, but atthe moment I am referring to the position in New South Wales. Frank Hatherley, who conducted the community singing for the broadcasting commission, comes into the same category as the other gentlemen I have named. Mr. Bryson Taylor met with a similar fate, as did Miss Amy Ostinga, Mr. Dion Wheeler, Mr. Humphrey Bishop, Mr. McAnally, Mr. Arthur Greenaway and Mr. F. Hansen. Practically all of them were immediately given positions by B class stations. Why they were dismissed I cannot understand, because they were absolutely efficient in their work, but my knowledge of the details of these men’s services is not so extensive as my acquaintance with the history of Mr. W. J. Grieves, whose treatment by the broadcasting commission I unsuccessfully tried to ventilate in this Senate about twelve months ago. Mr. Grieves is an outstanding musician, whose career as a leading violinist extends over more than 30 years. His record shows him to be the foremost orchestral violinist in New South Wales, if not in Australia. Following is his musical record: -
Resume of Professional Career Extending over a Period of 30 Years.
As Orchestral Leader -
Blanche Arral Season.
Sydney Symphony Orchestra - Deputy Leader and Leader.
Sydney Amateur Orchestra - Deputy Leader and Leader.
Sydney Philharmonic Orchestra - Deputy Leader and Leader.
Sheffield Choir Festival - 1st Violins, 2nd Desk.
Quinlan Opera Company - 1st Violins, 2nd Desk. (Two seasons in performances of” The Ring “ “ Meistersingers “ “ Tristan & Isolde”. &c.)
New South Wales State Orchestra. (Succeeding Verbrugghenregime.)
Eucharistic Congress Orchestra.
A.B.C. Symphony Orchestra.
Aldrovandi Grand Opera Season - Australian Broadcasting Commission.
Professional Symphony Orchestra.
City of Sydney Symphony Orchestra and smaller organizations, with intermittent seasons of Grand Opera (local production ) .
Under the Baton of -
Sir Hamilton Harty, Eckoldt and Knock (Quinlan Opera Company), Hazon, Bradley, Slapoffski, Marshall Hall, Zelman, All press (Grieves’ master), Delaney, Dr. Orchard, Dr. Bainton, Professor Heinze, Dr. Keussler, Alfred Hill, Skalski, Dr. Coward (Sheffield Choir), D’Abravanel, Cazabon, Howard Carr, E. J. Roberts, Code, &c.
As Violinist and Violist -
Sydney College of Music String Quartet.
Allpress String Quartet.
Stael String Quartet.
Conservatorium String Quartet. (Violist.)
Austral Quintet; (Leader.)
Grieves’ String Quartet. (Leader.)
Solo violinist in association with local and visiting artists of repute.
Many solo, chamber music and orchestral violinists and violists of distinction have graduated from Grieves’ studio, notably Lionel Lawson, the boy prodigy, who completed his studies with Henri Marteau and Emile Sauret.
It can be easily realized front what I have read that he occupied a leading position in the Australian musical world. This man who is absolutely at the top of the tree in his profession was accorded treatment by the Broadcasting Commission which if given to a man holding a leading position in a branch of the Commonwealth Public Service would have created a furore in this Parliament and throughout the Commonwealth. Mr. Grieveswas an outstanding violinist and violist long before wireless broadcasting was inaugurated. On the 11th October, 1.985, he received the following letter from the Broadcasting Commission: -
It hasbeen decided to reconstruct our orchestra as at present constituted, and in this connexion we would like to offer you the leadership of the second violins at a salary of £7 10s. per week.
That was the first and only intimation that he received of his dismissal from the position as leader of the orchestra. What would be said if a man who held a high post in one of the sections of the Commonwealth Public Service received a letter telling him that he had to play a second role to another man? Naturally, Mr. Grieves was incensed. A musician has to devote many years to earnest study and must acquire a tremendous amount of technical knowledge and an extensive repertoire in order to become a leader in his profession. Mr. Grieves’ record shows that in his 30 years of experience he gained the top of the ladder; yet the broadcasting commission dismissed him without any hesitation and without notice. On the 14th October. 1935, Mr. Grieves wrote the following letter to Mr. Cleary: -
I regard the enclosed communication from theNew South Wales manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission as a premeditated insult, motivated by a spirit of malevolence which I ascribe solely to the management. Presuming, however, that Mr. Horner has, in the main, acted upon the instructions or with the concurrence of the members of the commission - it would be incompatible with my prestige as a leading violinist of this city to consider such a ludicrous and questionable proposition. Resenting injustice, and retaining my customary spirit of independence, I experience the greatest pleasure and relief in terminating my engagement with the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s orchestra.
On the next day he addressed Mr. Cleary as follows : -
Following upon my conclusive interview with you yesterday morning, in the course of which you imputed that I was not competent to lead an orchestra of symphonic proportions, whether in the demesne of the symphony or in grand opera (for personal reasons I placed a great restraint upon myself) - presuming (without offence) that you are personally fully capable of forming a just estimate ofmy professional ability - it would appear that you are excusably quite unfamiliar with my experience and reputation as an orchestral, chamber music and solo violinist and violist, particulars and records of which entirely refute your informed opinion. I append herewith a resume of my professional career extending overa period of approximately 30 years.
I have already acquainted the Senate with those details. On the 21st October he wrote -
It would bequite “constitutional” and even an act of courtesy to acknowledge my letters of the 14thand15th inst., despite the fact that their “ tone “ may have displeased you.
Mr. Cleary did not answer Mr. Grieves’ letters. His dismissal lowered Mr. Grieves in the eyes of the whole of the professional musicians in Sydney. They were all asking, “ Why has this man been dismissed”? And he had no explanation to offer except that the commission had suddenly told him that he could havea job as second violinist. It would have been better if it had taken him intoits confidence and told him that it had decided to reconstruct the orchestra, and that another man was to be first violinist. Nothing like that happened, and he received no information from the commission except that contained in the curt letter which I have read. The letter written on the 21st October continued -
Having yourself suffered grave injustice in another sphere and not in silence, did you expect mo to abase myself or submerge my personality?
Mr. Cleary himself received much better treatment than he accorded to Mr. Grieves.- We know that Mr. Cleary was formerly Commissioner for Railways in New .South Wales, and had to overcome a great many difficulties and a good deal of organized political opposition. But with a change of government in that State Mr. Cleary found himself under the control of political heads who were sympathetic towards him. Instead of standing up to his obligations Mr. Cleary “ got out.” He was a defeatist.
– He was -a very capable gentleman.
– I doubt if Senator Hardy could get any employee in the railway service of New South Wales to say that he was a good Commissioner for Railways.
– None of those in charge of State railways seem to have made a great success of them.
- Mr. Hartigan, tho present Commissioner for Railways in New South Wales, is making a success of his job.
– Have a look at the balance-sheets of the various railway systems.
– We cannot judge these matters merely by a perusal of a balance-sheet. In my opinion considerable improvement has taken place in the management of the railways of New South Wales recently. I am not particularly interested in Mr. Hartigan. I am concerned only with giving credit where credit is due. That he has done his job well is not only my personal opinion but is also that of thousands of others.
– The railway men were opposed to Mr. Clear.y’s appointment from outside the service, and he was never given a fair go.
– Nevertheless, when a government took office which might have stood behind him, he got out.
– The real trouble was that the railway men would not work with him.
– That might be so. Why did not Mr. Cleary accord to Grieves the treatment which he himself had received, although he complained that he had not received it from an earlier government? Grieves got no redress at all. He went on to say -
Will you also graciously favour me by committing to paper and reiterating the statement you made during the course of my interview with you on the 14th inst., i.e.: It is your considered and informed opinion that I am not competent to lead a large orchestra in the performance of symphonic music or grand opera !
I enclose a copy of, and an extract from letters addressed to me by Sir Hamilton Harty at the conclusion of the 1934 season of Australian Broadcasting Commission symphony concerts given under his baton at the Town Hall, Sydney.
Then he added a footnote as follows : -
The third para, should read - “ It is yom considered and advised opinion, etc” Mr. Cleary actually informed me that he wa advised by the” management, and it was hi* own opinion that I was not competent to lead a large orchestra in the performance of symphonic music or grand opera.
Sir Hamilton Harty wrote to Grieve? on the 26th June, 1934, as follows: -
Before I leave Australia I do want to thank you for all the good work you did for me during our association: it was a pleasure to work with you and I feel, for my part, that the results we were able to achieve would have made on even longer and much less pleasant journey worth while.
Please accept and pass on to the other members of tlie orchestra my sincere thanks and good wishes.
In a private letter to Grieves he added -
To those honorable senators who might think I am making a good deal out of this matter, I wish to stress the fact that Grieves has all his life been a musician and by diligence and sheer merit had risen to such eminence in his profession as to be regarded as the finest first violinist in orchestra work in Australia. Despite the high state of proficiency which he had reached in his profession, he unexpectedly received a letter informing him that his services as leader were to be dispensed with and offering him an engagement as leader of the second violins. No reasons were given nor was an opportunity afforded him by Mr. Cleary for an explanation of the reason for his disrating. Such conduct on the part of a public official is a wrong to the community and certainly should not be countenanced by the Government. I am surprised that this sort of thing is tolerated in a democratic country like Australia. Vet things like this have occurred from time to time in the management of the Broadcasting Commission. Men have frequently been dismissed without explanation.
I am very doubtful if the A class ‘ stations controlled by the Australian Broadcasting Commission command the attention of any great volume of listeners, [f it were possible by any means to ascertain the number of listeners interested in the programmes broadcast by the national stations and the B class stations respectively, I am sure that the census would show that the former get little patronage. People of my own acquaintance who may be classed as rather highbrow in these matters and members of this Senate have informed me that they listen to the B class stations for entertainment in preference to the national stations. I think that the consensus of opinion amongst the community generally would affirm the greater entertainment value of the B class stations.
The Australian Broadcasting Commission is apparently not alive to the new developments which are taking place in connexion with the recording of sound for transmission over the air. The commission failed to take advantage of the offer of the General Electric Company of America to use a device known as wide range recording for the making of gramophone records. The right to use the device was then offered to the B class stations on the same very favorable terms and was accepted and exploited by them. Certain B class stations now have a monopoly of its use in Australia. The result is that no matter how excellent the performers supplying the national programmes may be in their own particular sphere-, listeners are not given the full benefit secured by wide range recording. Before performances are recorded in this way artists or groups of artists repeat their performances over and over again until they have reached a. state of proficiency at which the best record of their performance can be made. The same thing applies to solo artists, with the result that records are made of the performances of world celebrities at their best. The direct broadcast has to contend with the possible indisposition of the artist, or a slip in the performance which is uncontrollable. Honorable senators can appreciate how difficult it is, therefore, for the commission to compete against the B class stations for the patronage of listeners. The patronage which the B class stations command is reflected in the high charges made for advertising over the air. Having regard to this I consider that it is high time that the listener’s licence-fee was reduced. At the present time nearly £S00,000 per annum is collected by way of licence-fees from listeners and it appears that a good deal of that money is wasted. Men appointed to the Australian Broadcasting Commission are not entrepreneurs some of them are not even good administrators. It is all very well for the Postmaster-General to excuse them. “We know that Major Conder, who, if my memory serves me right, was appointed to the commission at a salary of £2,000 a year, did little to justify the receipt of that princely salary. The postal department itself is deriving huge sums of money from licence-fees. I desire to see the national broadcasting venture a success, but it seems to me that great success can never be achieved under present conditions, because of the excellence of the programmes broadcast by the B class stations by mechanical reproduction. There is another aspect of thi? matter which might well be considered. Only recently Amalgamated “Wireless (Australasia) Limited manufactured a transmitter for use in “New Zealand having twice the capacity of any Australian transmitter. “Why is not such a transmitter operating in Australia? The people have every right to expect that the best equipment shall be purchased out of the proceeds of the licence-fees collected. Instead of the present wasteful and extravagant policy, the commission should give to the people the best programmes transmitted through the best equipment available. I believe that the management of .wireless should be completely taken away from the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. A separate department should be formed and every phase of wireless activity in the Commonwealth should be open to discussion iu both Houses of the Parliament.
– Another commission !
– When I first asked the Postmaster-General about Mr. Grieves he said that he did not want to interfere with the management of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. That may be quite all right from a ministerial point of view, but unless interference does come, we shall find that we have misspent hundreds of thousands of pounds on- national stations in this country without giving to listeners the quality of entertainment which they mostdesire. We should do everything to encourage Australian talent. Every one possessing knowledge of the methods of the Broadcasting Commission knows that the engagement of vocal and instrumental artists and public speakers goes largely by favour, and that the persons most suitable for broadcasting are not always given a chance. ‘Will any honorable senator contend that a commission which allowed a. man like Major Conder to manage its affairs for two years war, likely, during that time, to deal fairly with artists and others seeking engagement? It is significant that no explanation whatever was made of the reasons for Major Conder’.? sudden dismissal. Mr. Cleary was asked, but had nothing to say. Major Conder also was approached, and he, too, declined to comment upon his dismissal. It is time that the representatives of the people in this chamber asserted their rights and demanded that information of this kind should be made public.
– The manner of Major Conder’s dismissal was self-explanatory.
– Unfortunately, that was the construction which the public put on it. The commission, in its numerous activities, gives employment to a very large number of people. I think I am right in saying that there are five directors of programmes in New South Wales alone, and all, apparently, doing the same kind of work. I regret that many persons, highly qualified in every respect for employment by the commission, are ignored. One man I know is regarded as, probably, the most accomplished musician in Australia. He gained a high place in a contest organized by the Broadcasting Commission for original compositions, yet he is among those who have been m the perpetual struggle and yet are unable to obtain engagements ft ‘om the commission. Another man of my acquaintance has to his credit from 130 to 150 compositions, most of which are published under a nom dc plume, because the publishers do not wish him to become well known, fearing, perhaps, that he would become so popular as to bc able to demand his own terms.
– That principle is adopted by nearly all publishing nouses.
– That does not excuse it. A man possessing talents is entitled to have full credit for any work which he produces. The Royal Commission on Performing Rights sat for many months, and took a great deal of evidence but, like the mountain in labour, it brought forth a mouse.
– If a man has a patent he may sell it and it may bp placed on t the market under another name.
– I am aware of that; my complaint is that some publishers will not allow compositions to be issued under the name of the composer for the reason which I have given. That is wrong. Another ma.n I know is a very able musician. He won the highest scholarship given by the Sydney Conservatorium of Music under the late Henri Verbrugghen, yet be, also, is practically on the dole. The first man whose name I mentioned hardly knows when* his next shilling is coming from; the second man has been on the dole for several months, and the third is in almost the same position. It is not right that men lacking the same high qualifications should have “ cushy “ jobs with the commission, whilst other men with much greater talents are unable to secure employment. The commission has at its disposal about £800,000 a year for the encouragement of Australian artists, hut I am reliably informed that the Sydney studio is controlled by. a clique, and that unless an artist is in that clique he cannot hope for employment. It is the duty of the Government to look into these matters and if, as I have shown, there are able musicians and artists seeking engagement, they should have a chance to earn a few pounds. The function of the commission is to help qualified and outstanding artists in the community, and to discover others. That, I contend, is not being done.
– Mr. Cleary is not responsible for the engagement or dismissal of artists.
– Mr. Cleary, and those associated with him, control the policy of the commission. Therefore, these things are to a large extent in their hands. “We have always been given to understand that the programmes broadcast by the commission are, in every respect, superior to those put over the air by the commercial stations; that persons wishing to enjoy the best classical music, the highest standard -of public morality, and the most cultured addresses, should listen to programmes from the national stations.
– We do not agree with that.
– Nor do I. And 1 shall tell the Senate why. I have a friend who, for many years, has been interested in the entertainment of children. At one time he was an employee of the Education Department, and it was his practice to visit hospitals to entertain the sick children. In time he became known as “ The Story-teller “. in this role he became quite well known and somewhat famous, for his skill in story-telling is rare. Recently he brought under my notice the nature of the entertainment given over Station 2.BL on each Sunday evening for the benefit of children. I can best tell his story in his own words -
One of the principal items broadcast each Sunday to children from Station 2BL is “ Wattletown “. The principal characters in this item are Mulrooney, a policeman; Bobin, a hoy; his father; a Chinaman named Ah Lee; Mrs. Mulrooney.. and several minor characters. In almost every case, the policeman is ridiculed by the boy.
The policeman took action against a friend of Robin for stealing a pig. When the case comes for hearing, it is found that the solici tor for the defendant is deaf, the inference given is that lie is a fool into the bargain. This boy Robin takes the whole court proceedings into his hands, obtains a glorious victory, and ridicule is heaped on the policeman.
The boy is discovered by his father typing a letter. On being asked to whom he is writing, he informs his father lie is writing to the King about Mr. Mulrooney. The policeman has approached the council regarding the demolition of Murphy’s shed, where his gang holds its meetings. The father suggests that a complaint to the King might mean that Mr. Mulrooney would be dismissed. Presently Mr. Mulrooney entered the room and remonstrated with the boy regarding his behaviour. The boy informed the policeman that he was writing to the King. Immediately the policeman backed down and begged the boy not to write about him.
This suggestion of disciplining the police by writing to representatives of the Government was again given some time later. The boy went to the sheep show in Sydney. Through the intervention of Mr. Lyons he is allowed to enter his dog Ginger in the sheepdog trials. After the other dogs had finished Ginger is brought in. He immediately grabbed a sheep and dragged it to the pen where it was guarded by two dogs, one of which belonged to the policeman. Ginger treated the other two dogs similarly. Then a great dog fight took place, causing great excitement among the spectators. The result was that Mr. Lyons gave a special prize of a guinea to Ginger and asked Robin to write to him. On his return, ho relates his experiences in Mulrooney’s presence, and informs the policeman that he is writing to the Prime Minister all about Wattletown Mulrooney immediately bogged the boy not to mention him, and gave him two shillings for his football club, and told him to come round tlie next day, as Mrs. Mulrooney was making a big supply of cakes.
Right throughout this form of entertainment there is an obvious attempt to belittle the Police Force, which should be held in ‘the greatest respect in a country like Australia. I say this because every honorable senator will recall the police riots which took place in Melbourne several years ago. The happenings there on that occasion showed only too clearly how thin is the veneer between respect for authority and revolutionary actions in a certain section of the community. I deprecate this form of entertainment from one of the national stations, especially on a Sunday evening. It is inappropriate that a brat of a boy should be depicted as holding a policeman up to ridicule. The effect of such an entertainment on the children must, I think, be pernicious.
– To be logical, the honorable senator should take the same objection to the ridiculing of authority on the legitimate stage.
– Hy friend is wrong there. He forgets that an entertainment on the legitimate stage is offered to a limited audience; a broadcast entertainment is heard by an almost unlimited audience. The attention of the commission was drawn to this matter. The gentleman whom I have mentioned wrote to Mr. Cleary and protested against the nature of the broadcast. [Extension of time granted.] In his letter he said -
As a teacher I objected to any suggestions being made to children which would undermine our endeavours to make children respect policemen, and all the things for which they stand. I also took exception to tlie whole theme of the Sunday broadcast to children. I concluded my letter in somewhat these words, “ One might be pardoned for expecting that national broadcast stations in a Christian community would respect Sunday and those things for which Sunday stands and make its broadcast to children in accord with the sacredness of the day.”
– “Who wrote the letter?
– It was written by a man named Thompson, who for many years was connected with broadcasting, and with many charitable organizations whose object was to bring a little light and cheer into the lives of children in various hospitals of the State. He is well known in New South “Wales. Mr. Thompson’s letter continued -
I received a nice letter from the general manager thanking me for my “constructive criticism “ which I have found since is a stock phrase of the commission.
Since seeing you I have seen Mr. Moses, the general manager. He defended the broadcast because of its popularity. I could put across a very popular five minutes session each night if tlie police would let mc. So much for that defence.
That is perfectly true. It is because liberty unchecked leads to licence that I object to broadcasts of this nature. The commission continued with these broadcasts even when its attention had been drawn to them. “When the matter was brought before the manager his only reply was. “ It is popular “. I am not criticizing Mr. Moses, for I believe that he is a good man for his job; but I submit that such programmes are not in keeping with the boast of the commission as to the quality and high moral tone of its programmes.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the commission indulges in back-scratching?
– Yes. That is probably one of the troubles associated with it. The commission has a duty to perform to the people of this country who provide the money for supplying programmes. In my opinion, the management of A class broadcasting has been poor from the very beginning. If ever a body of men had, as it were, the football at their feet and the whole playing area free to do as they like, the broadcasting commission was in that position. It had hundreds of thousands of pounds, and the services of some of the best artists in Australia at its disposal, but notwithstanding its wonderful advantages, it has failed in its job.
– What would the honorable senator do if placed in charge of broadcasting ?
– It is not for me to say. Unfortunately, the Government appears to exercise no control over the commission. A comparison of the programmes broadcast by A class stations and B class stations is all in favour of the latter. That is probably because’ the B class stations have to pay their way; they have not almost unlimited government money at their disposal.
– Do not the B class stations send a lot of rubbish over the air?
– In the advertisements which they broadcast that may be so. I assume that Senator Brown favours the socialization of broadcasting; but I suggest that the programmes from the A class stations are not very conclusive evidence in support of that policy. If it were possible to record the number of listeners who “ tune-in “ to the different stations, it would probably be found that comparatively few listen regularly to A class programmes. Recently, there has been some criticism of the commission for having entered a field of entertainment in .which J. C- Williamson Limited had operated for a number of years. In spite of the attitude of the press and of many politicians, I am of the opinion that J. C. Williamson Limited, had ground for com-‘ plaint. I do not say that that company is 100 per cent, perfect; but, at least, it incurred considerable risk in bringing artists to Australia. I feel constrained to ask whether the artists brought here by the Australian Broadcasting Commission have repaid the commission for the expenses incurred. In view of the expenses involved in leasing the Sydney Town Hall, in providing supporting orchestras, and in advertising the performances of visiting artists, it is more than likely that the commission has made big losses in some instances. There are persistent statements that many people do not pay for admission to concerts arranged by the commission. There is a general belief that members of Parliament are admitted free to such concerts; but that is not correct. I, at least, have never received a free ticket, and I do not know of any other member of Parliament who has been given one. I should like to know what people are on the free list that is so freely spoken about. I do not agree with those who, while criticizing companies like J. 0- Williamson Limited, regard the Broadcasting Commission as something sacrosanct. I should like to see broadcasting taken away from the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. Particularly do I urge that the public, which supplies the money, should be given some details of the expenditure of the commission. For Instance, they should know what it cost to bring to Australia Captain Adkins, of whom I complained earlier. They should know whether it is a fact, 03 rumoured, that new instruments for the Australian Broadcasting Commission band were acquired at a cost of some thousands of pounds. If a question is asked of the Postmaster-General, the reply is that the Government does not interfere with the management of the commission. In effect, the questioner is told, “ The commission is there to manage broadcasting, and you are here to mind your own business.” I should like to know whether the rumour that Sir Hamilton Harty was paid something like £S,000 for seven concerts is correct. If that be true, it may be that Dr. Malcolm Sargent, .who is now in Australia, will be similarly treated. Unfortunately, no one can get the facts. What is the reason for all this secrecy? If Sir Hamilton Harty’s trip to Australia cost £10,000, 1 want to know why. Did Australian listeners receive value for tlie money expended? I have been told that Dr. Malcolm Sargent assumes a smug pose of intolerance towards these “ignorant Australians.” There are many people who think that Australians have no appreciation of good music. Even the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) suggested that we should get another man from overseas. Are the musicians of Australia any less competent to deal with music thai are Australian politicians to deal with politics? But will any one suggest that we should get a man from overseas to be the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth? Whenever a man is wanted for a high position in the musical world there are people who would immediately rush across the sea to get him. Percy Grainger, who is among the first seven in the list of world pianists, is an Australian. Some time ago, after one of the Levisky concerts, a friend said to me, “What a wonderful performance: what marvellous interpretation ! We can never get such music from Australians. We must remember that hundred.0 of years of history, of trial and tribulation, have gone into the making of the soul of the man at the piano.” I replied, “What nonsense! You have an inferiority complex; you think thai nothing good musically can como out of Australia.” I then reminded him of the place occupied by Melba, and Peter Dawson, in the realm of music, and of the talent displayed by Norman Lindsay, whose drawings are probably unequalled.
– ‘Some of Norman Lindsay’s work is crude.
– These Australian? have behind them the same traditions at artists in the Old Country and other lands have. Not long ago a South Australian boy pianist, Phillip Hargreaves gave a rendition of some of the great masters that was equal to anything that the greatest musicians of other countires have ever contributed to music. I hope that the time is not far distant when Australian talent .will be recognized by the commission.
A friend of mine with an extensive knowledge of the Northern Territory, and possessing many original ideas concerning it, entered into an arrangement with Station 2BL, Sydney, to broadcast his views on a settlement scheme for Northern Australia, but before doing so, supplied the 2BL officials with the manuscript he proposed to use. Before the broadcast was to be made, he was astounded to learn that the document had been lost. It is easy for the officials of a broadcasting station to say that a document has been lost, and then to allow it to be used by some unauthorized person. The following letter was sent to Station 2BL, Sydney -
In confirmation of our conversation of this morning in reference to the broadcast of a lecture on the Settlement of the Northern Territory, and my request to cancel the arrangement for the 29th September. Owing to the obsolete nature of the equipment of 2BL and the utter stupidity of the regulations which govern the institution, I prefer to utilize the more flexible instruments and regulations of the private companies.
This man, who has had considerable experience in other countries and has broadcast in the United States of America, said that the equipment of the station mentioned is obsolete) and that the regulations under which it is governed are ridiculous. For instance, a person broadcasting must he seated, and the microphone must be at a fixed distance from the speaker. He entertained me for some time in pointing out the stupid conditions imposed. The letter continued -
You will readily understand my attitude when I mention that I have been closely associated with radio as a method of education all over the world, and that I personally assisted in the erection of the first aerial mast in Sydney in 1917 for Amalgamated Wireless. Whilst, I recognize that you are in no way responsible, might I suggest that the loss of a manuscript by a national institution would indicate a laxity in management that is regretted. I am in direct touch with Senator -McLachlan and will bring the subject of the rigid equipment and rigid regulations to his personal notice at the first opportunity.
Surely the Postmaster-General will admit that this man has a justifiable complaint when the matter which must have taken him many weeks to prepare was lost, and the officials could not explain its disappearance. He was. informed that it must have been left on the table and that someone must have thrown it into the waste paper basket. The manuscript, which was bulky and. was enclosed in an official envelope, could not have been mislaid. I do not wish to criticize the commission too harshly, but in view of the experience some of its members have had in controlling wireless transmission, a better service and more reasonable conditions should be demanded. Although certain honorable senators do not appear to be interested in the accusations I made concerning Captain Adkins I can only repeat that the commission should have exercised some control over him instead of allowing him to roam all over the Commonwealth insulting Australians at every opportunity. The leading Australian newspapers, which must have known what was going on, adopted a “ hush “ policy for reasons which have not yet been explained. Complaints concerning the administration of the commission are made from time to time, and as the revenue derived by the commission in the form of licence-fees is now approximately £800,000 annually, a thorough investigation should be made to ensure that those who provide the revenue get a fair return for their money. I know it will be said that Parliament has placed the control of broadcasting in the hands of the commission and that the Government is not responsible, but surely a minister should he able to answer questions which arise from day to day. I suggest that a royal commission be appointed to investigate every branch of wireless broadcasting, and to obtain sworn evidence from those who arc able to supply useful information. I am positive that if I had the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses I should be able to disclose an alarming condition of affairs. The Postmaster-General’s Department is controlled by the highest paid public servant in Australia, who naturally desires to make the department more important, and in that way increase his authority and also his salary. I sincerely trust that something will be done to remove some of the grievances which I have perhaps inadequately presented, particularly to compensate those members of the Australian Broadcasting Commission Military Band who were victimized because they refused to serve under
Adkins. Men such as Grieves are often dismissed because they possess greater ability than those under whom they serve. I could bring other facts under the notice of the Government, but I have been asked not to make them known because certain men would be victimized. The total amount paid by listeners should entitle them to be entertained by the best artists available and not only by those who please the members of the commission. It would appear that only those willing to knuckle down to the whims of this autocratic body have any opportunity to obtain engagements, while men who have the courage to stand up for their rights are penalized. It is the policy of the commission to give preference to “ humbugs “ from overseas rather than to Australian artists. I do not suggest that all imported artists are “humbugs” because many of them possess outstanding ability, and the entertainment theyprovide is appreciated by Australian listeners. I trust that the Government will be just to those who have been unfairly treated, and that if will seriously consider the appointment of an independent body to investigate the whole subject of wireless broadcasting so that the Australian people may eventually get the service to which they are entitled.
Sitting suspended from 6.15to 8 p.m.
– I feel almost abashed to speak after the fiery talk of Senator Arkins. Ho made a most damning attack on the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and I followed his remarks with great interest. It is difficult indeed, to descend from the empyrean heights of Senator Arkins’ rhetoric to deal with such a prosaic subject as the budget. I endorse a good deal of what the honorable senator said, although I consider that it was not British for him to attack a man who has no opportunity to defend himself. There may be much to be said against the conduct of Captain Adkins, but that gentleman has no opportunity to present his side of the case. I am at one with Senator Arkins, however, in his attack on the Government for adopting a “hush-hush “ attitude on broadcasting matters. This “ hush-hush “ policy is pursued, not only with regard to the Australian Broadcast ing Commission, but also in respect of many other matters concerning which the people should be taken into the confidence of the Government. This attitude has been adopted by the Government on the subject of the JapaneseAustralianUnited States of America trade struggle - I use the term “ struggle “ because my honorable friends opposite have looked askance when on other occasions I have spoken of the “ trade war.” The ordinary member of Parliament is denied any opportunity to deal with these matters of public importance, but the Prime Minister is able, through the Australian Broadcasting Commission, to lecture the people regarding the Australian aspect of the trade dispute with Japan - I have no doubt that in Japan the leaders of the Government are availing themselves of similar opportunities to justify to the people their attitude. In view of the secretive policy of the Government, I welcome the powerful demand made by Senator Arkins for the light of day to be thrown on the Australian Broadcasting Commision’s activities. That body handles hundreds of thousands of pounds annually, and we have not a full knowledge of the manner in which it is expended. For all we know the money may, as Senator Arkins has alleged, be wasted.
– A great deal more money would be wasted if a royal commission were appointed.
– If Senator Arkins has correctly depicted the circumstances of broadcasting, the appointment of a commission would be justified.
We are told that the budget is the finest that has ever been placed before this Parliament. Our good friends on the Government side of the House have gone into ecstasies over it. I do not begrudge the Government its moment of ecstasy. Were the Labour party in power, and able to present to the Parliament a budget containing presents for the people it represents equal to those provided in this budget for the wealthy friends of the Government, it, undoubtedly, would say: “ Look what we have done for the good of the country.” The Labour party welcomes some features of the budget, but does not admit that it is wholly good.
To the Labour party the budget is like the curate’s egg, good in parts. According to Senator Johnston, it is not a good budget, because it does not contain provision for a grant of £300,000 to Western Australia, and because it does not provide help for the drought-stricken wheat-growers in that State.
– Mr. Curtin also agrees that the amount of the grant should be £300,000 more than is proposed.
– So do I. If Western Australia is suffering disabilities the Commonwealth Grants Commission and the Commonwealth Government should not reduce the «ompensation offered to the State. According to Senator Johnston, whom I believe to be an honest, straightforwarded person, the Commonwealth Grants Commission has altered the basis on which the grants are made.
– The commission puts itself above the Government, and above Parliament.
– Parliament should not follow it, and if Western Australia is suffering disabilities as the result of federal legislation it should receive adequate compensation from the Commonwealth Government.
– The Western Australian Government is budgeting for n surplus.
– But Senator Johnston has told us that that surplus has been “ skittled “ by the action of the Commonwealth Government. The Government flatters itself that it has done splendidly with its budget, but there are thousands of workers who look on it with disfavour. Of what use is it to tell the 35,000 men on the dole in New South Wales that the Commonwealth Government has balanced its budget, when those unfortunate citizens cannot possibly balance their budgets? I make no apologies for bringing before this Senate once again the sad plight of thousands of men and women in this country, especially when the Government and its supporters are working themselves into a state of ecstasy.
– It must be difficult for the honorable senator to pick the budget to pieces.
– I am not concerned about picking it, to pieces, but I am satisfied that the Government has no cause to preen itself on what it has done. When the money is rolling in, it is easy for the Government to remit taxes. Millions of pounds are coming into the Treasury from customs and excise, sales tax and every other source from which governments draw their funds, and, when the Treasury chest is full, what is easier than for the Government to say, “ We shall remit this and that “ and, like the fly on the wheel, “ kid “ itself that it alone is the motive force.
– Does the honorable senator not think that the Government has acted wisely in the course that it has pursued ?
– I do not think that the Government is at all wise. It is only the turn of the economic wheel that has enabled it to go to its friends and say. “ We are remitting so many thousand pounds’ worth of taxes “. In the Sydney Sun, I read recently that the tax remissions will be worth £30,000 a year to one firm. For that firm undoubtedly, this is a splendid and beautiful budget ! Were I a member of a firm that had so much money placed in the pockets of its shareholders, I should be ready to commend the Government from the bottom of my heart. But if I were a dole worker I could not be expected to go into ecstasies over the budget. The Government’s financial policy is good or bad, according to one’s point of view. Actually, this budget is like a good many more that have preceded it; it is highly gratifying to one class of the community and a dismal disappointment to another class. It contains no planning for the future. One could expect a progressive government to plan for the future, but this budget plans for permanent poverty. All that it attempts is merely to keep the workers in a peaceful frame of mind.- It makes no attempt, by planned action, to increase the total productivity of Australia, which, to-day, should be the objective of organized society working through its political system, so that there could be a greater and more equitable spread of wealth amongst the people. What Parliament is being asked to do at present is merely to take so much from the com- m unity by way of taxes and then to distribute it.
– The attitude of the Labour party is that more should be taken.
– The Labour party’s position is entirely different from that occupied by the true-blue Conservatives who constitute the present Government; they are dealing only with the economic circumstances of to-day. If in power, the Labour party would deal with the realities of the present-day situation, as I admit this Government is doing, but at the same time it would try to legislate in such a way as to provide the greatest possible extent for the future, and thereby ensure increased productivity and a more equal distribution of wealth in the community. This Government is satisfied to have thousands of men and women out of work and to preserve the uneconomic dole and relief work systems. This budget entirely lacks any provision likely to lead to a general increase of productivity or any increase of the well-being of the masses.
– But the honorable senator believes in a policy of less work.
– I was not mentioning that aspect, but was dealing with the need for scientific organization of industry, so that the people as a whole might be better placed. This Government is content to take with one hand and to give back with the other, and then to say “ Hey presto ! See what we have done !” It fails to realize that any benefits which may accrue are due, not to governmental action, but to the turning tide of prosperity. There has been a substantial increase of the revenue from customs duties on imported goods and, also, of the excise revenue. This Government’s experience in that respect parallels that of the Bruce-Page Government some years ago when the Treasury found difficulty in spending the millions of pounds that poured into the Government’s coffers. But whilst the position in the Federal sphere may be satisfactory can it be said that Australia, as a whole, is doing so well? Allof the States have difficulty in balancing their budgets. The federal and State Governments may be likened to the members of a family, and the insolvency of individual members renders the position of the family as a whole far from reassuring. State Governments are discontented with their present financial relations with the Commonwealth. Despite the proud boast and the rhetoric of the Treasurer (Mr. Casey), we cannot lose sight of the fact that the States are not paying their way, and that an ever increasing tax burden is being laid on the shoulders of the people to meet the rising public debt. The debt industry has been working overtime lately. The Treasurer has told us that during the last four years the public debt has increased by £67,954,000. Analysed, his figures show that States debts increased in that period by £75,799,000 and the Commonwealth debts decreased by £7,845,000.
Federal and State Governments are similar, and the Commonwealth has no monopoly of intelligence in the application of its principles to practical politics. Surely no honorable senator will declare that as regards general intelligence members of the Commonwealth Government stand head and shoulders above members of any State Government.
– The honorable senator ought to be pleased that the Commonwealth Government is able to show a surplus.
– I am exceedingly pleased, but I am endeavouring to show that the financial position of the States gives mo cause for gratification. Although the present Federal Tory Government has for its leader an ex-Labour man and another ex-Labour member is Leader of the Senate, and although members of the Ministry may claim credit for the Commonwealth surplus, they cannot deny that Australia as a whole is getting more heavily into debt.
– How much of the increase of State debts was due to the activities of the Forgan Smith Government in Queensland?
– The Premier of that State in his last budget speech told the people of Queensland that his Government was adversely affected by the present relations between the Commonwealth and the States. Western Australia, so Senator Johnston said this afternoon, cannot balance its budget and Tasmania is in a like position. Within the last few days we have had to deal with bills covering the expenditure of many thousands of pounds to assist primary industries in those States. Mr. Forgan Smith, admittedly one of the most brilliant Premiers which Queensland has had, said this in his budget speech recently: -
At this last conference (of Commonwealth and State Ministers) I suggested that the Commonwealth should increase its contribution under the financial agreement towards the liabilities of the States for interest ami sinking fund hy 25 per cent.
His request was unanimously supported by every other State including Western Australia which, according to Senator Johnston, wishes to secede from the federation.
– No; according to the vote of the people.
– I accept the correction, but I suggest that the vote of the people in that State was largely influenced by the misleading eloquence of Senator Johnston. Mr. Forgan Smith went on to say -
To accede to this request would have cost the Commonwealth something less than £2,000,000 per annum, and the relief given to Queensland would have been approximately £300,000 each year. The Commonwealth Government rejected this request and contented itself with a 20 per cent, increase in the Roads Grant from petrol taxation, which will give Queensland about £104,000 additional grant for specific purposes, for the next ten years, commencing in IU37-38.
It is important that honorable members should realize the position. The request made by tho States cannot be regarded lightly. It represents a prest deal more than their relative financial embarrassment at the present time. It is significant that all of the States arc suffering from tho grossly unbalanced financial position that has developed within the Commonwealth as a whole. Some of the States suffer more than others, and the three smaller Stales arc now receiving large special grants as a matter of normal procedure. In 1935-3(1 these special grants totalled £2.400.000, and to this large sum federal taxpayers in Queensland contributed their share.
Queensland has never grudged these less fortunate States the special assistance they have received. We are part of one Commonwealth, and we recognize our common obligations.
Other and occasional grants of a minor character aru made from time to time to all the Status as the Commonwealth Feels more or less benevolent or obliged by the exigencies of the moment.
As has been proved on so many occasions, we on this side have always supported requests from claimant States for monetary assistance. Mr. Forgan Smith said further -
But it is time that every responsible citizen of this State recognized the fact that all such temporary expedients are fast becoming obsolete and, indeed, intolerable, and that the financial obligations of tile Commonwealth are in need of review.
It is worth while to examine the proportions of Commonwealth Consolidated Revenue which has been contributed to tlie States since federation. I have taken out the figures for three periods - the first ten yea.rs under section 87 of the Commonwealth Constitution (known as the “Braddon Clause”), the intervening period of sixteen years up to 1.92U-27. prior to the Financial Agreement under the Surplus Revenue Acts of the Commonwealth Parliament, and the period since then, lo 1934-35, under the Financial Agreement. The proportions for these periods are as follows: -
These figures show that a steadily decreasing proportion has been returned to the States.
The grants to he paid to the various States this year Will be dealt with in measures which will come before the Senate shortly from the House of Representatives, so I shall, then have an opportunity to say what I think abou them.
– We should like to have the honorable senator’s opinion of the reduction of the grants.
– I have already told the honorable senator that I think Western Australia is entitled to the additional £300,000, and I am surprised that the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce), whose influence in the Caucus of the Tory party is well known, did not fight strenuously against the reduction of the grant to that State this year.
– How does the honorable gentleman know that the Leader of the Senate did not fight against a reduction ?
– Perhaps the honorable senator is right. Perhaps the Leader of the Senate did put up a fight for his State.
Although from the stand-point of the landed proprietors, of the men who farm the farmers, and of the rentier class, the budget may be gratifying, yet, considered from the viewpoint of the rank and file of the working classes, the artisans and the working farmers, it is not encouraging, because it does not make their position more secure or their lives any brighter.
– I thought tho working classes were pleased with tin’s budget.
– I have not yet beard any pæans of praise from the workers, although I have travelled several times up and down through central Queensland and I am in close touch with the workers. The Treasurer declared that about 335,000 persons have bee u put back into full-time employment. When I read that statement in the budget I thought that perhaps the Government had, at last, solved the unemployment problem.
– The Government has got very close to it.
– Senator Allan MacDonald, in his desire to stand in well with the Tory party, says that the Government has got close to solving tlie unemployment situation. How can he make that assertion when there are still 30,000 people on the dole in New South Wales’ alone, as well as thousands in other States, including Queensland, although the employment position there is much better than in any other State? Thanks to the brilliant leadership of Mr. Forgan Smith, in that State the basic wage is higher, the hours of labour in industry are less, and the purchasing power of the pound greater than elsewhere in the Commonwealth.
The magnitude of the national debt should be a matter of concern to all. it now reaches the staggering total of £1.200,000,000. The political pioneers of 30 or 40 years ago would have thrown a fit if they had been told that, in this year of grace, the public debt of Australia would reach £1,200,000,000. There is, however, one redeeming feature; debts have to be paid in goods and workers have to he employed to produce those goods. So my withers arc unwrung when people who juggle with high finance tell me about the growing figures of debt. All the ordinary worker wants is a job and a decent wage, and that his wage shall have the highest possible purchasing power. There are three classes of wages - real, relative and nominal. The real wage is measured in terms of what it will buy, tlie nominal wage is the name given to the wage - it may be £3 to-day and £4 to-morrow - and the relative wage is the amount of definite purchasing power and command over goods that goes into the pockets of the workers in relation to the total productivity of the country. I have not had time to study the figures, but it seems to me to be questionable whether this budget will increase the relative wages of the mass of the people to any great extent. It is certain that, the nominal wage has seriously decreased during the last few years. In the industry in which I was engaged, the basic wage was a few years ago £5 a week, and it is now £4 5s. a week. The nominal wage may be a little more or a little less, but the workers are concerned only with securing a job and with what the reward of their labour will yield to them in necessaries and comforts. Having got a real wage, they should be interested in the relative wage and whether they are getting more or less of the total productivity. Can any honorable senator say that the real wage or the relative wage will be increased as a result of this budget? After all, the real test of any governmental action is the degree of security and happiness enjoyed by the people. If their security has not been enhanced, and real and relative wages have not been increased, the putting of thousands of pounds into the pockets of the rentier class by way of remissions of taxes is not of much service to those who do the actual work.
– Does taxation decrease the real wage?
– It depends upon many factors. As a matter of fact, that is answered by Senator Hardy’s monitor, Mr. A. C. Davidson, general manager of the Bank of New South Wales, who, in a brochure, has pointed out that it ia necessary for taxes to be raised and spent by governments in order to give an imatus to recovery and provide wages for le workers when, because of the financial and economic depression ordinary business cannot possibly provide work and wages for the mass of the people. If the Government increases taxes it should spend the money in such ways as to ensure that the position of the masses will be improved.
– If that policy were carried out to its logical conclusion, there would be nobody left to tax.
– The Labour party recognizes the need for taxation, and that it cannot be eliminated at the present time. Possibly, if the social credit system proposed by Major Douglas were adopted, taxation would be a thing of the past. While we continue to impose taxes we must spend the money in such a way as to improve the general economic standard of the nation so that a greater amount of wealth can be produced. The Treasurer, in the concluding remarks of his budget speech, made a sly dig at the Labour party when he said -
The policy of the Commonwealth Government has had a very great influence in bringing about the desirable results reflected in. this budget. Unwise financial, monetary or tariff policy are- matters which would have gone far to prevent the effective operation of the factors making for improvement. Artificial speeding np of activity in Australia through credit expansion might have had temporarily beneficial effects, but would have introduced the probability of dangerous repercussions.
The Treasurer infers that if the Lyons Government had not been returned to power, unwise monetary policies would nave been implemented by Labour, and that there would have been artificial speeding up of activity through credit expansion. During the last few years, however, there has been great expansion of credit by the private banks of Australia. The only difference I can see between expansion of credit by private banks and by governments is that the private banks are able to get a considerable rake-off, whereas if credit had been expanded by a fiduciary issue the people would have received the benefit. Credit expansion should be controlled by the Commonwealth Bank. At present, how ever, the Commonwealth Bank is dominated by the private banking system, and no honorable senator can deny the fact that there has been an expansion of credit by the private banks.
– Rather as a result of. extra production.
– I refer the- honorable senator to what Mr. Davidson hassaid in this regard. If the honorable senator were to study the subject he would learn that there can be such a thing as credit expansion, which has for its object an increase of the productivity of the community by making possible the increased utilization of machinery and labour in industry and on the land. A student of economics knows that there is a certain elasticity in the modern productive system, and that if a bank or se number of banks wish to increase the total productivity of the nation, it can be done by way of credit expansion. That such expansion has taken place during the last few years cannot be denied. The Treasurer, in his budget speech, inferred that credit expansion has not taken place, but that if a Labour government had been in power it would have operated a wrong policy of credit expansion, and artificial speeding up of production would have resulted. What is the difference between the issue of credit by the private banks and the issue of credit by the Commonwealth Bank backed up by the total productivity of the country?
– Credit expansion has been brought about by the higher prices .received for our export goods.
– I admit that there are other factors to be considered, but the banking system can, by the exercise of its powers of issuing bank credit,, influence the productivity of the nation. Any one who denies that is totally ignorant of what is going on.
– It should be so, but it is not so.
– Does the honorable senator deny the fact that there has been an expansion of credit by the private banks ?
– As I have said, it has been brought about by the higher prices received for our exports.
– There has always been expansion and contraction of credit.
– The private banks have the power to issue bank credit, and if to-morrow there were a national emergency they would have the power to issue Further bank credit with the object of organizing industry for the greater production of essential commodities. That fact has been pointed out time and again, lorn Johnson, who, at one time, was a member of the Labour cabinet in Great Britain, wrote a book entitled Finance in War-time, in which he conclusively proved that there was a tremendous expansion of bank credit in England during the war years, in the early days of the war by the Government, and afterwards by the private banks, so that the Government was able to organize the successful prosecution of the war against Germany. The same procedure was followed in Australia. But whilst men lost their lives in that conflict, thousands of people in this country continue to draw money as the result of the expansion of bank credit that had 110 real existence. That credit did not come out of the savings of the people; it was deliberately evoked by the exercise of the private banking functions. When the Treasurer reflects upon .the Labour party and gives the impression that had we been in power we would have made the mistake of artificially speeding up activity in Australia through credit expansion, he is not actually telling the truth.) because there has already been a great speeding-up of activity as the result of credit expansion by the private banks. We say that under a proper organization this power now exercised by the private banks would be exercised by a central governmental banking institution, for the benefit of the whole of the nation. Keen students of banking are now of the opinion that the nation must take greater control over the issue of bank credit and that it should no longer be left in the hands of the private .banks. There is a vast difference between the policy of the Labour party and the old Tory policy, which accepts tlie domination of the private banking system. There is no certainty that within the next few years we shall not again have unbalanced budgets.
– The next budget will be better still.
– Any member pf this Parliament who really believes that never again will there be unbalanced budgets in Australia must be suffering from mental decay. It is indeed pathetic that at this time of international difficulty the so-called leaders of the community should be so happy in their ignorance as to believe that because the Treasurer has produced a budget show” ing a small surplus, the future is assured and all our troubles aTe at an end. The very actions of the Government demonstrate clearly that it believes that the years immediately ahead are fraught with grave danger. Japan lias been given a kick in the fiscal pants, and the United States of America has been caned on tlie ankles. Yet the Government professes to believe that it* actions will lead to greater prosperity throughout the Empire, and particularly in Australia ! The latest issue of Smith’s Weekly contains an article by Mi-. Forgan Smith, the Premier of Queensland, dealing with the situation which has arisen between Australia and Japan and between Australia and the United States of America.
– Why did he choose that medium to circulate his- views?
– He probably chose Smith’s Weekly because he knows that it is widely read throughout Australia. I am endeavouring to disabuse the minds of those honorable senators who have become obsessed by the idea that because the budget contains some excellent paragraphs there is -nothing to worry about for the future. Because I believe that the future is dark indeed, I urge the Government to do its best to make ample provision for the future, by exercising greater control over the national economic machine in order to ensure that the people of_this country shall be properly fed, clothed, and housed. Even in this garden city of Canberra there are bug huts at Molonglo. People there are suffering from -scabies, notwithstanding that the expenditure of a few thousand pounds would eliminate . the .eye-sores and remove the breeding places of disease. Unfortunately, similar miserable dwellings are ‘to be seen throughout Australia. Instead of remitting taxes, thereby greasing the fat pig, and giving concessions to those who can well afford to pay, the Government should expend its revenues in eliminating dwellings which are unfit for human habitation, and should make it possible for the workers of this country to live in decency and comfort. The New Era, a publication associated with the Douglas Credit System, contains an article from the Hertfordshire correspondent of the London Times, in which the following appears: -
A new effort is to bc made to put the English rasher of bacon on Britain’s breakfast table all the year round.
To-day I learned from Sir John Russell, director of Rothamsted, the oldest and most famous agricultural research station in the world, of the new ideas which may put pig- breeding on a fresh basis and ensure a regular supply of bacon pigs in factories which sow suffer because they are busy only at seasonal intervals. “ Our present piggeries at Rothamsted “, Sir John said to mc, will be replaced by buildings constructed in accordance with tho very latest scientific principles. New forms of ventilation will be introduced. Already we are experimenting with electric radiators to ensure that our pigs sleep warmly on cold nights. “ Sows which are expecting or have just produced litters cannot stand either unduly cold or unduly hot weather. If we can construct pigsties which remain at an even temperature it may bo possible to solve the problem of rearing pigs the year round and to prevent stoppage of growth in the autumn and winter when tlie hours of daylight ure short.”
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch). - The honorable senator must connect his remarks with the subject before the Chair.
– The Treasurer stated that the Government intended to expend £8,000,000 on defence. One of the first essentials of a country’s defence is that its people 3hall have something to defend. I admit that most Australians are in that position; but, unfortunately, there are some, even in this country, who have nothing to defend, and are living like pigs. I was pointing out that in England steps are being taken to make living conditions decent, even for pigs. I now plead that good Australians should be given at least that measure of comfort that the people of England claim for their pigs. Let us, in this Senate, do something to improve the condition of the human beings who make possible a budget which the Government regards as so wonderful. The Government flatters itself on having remitted taxes amounting to many millions of pounds, and on having set aside £8,000,000 for defence; but it is unwilling to spend a few million pounds to provide proper housing for the human beings who would be called upon to defend the country in the event of war. It is a fearful commentary on modern civilization that human beings are housed in rotten “ piggeries “ at Molonglo and elsewhere, and that money cannot be found to feed, clothe, and house them decently. I am sick and tired of referring to these things. Instead of flattering itself on the budget the Government should play the game with the workers and treat them decently.
– The honorable senator scarcely flatters the workers of this country when he claims for them the standard provided in England for pigs.
– I believe that my fellow men are entitled to the same comfort as I claim for myself; and this rich country can give it to them. Every man. woman, and child in Australia should be able to live in decency and comfort. Honorable senators of New South Wales know that thousands of people in Sydney are not properly fed. Mcn must have healthy bodies if they are to defend their country. Fifty years ago Bismarck realized the need for healthy bodies if men were to become efficient fighting machines, but we in Australia do nor appear to have learned that lesson.
Notwithstanding that large sums of money are to be set aside for defence purposes, no encouragement is given by the Government to the development of airmindedness among the youths of the country by assisting gliding clubs. Recently, the secretary of : the Queensland Gliding Association asked that the Defence Department should do something more definite in the direction of developing an air sense among the young men of this country. If Australia expended a few thousands of pounds annually upon gliding clubs, as other countries are doing, thousands of young men would be sufficiently air-minded to develop into well-trained pilots within one-half the time now occupied in training them.
– The honorable senator’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Senator Marwick) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives and (on motion by Senator Sir George Pearce) read a first time.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) agreed to -
That the Senate at its risingadjourn till to-morrow at 10 a.m.
Motion (by Senator Sir George Pearce) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.- I bring under the notice of the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) the inconvenience experienced this morning by some honorable senators owing to the absence of transport facilities between Goulburn and Canberra. When speaking on the Apple and Pear Bounty Bill last week I was asked by the Government Whip to obtain leave to continue my remarks at a later date because the Government was anxious to bring forward some other business. A definite assurance was given to me and to other honorable senators by the Government Whip that if the early train was not running to Canberra to-day, other arrangements would he made to transport us from Goulburn. This morning six or seven honorable senators, who had been assured at Albury that the early train would not run to Canberra, arrived at Goulburn expecting that other means would be provided by theMinistry for the completion of the journey. Included in that number were three honorable senators representing Tasmania who wished to speak on the bill mentioned. We found, however, on arrival at Canberra later in the day that the debate on the measure had been proceeded with and that the bill had been passed. It is very unfair to those honorable senators who wished to speak on the measure to be deprived of the right to place the views of their constituents ‘before the Senate, particularly as a definite assurance had been given that transport facilities would be provided. It was most unfortunate that the debate should have been continued this morning as there was no steamer from Tasmania until Tuesday and we could not catch a train from Melbourne before Wednesday. 1 trust that in future when the Senate sits a day later than that on which the House of Representatives meets suitable arrangements will be made for transport between Goulburn and Canberra. Cars are often waiting at Goulburn hut they are for ministers and officials. I am not asking for any special privilege, but in the circumstances mentioned honorable senators representing Tasmania should not have been prevented from speaking on a measure of such importance to that State.
.- I accept full responsibility for the unfortunate incident mentioned by Senator Grant. I overlooked the fact that an early train was not running to Canberra this morning, otherwise transport would have been arranged. I do not think that a similar complaint has been made during the eleven years’ I have been Government Whip. I regret the oversight and I trust that honorable senators were not inconvenienced unduly.
[9.7]. - Whenever such an arrangement has been made with my concurrence I have always endeavoured to see that it was carried out. I cannot recall an instance in which promises made by me in the matter of transport have not been honoured. I knew nothing of the arrangement mentioned by Senator Grant.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 9.8 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 8 October 1936, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1936/19361008_senate_14_151/>.