22 June 1937

14th Parliament · 2nd Session

The President (Senator the Hon. P. J. Lynch) took the chair at 3 p.m. and read prayers.

page 104


The following papers were pre sented : -

Land Tax Assessment Act - List of applications for Relief dealt with during theyear 1936.

Nauru -

Ordinances of 1936 -

No. 12- Motor Traffic.

No. 13 - Wild Birds Preservation.

Ordinances of 1937 -

No. . 1 - Leper Station and Hospital Enclosure.

No. 2 - Customs Tariff Amendment.

No. 3 - Extradition.

Motor Traffic Ordinance - Regulations.

New Guinea Act - Ordinances of 1937 -

No. 1 - Appropriation (No. 3) 1935-36.

No. 2 - Customs Tariff.

No. 3 - Liquor.

No. 4 - Police Offences.

No. 5 - Bills of Exchange.

No.6 - Shipping (Maritime Convention).

No. 7 - Stamp Duties.

No. 8 - Administration and Probate.

No. 9 - Laws Repeal and Adopting.

No. 10- Motor Traffic.

No. 12 - Fire Brigades.

No. 13- Appropriation (No. 2) 1930-37.

No. 14- Supply 1937-38.

No. 15 - Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement).

No. 16 - Ordinances Interpretation.

No. 1 7 - Superannuation.

No. 18 - Native Labour.

No. 19 - Roman Catholic (Mission of the

Holy Ghost) Property Trust.

No. 20 - Ronian Catholic (Marist Mission) Property Trust.

No. 21 - Roman Catholic (Sacred Heart Mission) Property Trust.

No. 22 - Lands Registration.

No. 23- Land.

Northern Territory Acceptance Act and

Northern Territory (Administration) Act-

Ordinances of 1937 -

No. 2 - Darwin Administration.

No. 3 - Darwin Rates.

No. 4 - Income Tax.

No. 5 - Aboriginals.

Darwin Administration Ordinance -

Regulations (General).

Darwin Administration Ordinance -

Regulations (Darwin Public Cemetery).

DarwinAdministration Ordinance -

Regulations (Lameroo Baths).

Darwin Administration Ordinance -

Regulations (Licensing of Motor Vehicles ) .

Income Tax Ordinance - Regulations amended.

Pearling Ordinance - Regulations amended.

Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act - Canberra University College Ordinance - Report of the Council of the Canberra University College for the year 1936. Superannuation Act - Fourteenth Annual Report of the Superannuation Board, year ended 30th June, 1936.

Fibre Plants and their suitability for commercial production in Australia - Report by Professor A. E. V. Richardson and Dr. B. T. Dickson, dated 5th November. 1930.


Copy of Report by Sir David Rivett, Chief Executive Officer, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, entitled “ Oil Production from Coal viewed from an Australian standpoint “.

Copy of Second Report of the Committee appointed to inquire into question of establishing a plant in Australia for production of Oil from coal by the hydrogenation process.

Wool Publicity and Research Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1937. No.61.

Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act-

Ordinance No. 49 of 1936 - Advisory Council.

Ordinances of 1937 -

No. 1 - Rates.

No. 2 - Roman Catholic Church Property Trust.

No. 3. - Administration and Probate.

No. 4. - Seat of Government (Administration ) .

No. 5. - Court of Petty Sessions.

Apprenticeship Ordinance - Regulations.

Industrial Board Ordinances - Regulations amended.

Public Baths Ordinance - Regulations amended.

Public Health Ordinance - Regulations amended (2).

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Collections from Relief Workers.

by leave. - On Friday last, following a statement made by the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce · QUEENSLAND · FLP; ALP from 1937

, with reference to relief workers in Western Australia, I telegraphed to the State secretary of the Australian Workers Union in these terms : -

Pearce asserted Senate to-day when unemployed were put on relief work, Australian Workers Union Western Australia immediately demanded 25s. for ticket even though men starving. If unable find cash it must be stopped out of first pay. Sale of these extra tickets showed in union balance-sheet almost exactly amount increase expenditure pay political organizer. Please supply facts.

To that telegram I received the following reply : -

Men on relief works this State purchase union tickets by fortnightly instalment system at the rate of 2s.6d. per fortnight when working. No men on government relief in this State starving. No union dues stopped from relief workers unless at their own express desire. Branch secretary Johnson from this State arriving Sydney on Monday.

Would advise Pearce sec mental specialist. (Signed) E. Dalton, acting secretary.

Minister for External Affairs · Western Australia · UAP

by leave. - The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) has not quite correctly quoted from my speech on Friday last. This is what I said: -

In Western Australia thousands of men who were out of employment were offered relief work; but a. condition imposed by the Labour Government of that State -

I did not say that the condition was imposed by the Australian Workers Union in Western Australia - is that each man, before he becomes eligible for employment, shall take out a ticket in the Australian Workers Union. The membership fee is 25s. per annum. If the relief workers have not sufficient money to pay the foe in a lump sum - and many of them being on the verge of starvation cannot do so - they arc permitted to spread the amount over four payments.

Evidently my speech was reported in newspapers in Western Australia, because yesterday I received the following telegram from Mr. H. K. MacLean, general secretary of the Nationalist party of Western Australia : -

Before man can get government-provided sustenance workhe must have Australian Workers Union ticket. If he has not means to pay necessary 25s. he cannot enter into full union membership. If he has 25s. cash he cannot get sustenance work. Alternative is to buy ticket in successive payments, with result that at no time during year is worker full union member, consequently disfranchised from voice in union affairs. Portion 25s. compulsorily goes on per capita basis to political funds, nortion goes to Federal Australian Workers Union organization, portion goes compulsory subscription to Worker weekly newspaper remainder absorbed in union administration affairs in which he is voice less. Possession of union ticket does not avert compulsory standing-down period, and although he is not fuil-time worker, full-time union fee is charged.

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Senator BROWN:

– Does the PostmasterGeneral remember visiting Brisbane last year and promising that a new General Post Office would soon be built there ? Further, can he say when a start will be made with the building?

Senator A J McLACHLAN:

– I well remember visiting Brisbane last year and examining the post office there. I recollect also that on my return I persuaded the Government to refer the matter of the construction of a new General Post Office at Brisbane to officers of the Department of the Interior and Postal Department with a view to having a thorough investigation made as to the best means of carrying out this colossal work. It would he impossible to proceed on the basis of the plans which were prepared some time ago, and at the same time continue the service required by the people of Brisbane. The matter is still under consideration by the architects of the Department of the Interior.

Senator BROWN:

– Whilst in Brisbane did the Minister visit the post office in Stanley Street, South Brisbane, and see there the unsuitable building now serving as a post office? Further, did he inspect the piece of land acquired by the Government for the purpose of a new post office more in conformity with modern requirements, and can he say what action has been taken in regard to providing a new post office for South Brisbane ?

Senator A J McLACHLAN:

– No action has been taken by the Government with regard to providing a new post office at South Brisbane.

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Senator SAMPSON:

asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence upon notice -

  1. What was the strength of the Commonwealth Military Forces (Militia) by arms, on 31st December, 1936?
  2. What was the total attendance of the Militia at six-day camps of continuous training during the military year 1936-37?
  3. What was the percentage of attendances to strength at such camps?
  4. What is the present strength of the Militia ?

– The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -

  1. Strength of Australian Military Forces, by arms, on 31st December, 1936: -
  1. AH available returns to date show an attendance of 25,350 out of a training strength of 34,188.
  2. 74 per cent.
  3. The strength at 31st March, 1937, which is the latest quarterly strength return available, was 35,316.

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SenatorCOLLINGS asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister upon notice -

Did a deputation from the combined States Departments of Education wait upon the Prime Minister in Canberra in May of last year ?

Did such deputation request a grant in aid to education?

What was the nature of the reply given to such deputation ?

What, if anything, has the Government since done in this matter?

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE.The Acting Prime Minister has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -



and 4. The matter was listed for discussion at a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers held in Adelaide in August, 1936, under the general question of the financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States, which embraced a number of specific suggestions advanced by State Premiers for additional financial assistance by the Commonwealth. It was not found possible for the Commonwealth Government to make funds available for the purpose outlined by the deputation. The Commonwealth Government has, however, since arranged to make £200,000 available to the State governments in 1937-38 for vocational training and placement of unemployed youth’s between eighteen, and 25 years of age.

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Perth Station

Senator A J McLACHLAN:

– On the 18th June, Senator E. B. Johnston addressed to the Postmaster-General the following question, upon notice: -

When is it intended to commence the erection of the second National Broadcasting Station promised for Perth?

I am now in a position to furnish the honorable senator with the following answer : -

The department is anxious to arrange for a second National Broadcasting Station in Perth to provide alternative programmes, but at the moment it is not possible to indicate when the erection of the station will be proceeded with.

North Queensland

Senator A J McLACHLAN:

– On the 18 th June, Senator Collings addressed to the Postmaster-General the following questions, upon notice: -

  1. Is anything being done to improve the situation in north-west Queensland regarding the reported poor reception from 4RN A class’ wireless station ?
  2. Is it a fact that the reception is so poor that listeners are obliged to fall back on a B class station 4LG Longreach?
  3. Can he give any satisfactory reason as to why the News Bulletin from 4RN originally put on the air at 7 a.m. was altered to 6.30 a.m.?

I am now in a position to furnish the honorable senator with the following answer to his inquiries : -

  1. Regional Broadcasting Station 4QN is situated at Clevedon, near Townsville, and is not intended to serve north-west Queensland.
  2. For the present, service in this area can be economically and most satisfactorily provided by means of short wave transmission. This provision already exists, but the department is now arranging for additional facilities which will considerably improve reception conditions throughout north-west Queensland.
  3. Inquiries are being made and the honorable senator will be informed as soon as possible.

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Senator BRENNAN:
Minister without portfolio assisting the Minister for Commerce · VICTORIA · UAP

– On the 18th June, Senator J. V. MacDonald asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, the following question upon notice : -

Whether it is correct, as alleged to be stated by Dr. Nott, ex-Member of the House of Representatives, now of Canberra, “that 40 per cent, of the babies born during the regime of the Lyons-Page Government are suffering from malnutrition “, and if so, what action does the Government propose to take to remove such a state of affairs?

The Minister for Health has now supplied the following answer: -

The statement that 40 per cent, of children arc suffering from malnutrition is doubtless a repetition of statements that have been made by some medical authorities. These statements, however, require to be read with their full context, which indicates the degree and the nature of the malnutrition. The Government has appointed an Advisory Council on Nutrition which is now inquiring into this question. The council expects to make its report about the end of this year.

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Message received from the House of Representatives acquainting the Senate that the following members of the House of Representatives had been appointed members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on public works: - Mr. Thomas Collins, Mr. Jos. Francis, Mr. Frost, Mr. E. J. Harrison, Mr. Holloway and Mr. Nairn.

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Debate resumed from the 18th June (vide page 69), on motion by Senator McLeay -

That the following Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’s opening speech be agreed to: - may it please your excellency:

We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia, in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign and to thank your Excellency for the speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.

Senator HARDY:
New South “Wales

– As Leader of the Country party in this chamber I congratulate the Government on the excellent speech of the Governor-General, and the proposals of the Ministry outlined therein, because

I believe that its programme will be the coping stone of a record of constructive legislation, which, possibly, has not been equalled in the political history of Australia. I pay a tribute to the Government in that respect, but I am afraid that I cannot congratulate the Leader of the Opposition on his oration; not only was it illogical but it also lacked in many respects the element of truth. Furthermore, the honorable senator offered no constructive criticism. I was particularly interested when he said that the Government would be indicted because of its failure to honour the promises it had made at the last elections, and that it would certainly be punished when the polling booth jury next assembled to record its verdict. I can readily understand the optimism of the Leader of the Opposition, particularly in view of” his successful campaign in Gwydir, but I draw attention to the fact that while helaunched his tirade of criticism against the Government, alleging that it had failed to carry out the promises made by its leader at the last election, he did not mention one specific instance in which the Government had fallen down on its job. He simply dealt in generalities, picturing how wonderful the world would be if private enterprise were abolished and some marvellous form of socialism were substituted. I urge the Leader of the Opposition, if he is going to continue his attacks against the Government, as undoubtedly he will because an election is in the offings - and at that election, incidently, he is going to meet his own Waterloo - to tell us exactly in what way the Government has failed. If it has failed to deal effectively with unemployment, let him say so frankly and give us specific illustrations of such failure; if he alleges that it has failed in its financial administration, let him make his charges specifically, instead of offering a patchwork, a crazy quilt of idle allegations.

Senator Collings:

– What about the failure of our loan in London on Saturday?

Senator HARDY:

– Although only 50 per cent, of the loan was subscribed, even that subscription was greater than that to any loan converted or attempted to be converted during the whole reign of the

Labour Government, because during the regime of the Scullin Ministry no flotation or conversion operation was attempted.

In his endeavour to indict the Government in respect of national insurance, Senator Collings stated that the Government during its waking moments, babbled about national insurance to the press - but never to Parliament. The honorable senator made that statement on the day after the Governor-General’s Speech was read in this chamber, although in that speech a comprehensive policy in respect of national insurance was definitely outlined. Let us analyse the attitude of the Labour party towards this very vexed question of national insurance. During” the Gwydir campaign I heard Senator Collings attack the Government on the ground that it had not launched a comprehensive scheme of national insurance. J ask the honorable senator when was national insurance first included in the platform of the Labour party? “Was it last year, or ten years ago? No. I have before me the actual records of the conferences of the Australian Labour party, and I find that it was included at the fifth Commonwealth conference of that party held in Hobart. How long ago did that conference take place? Was it t wo years ago ? No ; it was held a quarter of a century ago! Within the 25 years which have since rolled by two Labour governments, one in 1914 and the second in 1931, have been in office, and honorable senators will seek in vain in Ilansard and other legislative records for one statement in which any supporter of either of these Labour governments raised his voice on this matter. The true test of sincerity is action; 25 years have gone by and the Labour party has taken no action at all to establish a scheme of national insurance; but because this Government is now proposing a national insurance scheme which will appeal to the people of Australia as a whole, and place the whole of our pensions and social legislation on a sound basis, we hear Labour supporters saying in the highways and byways of this country that this Government has fallen down on its job ! If it he true that this Government has fallen down on its job in this respect within the last two years, my reply to

Senator Collings is that the Labour party has fallen down on its job in a similar way for the last 25 years. I believe that when these facts are put before the people at the next election they will realize that this Government is sincere in its attempt to formulate a national insurance scheme on a sound basis. The report of an expert, which is available to honorable senators, has already been obtained, and before launching this tremendous financial experiment, the Government is analysing its probable effects and the contributions to be made by various sections of the people. While this is being done, the Labour party now attempts to indict the Government on its delay in the matter, although within a period of 25 years it failed itself to bring any scheme of a like nature to fruition.

Senator Collings:

– The Labour party was not in office; it could not establish such a scheme.

Senator HARDY:

– The Labour party was in office in 1914 and again in 1931. I direct attention to another interesting point in Senator Collings’ speech, because it reveals his interpretation of his duty as Leader of the Opposition. In reply to an interjection by Senator A. J. McLachlan, Senator Collings said -

The honorable senator’s remark is not clever. Talk is all that we can do in this chamber; we are simply here to talk, not to chop wood.

On many occasions the honorable senator speaks at length, and on Friday last he addressed himself to numerous subjects for an hour and a half. There have been other occasions, however, when important measures have been before the Senate, and the Leader of the Opposition has not spoken at all. For instance, during the last session of this Parliament he could have spoken on the second reading of the London Naval Treaty Bill for one hour, but the time he occupied on that measure was less than one minute. During the last week of the session five customs tariff bills were passed through this chamber, on the second reading of each of which he could have spoken for one hour, but he did not speak at all. This is a reversal of the honorable senator’s contention that the electors of Queensland sent him to this chamber to talk and not to chop wood. There was also a sales tax amendment bill on the second reading of which he could have spoken for one hour, but he declined the opportunity afforded him. I also direct the attention of the Leader of the Opposition to a vital bill covering a trade agreement with France, and dealing with the production of wine and barley and primary produce generally. Although the honorable senator could have spoken on the second reading of that measure for one hour he did not address himself to it at all. There was also a Commonwealth Railways bill, dealing with important subjects, on the second reading of which he could have spoken for an hour, but he did not participate in the debate on that measure. On a Petroleum Oil Research Bill, a subject in which the honorable senator should bo interested, and an Air Navigation bill he did not speak at all. Although the honorable senator claims that the electors of Queensland sent him here to talk and not to chop wood he declined to take advantage of the opportunity to speak on at least 24 important measures which came before this chamber. My job is not to talk, but ito criticize, and if necessary amend proposals that are submitted to us. If the legislation has my approval I have a perfect right to allow it to pass without criticism. The Leader of the Opposition may place a different interpretation on his statement, but he must admit that in effect he approved of at least 24 legislative enactments of this Government without offering any comment on them.

Senator Collings:

– I am not apologizing: if I consider legislation satisfactory I do not oppose it.

Senator HARDY:

– I fully expected the honorable senator to don his political spurs as he did and deride the members of the Country party for their defeat at the Gwydir by-election. I noticed, however, that the honorable senator did not have anything to say concerning the Darling Downs by-election, held a few weeks earlier. He concentrated upon the Gwydir contest, insisting that the result supported his indictment of the Government. The honorable senator contends that the decision of the electors in Gwydir indicated their dissatisfaction with the present Government.

Senator Collings:

– Hear, hear ! .

Senator HARDY:

– The honorable senator says “ hear, hear .’ “, brit apparently he ha3 not analysed the figures. Had he done so he would have found that a. number of electors in Gwydir are satisfied with the present government, because of 26 subdivisions the Country party won twelve, and the Labour party fourteen, and that in three of the subdivisions the Country party candidates - particularly in the closer settled areas - obtained more votes than did the Labour party at the last election. One of the reasons why the Labour party secured a victory at Gwydir was that the Stevens-Bruxner administration in New South Wales sent over 1,000 distressed workers from the Cessnock and Newcastle districts to work on the main roads in the Gwydir electorate. That fact has to be taken into consideration before Labour supporters can claim a political victory.

Senator Brown:

– The honorable senator should not blame us for that.

Senator HARDY:

– Hundreds of men, representing the Trades Hall, descended on Gwydir, and as from 40 to 50 could be found in each subdivision, it is easy to understand the extent of the Labour party organization. The Leader of the Opposition also said, “Evidently Senator Hardy is anxious that I shall always be found in good company. I am sorry that I cannot compliment the honorable senator on the company he keeps “. He said that during the Gwydir byelection he frequently found me in doubtful political company. ‘That is true, because representatives of a huge Labour organization conducted from the Trades Hall followed me around the Gwydir electorate. No doubt Senator Collings based his opinion on that fact.

I now wish to direct the attention of the Senate to what I believe is rapidly becoming a national problem, and one which should have the serious consideration of the Senate. I refer to the closer settlement movement which is becoming vital in some of the eastern States. In connexion with such problem, the Federal Government cannot stand on the side-line, as a detached spectator; closer settlement cannot be carried out without proper co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States. In speaking of closer settlement, I realize that I shall not have -the sympathy of those honorable senators representing closely settled States such as Victoria and Tasmania, or even Western Australia, but I can assure honorable senators that in practically every country centre in New South Wales there is a strong agitation, from those of our people who are land hungry. for more land. There is a definite ‘public demand for a sound and economic policy of closer settlement. I was particularly interested to note that, in the first week or two of the Gwydir by-election campaign, the issue drifted right away from federal politics, the two concluding weeks of the campaign were devoted purely to a State issue, and I do not fear contradiction when I refer to it as an outstanding issue. I do not know whether the Leader of the Opposition spoke on this subject, but when thi Leader of the Labour movement in New South Wales, whom the honorable senator applauded so vigorously on Friday, mentioned the subject he did not hesitate to drive home to the country people that further economic development is essential in that electorate. I know that it was only an election cry, for although the history of the Labour movement in New South Wales shows that the Labour party favours closer settlement - and this will be of interest to the three Labour senators in this chamber - no Labour government has ever been responsible for the subdivision of one large estate. In the Gwydir campaign the Labour party did not hesitate to advance its political aims by supporting closer settlement, because it sensed that among the country people a desire for closer settlement was arising. I believe that Labour’s realization of that, had something to-do with the defeat of -the Country party. In -the next few clays in the Riverina, .a closer settlement conference - one of ‘the largest conferences ever held in New South Wales, and consisting of men who are anxious to see some sound, well-constructed economic policy of closer settlement proceeded with - v/ill take place. There is a degree of reluctance on the part of the Commonwealth Government to -give attention to closer settlement, because the problem bristles -with difficulties and its history is full of mistakes. The mistakes made in Western Australia can be instanced; that State even now is still grappling with the problems that accrued as the result of ill-advised closer settlement schemes. Similar trouble has been experienced in New South Wales. We have now to recognize that in order to avoid a repetition of past mistakes, if any State launches a policy of closer settlement, the Commonwealth Government cannot stand aloof. There must be coordination of Commonwealth and State efforts, ‘because any scheme to be successful must be placed on a national basis. Honorable senators will recognize the logic of my reasoning when I point out that the problems of primary industries do not wholly relate to production. Increased production involves the problem of marketing. How can the Commonwealth Government make trade agreements with other countries in respect of various classes of primary production if it is not aware of development in a particular economic unit? The matters of production and consumption are inextricably interwoven. The Commonwealth Government must realize that any plan for closer settlement must be the result of close planning between the Commonwealth and the States. But my case does not only rest on that point. There is the matter of the possible expansion of secondary industries. The expansion 1hat has taken place in secondary industries in the last few years reads like a romance; to-day their production is at the highest level Australia has ever known. I was particularly interested last week to read a statement by the Canberra representative of the Associated Cham’bers of Manufactures, Mr. Withall, in which he said that there was .a potential absorb.tive capacity in secondary industries of 50,000 Australians every year. Every primary economic unit provides a market for the secondary industries. Relatively, those industries have no export market, but every farm that comes into production provides an expanded home market. Every farm requires equipment, and every industry requires a market; it is plain, therefore, that the problems and interests of primary and secondary industries are inter-related. Because primary and secondary industries are related in matters of supply and demand, the Commonwealth Government cannot stand on the side-line when closer settlement schemes are under consideration. Then there is the unemployment problem. The Commonwealth Government has found it necessary to allocate a considerable sum for the relief of unemployment, thus proving that the problem is there, and must be grappled with. The whole of the unemployed cannot be absorbed in secondary industries. They must be spread over the whole field of production by a vigorous, sound, well-planned closer settlement policy. Therefore, it is plain that closer settlement is a matter for national planning. We cannot allow six distinct State plans to go ahead independently; we must pick up the six strands and weave them into a solid rope. Only by co-ordinated planning can we avoid the mistakes of the past. Further aspects of this matter are migration and defence, which are national matters ; both are allied with a vigorous policy of closer settlement. I dp not say that closer settlement will bring into the country a flood of migrants- or that the defence problem will be solved by it, but a wellreasoned policy of closer settlement on an economic basis must be a contribution to national development. Finally, in urging that the Commonwealth shall cooperate with the States in that respect, I point out that under the financial agreement the Commonwealth has. assumed final responsibility for State debts. Having undertaken that responsibility the Commonwealth cannot allow the States to go ahead on their own schemes of economic development involving large liabilities and long-range planning, without close financial supervision by the Commonwealth. So, although the objection may be raised that closer settlement is the function of the States, the Federal Parliament has a definite niche in any such plan, and must play its part in a general co-ordinated scheme. Such action would not be creating a precedent. We remember the £34,000,000 migration agreement. I was interested enough to check again the principles of that agreement, because it has almost passed into the limbo of forgotten things. The real intention of the agreement was to effect permanent settlement in Australia.

It was an agreement between the Governments of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, and the States for permanent settlement. What was meant by permanent settlement? Its scope was indicated by the words “whether on the land or otherwise “. It is quite clear that at least at the period when the agreement was signed, it was the actual intention of the Commonwealth to take an active part in permanent settlement, such as closer settlement would bring about. The agreement stated also that considerable areas of land were to be made available for development and settlement. The reason for my resume of that agreement is that when I mentioned that matter to several honorable senators recently they said that the Commonwealth Parliament was in no way concerned with the land settlement policies of the States. I dispute that, because history shows that in the past Commonwealth governments have been prepared to enter into co-operative agreements, and to enter into long-range planning such as that provided for in the migration agreement. Further objectives of that agreement were the acquiring or resuming of alienated land, advances to settlers who were in process of settlement, and the settlement of people on the land. Therefore, there is no lack of precedent for the Commonwealth taking an active interest in the closer settlement schemes of the States. I re-affirm that owing to the interlocking nature of these problems and the probable marketing difficulties that will follow the further development of primary and secondary production in Australia, it is impossible for the National Parliament to stand aloof from the consideration of proposals for their solution. We have, as I have said, ample precedent to guide us. During the last few years we have, on many occasions, discussed the payment of bounties to wheat-farmers and financial assistance to other primary producers, including a subsidy for the purchase of fertilizers, the purpose being to ensure the continued activity of these production units. This Parliament has also authorized the expenditure of £12,000,000 for the adjustment of farmers’ debts, and during the last six or seven years it has considered projects having as their objective the co-operation of the States in the development of our primary industries.

Senator Collings:

– So as to increase the exportable surplus and then have quotas imposed.

Senator HARDY:

– I expected that the honorable senator would have something to say about the difficulty of disposing of our exportable primary production. On that point I differ entirely from the honorable gentleman. He believes that we should seek to become a self-contained nation, revolving entirely on our own economic axis and having no interest whatever in the exportation of surplus production.

Senator Brown:

– He has never said anything of the kind.

Senator HARDY:

– -Ref erence to the Hansard report of speeches made by the Leader of the Opposition will show that what I have said is quite correct. He has stated over and over again that he doubts the wisdom of increasing our exports. Mr. Scullin, when Prime Minister, held different views. In 1931 he made an urgent appeal to our wheatfa rmers to grow more wheat, and so enable Australia to meet its overseas obligations. There was no talk then of Labour’s policy to restrict export production. On the contrary, our primary producers were urged to go full steam ahead and provide a large surplus for sale overseas. Apparently there has been a change of front lately. Senator Collings now holds that production for export should be strictly limited, though his misgivings about marketing difficulties are not justified by the facts. In the years 1931 to 1935, our main primary industries - wheat, wool and butter - did not suffer appreciably from having an exportable surplus. I doubt that the Leader of the Opposition can cite one single instance of an unduly large carryover. Therefore, we should heed the lessons of the past and see that future closer settlement schemes are established on a sound economic basis.

Senator Collings:

– The honorable senator had better leave that to a Labour Government. Thousands of migrants who were settled on land in Victoria had to be repatriated.

Senator HARDY:

– It is impossible to avoid trouble if settlers are placed on marginal lands. I am not now advocating the adoption of any mass scheme of closer settlement. Obviously it would be dangerous to place inexperienced men on unsuitable land and expect them to make a success of their undertaking. What I am urging is that provision should be made for the known large number of experienced men with the necessary capital who are seeking land. The time has come when, in the development of the Commonwealth primary production should once more march with the times, side by side with the expansion of secondary industry. It is, however, essential that only the right type of settler - the man with experience and financial resources - should have a chance to settle on the right class of land. Only in this way can we expect to avoid a repetition of the mistakes of the past. It is hopeless to expect a man, accustomed only to working behind a shop counter, to make a success of dairying. Furthermore, land for future settlers should be made available at a price that will not load them with excessive annual costs, and what is equally important, should be in districts with an assured rainfall, thus making possible a diversity of production.

Some honorable senators may be sceptical as to the demand for land at the present time, and I have no doubt the Leader of the Opposition will be surprised when I say that it is very keen in the State which I assist to represent in this chamber. Recently in a ballot for 11 blocks of land in the Eastern and Western division of New South Wales, not a great distance from the scene of our election activity, a few weeks ago, there were no fewer than 3,600 applicants.


– Most of them were dummies.

Senator HARDY:

– The honorable senator is wrong. They were all genuine applicants. There are also registered, in the Lands department of New South Wales, 6,000 applicants for land, and I am further informed that there is a great number of unregistered applicants. My information is that in New South Wales alone there are at least 11,000 applicants for land, all with practical experience of some form of primary production. This being so, it is only right that the Senate should support every feasible scheme for closer settlement in order to provide those applicants with the land which they desire in areas of assured rainfall, thus avoiding as far as possible a repetition of mistakes of the past, when men were placed on marginal areas in uncertain country.

Senator Collings:

– Another important factor is the right price for money.

Senator HARDY:

– I agree with the honorable gentleman. Recently the New South “Wales government, through its Lands department, made a survey of lands available in that State for closer settlement. The committee which made the investigation consisted of men with wide experience in all forms of primary production, and their report was a revelation. They showed that in the central and eastern divisions of New South Wales, there were 2,299 estates, each having an unimproved value of £10,000 and over and capable of subdivision. The committee estimated that the total area was capable of subdivision as follows: - 537 living areas for wool production only; 6,153 areas for sheep breeding and fattening; 2,855 areas for wheat and sheep; 4S4 areas for wheat, sheep and fat lambs; 349 areas for fat iambs and fodder crops; 1,911 areas for dairying; 129 areas for dairying and fat lambs; 1,277 areas for dairying and mixed farming; 210 areas for t attle raising and 137 areas for miscellaneous farming and intensive culture. On this basis the .aggregate acreage of the 2,299 estates in New South Wales could provide 14,042 living areas to be devoted to the various forms of primary production I have named.

I do not suggest that all of the estates included in the survey could be made available for closer settlement. Some are being operated under sound scientific management, and are being fully utilized, so their subdivision would not lead to an increase of the economic output. It is also reasonable to urge that those estates which are being used for stud purposes could not he subdivided without economic loss to the wool industry, but I should say that of the total area covered by the report, at least 10,000 living areas could be created by subdivision.

Senator Collings:

– Has the Commonwealth power to deal with such estates?

Senator HARDY:

– Yes. The committee which made its report on closer settlement emphasized that Crown lands in New South Wales, were limited and also that the Crown must undertake each year the purchase or resumption of a number of these estates for closer settlement purposes. There are three ways in which land may be made available for closer settlement. One is by voluntary subdivision. This has been tried in New South Wales, and I should add, has proved unsuccessful. The second method is compulsory resumption on an equitable basis, and the third is compulsory acquisition, which, I have no doubt, will appeal to Labour senators. I wish it to be clearly understood that I and the members of my party do not stand for the compulsory acquisition of any property. Should there be no voluntary subdivision of the land, compulsory resumption may be resorted to. That is what the New South Wales Government now proposes to do. It proposes to embark upon a longrange scheme of closer settlement, based on compulsory resumption of land at equitable values. That being so, the Commonwealth cannot possibly stand aloof, but must take an active part in the development of the’ country. We have only to call to mind the activities of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to realize how science can be applied to industry in order to increase production. Is not the Government entitled to extend the sphere of its activities in respect of land which is not being put to its full use?

Senator Collings:

– The Labour party thinks so, but the party to which the honorable senator belongs does not.

Senator HARDY:

– There have been ten Labour governments in New South Wales, but not one of them ever subdivided a private estate for closer settlement purposes. When the Labour party talks of closer settlement, and the right to free there locked-up lands, it talks with its tongue in its cheek.

Senator Collings:

– Why did not the honorable senator say these things to the electors of Gwydir in the recent byelection campaign? He did not suggest the compulsory, acquisition of land then.

Senator HARDY:

– I do not suggest it now. The Labour party believes in the compulsory acquisition of land, which really means the stealing of property.

Senator Brown:

– The acquiring of land does not mean stealing it.

Senator HARDY:

– The compulsory resumption of land is entirely different from its compulsory acquisition. Only after there has been failure to subdivide land voluntarily does the Country party believe in its compulsory resumption, and then only at an equitable valuation.

Let us now consider the legislation introduced in 1910 by a Labour government to impose a tax on land having an unimproved value of more than £5,000. The ideal aimed at in that measure should be supported by the present Labour party ; it is a national plan for co-ordinated closer settlement. When that legislation was introduced, Mr. Charlton said: -

In almost every part of New South Wales, and within easy reach of a railway, there are large estates to which the people cannot gain access. They are not being put to the best advantage, and this tax will do something towards placing them on the market. If the tax results in the subdivision of large estates, I believe it will prove the best thing that has ever happened to Australia.

Unfortunately effect was never given to the ideal underlying the bill. Speaking on the same bill, the then Prime Minister,Mr. Andrew Fisher. in his second-reading speech, said -

One of our great hopes is that it will convert large areas into small areas and bring about closer settlement … As far as I can make out, in New South Wales, there are about ten times more people clamouring for small holdings than there are areas available on which they can earn a living.

Every honorable senator will agree with the vision of those who introduced that legislation, but not all will agree with the way in which the tax was imposed, or the manner in which the proceeds were used,

Senator Collings:

– Not every one agrees with the way in which the present Government recently distributed over £6,000,000.

Senator HARDY:

– Of the amount received from the land tax, 60 per cent, is derived from property in the cities and 40 per cent, from large country estates. What would have happened had the Commonwealth Government in -1910 decided to earmark the proceeds of the land tax for closer settlement purposes? Since the tax was first imposed it has brought £54,000,000 to the Commonwealth Treasury, and had that sum been applied to the purchase of large estates, instead of being paid into general revenue, how different things would be to-day! During the last five years nearly £7,000,000 has been received by the Commonwealth from this tax; and although I realize that there are difficulties associated with allocating the revenue derived from a particular tax to specific purposes, I urge the Government, if it intends to continue the land tax, to allocate the money to the States in pursuance of a long-range plan of closer settlement.

I urge that action be taken similar to what is done in connexion with the petro] duty, a proportion of the proceeds of which is handed to the States for the making and maintenance of roads. As I have said, I realize that there are difficulties in the way of doing what I have suggested, but I commend the proposal to the earnest consideration of the Government. I have brought this matter forward in the full knowledge that it bristles with difficulties, but the longrange policy of the New South Wales Government in connexion with closer settlement is my justification. I realize that the carrying out of the plan which I have suggested will add to the existing problems, and impinge on national policy; but, as I have said, the Commonwealth Government cannot stand aloof in this matter. It should stand behind the States to the full extent of its power in assisting them to carry out this plan. If I were asked how the Commonwealth can assist, I would say that it. can do so, first, through the instrumentality of the Loan Council, which, contrary to public opinion, is not a Commonwealth body. The States require money to finance any comprehensive scheme of closer settlement. Should they ask the Loan Council to authorize the issue of debentures in payment for the land to be resumed, I say emphatically that the Commonwealth should be prepared to give to the proposal its sympathetic consideration. The interests of the Commonwealth and the States in respect of the production and marketing of both ‘ primary and secondary products are so inextricably interwoven that it is the duty of the Commonwealth to co-operate with the States. I believe that the Government realizes its duty in that respect, and will co-operate with the States.

Senator BROWN:

– The Address-in-Reply is of no great moment, but it is part of a parliamentary procedure, and it gives to honorable senators the opportunity to bring before the Senate subjects which are nearest to their hearts. When an election is impending, there are many such subjects.

I was pleased with the ceremony associated with the opening of the second session of the fourteenth Parliament. It did give a little colour to the otherwise rather drab proceedings of this chamber, and it certainly interested and entertained the large number of people who filled the galleries. We are still lovers of pageantry, and I, personally, would not like to see the opening ceremony discontinued. After all, it is a good thing to please other people; and the opening of Parliament at least provides an opportunity for a number of the citizens of Australia to see a show for nothing. I was impressed with the manner in which the Usher of the Black Rod and Captain Bracegirdle carried out their duties, especially when each walked backwards, stopping three times to bow to His Excellency. I am not certain that in the English Parliament the duties of Black Rod are the same as they are here. The office was instituted in 1350. When I endeavoured to ascertain the reason for the peculiar title of “ Black Rod “, I discovered that it was because the officer carried a long ebony stick surmounted by a golden lion. The rod used in this chamber differs from that in the House of Lords in that it is surmounted by a silver crown. One of the duties of the Usher of the Black Rod in the British Parliament is to summon the Commoners to attend in the House of Lords. When he approaches the House of Commons he finds that the door is closed in his face, arid he is required to knock upon it three times. The reason for closing the door is that, on an historic occasion, a King of England, who was displeased with the Commons attempted to arrest five of its leading members - Hampden, Pym, Holies, Haselrig and Strode - and ever since then the Commoners have insisted on the door being closed in the face of Black Rod in order to demonstrate to the House of Lords and the King that they claim freedom from interruption during their debates in the House of Commons. When I saw Black Rod on Thursday last walking backwards I could not help thinking that his action was symbolical of the reactionary policy of the Government.

The Governor-General represents the King to whom every true Britisher is loyal. I regard loyalty as an impersonal matter. The demonstrations of loyalty given by the British people during the recent coronation ceremonies were as much expressions of loyalty to British institutions as to the person of the King. In saying that, I have no desire to detract from the prestige of King George VI. Recent happenings overseas, particularly in European countries, have intensified the belief of Australians in British institutions, one of which is Parliament. ‘ If democracy, as represented by British Parliaments, is to continue to have the support of the people, parliaments must be more active in safeguarding the liberty of the people and promoting the public welfare. When Parliaments fail to use their powers to the greatest possible extent in order to improve the welfare of the whole of the people, parliamentary institutions and the democratic system of government must fall in the estimation of the people. Dictators in various countries of the world have succeeded to some extent, because they have shown that they can accomplish things, whereas many democratic parliaments have failed to overcome those economic problems that beset their countries to-day. With all due respect to its personnel, I believe that this Parliament has failed, as a democratic institution, to exercise its powers to the fullest in order to achieve the general betterment of the whole of the people. It has succeeded in improving the conditions of a few who constitute a certain class, and, naturally, that class is pleased with the Government, but so far - as the great masses of the people are concerned, the general improvement which we would expect from the actions of Parliament, apart from the improvement which has resulted from certain economic developments, has not been effected. However, I have great hopes that at the next election the people will be wise in their day and generation, and return to office representatives who will use parliamentary powers to the fullest for the welfare of all the people.

To me the Governor-General’s Speech was disappointing; perhaps I should not be disappointed as one cannot, naturally, expect too much from a dying government. My leader spoke of political window-dressing; one complaint which I have against tory governments is that they dress political windows with nice goods which appeal to the people, but the people never get possession of them. The law provides that if goods are displayed in a window for sale at marked prices, the public can demand those goods at such prices. I suggest that if a political party indulges in window dressing, and the price of the goods is the vote of the people,- then the people are entitled to demand those goods.

All governments should at least tell the truth. In Brisbane an absolutely brand new political party_has just been formed. Most of its members are tainted with toryism, being ex-members of tory political associations or men who have deserted Labour associations. The first plank of that party is, “ Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth “. Although I do not say that untruths have wittingly been published in the Governor-General’s Speech, I draw attention to the following passage: -

Side by side with a remarkable improvement in the state of the primary industries there lias been such an increase in industrial production that factory employment is now greater than in any previous time in Australian history.

Frankly, I do not know whether that statement is true or not, but I refer honorable senators to the following statement made in the Arbitration Court by Mr. C. H. Grant, representative of the employers : -

On the face of them it appeared a notable achievement for manufacture to absorb such large numbers since the depression, but it was also remarkable that the numbers employed in 1935-30 were below those employed in 1920-27, on a population basis

Thus it is possible for the GovernorGeneral’s Speech to mislead the people of Australia. We have it on the authority of a gentleman representing the employers, who, of course,’ would not lie, that there are relatively less people employed in factories to-day than there were a few years ago. We must be careful, therefore, when we preen ourselves regarding the prosperity which has taken place in the country.

I believe it would be correct for the King’s representative when making his Speech to Parliament to tell us not only of the things that the Government declares that it is going to do, but also about a few of the things the Government has failed to do. For instance, the speech prepared for the King’s representative by members of the ‘ Government would be much more interesting and accurate if it contained passages like these - “ My advisers tell me that a few years ago, and at the last election that they were going to unify the railway gauges of Australia, but, gentlemen, they have not yet done so.”

Senator Herbert Hays:

– The Government has done part of that work.

Senator BROWN:

– In answer to the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Pearce, in making his debating school points, told us that this Government, had carried out part of its policy. He said that it had constructed the line from Red Hill to Port Augusta on the standard gauge. Less than 50 miles of standard gauge railway has been constructed since the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) promised the people that the Government would go ahead with the work of standardization. I notice that the distances and gauges of the various sections of our railway system are as follows: - Cairns to Brisbane, 3-ft. 6-in gauge, 1,043 miles; Brisbane to Albury, 4-ft. 84-in.. 1,012; Albury to Red Hill, 5-ft. 3-in., 800; Bed Hill to Port Pirie, 5-ft. 3-in., 27J ; Port Pirie to Port Augusta, 4-ft. 8^-in., 564; Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, 4-ft 8Mn., 1,052 ; and Kalgoorlie to Perth, 3-ft. 6-in., 375. The total mileages of the various gauges are - 5-ft. 3-in., 6,102 miles; 4-ft. 8-in., 7,253 ; 3-ft. 6-in., 12,891; 2-ft. 6-in., 121; 2-ft., 30.

In dealing with this particular matter, the Governor-General could have told us that, unfortunately, the Government had not carried out at least one of its promises. In a burst of enthusiasm at the last election the Prime Minister also declared that his Government would establish water storage schemes in country centres, and sewerage schemes in all of the large country towns, and would attend to the extraction of oil from coal. In respect of the last-mentioned matter, the GovernorGeneral’s Speech told us that it is the Government’s intention to do something about this some day, but His Excellency could have made it clear that that promise had not been fulfilled.

The Governor-General’s Speech also stated -

The Commonwealth Government, after conferring with the State governments, has agreed to make a grant of f 200,1)00 f>or the financial year 1037-38 to assist the State governments to provide vocational training for those boys and young men now between the ages of eighteen and 25 who lost their opportunity of training during the depression.

Personally I do not think that this scheme will prove successful. After all, it shows the paucity of the imagination of the Government when it believes that it can solve this problem by returning to the State governments some of the excess revenue it has taken from them by way of unnecessary taxation. At the last general election the Prime Minister also promised that his Government would abolish slums and that it would establish a housing scheme. So far from cleaning up the slums throughout Australia, it has failed even to attend to the slums at Molonglo in the very heart of the capital city. If the democratic system of the Government is to retain its position in the world, or in the British Empire, we must put an end to this political windowdressing, political philandering, and untruthfulness, and parliamentarians must submit to the people a definite plan of action, and carry out that plan, or at least endeavour to do so. The day has passed when governments can fool the people as Tory Governments have fooled them over and over again.

Reverting to the Governor-General’s Speech, His Excellency could have stated “ My advisers at the last election pro mised to restore the reductions of pensions of soldiers, &c, but have not done so “ ; or “ My advisers promised to rehabilitate the ]ural industries by providing £12,000,000 for the adjustment of farmers’ debts, but -have failed to keep that promise, for in two years less than £1,500,000 of that sum of ‘£12,000,000 has been expended.” At that rate it will take many years to distribute this amount to the farmers, most of whom by then no doubt will be dead and will not worry whether a Labour or Tory Government is in power. .Furthermore, the GovernorGeneral’s Speech would have been more truthful had it read : “ My advisers tell one that they believe in a 40-hour working week, but the Government has not done anything in that matter; it sent Sir Frederick Stewart to represent it at the International Labour Convention at Geneva, at which all of the delegates agreed that the general institution of a 40-hour working week was essential, but when Sir Frederick returned to Australia lie got the sack “. Last week we heard Senator McLeay, a supporter of the Government, suggesting that the matter of working hours should be left to the Arbitration Courts. I contend that the reduction of the hours of labour in industry must necessarily be dealt with as a national, not as a State, matter. Iti Queensland a statutory 44-hour week is in operation; no other country in the world has. similar legislation. It is grossly unfair to ask the Labour Government in Queensland to institute a 40-hour working week when in the other States the working week averages 45 hours. This matter must be dealt with nationally, and a general reduction of working hours throughout Australia should be brought about by the action of this Parliament.

Senator E B Johnston:

– How long have the farmers to work?

Senator BROWN:

– Having visited rural districts from time to time, I know that farmers work for very long hours, hut I arn looking forward to the day when, under a proper system of organization, fanning will be so conducted that rural workers- generally will not toil longer hours than city workers. Much of the labour in the cities is more arduous than that undertaken in country districts. Quite recently I witnessed eight labourers working on a concrete job at Coogee, and I defy any honorable senator to say that it would be reasonable to expect those men to do that work indefinitely for eight hours daily. Undoubtedly they were being exploited by their employers. Farmers work long hours, but I do not think that their work is so arduous as that of men employed in coal mines or in certain other industries Every sensible Australian citizen is looking forward to the day when, under a scientific system of organization of industry, we shall be able to secure even greater productivity with the least possible expenditure of energy, thus leaving to the workers more time to devote to healthy recreation.

It would have been interesting had the Governor-General-, in his opening Speech, been able to say that, “ My advisers are proud that much good has been accomplished. They have kept Mrs. Freer out of Australia for six months, and have allowed a prohibited Chinese immigrant to remain in Australia for sixteen years.” His Excellency might also have said, “ My advisers have banned many books for the good of Australian souls. Of course the owners of the brightest brains were angry, but the development of brains might put my advisers out of control.” His Excellency might also have said, “My advisers have set up many commissions. They have expended over £100,000 on royal commissions, the most recent being the Banking Commission, which cost over £19,000; its report has not yet been received.” Such statements coming from the GovernorGeneral would be popular with the people, but not with the Government. His Excellency could also have said, “ During the last twelve months my advisers gave two great nations bordering on the Pacific a kick on the fiscal pants. Unfortunately, Sir Henry Gullett, the chief kicker, has since been confined to the political hospital for Tory rejects.”

I come now to the chief point in the Speech, the paragraph relating to national insurance, which has called forth certain encomiums from Senator Hardy.

Paragraph 5 of the Governor-General’s Speech reads -

Last year my advisers, through the courtesy of His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom, secured the services of two highly qualified experts for the purpose of examining and reporting upon the possibilities of establishing some sound system of national insurance in Australia. The report of one of these experts, Mr. G. H. Ince, lias been received, and has had consideration. It relates to the problem of unemployment insurance.

That appears to be very interesting. National insurance, properly conducted, is a step in the right direction, and a scheme on sound lines would receive the support of an overwhelming majority of the Australian people, but I am afraid that this Government is not sincere in its advocacy of this policy. There has been talk of national insurance since 1925, when Mr. Bruce, a Tory political leader, mentioned the subject.

Senator Dein:

– It was first mentioned in 1923.

Senator BROWN:

– A Tory leader in this country promised a system of national insurance in 1923. In introducing a bill in the House of Representatives on the 14th April, 1928, Hansard Vol. 118. page 6748, the present Acting Prime

Minister (Dr. Earle Page) said : -

Honorable members will recognize and appreciate the honest effort of the Government to contribute a practical proposal for the banishment of that grim spectre of want and misery that has too long haunted our sick and our aged.

That nice language was used nine years ago by a Minister in an anti-Labour Government. .Although the administration of that day had a friendly Senate the measure was not proceeded with. Anti-Labour governments also expended £12,000 on a Royal Commission which inquired fully into the subject and issued four reports. The Government also authorized Mr. C. Wickens, the then Commonwealth Statistician, Mr. A. W. Sneddon, a prominent actuary, and Mr. S. Bennett, the Government Statistician of Western Australia - men whom Dr. Earle Page said had the highest qualifications - to peruse the bill which had been drafted, and to advise the Government if it were actuarially practicable. Since that time, the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) has also supplied the Government with valuable information as a result of his investigations of national insurance in Great Britain. Realizing the heavy expenditure that has been incurred and numerous reports already submitted, the Australian people will naturally conclude that the Government is now bringing the subject forward in the dying hours of the Parliament purely for political purposes. When the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives questioned the Acting Prime Minister as to the intentions of the Government in this respect, he was informed that it is intended to refer the whole subject to a conference at which the States should be represented. Some day we will have a government in power that will tell the people the truth.

Senator Foll:

– Does the honorable senator believe in national insurance?

Senator BROWN:

– I have just informed the Senate that I believe that national insurance, if properly conducted, is a step in the right direction.

During this debate, the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) aroused the antagonism of the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) by referring to the funds at the disposal of the United Australia party. There was an outcry from honorable senators opposite when the Leader of the Opposition said that the supporters of the Government have an ample supply of funds for political purposes, whereas the Labour party has not. Honorable senators opposite, who are themselves capitalists, represent the capitalist section of the community and are therefore able to provide the money to place themselves in power. A number of men in the United Australia party and possibly in the United Country party are directly connected with those organizations to which Tory politicians appeal for funds for electioneering purposes. According to the New Times of the 4th June, 1937, a radical paper published in Melbourne, the Attorney-General (Mr. Menzies) is a director of the following companies: -

Capel Court Limited; Capel Court Investment Trust Limited; Commercial Union Assurance Company Limited (Melbourne Board); County of Bourke Permanent Building and Investment Society; Equity Trustees, Executors and Agency Company Limited; National Reliance Investment

Trust Limited; Were’s Investment Trust Limited; Jason Golden Fleece Investment Trust.

Senator Foll:

– Trust companies cannot contribute money to political funds.

Senator BROWN:

– I did not make such a stupid statement. Senator Foll, for whom I have the greatest respect, is a director of the Mount Isa Mining Company, one of the richest companies in Australia.

Senator Foll:

– It employs about 1400 persons.

Senator BROWN:

– In perusing Who’s Who in Australia, I find that Senator Grant is a director of many Tasmanian companies; . the Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan) is a director of insurance and industrial companies, and Senator E’. B. Johnston is a very rich man, owning a lot of property in Western Australia. Senator Leckie is a manufacturer, whilst Senator DuncanHughes is supposedly one of the richest men in this Senate. In these circumstances the Government and its supporters should have no difficulty in securing all the funds it requires for political purposes. On Friday Senator Collings mentioned hypocrisy when he was speaking about this Government, and he was called to order. But the Labour Gall has expressed itself similarly. It referred to Mr. Lyons’ speech at the inaugural dinner of the Australia Club in London, when he said that Australia’s recovery was not due to politicians, but to the workers who had suffered poverty and loss of their jobs, but had shown the same magnificent spirit as they had in the Great War. That, said the Labour Gall, was hypocrisy. Among the champions of the workers who attended the dinner - all. in their penguin suits - were : Sir Thomas Inskip, Minister for the Coordination of Defence; Mr. .Malcolm MacDonald, Secretary for the Dominions ; Mr. Duff Cooper, First Lord of the Admiralty; Viscount Swinton, Secretary for Air; the Duke of Abercorn, Earl Cromer, Lord Willingdon Lord Stonehaven, Lord Strathcarron, Lord Ebbisham, Lord Cambrose, Lord Lloyd, Lord Glendyne, Lord Wakefield, Lord Nuffield, Lord Essendon, Lord Trenchard, Lord Elgin, Lord Dawson of Penn, Lord Snell, Viscount Horne, Sir Harry Batterbee (Assistant Under-Secretary for the Dominions), Sir Phillip Game (a former Governor of New South “Wales), Sir Henry Weigall (a. former Governor of South Australia), Admiral of the Fleet, Sir Ernie Chatfield (First Sea Lord), Sir Maurice Hankey (Secretary to the Committee on Imperial Defence), Mr. Montagu Norman (Governor of the Bank of England), and Mr. Olive Baillieu.

One thing certain is that Australia’s recovery was not due to the United Australia party. In proof of that I shall road statements made at various times by supporters of the. Government. One of them is Mr. Fadden, the new member for Darling Downs. Speaking at Toowoomba on the 4th December last, the Honorable J. A. J. Hunter, M.H.B., said - f first knew “ Arty “ Fadden when ho was a smiling small hoy at school. Years afterwards I came across a “ Fadden “ in the north who was counted the leading public accountant there, and one of the most prominent in the State. On inquiry, I found it was the same little “ Arty “ I had known twenty years before. “ Arty “ Fadden’s father was a good Labour man, and I honestly believe that if “Arty” followed the dictates of his heart he also would be a member of the Labour party. The fates, however, have been unkind to him, and he finds himself a member of the Country party. In the Warwick Daily News of the 7th December, 1936, Mr. John Lawson, a tory M.P., is reported as having said, when speaking on behalf of the candidate of the United Australia party for Darling Downs -

Mr. Fadden is a city accountant, who has never rendered the Darling Downs any public service, while his will o’ the’ wisp flitting from electorate to electorate in the hope of finding a safe sent for himself has obviously caused him to overlook the important fact that the the people of the Downs possess instincts of fair play that will not permit political gate crashers to traduce most highly esteemed citizens.

How they love one another ! What Mr. Fadden himself said on that occasion is also interesting. On the 9th December, he said -

Country people could expect little consideration from the United Australia party, comprised as ;t was with a Cabinet of capital city men The United Australia party on its Cabinet composition, represents purely capital city interests. Those interests have nothing in common with the people who have made and are making this great area of the Darling Downs a better and more prosperous electorate to live in.

On the 5th December he had said -

The United Australia party gave its allegiance to the big financial and manufacturing interests of the cities, and to the middlemen and monopolists, because it received its support and power from those people. How then, could the United Australia party serve the countryside as well as those in the city who sucked the lifeblood from the countryside? If you put an United Australia party man into the Federal House to represent the Darling Downs you are going to give your allegiance to your political enemies - the manufacturing and commercial groups and the middlemen. No man associated with the United Australia party - a party backed and influenced by city interests - could conscientiously serve city interests and ambitions, and at the same time adequately realize what the countryside required in the way of legislation. Proceeding to deal with the parliamentary record of the United Australia party in its endeavour to govern without Country party assistance, Mr. Fadden said its history in that attempt was a sorry story. The United Australia party tariff policy had nearly smashed all the industries of the country. Primary industries were subjected to repeated onslaughts, and were beaten to their knees, preference being extended by the United Australia party to cheap, foreign, black-grown products, so that city importers - the men behind the United Australia party - should reap a harvest.

Senator Foll:

– As a matter of fact that statement was never made by Mr. Fadden.

Senator BROWN:

– I can give the honorable senator chapter and verse of what Mr. Fadden said as reported in the Warwick Daily News. I wish that Senator Hardy were in the chamber to hear what I have to say about the Gwydir by-election because during that campaign he occasionally overstepped the mark. With Mr. George Lawson, the Labour candidate, Mr. Scully, who has since entered the House of Representatives, was driving one day from one village to another in a car on which were two placards bearing the inscription “Vote for Scully” when he was stopped on the highway by the Country party organizer who expressed a desire to be given transport to the next .village at which Senator Hardy was to speak. Mr. Scully, being a gentleman, promptly gave his political enemy a lift. About a mile from the village they heard a loud voice championing the Country party. Lo and behold! It was Senator Hardy speaking th rough amplifiers. As soon as Senator Hardy saw the Labour car approach, he said to the crowd - all six of them - “ Turn around and gaze upon the men from Sydney, the representatives of the Trades Hall, who know all about the Country party. Look upon these men, who are nothing but political adventurers.” And the first man to step out from the car was his own organizer! The West Australian Wheatgrower in referring to the result of the Gwydir byelection said : -

The defeat was had enough, but for the Country party and its supporters to ascribe defeat to any other reasons but the right ones shows that the party lias not learnt its lesson. Gwydir voted out the Country party, and voted in Labour, not only because the Country party has done nothing constructive, but because the things it did were coercive, dictatorial, anti-democratic. Not one constructive achievement can be placed to the record of the Federal Government - the United Australia party admitted this by attempting, at the last minute, to bribe Gwydir by a prom’ise of a £10,000,000 water scheme. But the Government’s failures and mistakes arc legion. The fact is that the United Australia party has won its every election, not on a constructive policy designed to deserve the public’s vote, but on some slogan designed to stampede the electors into voting against Labour.

But yon can cry “ Wolf “ once too often, and the indications are that, whatever the Government’s tactics, the people will prefer Labour.

I need not say any more about Gwydir - that by-election certainly had its lesson for the Government - hut there are thousands of people throughout Australia who are completely satisfied that no great constructive work on a national basis has been done by this Government. When one studies the policy of our political enemies, one is confronted with the fact that they only deal with big questions in a limited and small-minded way. This afternoon Senator Hardy spoke of closer settlement. Undoubtedly this is a matter of vast importance, yet when I asked the honorable senator what was to be done about the marketing problem, he did not answer me. It is futile for any government to enter into a scheme of intense development without first trying to solve the problem of increasing purchasing power and enlarging markets. I contend that any party, to be successful, and to demonstrate the efficacy of democ racy as opposed to dictatorships, must bring forward legislation basically altering the economic system in order that we may, while improving our production, improve also distribution and the absorptive power of the people. All thinkers recognize that democracy and parliamentary institutions are in peril; the people must therefore insist that Parliament shall do its job. A part of its job is to improve the economic organization of society so that increased production may be accompanied by a wider and more equitable distribution. The Labour party believes in national insurance, but such a system must he in consonance with other schemes to increase the productive capacity of the people. The Government appears to be pessimistic; apparently it does not believe that our economy can be so organized as to increase production and manage distribution in such a way as to ensure a sufficiency of the good things of life to all our people Great Britain has operated a scheme of national insurance for over twenty years, but apparently it has not been entirely successful, because, no so long ago, Sir John Orr, an eminent British medical man, confessed that over. 20,000,000 people in the Mother country were tindernourished. We on this side contend that instead of introducing a scheme such as that existing in Great Britain, to which all beneficiaries must contribute, the right thing to do is so to organize the national economy as to assure to every man, woman and child in the community a reasonably good economic status.

Unfortunately there seems to be something lacking in modern democracies. Mussolini and Hitler are scornful of our system of parliamentary government. They regard Great Britain as a decadent, nation, and point to their achievements in Italy and Germany respectively in justification of their dictatorship rule. Russia also has been organized on a dictatorship basis. Fortunately, we know the weaknesses of dictatorships, so it behoves us, as believers in a democratic form of government, to do something more than merely tinker with such vital issues as national insurance anc! other social services. Unhappily this Government has not been seised of its responsibilities; not long ago it caused a great deal of trouble over the admission to Australia of Egon Kisch and Mrs.Freer, and more recently has bad some adventures with. Japanese pearling vessels in our northern waters. The exploits of the patrol launch Larrakia are fresh in the minds of the public. To-day the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) in the House of Representatives made a belated statement concerning the Government’s proposals to safeguard the Australian pearling industry against foreign intrusion, and we all hope that effective action will soon be taken to protect Australian pearlers from unfair competition by foreigners.

Senator Marwick this afternoon spoke about the need for effective measures to prevent soil erosion in Australia. Queensland is much interested in this vital problem, and the people in my State will be glad to hear when the Government intends to do something to check the evil. We know what has happened in South Africa and the United States of America, where millions of acres of valuable agricultural land has been destroyed through soil drift, and thousands of farmers have lost their all. The well-known Australian writer Ion Idriess in a series of newspaper articles published a month ago, gave some disquieting information about soil erosion in this country. He referred to the extensive drift that has been taking place for many years in the south-western portion of Queensland, the south-eastern areas of the Northern Territory, and the north-western corner of New South Wales, and went on to say:-

Right to the Darling the dust came years ago. Now the sand is coming fast and at Menindie it has blown across the river and is creeping on, creeping on. The station people look aghast at this creeping enemy. Over great areas it has now choked “ permanent “ waterholes, has silted up creeks …. Its drift comes relentlessly on to smother the tracks and creep into tanks and wells. It is ‘ killing ‘ the. water . . .

Numbers of sheep stations that 25 years’ ago carried 100,000 sheep are now battling to support 30,000 . . .

Country has been denuded of its already sparse timber . .

Millions of sheep and cattle have eaten vast quantities of herbage that helped bind the topsoil . . .

Rabbits, greatest destroyer of all, ate the very roots of the tougher herbage; even ringbarked the trees. Loosened top soil washed into creeks . . .

Dry season came and the winds blew friable soil away exposing the clay here and there and so forming new clay pans.

So pressing has the problem become in Australia, that interested people in all the States are looking for some indication of statesmanlike action by the Commonwealth Government to prevent further soil erosion.

Included in the Government’s proposals to assist primary producers a year or two ago was the provision of £12,000,000 for the adjustment of farmers’ debts. That was heralded as a major act of Government policy, but I regret to say that it has failed entirely to rehabilitate the farming community. Recently I visited the farming areas in southern Queensland and learned that, due to adverse seasons and low prices for their products, hundreds of primary producers were on the verge of poverty. One share-farmer dairyman informed me that his last monthly cream cheque was only 14s., and I was further informed that one butter factory which manufactured 90 tons of butter a week was now turning out less than 19 tons. These individual instances of failure are indicative of what is happening in so many rural areas and show the need for organization of primary production on a sounder basis.

All these important issues affecting the economic development of Australia should be considered from the national standpoint. We know that the world is cursed by economic nationalism. Its effect upon Australia is such that the adoption of well thought-out proposals by the National Parliament is imperative in the interests of the people Senator Hardy this afternoon commented on the fact that our export of secondary products is almost negligible. Our position in this respect is, I suggest, governed to some extent by the growth of economic nationalism, and I have no doubt that the following statement which appeared recently in a New Zealand newspaper will be read with interest by the honorable senator: -

Auckland, 13th April, 1937.

The expansion of Australia’s exports to New Zealand at the expense of British manufacturers is causing concern. At a meeting of the Auckland Manufacturers’ Association it was stated that goods which normally came from Britain were now coming in increasing quantities from Australia, thus increasing New Zealand’s difficulties in the face of the understandings that when Britain bought from New Zealand the dominion should buy from Britain. It was decided to place the position before the other interested associations.

This indicates clearly that the development of Australian secondary industries is leading to the competition by Australia with British manufacturers in the New Zealand market and is apparently causing some concern in New Zealand. The same condition obtains in the various European countries, where, for some years, there has ‘been intensive application of science to industry with a view to making each country independent of the other. On this subject the Sydney Daily Telegraph, in April of this year, published the following statement: -

page 123


Berlin, Monday

Within four years Germany will be independent of the good, or badwill of other countries, the Chancellor, Herr Hitler, said in u speech at Breslau.

Within eighteen months, he said, due to the production of vegetable and coal spirit, Germany would be freed of the need to import benzine..

While 32,000,000 lb. of cellulose wool had been produced by Germany last year, this year’s output “ would be 80,000,000 to 100,000,000 lb., and next year’s 140,000,000 to 100,000,000 lb.

This shows what is going on in the world ; yet this Government takes no cognizance of the trend of events.

I endorse the statement of my Leader (Senator Collings) that all forms of production in Australia must be organized on a national basis; that if Australia is to achieve its destiny Parliament must be paramount over financial institutions and big industrial concerns ; that in short, our system of parliamentary democracy must be the dominant factor in our continued social evolution. If Parliament fails in its duty and allows the financial and industrial institutions to assume control, our system of responsible government may be displaced by a dictatorship. The Labour party is fully cognizant of the need of the times. It believes that, without further loss of time, proposals for a planned economy covering a fixed term of years, should be placed before the people for their approval, the objective being an equitable distribution of the greater wealth produced to every man, woman and child in the community.

It may be urged that I am dealing merely in generalities. I do not deny that 1 am speaking in general terms, but I contend that before we can evolve a scheme in detail we must first have a general outline upon which to build. We must pay special attention to the condition of the working people. Those who, at present, are unemployed and on the dole, must be given work at award wages. We are not immediately concerned with a national dividend so much as with proposals to insure that all good Australians, irrespective of their position, shall take part in the great work of developing this country. There is much to be done. If we organized efficiently our financial and industrial resources we could build a railway from Cairns to Perth without imposing any strain upon the financial structure.

Senator BROWN:

– The advocates of Douglas credit have done good service in calling attention to the failure of the financial system under which we live. I give credit to them for their propaganda which has shown that, under the existing financial system, thousands of men, women and children in the cities of Australia are starving, notwithstanding that ample food to meet all their needs is available in this country. The people of Australia are beginning to realize that there is no need, other than is imposed by a wrong financial system, for any person in this country to lack sufficient food. Were it not that the system is wrong, there would be no need for the’ Minister for Health to go about the country talking of the dangers arising from malnutrition. If every worker in the community had an income .sufficient to provide food for his family, malnutrition would not exist. When the Labour party displaces the present Government it will put its financial and industrial policies into operation, and many of the problems now confronting Australia will disappear.

Senator ABBOTT (New South Wales) [5.21J. - I am afraid that were I to attempt to reply to some of the statements of Senator Brown, those journals which will give full publicity to the propaganda contained in his speech would not publish ray remarks. In the circumstances, I shall not attempt to answer the honorable senator, but shall deal with some of the subjects referred to in the Speech of the Governor-General.

I desire, first, to add to the congratulations, which have already been expressed by the Leader of the Government (Senator Pearce) and other honorable senators to the mover and the seconder of the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply Senator McLeay, who submitted the motion, put his case clearly and logically, and when he praised the Government for its accomplishments he did not indulge in exaggeration. All that he said in that connexion was true and justified. The speech of Senator Marwick, in seconding the motion, gave promise of a long and useful career in this Parliament.

The attendance of Ministers at the Imperial Conference has been criticized during this debate and, indeed, the usefulness of the conference itself has been questioned. Unfortunately, attempts to belittle the elected representatives of the people attending these conferences are not confined to this Parliament; sneers and jibes are heard on all sides and even the press of this country is not guiltless in this connexion. I do not, think that the importance of conferences between the elected representatives of the Mother Country and of the dominions can be over-emphasized. The parsimonious outlook of those who quibble at the expenditure of money on such conferences is greatly to be deplored. The Opposition, which has criticized these visits, professes to believe in democracy. Surely the principles of democracy apply as well to the Empire as a whole as to Australia. We must not overlook the fact that practically every member of the Imperial Conference is an elected representative of the people under the democratic system of government of which Britishers are so proud. It is most desirable that such representatives should meet together to confer on the democratic ideals of the great family of nations to which they belong. It is sheer hypocrisy to condemn such visits, the purpose of which is to make the wheels of government in the British Empire revolve more smoothly. If, in the distant future, the Labour party should attain to the Treasury bench, I, for one, will not cavil at reasonable expenditure incurred by its representatives in meeting with the representatives of other parts of the Empire in conferences designed to promote the welfare of the people.

Senator Hardy:

– Members of the Scullin Government visited other countries.

Senator ABBOTT:

– The system is right. There must be consultation between the Empire leaders.

In a general way, the Leader of the Opposition has found fault with the Governor-General’s Speech, describing it as window dressing in preparation for the election, but he carefully avoided specific references, and did not attempt to prove that any -of the achievements of the Government to which the Speech draws attention have been other than desirable and in the best interests of the country. The Government and the people of Australia have a right to be proud of such achievements. Not only the present generation of Australians, but also future generations, will have cause to thank Providence that governments with the same political outlook as that of the present Commonwealth Government came to the rescue of this country. I remind, honorable senators that it was under a Labour administration that the Savings Bank of New South Wales closed its doors, with the result that £60,000,000 of the people’s money was locked up for eight months, to be released only when a non-Labour government came into office. When the bank was closed during the Lang regime, it was not uncommon for poor persons to seek to sell their bank books to usurers for 7s. 6d. in the £1. The part played by the Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) in saving the country during that crisis is a matter for the profound gratitude of the nation.

From the remarks of Opposition senators one would think that’ the present Government took credit for all the improvement which has taken place in Aus- tralia since it came into office. The members of the Government are not lunatics; they do not claim to have been wholly responsible for the improved conditions. But they do claim to have saved Australia from the ill effects of a policy of inflation and from mal-administration such as that which New South Wales experienced when the Lang Government was in office. Of the Governments which succeeded the Scullin Government, this at least can be said that it did much to guide the Australian ship of state into the calm waters of a safe port. I denounce the election clap-trap which has been indulged in.

Senator Collings:

– Does the honorable senator refer to the GovernorGeneral’s Speech?

Senator ABBOTT:

– I refer to the propaganda of the Opposition which contains the inference that the parties forming the present Commonwealth Government had nothing to do with the recovery of Australia from the financial depression.

Senator Collings:

– Nobody has said that.

Senator ABBOTT:

– This afternoon Senator Brown suggested that the present Government had nothing to do with the recovery.

  1. paragraph of the Governor-General’s Speech dealing with defence provides strong evidence of right aspirations on the part of the Government. The speech states -

The example of disarmament set to the world by the British nations, and not least by Australia, has not been followed.

That is perfectly true. Because of some of my actions in this chamber, I am sometimes regarded as a pacifist. ln hope and aspiration I am a pacifist, but I am not a lunatic who fails to recognize that when a burglar is lurking near my home it would be very unwise for me to throw the key out of the window to him and. tell him that I have not got a gun and that be may come in and do what he likes. That, of course, would be illogical. Without being smugly-hypocritical, one can take satisfaction in the belief that theBritish nations were absolutely sincere in trying to set an example to other nations of moderation in respect of armaments. Unfortunately, that example was inter preted in some quarters as a sign of weakness, and some people were mean enough to take advantage of what they thought was weakness to increase their armaments with an ill-concealed desire to drive a wedge between the countries within the Empire. I am not a jingoist, but I believe I shall have the support of every honorable senator in saying that there are people who, because we have tried to do the fair and honest thing, by the world in general, because we have realized the crushing burden of armaments, and have shown a desire to ameliorate such conditions, think that this is a sign of the decadence of the British people. If, because of this misreading of our attitude, those driven to envy of that measure of prosperity which has been given by Providence to the British peoples, would seek to exploit, dismember and conquer our Empire, my form of pacifism will be to join with my fellow-Australians in proving that we are prepared to use our armaments, if necessary, to prevent such happenings and to enforce fair dealing in this world. To that extent, I believe in the re-armament of the British nations’ to-day. A higher outlook among the peoples of the world is still needed, but in the meantime, we say definitely to the burglar, if there is one, “ We shall not throw the key out of the window to you, and we are not going to invite you in; if you try to force your way in, remember that we have a gun “.

Consequently, I add my congratulations to those of my colleagues to the Government on its alertness and activity in respect of national defence. If there is one thing which makes it desirable that we should be a strong people, it is our duty to preserve that great system of democracy of which honorable senators have spoken this afternoon. I suppose that the greatest heritage the British race possesses, and one of which it has every reason to be proud, is its ability to handle and use effectively the democratic instrument of government. I hope that I shall not seriously offend people of other nations and races when I say - and the statement is justified when one looks at history, and, more particularly, at recent events - that one cannot help but feel that in the use of the democratic instrument of government, the people of the British race are evolved probably 200 or 300 years ahead of other peoples. I say that in no boastful or egotistical spirit. With all the faults, to -which its opponents can point, the democratic system of government is being used successfully in the world to-day ; that fact is outstanding. No matter what its minor faults may be, it is, on- the whole, being used successfully by the British peoples. After all, it is the greatest and the best system of government. In British countries we have a right to our political “ revolution “ every three years or so, when the parliamentary terms expire. A few enthusiastic supporters of our opponents might be tempted to get rid df the system altogether, but our opponents as a whole, if they happen to be in the minority, do not want to abolish the system. On the contrary, a change of government may be effected at the ballot-box and, as a people, we have the faculty of accepting that fact. Perhaps it sounds like national conceit to say so, but the explanation of this attitude is that we have that sense of sportsmanship which enables us to accept the umpire’s verdict when he decides we are out of our crease; we walk out without attempting to dispute his decision, and when our innings is ended we recognize it as part of the game that the other fellow shall have a turn with the bat. The great value of these liberties, which our ancestors won for us hundreds of year3 ago, is that they give to the great bulk of the people the right of expression. The’ difference between our democratic system of government and the systems of government in other countries is, I contend, that where we give to the people the right of expression they give to the people the command of repression and suppression. Thus I congratulate the Government on being alive to the necessity for effectively defending that bright pearl in the diadem of the British people - democracy: I hope that we shall never weaken in the use of our parliamentary institutions. Too often we are apt to forget what we owe to those who won such privileges for us. A little while ago I had occasion to take a certain course in this chamber, but in doing so, I simply used a privilege won : through you, Mr. President, of expressing an opinion, a privilege which was won for us in the House of Commons. I often wonder whether the young people in the press galleries of our Parliament give a thought to poor Wilkes, who won the right of the press to come into our parliaments and report our parliamentary proceedings. There have been occasions when some people have been apt to abuse that privilege, and to forget much of what Wilkes won for them. He looked upon that right as something sacred, as something which must be respected, and not abused - as something which formed an integral part of that great democratic system of which all of us are so proud.

I wish now to deal with some of’ the subjects mentioned in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. I was very interested in the remarks of my leader, Senator Hardy, this afternoon in respect of closer settlement, and the relationship of federal governmental functions to those activities which come more properly within the sphere of the States, and appear, at first sight, to be beyond the functions of the national legislature. The problem of land settlement is inseparably interlocked with our national and international functions. In the first place land settlement must be considered in conjunction with the watersupplies. To make any use of land, water is essential; it may come in the form of rain, but if it fails to come in that way it must be provided by conservation or irrigation. In the irrigation areas in the Riverina district, I witnessed a wonderful demonstration of the value of the policy of closer settlement, and of State activities in that respect. Near Leeton or Griffith, when I visited those areas in company with Senator Hardy, I saw a little patch of land, an acre in extent, on which a settler had been grazing 225 sheep for a period of a week, and I failed to see that those sheep had made any impression upon the wonderful pasture, which consisted of strawberry clover, subterranean clover, and various kinds of rye grasses. The point I make is that, through State activities, we are intensifying closer settlement; by that system we are securing greater productivity from the land, and are increasing our output of primary produce. We are thus brought undeniably to the subjects which were raised by Senator Hardy this afternoon, of markets and marketing and, in turn, overseas trade. Thus we have a pyramid based on State activities, and culminating in federal activities. The disposal of our surplus produce overseas raises, first, the matter of Imperial preferences, and, in turn, the restoration of the old flow of trade between the nations of the world. We are also brought face to face with innumerable other matters which become of federal concern. For instance, how far can we trade with other nations without jeopardizing the future of our important primary and secondary industries? In our international trade, we have to consider the relation of our secondary industries to those of our customer countries. Thus these matters rest, as it were, on the broad base of State action in the form of a pyramid, which rises finally .to the international issue. Consequently, there is no escape from federal responsibility in the incidence of such problems as closer settlement. I join with my leader, therefore, in urging the Government to recognize that it has a responsibility to do what it can to extend closer settlement and more intense cultivation, either by sympathy or direct financial assistance, or, through the Loan Council, help the States in this purpose. I point out to Senator Collings that there can he no suggestion of inflation in that proposal. Does the honorable senator seriously suggest that if the Loan Council were to make money available for the purpose mentioned, that would be inflation ? That is not the form of inflation mentioned by Senator Hardy.

Senator Collings:

– But it is inflation.

Senator ABBOTT:

– The inflation I have in mind is that attempted in those dark days when the Scullin Government was in power. The Senate, as the bulwark of the nation, defeated the measure providing for a fiduciary issue which a Labour government attempted to foist upon the country.

Senator Collings:

– And the Government which the honorable senator supports has since adopted inflation by an increased issue of notes.

Senator ABBOTT:

– Only to a very modified extent.

Senator Hardy directed attention to the genuine demand in New South Wales for land for closer settlement purposes. Thousands of genuine land-seekers in that State are anxious to acquire holdings of a sufficient area on which to make a living. When Senator Hardy was speaking, Senator J. V. MacDonald interjected, that most of the applicants for land were “ dummies “. Had this morning’s Sydney newspapers been available, Senator Hardy could have replied that the Lands Department of New South Wales has reported that this year from 3,000 to 4,000 applications had been received from landhungry applicants in that State. To prove the inaccuracy of Senator J. V. MacDonald’s assertion that applications, are received largely from “ dummies “, I draw attention to the fact that the Lands Department of New South Wales, states that about 1,000 of the applicants have between £1,000 and £2,000 in cash or in plant which they are ready to utilize if land be made available. About another 1,000 have between £500 and £1,000 in cash or in plant, while another 1,000 havea little cash and plant, and the remainder little or nothing. It will therefore beseen that a large proportion of the applicants are genuine land-seekers possessingcapital and plant. Apparently Senator J. V. MacDonald is speaking of the “ dummying “ which took place after 1861 and prior to Sir John Robertson’s Land Act of 1884, and is apparently unaware of the provisions of the act. Since that Act of 1884, it has been, practically impossible for any one to participate in “ dummying “ in any shape or form. As I am fairly conversant with the New South Wales land laws and have had a good deal of experience in land matters, I can say quite* definitely that there has not been any “ dummying “ in New South Wales for many years. In an attempt to destroy a constructive policy Senator J. V. MacDonald and those with whom he is associated will say that any reference to closer settlement is made only for political window-dressing purposes. I trust that those opposed to the Government at thenext election will be fair, and put the- position clearly before the electors, instead of suggesting that if additional areas be made available they will be acquired by “ dummies “ on behalf of those who already hold large tracts of land. If they are really interested in that subject they should study the official reports of the New South Wales Lands Department. If the word “ dummy “ is used in the sense in which it is employed in the Crown Lands Act of that State, their remarks are based on complete ignorance of the subject. Since 1884 legislation has been so tightened up by numerous amendments, that it would defy the ingenuity of even Senator J. V. MacDonald to devise a means by which that law could be evaded. If what we have heard from honorable senators in Opposition on this subject is all they have to say against the policy advocated by Senator Hardy, they have a very weak case.

It was suggested by interjection, that if the purchasing power of the people were raised, production would increase. Is not the converse true - that if production were increased the workers would enjoy a greater purchasing power, and general prosperity would result? The Leader of the Opposition referred to the fact that in attempting to assist the primary producers, the Government had induced the overseas shipping conference to reduce the freight on certain primary products by £500,000 a. year, but he wept - glycerine tears - because, at the same time, the Government proposes to reduce light dues and has asked the State governments to reduce harbour dues.

Senator Collings:

– A .remission of £65,000 annually in light dues.

Senator ABBOTT:

– Yet the honorable senator is probably one of those who would strongly advocate a return to penny postage, believing that such a reduction would lead to increased postal business. If harbour and light dues are reduced. the costs of shipping companies operating in Australian waters will be less and Australia’s business may become more attractive to steamship owners than it is at present. The Government has acted in a statesmanlike way in an endeavour to aid production, and to assist the people generally.

Some sections of the community endeavour to flog the Government merely for political purposes whenever it attempts to assist the people. This, and the preceding government have a magnificent record, and have been responsible for restoring financial and economic stability. The magnificent gesture made by Mr. Lyons concerning a Pacific pact shows that Australia is always willing to take a broad outlook on world affairs. The Government is being flogged by certain politicians, because rightly or wrongly a certain woman was prevented from landing in Australia. The importance of that incident has, for political purposes, been grossly exaggerated. Whatever may be the merits or demerits of the case the comments of certain individuals show the extreme to which this -miserable political flogging can be carried. Whether the action taken by the Minister at the time was right or wrong, I know that there is no one in the public life of this country whose character is higher or who endeavours more sincerely to carry out his duties in a strictly impartial manner. For political purposes, the Opposition has also taken advantage of the situation which has arisen in consequence of the activity of foreign pearling vessels operating in northern waters. Honorable senators are aware that Australian governments have jurisdiction only within the threemile limit. Many of the luggers in northern waters are operating beyond the three-mile limit where we have no power whatever to interfere. The action taken by the Government is largely with the object, of protecting the unfortunate aborigines, who at times have been molested by the crews of foreign luggers. These outsiders have been coming into contact with the aborigines with unfortunate results, due to some extent to the weakness of the aborigines themselves; such intercourse must eventually result in the serious deterioration of the race, and possibly its ultimate annihilation. The Government i3 anxious to protect the aborigines in the reserves provided for them ; such reserves are practically the only areas over which the Commonwealth has jurisdiction. The Commonwealth has no jurisdiction over pearling luggers operating off the Queensland coast.-

The records disclose that there have been only a few cases of actual encroachment upon aboriginal reserves under Commonwealth jurisdiction, and action is being taken in the interests of the natives to prevent foreign luggers from operating within the three-mile limit. The suggestion has been made that pearling operations, which extend more than 50 miles beyond our territorial limits, can be controlled by the Commonwealth authorities; but that is not so. The Government having realized the necessity for taking action proposes to construct sufficient vessels to ensure an adequate form of patrol. The members of the Labour party exploit issues such as this in an endeavour to flog the Government, but disregard its remarkable achievements which have been instrumental in saving the country from the disaster which confronted it when the Scullin Government was in office. The British Trade Commissioner said that Australia was the first nation to start on the road to recovery.

Senator Collings:

– That was due to the Scullin Government.

Senator ABBOTT:

– -lt was not due to the Scullin. Government. The recovery did not begin until that Government had been put out of office.

Senator Collings:

– -That is not fair.

Senator ABBOTT:

– It is fair, because the Scullin Government was not able to borrow one penny in Great Britain. It was dismissed from office in order that a party which could restore our credit might be placed in power.

Senator ARKINS:
New South Wales

– I congratulate the Government on its record since it was returned to power. [ was particularly pleased to hear the speech delivered by the Governor-General. His Excellency’s reference to the recent Coronation of His Majesty King George VI. and Her Majesty the Queen reminded me that once again the British Empire had successfully emerged from a crucial test. When we saw that the young man whom we had regarded for many years as the person who would ultimately occupy the throne had stood down, our hearts were uneasy. I desire at this stage to pay a tribute to the then Prime Minister of Great Britain, who was then Mr. Baldwin, but who has since been raised to the peerage for the way in which he handled the crisis. The former Prime Minister is a remarkable man - a personification of British character. It is a tribute to the British Empire that, when King Edward VIII abdicated the Throne, there was no political upheaval such as would have followed such a happening in other parts of the world. On the contrary, we saw this Empire come triumphant through the ordeal with its highest political traditions intact and the British Monarchy more firmly enthroned in the face of the dictatorships which had arisen in other parts of the world. We all desire that the new King, a man of whom we think in the highest terms, and his Queen - that wonderful - woman whose charm and modesty are so well known to us - will be long spared to reign over this wonderful aggregation of nations which make up the British Common weal th .

Senator Sir George PEARCE:

– Hear, Hear !

Senator ARKINS:

– In his Speech the Governor-General said -

My advisers are pleased to be able to record the marked financial and industrial recovery which has taken, place in Australia. Recorded unemployment, which in 1932 had reached the previously unknown level of 30 per cent., has progressively fallen until to-day it stands at less than 10 per cent., a state of affairs which compares favorably with that existing before the depression.

Probably- one of the greatest tests that could be placed on a government to-day is the employment of the people. We have to remember - and I hope the people of this Commonwealth will not forget this - when the Lyons Government came into power it was entrusted with thi5 rehabilitation of the whole of this Commonwealth. The national credit of this country had slid into the depths. The financial equilibrium and the economic health of this country had been almost destroyed. Labour was in power in the Commonwealth and in a number of the States, and the people, realizing the difficulties that existed, asked that the Lyons Government take charge of affairs in thu Commonwealth sphere. The last Scullin budget, delivered in 1931, disclosed a Commonwealth deficit of £10,750,000, and a combined deficit for the Commonwealth and the States amounting to £25,389,000. At that time the New South Wales deficit alone was £7.856.000. When the Financial Emergency Act was forced upon the country by economic pressure, the combined deficits were already approaching £40,000,000. The history of those years, although so recent, is almost forgotten by the people, but it is well to remind them that after a comparatively few years the Lyons Government has rehabilitated the affairs of this country almost back to the predepression levels. In June, 1932, economies were enforced under the Financial Emergency Act and necessary new taxation was imposed. The first Lyons Government budget disclosed a Commonwealth surplus of £1,314,000 and the combined deficits were reduced to £19,500,000 of which New South Wales was responsible for £14,250,000. In the following year the improvement continued, and in June, 1933, the Commonwealth had a surplus of £3,546,000; in June, 1934, £1,301,000; 1935, £711,000; 1936, £3,587,000; and it is estimated that there will be a further surplus this year. The total surpluses disclosed in these budgets amounts to nearly £10,500,000. The Lyons Government took office in the darkest days of the financial and economic history of the world, and it has achieved a wonderful record. The last speaker, Senator Abbott, said that one of the highest tributes that could be paid to any government was paid to the. Commonwealth Government by the British Trade Commissioner. That gentleman said that the Commonwealth had set an example to the rest of the world in its handling of the depression.

The Governor-General’s Speech also contained this passage -

My advisers desire to repeat that this recovery would not have been achieved as quickly as it has been without the patriotic co-operation of the people as a whole and the patient endurance of those who are the greatest sufferers from the depression.

The Leader of the Opposition took exception to that.

Senator Collings:

– I should say so.

Senator ARKINS:

– The Australian workers are deserving of the highest possible tribute for the share they took’ in revitalizing this country. In thinking of them, I am reminded of a cartoon I once saw in an English newspaper which depicted a worker in his overalls standing above the caption “ The new English gentleman”. We can pay no higher compliment to the workers for their part in the avoidance of economic, disaster than by saying that the great majority of them stood loyal and true. It was the one thing that saved the democracy of the British Empire.

Senator Collings:

– They could do nothing else.

Senator ARKINS:

– They could have done other things that workers in other countries have done. Some other countries have deserted democracy. In his Empire’s hour of trial the British work man stood true.

Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.

Senator ARKINS:

– During the period under review, this Government has done remarkable things in the rehabilitation of the Commonwealth. For instance, since it took office the loans raised in Australia at below 4 per cent, have totalled £98,000,000, the Commonwealth debt has been reduced by £8,616,833, overseas debt totalling £200,000,000 has been converted at rates of interest which mean a saving in interest and exchange of £4,000,000 a year, taxes amounting to £15,605,000 were remitted in 1937, and salaries and social services have been restored to the value of £3,774,000 per annum. In addition, the amount paid to the six States for road construction purposes has totalled £14,187,000, the amounts paid to the States to assist their budget positions have totalled £3,000,000, and special grants to South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania have totalled £13,090,000. For unemployment works and relief, mining and forestry, the States have received £3,840,000, for health promotion, £98,000, and for assistance to primary producers, £20,856,000. The total amount given to the States, in addition to payments under the financial agreement of between £8,700,000 and £9,000,000 a year towards interest and sinking fund in respect of State debts, is £55,071,000.

Honorable senators will agree that .this is a remarkable record, especially when we take into consideration the depression and financial instability existing when the Lyons Government took office. The relief given to taxpayers in the form of tax remissions has been substantial “and most welcome. During its period of office, the Government has remitted £5,205,000 of income tax, £1,200,000 of land tax, £6,740,000 of sales tax, £1,115,000 primage, and £1,205,000 of customs and excise duties, making a total yearly remission under these headings of £15,605,000.

Let us consider now what the Government has done with regard to the restoration of social services and salaries. Since the financial year 1933-34 there has been a restoration of invalid and old-age pensions to the amount of £1,745,000; of maternity allowances, £115,000; of war pensions and repatriation -allowances, £547,000; of public service salaries, £1,297,000; and of public service superannuation payments, £70,000; making a total of £3,774,000. This in brief outline is. the Government’s record in the rehabilitation of the finances and social services of the Commonwealth.

I come now to the Government’s proposals for defence. The GovernorGeneral’s Speech states -

Provision for national defence, always an essential element of policy, has been of overshadowing importance. The example of disarmament set by the British nations, and not least by Australia, has not been, followed.

Honorable senators will agree that for many years Great Britain led the world in a policy of disarmament, but, unfortunately, its -example was not followed by other nations, with the result that the Mother Country is now committed to a five-year defence programme involving an expenditure of £1,500,000,000, an expenditure unprecedented in the history of the Empire. Australia has, during the last four or five years, expended between £30,000,000 and £40,000,000 on defence, and this year its commitments are in the region of £9,000,000. Although our expenditure may, by some people, be considered heavy, it is insignificant in comparison with that of the Mother country, and we have to remember that we rely for our protection on the strength of the British navy. All honorable senators, I hope, appreciate the necessity for adequate defence. Alexander Hamilton, one of the- foremost American public men of his day, referring to the nation’s obligations, said : -

Among the many objects to which a race of free people will find it necessary to direct their attention, is that of providing for their safety from invasion.

It is the paramount duty of the Commonwealth Parliament to ensure the defence of Australia, and I am glad to know that the Minister for Defence (Sir Archdale Parkhill) has laid the foundation of what to me seems to be a satisfying scheme for the protection of the Commonwealth. I believe that the future defence of Australia lies in the air, and I am glad to know that adequate steps are being taken to establish an efficient air force, and the manufacture in Australia of aeroplanes for defence purposes. I hope also that, in the not distant future, provision will be made for the manufacture in this country of all motor vehicles as part and parcel of the defence scheme.

The Governor-General’s Speech, referring to national insurance, stated -

Last year my advisers through the courtesy of His Majesty’s government in the United Kingdom, secured the services of two highly qualified experts for the purpose of examining and reporting on the possibility of establishing some system of national insurance in Australia . . .

The action taken by the Government is, I believe, the beginning of what will be one of the most important innovations in Commonwealth legislation. The most difficult phase of social insurance is that relating to unemployment, and it is worth noting that the two most conservative and also the most highly industrialized countries - Great Britain and Germany - have for many years operated efficient systems of national insurance. I believe I am right when I say that Great Britain has set an example to other nations in the direction of unemployment insurance.

Senator Foll:

– Great Britain is not now a conservative country.

Senator ARKINS:

– I agree with the honorable senator. The Mother country to-day is most progressive because British statesmen, having to ah unusual degree the gift of prescience, peered into the future and laid the foundations of essential social services which to-day are regarded as a pattern to the world at large. Mr. Harold T. Butler, the

Director of the International Labour Office at Geneva, under the League of Nations, an officer, who by reason of his position is perhaps the most knowledgeable man in the world on these matters, said recently in his report upon unemployment insurance -

So tar from their being demoralized by the insurance benefits or the State assistance which they received, the constant clamour of the nien and women reduced to idleness was always for employment. In Great Britain, the birthplace of unemployment insurance, where its effects can perhaps best be judged, ten3 of thousands of workers have migrated from the most stricken areas to seek employment in other parts of the country, and the un intermittent demand of those that remain is not to be left alone in subsidized idleness but .once more to he given an opportunity of earning f heir living. . What is true of the British working people is true of others. The average man everywhere prefers work at a. fair wage to idling on a pittance.. This truism, which might have seemed self-evident enough, has now at last been established beyond dispute.

A second bogy which had also been laid to rest is the belief that public expenditure for the relief of unemployment is economically unsound. Before the depression national schemes nf unemployment insurance existed only in Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Great Britain, the Irish Free State, Italy and Poland. In other countries voluntary schemes subsidized by the State were in operation, while in many there was no public organization whatever for assisting the unemployed. At the present time unemployment insurance has been introduced as a national measure in Canada and the United States, and its adoption is contemplated in Australia, Belgium and South Africa.

The report shows that 31 countries have already adopted some form of social insurance. Mr. Butler went on to slate: -

While their resources were thus seriously depleted, the insurance funds had to meet a heavier demand for benefits. The natural sequel to unemployment was greater frequency of sickness and invalidity, especially in countries where no regular system of unemployment insurance or assistance existed. Unable to bear the additional charges placed upon them, many funds had to cut down benefits just at the time when they were most needed. Pensioners had often to accept sacrifices when they could least afford them, and the means for combating disease had to be restricted just at the. time when they should have been reinforced in order to counteract the harmful effects of privations resulting from the depression.

And then with added emphasis he said : -

Nevertheless, in spite of these formidable difficulties, social insurance as an institution lias weathered the storm. Everywhere the inverse process’ is now in operation. The mem- bership of funds is expanding, revenue is rising, restrictions on benefits aTe being removed, neW developments are being planned or executed. Inasmuch as the application of a modicum of intelligence will prevent the recurrence of a storm of similar dimensions in the near .future, it may be hoped that tinplace of social insurance as an integral part of the social system is assured.

As a great many people in this country doubt the practicability of a scheme of social insurance, I shall quote from the report of a gathering to commemorate the 2ist anniversary of the inauguration of health insurance in Britain, at which Mr. Lloyd George delivered an interesting speech. The report stated -

The National Health Insurance celebrated its twenty-first anniversary on the Kith July. 11)33, at which the following were among those present: - Lord Reading, Mr. Winston Churchill, Mr. .T. H. Thomas, and Sir Kingsley Wood, who might be described as the scheme’s godparents “.

The chair was taken by the Minister for Health, Sir Hilton Voting.

Although it was left to Sir Hilton Young, as representing the Government, to describe the national health insurance scheme in terms of figures of “ positively astronomical dimensions “, he allowed himself a vivid image or two, as when he described it as having “driven the spectre of insecurity from the homes of the people “.

The total value disbursed under the scheme, he said, till a few weeks ago. was £490,000,000. It was supported by over 7,000 approved societies, involved the assistance of 19,000 medical men, and had been imitated by no fewer than twelve other countries, including Norway in the north, and Japan in the Far East

As Mr. Lloyd George rose to his feet, the whole gathering rose with him, and for almost half a minute nothing could be heard but cheers and shouts of “-Good old L.G.” He began quietly by welcoming those who had helped to put the act on the statute-book, mentioning in particular Lord Beading. -Mr. Churchill, Mr. Thomas, and Sir Kingsley Wood, and pausing for a moment to recall with regret the deaths of three other colleagues in the fight - “Charlie” Masterman, Sir Robert Morant, and Sir Laming Worthington-Evans “I should like to reminisce”, he said. “I have just been reading of what happened 21 years ago. It was not pleasant. I had almost forgotten what a really bad time 1 had. “It was a peculiar measure in one respect - there never was a measure more needed and never a measure less wanted. There are three great stages in every reform - the first, investigation of the evil and the methods to meet it; secondly, propaganda to create a demand for the remedy; thirdly, statesmanship to supply that demand. The second stage was missing. Whatever the need there had not been a demand created, and you had to persuade the Cabinet, Parliament, and the country to jump over the gap. lt was not easy. There was no real enthusiasm for it at the time, and not even a party enthusiasm, which is very useful in the absence of a genuine one. (Laughter.) “ The friendly societies wore worthy of their, name - very friendly. There was another kind of society which was not so friendly - the society generally associated with Mayfair. They raised an agitation which reached formidable dimensions. There were great meetings in the Albert Hall, which is a very important building, for it is the real test for the success of an agitation.

Mr. Lloyd George then quoted reports from the Times of two great demonstrations held in the Albert Hall to carry resolutions “ not to lick stani.p3 “. One report declared that “ the keynote of the oratory was England and liberty”, and said, that “free Englishmen and women wore prepared to die rather than bow down to a foreign tyrant of Wales. (Laughter.) “ lt was a serious movement. It was the first attempt at organizing a general strike, and it lasted just as long as the next one. For the first week millions did not pay; the next week millions more paid, and the third week they came in very nicely.

Then came the doctors.”

Iri this connexion, it is pleasing to note that the president of the British Medical Association in New South Wales, in his presidential address recently, expressed his belief in national health insurance, and urged that the introduction of a scheme to provide for it should not be delayed another moment. The report of the British gathering continued - “ They were persuaded, and honestly persuaded, they were faced with ruin. It is n hard-worked profession, and I had a great deal of sympathy with them as long as they believed that. It was the first time the medical profession had come as a body into politics, and politics are a very heady wine. You have to get accustomed to it, and they were not. I do not think they have done too badly for a. profession that was going to starve. “ There is to be a meeting of the British Medical Association in a few days, and no doubt they will carry many resolutions. There is one which will not be carried - a resolution demanding the repeal of the medical benefit of the National Insurance Act, and a return to the old contract system.” “ The health insurance scheme has been a success “, concluded Mr. Lloyd George, “ and a scheme so financially sound that it is the only one with a surplus. It was the outcome of the greatest constitutional struggle which this country had seen for two centuries. This is the age of deficits for empires, republics, and great countries, and yet here is a scheme which has to apologize that its surplus has come down to £36,000,000.”

That shows how people can misjudge the effects of reforms which are about to be initiated. No legislation on the statutebook of Great Britain has been more successful than that which established a scheme of national health insurance. Similar results have followed the passing of legislation to provide for unemployment insurance. These results have been achieved in the Old Country, which is supposed to be conservative. There was a time when Australia was regarded as being in the vanguard of civilization in regard to social reform, but that proud position has not been maintained, for several other countries, including conservative England, are now far ahead of it in these matters of social insurance.

The report of the International Labour Office also refers to the difficulties associated with agriculture. I quote the following extract from it: -

Finally, a fresh start is being made in dealing with the social problems of the countryside. Their international treatment has always encountered special difficulties, because agriculture presents little of the uniformity of conditions which characterizes industry. Whereas the industrial population is mainly divided into employers on the one side and wage or salary earners on the other, in the agricultural community there are many intermediate categories between the great land-owner running a large estate on industrial lines and the agricultural labourer. The farmer, the peasant, the tenant, the share-tenant and sharecropper, and other classes of land-workers represent different social outlooks and requirements according to the size of their holdings and the tenure under which they work them.” Climate, soil and immemorial usage constitute factors making for diversity, which hardly exist in relation to the factory or the workshop. Hence questions such as hours of work, social insurance, leisure and standard of life are far less susceptible to general regulation in agriculture than in industry. Attempts to apply industrial labour legislation to agriculture have therefore only met with very partial success. Yet for many countries the social advancement of the rural population is a bigger and more urgent problem than that of the urban communities. During recent years a good deal of progress has been made. Minimum wage legislation, paid holidays, medical service, unemployment insurance are beginning to be extended to workers on the land in a form adapted to the special conditions of their employment. It is therefore timely that the Governing Body lias established a Permanent Agricultural Committee, comprising as far as possible representatives of the various agricultural interests. Its first meeting is planned for the beginning of next year. Its first task will be to survey the various social problems as they affect the agricultural community with a view to suggesting how they can best beapproached by the International Labour Organization.

I commend that extract to those who anticipate insuperable difficulties in applying a scheme of social insurance to agriculture. As time passes, Australian farmers must employ improved methods of sowing and reaping crops. Notwithstanding the remarkable advances which have been made during the last 50 years, there must be a still greater application of science to agricultural production. Science is also being brought to the aid of wool-growing - Australia’s greatest primary industry. Some time ago, when Senator Guthrie advocated the rugging of sheep, there were many who laughed at him; hut he is not alone in his .belief, for recently I had a conversation with a well-known grazier, who told me that he was rugging about 2,000 sheep, and that, as a result, he expected not only more wool, but also wool of better quality. He was working in conjunction with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. The wool of rugged sheep was cleaner; previously some of the wool was not usable, but that condition no longer obtained, and thus a considerable loss was avoided. Honorable senators have probably heard of the old gentleman who, when asked why he wore three or four overcoats on a warm day, replied that he did so in order to keep out the heat. Experts, tell us that sheep which are rugged are cooler in hot weather than those not so covered. In case honorable senators doubt the accuracy of these statements, I inform them that they are made on the authority of Sir Frederick McMaster, than whom there is no greater authority on sheep in New South Wales, and possibly in the Commonwealth. Similarly, the difficulties which exist in respect of agricultural pursuits will be overcome, probably within’ the next quarter of a century.

I emphasize that the development of the Northern Territory must be considered in conjunction with any scheme for the defence of this country. Some time ago in this chamber I stressed the necessity for the construction of roads into the territory. I contended that at least two arterial concrete roads should be built, one from the east and the second from the south, and I was taken to task by honorable senators, who contended that such a proposal was impracticable. When I suggested that bridges should be built in order to provide a permanent connexion with the north, I was told that this also was impracticable. According to recent newspaper reports the Government considers as practicable the construction of an arterial road from the south, and it is expected that this highway will be ready for use, so far as the negotiation of water courses is concerned, within the next six months. It is imperative that such roads should be built in the Northern Territory; if I had my way I would spend £1,000,000 immediately in providing such facilities in that part of Australia. The construction of roadways will prove to be the beginning of the sound development of the Northern Territory, and will also enable us to defend Australia more effectively, a fact which, I suggest, will he made apparent within the very near future. If there were proper means of access to the Northern Territory, at the present time thousands of tourists would visit there annually. Only recently a party of womenfolk journeyed from Melbourne to the north. If the necessary roads were available I feel sure that thousands of people would go to that part of Australia “annually, and such a development would mean the opening up of the territory, because once our people became “familiar with the north, its problems would be solved. The building of arterial roads in the territory is one of the most important works that can be undertaken in the development of this country, and I hope to see such an improvement achieved before long. Men who are familiar with every inch of that part of Australia have informed me .that roads can be built there at a cost small in comparison Avith the benefits which Australia would reap therefrom.

A feature of the Governor-General’s Speech was its comprehensiveness.’ It stated that the Government recognized the importance of oil from the point of view of both the defence and the economic development of this country, and, as I have repeatedly appealed to the Govern- ment to do something in that direction, I was pleased to hear that it had definitely decided to develop the Newnes shale deposits. These deposits offer remarkable possibilities, and I am proud to learn that Mr. Davis, of the well known firm of gelatine manufacturers, has taken on this job. He was the gentleman who took charge of Cockatoo Dockyard and converted it from a losing, into a payable, proposition. He is one of the most amazing industrialists this country has produced, and, I believe, that if any man can make a success of Newnes he will. It is imperative also that the Government should encourage the production of oil from coal, because the future of coal lies in that direction. The old method of burning coal for power is passing rapidly; the next phase in the utilization of that mineral is the extraction of the oil by chemical means, and its conversion into compounds which are more easily and more economically usable. In that respect I remind honorable senators of the development of the diesel engine. In parts of America to-day that engine is pulling full train loads on transcontinental railways at a fraction of the cost incurred when coal was used. The future of the railway systems of the world depends on the diesel engine, because it can be operated so economically. Possibly it offers the only solution of the problems now confronting railway systems generally. In Australia, where our railways are operated under a kind of socialistic system, we are losing money, whilst railway companies in individualistic America also are suffering loss. The only solution of that problem will be found in a new method of producing power from fuel, and that method, so far as we can see at-the moment, is the use of oil. That era is coming as sure as we are here. At the great works at Billington-on-Tees in England, and at certain works in Germany, great quantities of oil fuel are being produced from coal. It is remarkable that whilst it is generally supposed that the English proposition is in its experimental stage, the controlling company, Imperial Chemical Industries, has decided to duplicate its plant. In view of these facts I am glad to see that the Government has made a beginning in this matter. The production of oil is of para mount importance to Australia, because without it we could not defend the country. Neither could we operate aeroplanes or motor, vehicles of any kind. To-day we are using motor power even for the traction of our artillery, for which work the horse is now out of date. Practically all methods of land transport depend upon oil, and apparently the only inexhaustible and economical source of oil in Australia is coal. In this country are . almost inexhaustible deposits of coal with the highest oil content of any coal in the world. Yet, so we are told, we are awaiting further experiments in this field, in order to determine whether the production of oil from coal is economical. Surely it should be sufficient evidence of the practicability of producing oil from coal when we see a company of the magnitude of Imperial Chemical Industries, after establishing one plant at a cost of £10,000,000, deciding to duplicate it. I trust that this Government will carefully watch this movement in the field of synthetic chemistry and, at the first possible moment, will introduce into Australia the most modern method of producing oil from coal.

I support the remarks of Senator Hardy in respect of the need for intensifying closer settlement throughout Australia especially in New South Wales and Queensland. I have preached this policy for quite a number of years ; I did so even when other men laughed at me. Those scoffers are serious to-day. Unless such a policy is pursued the population of Australia cannot be increased at an effective rate. For years I have endeavoured to persuade the Government of New South Wales to adopt the improved system of pasturing that has been so successfully demonstrated by Mr. Prell in the Goulburn district. This system introduces new ideas, which give greater carrying capacity on grass lands. Mr. Prell has asked the Government of New South Wales to spend £60,000 in purchasing land in the Goulburn district, on the understanding that he will personally supervise the inauguration of his system on such land, but no action has yet been taken. In endeavouring to carry out closer settlement we must find means whereby the smaller areas will be enabled to equal the productive capacity of the existing larger areas by the use of more intense cultivation methods. That is the only solution of this problem, and I hope the Government of New South Wales is not letting this wonderful opportunity pass. At the moment, fortunately, a revival of interest in closer settlement is very much in evidence. It is very noticeable that the peasantry in other countries occupy comparatively small areas of land, but their production from such areas is wonderful. A similar system of land settlement must be established in this country in the interests of the future of the Commonwealth. It is the only system of land settlement which offers us any opportunity, and I suggest that Australia’s economic destiny lies in that direction. The Commonwealth Government, therefore, should take definite action in respect of that matter, because the populating of Australia is one of our greatest problems, and present indications are that the rate, of natural increase will not be sufficient to enable this country, which stands, as it were, on the fringe of civilization, to develop rapidly and effectively.

The record of the Government has been truly remarkable, particularly when we remember the extraordinary difficulties which confronted it when it took office. I cannot understand how any one could have anything hut good, to say about it. Very easily I could paint a picture of the past, especially in New South Wales, when things were so bad that citizens suffered a continuous nightmare, and men and women went in hourly dread of what disaster might befall them. They did not know what was going to happen; their assets were disappearing and their savings were being dissolved in banks which, they had believed, would never collapse. It was a time of unprecedented tragedy, constituting one of the darkest periods in the political history of this country. To-day I can only trust that the people of Australia as a whole will never forget that experience of their fellow citizens of New South Wales. I quite believe that thousands could not possibly forget it even if they desired to do so; the experience was so tragic as to impress itself indelibly on their minds. They should also remember that, prior to those dark days, they asked for a change of government, despite the efforts of those in control at the time to build up a system which would protect our people against the cataclysm of the depression then sweeping the world. Unable to appreciate those efforts they cried for a change of government, and they got it in the worst government which has ever held office in the history of New South Wales. I do not hesitate to remind the electors of New South Wales, or in fact those of any other part of the Commonwealth with whom I come in contact, of what occurred when a change of Government last occurred. We do not have to study the position very closely to find overwhelming evidence of the fact that the present Commonwealth Government has not only been successful in clearing away the debris with which it was first surrounded, but has also given effect to a statesmanlike policy which has resulted in bringing about financial and economic security in Australia. Having achieved such remarkable success in almost every phase of its activities, it is now faced with the responsibility of- preparing for financial and economic depression in the future. Mr. Butler, of the International Labour Office, said that it is imperative for the nations to prepare for future depressions. That is one of the responsibilities facing this and future governments, so that the security of the Australian people may be ensured. Severe as were the disasters associated with the Great War, they were greater only in some respects than those forced upon the peoples of almost every country by the financial depression from which the world has now emerged. I trust that this Government, which has done so much to restore and improve the position of the Australian people, will he particularly alert, and that it will build up defences against any possible recurrence of depression and also, whenever possible, it will legislate in such a way that the standard of living will be raised and the rights and privileges which the people now enjoy will be preserved tn them.

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (South Australia) [S.48~. - I heartily support the motion moved by my colleague Senator McLeay and seconded by Senator Marwick, and I compliment those honorable senators upon the able manner in which they dealt with the subjects they discussed. This debate has covered a wide range of subjects. On this motion we are permitted to -discuss not only the subjects contained in the Governor-General’s Speech, but also other topics. In this instance, honorable senators have the rare opportunity of debating a motion for the adoption of an Address-in-Reply just prior to a general election. This enables them to address electors from the floor of the chamber and to distribute copies of their speeches to those interested..

The presence of His Excellency the Governor-General in this chamber, the. firing of a salute and the opening ceremony generally, may be regarded by a few as so much unnecessary pomp. In view of our somewhat limited population in comparison with the world’s millions, this ceremony might savour of exaggeration, but when we recall the recent Coronation of His Majesty King George VI., we must realize that we are part and parcel of that great British Empire on which the sun never sets, and that we are closely allied to the Mother Country. For many years under a limited monarchy, we have been loyal to government of the people by the people, and perhaps never before have our principles of government been so severely tested as they have been during the last few months. The British Government so successfully handled a difficult position that its actions not only met with the satisfaction of our people but also so enhanced in the eyes of the world the British monarchical and parliamentary system that by comparison Soviet rule and Fascist dictatorships pale into insignificance. As citizens of a British Dominion, we pay tribute to the mother of Parliaments, led by the Baldwin Government; the crowning of George VI. in such a peaceful genial atmosphere was undoubtedly the result of brilliant and tactful management.

The main portions of the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, having been discussed at length by honorable senators who have preceded me, almost anything that may be said by me will be repetition. I should, however, like to refer briefly to the success of the present Government, which is not arguable from any view point. The members of the Opposition in this chamber have said that the Government has not done anything.

Senator Collings:

– No.


– I maintain that the Lyons Government has a wonderful record of achievement. I -do not propose to repeat the figures cited by Senator McLeay and other honorable senators, but I maintain that the record of this Government is more outstandingly successful than that of any other Commonwealth administration. As a representative of one of the less populous States, I have no hesitation in saying that this Government has given more assistance to the weaker States than did any preceding Commonwealth government, and it would be a calamity to Australia if the Lyons Government were superceded by any other administration. About five and a half years ago the first Lyons administration came into office with a definite rehabilitation programme, which has been carried out most successfully, and it would be regrettable if the Government were not permitted to complete the good work on which it is now engaged. 1. do not claim for a moment that the success which has been achieved is wholly due to the Government’s efforts, -but the Ministry is entitled to credit for the way in which, after the worst of the depression had passed, it allowed the people to rehabilitate themselves.

During the approaching general election, the subject of a 40-hour week will receive a great deal of prominence. Senator McLeay said that what the worker needed is not more leisure, but more money. If I know the workers I believe that they want both. I am prepared to give them as much of both as is possible^ but in dealing with a 40-hour week we must take into consideration the fact that Australian producers have to sell in the world’s markets, in competition with those whose hours of labour are much longer. In those circumstances the Australian people, under a 40-hour week, would have, not more leisure and more money, but little money and a surfeit of leisure.

Senator Collings:

– Does the honorable senator suggest that the hours of labour should be longer in Australia than in other countries?


– No. I am suggesting that if the hours of labour in Australia are shorter than in those countries with which our producers compete, we cannot expect to succeed. I have sufficient faith in the Australian workers to say that they can do a given quantity of work in a shorter number of hours than similar work can be done by other workers. This subject mustbe dealt with under the law at present operative. If we give effect to a 40-hour week -by legislative enactment, we shall be asked before long to determine the basic wage in the same way. I should like to ask the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) why a 40-hour week has not been introduced in Queensland?

Senator Collings:

– The honorable

Senator knows why.


– If the system possesses the virtues which the honorable senator suggests, why has it not been introduced by the Labour Government in that State ?

Senator Collings:

– With a 40-hour week, Queensland could not compete with other States in which longer hours are worked. We do not want to commit economic suicide.

Senator Sir George Pearce:

– Is not that the position of Australia in relation to other nations?

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN.Of course it is. States cannot compete on unequal terms, and neither can nations.

Senator Collings:

– But we do.


– Only to a certain extent. If a 40-hour week is so desirable, why does not the Queensland Government give a lead in the matter?

I am strongly in favour of a system of national insurance. The advantages of such a scheme have been dealt with at length by previous speakers, but it is necessary to impress upon honorable senators and the public that such a proposal should be studied from every angle so that any scheme introduced will be sound. Many persons whom one meets suggest that it is only necessary to wave a magic wand and a workable scheme embracing pensions and other social services will become operative. The problem is exceedingly difficult, as any Common wealth scheme would have to replace the existing activities in six States and meet with the approval of seven parliaments. It therefore appears essential that a conference, between the representatives of the Commonwealth and the States should be commenced in order to reach a workable arrangement. The Government of New South Wales published in one of the leading newspapers of the State the following advertisement in block type : -

page 138



The New South Wales Government have decided to put into operation a scheme of unemployment relief on a scale unparalleled in the history of the continent.

Every State has in operation schemes for unemployment relief and other social services; all have to be brought into line and reconciled in any scheme of national insurance. The State schemes cannot he superseded as if by waving a magic wand.


– As Senator Hardy said this afternoon, we have been waiting 25 years for the Labour party to act.

Senator Collings:

– His statement was ridiculous. Labour was in office for only five years. In the other twenty years national governments were in power.


– Five years would have been long enough in which to formulate a scheme. As an example of the difficulties associated with national insurance, I may mention that South Australia has paid out of revenue £3,000,000 for sustenance and unemployment relief in the last five years. It is only natural to conclude that the recipients, when told that they will have to contribute towards national insurance, will point out that in the past they had not had to do so. National insurance has been in existence in Great Britain for a number of years, and from 1924 until now, because of unemployment, the British Government has had to supplement the fund by £700,000,000. It will be seen, therefore, that a scheme of the kind envisaged is not going to have the magic effect which some people expect. I am, however, in favour of its institution.

Senator Collings:

– But the honorable senator commits himself to nothing.


– I shall commit myself to nothing until I see a scheme which I believe is workable ; I shall then grip it with both hands. When I hear people, in this chamber and elsewhere, as I have heard them in the last few days, declaring that Australia is lagging behind in social services and doing nothing for its aged and invalid people, I am moved to remind them that no country in the world has done so much for its people in this regard as has Australia. The more one thinks and ponders over what has been done, the more one is amazed. For instance; there is hardly a child born for which the Government does not pay a bonus of £5 so that it may be immediately clothed. So soon as the child toddles it has the benefit of free kindergartens. When it is fit to go to school it receives free education, and if the parents cannot afford to buy school books for it, the Government does so. Free education carries with it a number of bursaries, whereby a child with marked intelligence can go on into the realms of higher education provided at the universities. Then as soon as the child goes to work it has protection against exploitation. The Arbitration Court fixes hours, wages, and other conditions of unemployment. These social services continue throughout a man’s life. If a man cannot find here a woman to become his wife, then the immigration laws will help him to import one. Yet it is alleged that this country is backward in providing social services. Additional benefits conferred upon the population are also to be found in the laws of the States. The South Australian Government has built one thousand homes which are let at nominal rentals. If a man takes ill he is covered by insurance and he can have free hospital accommodation. If he has no job, he is provided with rations, and, when he reaches the age of 65, he receives the old-age pension or goes to a State institution. There are also police and transport services and subsidized public libraries. We are already doing more for our people than is any other nation on God’s earth, but I am still prepared to help to enact a scheme of national insurance.

Senator Marwick said that he was pleased to note that the States and the

Commonwealth had reached a satisfactory agreement ‘for the control of aviation. I too am pleased, indeed, that the governments have reached this agreement, but recently there has been some controversy among the people regarding this matter and at the recent referendum they spoke very definitely.

Senator Collings:

– Very ignorantly.


– In my opinion, so long as clause 92 of the Constitution carries the interpretation given to it by the Privy Council, no agreement between the States and the Commonwealth regarding trade and commerce will be watertight. I believe that so soon as someone wants to upset any such agreement there will be successful litigation. The referendum taught us at least one lesson. I understand that the. Government has under consideration:, some method of simplifying the ballotpaper for Senate elections. It is a reflection on the intelligence of the people that” in the last referendum the informal votesnumbered 250,000. The people must educate themselves; all we can do is to make the voting paper simpler. It is amazing that after years of free education which cost millions of pounds, a quarter of a million persons in this country cannot mark a ballot paper “ 1 “ and “ 2 “.


– The honorable senator should not judge by the last referendum. The will to do was lacking in many people.


– I counter that by asking how many votes would have been informal if persons had not stood at the doors of the polling booths distributing “ How to Vote “ cards?


– At that referendum exactly the same number. The will to do was not there.


– I think that even if it had been there, but for the instructions given to voters as to the way in which to mark ballot-papers, the number of informal votes would have been’ even greater.

I welcome the proposal to re-constitute the Interstate Commission. In my opinion, this step has been too long delayed. Wo have expended considerable sums on royal f.ommissions and I venture the opinion that the Interstate Commission could do more expeditiously and with better results to this country the tasks for which those were set up.

I support the project for the extraction of oil from shale, and I congratulate the Government on the arrangements it has made with a private company for the exploitation of the Newnes deposits. With the last speaker, I also ask that the Government will give due consideration to the hydrogenation and low carbonization processes for the extraction of oil from coal. I hope that if any company comes forward with proposals for the operation of either of these processes the Government will be just as liberal in treating with them as it has been in respect of the Newnes company. We talk a lot about defence/ but without oil much of our preparations for defence will be useless.

In order to investigate thoroughly the menace of soil erosion we have established in South Australia a laboratory at the cost of something like £20,000. Senator Brown read an extract from an article by Mr. Ion Idriess in reference to Australia’s waste lands in south-western Queensland, north-western New South Wales, the south-eastern portion of the Northern Territory, and in South Australia. I am strongly of the opinion that at least for the time being these barren spaces should be ignored. If we are to have a searching inquiry into soil erosion, let us make our experiments where some measure of success can be achieved ; that is in country where there is at least some rainfall. The portions of country alluded to by Mr. Idriess have an annual rainfall of only 4 inches. It is impossible to plant any grasses known to us that will grow in such dry areas. There is only one thing that will rehabilitate that country - and we have had a good deal of it in other parts this year - and that is rain sent by Almighty Providence. It is wonderful how the country will recuperate after rain. Without rain it cannot be handled. Our greatest enemy in this respect is the rabbit, which is not content merely with eating the surface growth, but delves down to the very roots of the grass. Our first aim should be to get rid of this menace. I commend the efforts the Government is making, but advise the people not to look for big results from barren country where the annual rainfall is only 4 inches. I ask the Government to concentrate its efforts on land further south which enjoys a more adequate rainfall. That is in the agricultural areas where we have been experiencing drift and erosion. We might as well attempt to dam the MurrayRiver with our hands as try to convert the desert wastes from drifting sand into pastures, although, at the present time, because of the advent of substantial rains, country that twelve months ago was a desert denuded of vegetation is now covered with grass and the Sturt pea, converting the country into a vast flower garden.

I commend the Governor-General’s Speech to the people, and at the same time ask them, before any thought of changing this Government for some unknown quantity enters their mind, ‘ to look at its past record. We can always better judge people by what they have done than by what they say they are going to do.

Senator DEIN:
New South Wales

– I join with other honorable senators in congratulating the Government upon its splendid administrative and legislative -record. As a supporter of the Ministry since 1931, I feel sure that when the time comes to face the electors again, we shall be able to submit to them a record of such merit as fully to warrant a renewal of their confidence.

I was disappointed that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings), in his opening remarks, should have thought fit to comment upon His Excellency the GovernorGeneral in ungenerous terms, and to include in his remarks previous occupants of that distinguished office. I am glad to know that His Excellency is sufficiently interested in Australia and its people as to desire to become better acquainted with it and them; so much so that during the recesses he has travelled extensively throughout the Commonwealth, in order that he may have first-hand information of our problems. The Governor-General is to be commended for his interest in our welfare, and I regret that the Leader of the Opposition should have made a veiled attack upon His Excellency.

Senator Collings:

– In rny speech there was no attack on the GovernorGeneral, veiled or otherwise, and the honorable senator knows it.

Senator DEIN:

– Notwithstanding what the Leader of the Opposition has said by way of interjection, I remind honorable senators that, in his speech on Friday last, the honorable gentleman referred to the Governor-General as one of the “ imported gentry “. I and other honorable senators regret such remarks.

Senator Collings:

– But he is imported, is he not?

Senator DEIN:

– Having said what was in my mind on that subject, I turn now to some of the matters mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech. The first relates to defence. Whilst I deplore the necessity for heavy expenditure under this heading, we have to face the facts, and” realize that the Commonwealth has a responsibility in this matter in conjunction with the Imperial Government and the governments of the other dominions. In addition to the scheme of defence outlined by the Government, there is urgent need to take adequate steps to people and develop effectively the empty spaces of Australia. We are in possession of a huge country; we are a few people, and we are not doing so much as I believe we should do to fill our empty spaces. Therefore, I would like the Government to give closer consideration to this aspect of defence by encouraging the settlement on the land of Australianborn citizens, and also introducing desirable migrants of British stock.

The manufacture in Australia of munitions for war purposes has been mentioned in this debate. We have been told that, in all probability, we shall manufacture not only for our own requirements, but also for other portions of the Empire. This information is welcome. I join with the Leader of the Opposition in expressing dismay at the necessity for manufacturing munitions, but, since they are essential for Australian defence, if they can be manufactured successfully in this country I shall be glad to see the industry established here.

Senator Brown:

– By private individuals, or by the Government?

Senator DEIN:

Senator Brown questioned the sincerity of the Government in relation to the inauguration of a scheme of national insurance. The honorable gentleman’s doubts are wholly unjustified. When the Lyons Government was returned to power in1 931 no mention was made then of a scheme of national insurance. The Government was fully occupied in cleaning up the wreckage for which the Scullin Government was responsible. During the 1934 election, there was again no mention of national insurance by either party, but in the following year, when Sir Frederick Stewart paid avisit to Great Britain and Europe, he was commissioned by the Government to investigate and report upon the system of national insurance which has been in operation in Great Britain for many years. Upon his return, he presented his report to the -Government, and so impressed was the Government with the obvious advantages of such a scheme, that in the following year it asked the British Government to place at its disposal two of the most eminent experts to investigate and report upon the position in Australia. These two gentlemen arrived last year, and carried out their investigations. One report on unemployment insurance which has been received emphasizes the complexity of the problem, and outlines a scheme which, it is believed, will prove effective. The other report has not yet been received by the Government. I hope that when it is to hand it will be found to be as favorable as that supplied on the subject of unemployment insurance. I mention these facts to show that the Government has done all that could he expected of it in the time at its disposal. Perhaps, it could have saved some time by introducing, as no doubt a Labour government would have done, a half-baked, ill-considered scheme. But, before embarking on such a vast financial undertaking, it wisely decided that it should first obtain the very latest and most authoritative information upon all aspects of the scheme.

I was glad to note, in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech, that the Government has made available to the States the sum of £200,000 to assist in the vocational training of those unfortunate young men, who, owing to the depression and the unemployment crisis, lost their opportunity to he trained in some suitable occupation. I should like to see a larger sum made available and I hope that, in the near future, the Government will see its way to increase the amount.

Senator Brown, as is his usual custom, told a very woeful story to the Senate this afternoon. Any one listening to the honorable gentleman, whether in this chamber or on a soap box may get the impression that the people of Australia were in a condition bordering on starvation. Possibly, the honorable gentleman has in mind the conditions in Queensland, hut I can assure him that his remarks have no application at all to the people of New South “Wales. I admit that many people in my State a’re not getting so much of even the necessaries of life as they should have, but I challenge his statement that there is starvation in our midst. I give the honorable senator an assurance that if he can bring to my notice one single instance of starvation, within a few hours, if the person concerned is not getting sufficient sustenance, a substantial increase will he available. I do not know so much about Queensland, but I feel sure that the people in that State are in no worse position.

Senator Brown:

– Then “why all this talk about malnutrition?

Senator DEIN:

– As I understand ii, the .term malnutrition does not mean an insufficiency of the necessaries of life, bur. the general use of unsuitable food. If the honorable senator had said that the people in any State were underfed, we should have been able to understand his contention more clearly; but as regard to New South Wales, under the Stevens Government, I assure him that if any. instance of insufficient nutrition is brought to notice, additional provision for those concerned will be made without delay.

The Government has been taken to task by the Leader of the Opposition .and his colleagues for not immediately inaugurating schemes for the extraction of oil from coal or shale. Need I remind the honorable senator that five years ago there was a Federal Labour government in power and also a Labour government in office in New South Wales? Did those governments do anything to produce oil from coal? Mr. Baddeley, then Minister for Mines, had an expensive and extensive trip abroad to study the problem. He came back and presented a report, but not one shilling was made available by the State Labour Government for the production of oil from coal. The Scullin Labour Government in this Parliament’ also did nothing, so it is hypocritical for our Opposition friends to say now that this Government should get on. with the job. The Government has not been idle. It has very wisely made careful investigations, and considered various schemes, and a concrete scheme for the extraction of oil from shale is now about to be initiated.

Much has been said about the necessity for land settlement. On this important subject our friends in Opposition are well qualified to- speak. Let us consider their record. Five or six years ago the Scullin Labour Government was in office. At that time it practised wholesale “ settlement “ with a vengeance. Did not Labour politicians then do their best to “ settle the man on the land? Did not they “ settle “ the man off the land ? Did not they “ settle “ the employer ? ‘ Did not they “settle” the employee? Did not they “ settle “ the business man ? Did not they “ settle “ the unemployed ? Did not they almost “ settle “ Australia ? And when we consider that only three Labour senators are left here - being the total yield of the elections - are we not forced to the conclusion that they “ settled “ themselves ?

The fulfilment of the programme outlined in -the Governor-General’s Speech will bring to a conclusion a record of two years’ administration and legislation by the present Government of which Australia may well be proud; and I believe that, in the near future, when the people have an opportunity to compare the record of the Scullin Government with that of the Lyons Administration, they will say to the supporters of the Lyons Government, “Well done thou good and faithful servants. You deserve well of the people of Australia. Go back and continue the job which you have been doing for the last six years “.

Debate (on motion by Senator Allan McDonald) adjourned.

Senate adjourned at 9.31 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 June 1937, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.