15th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator theHon. J. B. Hayes) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– On the 17th
November, SenatorFraser asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, the following questions, upon notice : -
The Minister for Defence has now supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
The information is not available in the form required, but I have pleasure in furnishing the honorable senator with the following particulars: -
The Ford truck was for the May lands Aerodrome. For the balance of the above stores (except the provisions for the ships) the bulk of the supplies is intended for use in other States.
In addition, contracts and purchases have been arranged by the local defence contract board and defence services of the normal requirements of the naval, military and air establishments of foodstuffs, fuels, maintenance stores and certain items of new plant and equipment. Particulars of such purchases are not available at head-quarters, but it it estimated they would involve an expenditure of from £1,500 to £2,000 monthly.
It is pointed out that a number of defence works items are under the Department of the Interior, which department is dealing with this portion of the question.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Will the Government give consideration to the appointment of an audit committee with powerto investigate the question asto whether or not the Government is obtaining value for the money expended in defence contracts?
– The Minister for Defence has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s question : -
The very great majority of defence contracts are arranged as a result of public tenders; competition is keen, and thereis no doubt that valueis obtained for the money expended.
In the cases where it is not possible to arrange contracts by tender, adequate checks of prices are available. Contract matters are dealt with by the contract boards which exist in each State and, in addition, all contracts are subject to audit by the Commonwealth Auditor-General. In view of the foregoing, the Government does not consider it necessary to appoint an audit committee.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
What is the effect of the Anglo-American trade agreement on the Australian dried and canned fruits industries?
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD.The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following answer: -
There has been no alteration in the preference to Australian dried fruits entering the United Kingdom as a result of the United Kingdom-United States of America trade agreement. The following alterations were made to formerly existing preferences in canned fruits: -
Fruits, tinned or buttled in syrup -
Apples - 3s. 6d. to 2s. 3d. per cwt.
Grapefruit - 15 per cent. ad valorem to free entry.
Fruit salad - 15 per cent. ad valorem to 5s.6d. per cwt.
Pineapples - 15 per cent.ad valorem to 5s. per cwt.
Loganberries - 15 per cent. ad valorem to 4s. per cwt.
Apart from canned pineapples, our exports to the United Kingdom of the other kinds of canned fruits shown above are negligible. The alteration of the duty on canned pineapples entering the United Kingdom from foreign countries is from 15 per cent. ad valorem to a specific rate of5s. per cwt. The specific rate is an added deterrent to the importation of cheaper varieties, and is an increased protection against them. It is, therefore, preferable to the ad valorem rate of 15 per cent. The preferences on the principal exportsofcanned fruits from Australia to the United Kingdom, namely, peaches, pears and apricots remain unaltered.
asked the Leader of the Senate, upon, notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has supplied the following answer: - 1 and 2. It is not the intention of the Government to rescind the prohibition on the exportation of iron ore from Australia. The Government has had under consideration again the question of the exportation of pig iron, and it has decided that this trade will be permitted to continue for the time being. The volume of exports is comparatively small viewedin relation to the quantity of iron ore which would have been exported had not restrictive action been taken. Moreover, the Government has been advised that the present exports of pig iron are not prejudicially affecting the ability of industry to meet Australia’s requirements of iron and steel products. The whole position is, however, being kept constantly under review, and if it appears at any time that the exportation of this commodity is likely to increase to such an extent as detrimentally to affect Australian industry and development, the question of restriction of export will receive immediate consideration.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Ministor has supplied the following answer to the honorable senator’s questions: - 1 to 4. I would point out to the honorable senator that provision has been made in the budget this year for over £16,000.000 for expenditure on works in Australia, including the defence works. It has been necessary to budget also for an increase in ordinary expenditure this year, apart from new works, particularly in relation to the expansion of the Defence Forces. The provision of these moneys should make a great deal of work available. The Governmenthas asked the Minister in Charge of Works and Civil Aviation to cause an investigation to be made nt once as to what works it is possible to put in hand forthwith, compatible with the moneys which may be available, with a view to relieving unemployment to the greatest extent possible.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) agreed to -
That Standing Order No.68 be suspended up to and including the 16th December next, to enable new business to be taken after half-past ten p.m.
Motion (by Senator Leckie) agreed to -
That the report from the Printing Committee, presented to the Senate on the 18th November, 1938, be adopted.
In committee (Recommittal) : Consideration resumed from the 18th November (vide page 1702).
Clause 9 -
Poisoning by benzol or its homologues.
Poisoning by carbon monoxide.
Any disease contracted in the course of or as the result of the employment. upon which Senator Allan MacDonald had moved by way of amendment -
That the words “ pneumonia, pleurisy. Any disease contracted in the course of or as the result of the employment” be left out with a view to insert inlieu thereof the following words: - “produced by oil or grease or dust or caustic or corrosive liquids “.
Amendment - by leave - withdrawn.
– I move -
That after the word “ Dermatitis “, the words “produced by oil or grease or dust or caustic or corrosive liquids “ be inserted.
This matter has already been discussed at length and I think that the committee understands the desire of the Government, namely, that the word “dermatitis” be qualified by the addition of the words contained in the proposed amendment, so that compensation will he confined to dermatitis caused by the seaman’s employment. In this connexion,
I submit the following memorandum by the Director-General of Health: -
Inflammation of the skin or dermatitis has many causes, amongst which are occupational causes.
Non-occupational causes include the following: - drug rashes; X-ray and radium burns; the late effects of protein injections in medical treatment; food rashes; syphilis, and skin inflammations secondary to other skin diseases such as seborrhoea, and secondary to therapeutic applications to the skin.
It is therefore wrong to use the word “ dermatitis “ perse in the third schedule of the amending Seamen’s Compensation Bill. The alternative to the suggested phrasing are the words “ occupational dermatitis “ or its synonym “ dermatitis venenata “.
In Australian legislation, Queensland incorporates the latter words, Western Australia using the words “ eczematous ulceration of the skin produced by dust, caustic or corrosive liquids “.
– Can the Assistant Minister say how the fourth schedule will read if his amendment be accepted ?
– If my amendment be accepted, the fourth schedule will read -
Poisoning by benzol or its homologues.
Poisoning by carbon monoxide.
Dermatitis produced by oil or grease or dust or caustic or corrosive liquids.
Any disease contracted in the course of or as the result of the employment.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Senator Allan MacDonald) proposed -
That the words “ pneumonia, pleurisy. Any disease contracted in the course of or as the result of the employment” be left out.
Senator E. B. JOHNSTON (Western Australia [3.20]. - From the reply given by the Assistant Minister to Senator Collett a moment ago, I understood that when the amendment just agreed to was adopted the clause would be allowed to remain in other respects as printed. I gathered no indication from the Assistant Minister that he intended to move as he has now done.
- (Senator James McLachlan). - The Assistant Minister is now submitting a further amendment.
– In that case he might have foreshadowed his intention when replying to Senator Collett. Having accepted one amend ment on the understanding that the clause in other respects was to be allowed to stand as printed, I am not inclined to agree to a further amendment.
– Senator Collett simply asked me how the clause would read after my amendment was adopted, and I answered him. I am sorry if I misled any honorable senator.
– And the Assistant Minister gave me the correct answer.
– I am now moving a further amendment.
– Have you not also before you, Mr. Chairman, an amendment which Senator McBride forecast last week?
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Allan MacDon ald’s amendment) be left: out.
The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator James McLachlan.)
Majority . . 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I move-
That all the words “ any disease contracted in the course of or as the result of the employment “ be left out.
– As the committee has decided that certain words including those which the honorable senator now proposes to omit shall stand, I cannot accept the amendment.
– I point out that the amendment which the committee just negatived proposed to exclude the words “ pneumonia, pleurisy, any disease contracted in the course of or as the result of the employment,” whereas my desire is to retain the words “pneumonia, pleurisy” and omit the subsequent words.
– The honorablo senator could have achieved his end by proposing an amendment along those lines to the amendment proposed by the Assistant Minister.
– On a previous day of sitting, I forecast the amendment which I now propose to move.
– For the reason I have just given, I cannot accept the honorable senator’s amendment.
– With all due respect to you, Mr. Chairman, I am obliged to move -
That the ruling of the Chairmanbe dissented from.
– I point out, Mr. Chairman, that the committee has not yet dealt with the amendment of which Senator McBride gave notice on the last day of sitting. You have allowed the Assistant Minister to move two amendments, and now that these have been disposed of, you propose to disallow Senator McBride’s amendment which, I point out, is totally different from either of the two previous amendments. As it is a perfectly valid amendment, I shall be reluctantly compelled to support the motion that your ruling be dissented from.
– I agree with Senator McBride’s submission. He now wishes to move another amendment. I submit that he is entitled to do so.
– I have given my ruling, and I have received from Senator McBride a motion of dissent. There can be no debate on the matter at this juncture.
In the Senate:
– I have to report, Mr. President, that while the committee was considering the proposed new Fourth
Schedule of the Seamen’s Compensation Bill, an amendment was moved to leave out the words - “ Pneumonia.
Any diseases contracted in the course of or as the result of the employment”.
The committee divided on the amendment and negatived it. Believing that the committee, by its vote, had decided that the words should be retained, I refused to take a further amendment from Senator McBride that portion only of the words should be left out.
No amendment shall he proposed tobe made to any words which the Senate has resolved shall not be left out, or which have been inserted in or added to a question, except that it be the addition of other words thereto.
That Standing Order is, I think, fatal to the motion submitted by Senator McBride.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes). - A misunderstanding appears to have arisen. Some honorable senators have voted against the elimination of certain words from the schedule.
They desired some of the words to be deleted and others to be retained, and that should be possible. I think the Chairman was right in his decision, but the difficulty in which the committee finds itself could be resolved by recommitting the clause.
In committee (Recommittal) :
Clause 9, as further amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with further amendments.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Motion (by Senator Allan MacDonald) proposed -
That the reports be now adopted.
Amendment (by Senator McLeay) put-
That the bill be recommitted for the reconsideration of clause 9.
The Senate divided. (President - Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
In committee (Further recommittal) :
.- I move -
That the word” pleurisy “ be left out.
An award of the Arbitration Court provides that if a seaman is able to prove that he has contracted pleurisy or pneumonia in the performance of his duties, he shall be entitled to compensation. In its present form, the schedule throws the onus of proof on the employer. It is comparatively easy for a seamanto prove that the disease from which he is suffering was caused by his occupation; it is almost impossible for a ship-owner to prove to the contrary. Pleurisy is a common disease, and is not peculiar to seamen. It is extraordinary that seamen are protected by three different acts, notwithstanding that, generally, their working conditions are good. Under the Navigation Act, they are protected in respect of their living quarters ; under our arbitration laws they are protected in respect of allowance for sickness and death, whilst under the Seamen’s Compensation Act other protection is afforded to them. Consequently, there is no need for drag-net provisions in this bill.
– Does the honorable senator suggest that the onus should be placed on the seaman?
– Yes. I do not mind a seaman getting compensation if he proves that the disease from which he is suffering was contracted on board ship. Indeed, that is already provided for under our arbitration laws. If a Seaman is suffering from pleurisy, proof that he has contracted the disease is easily obtainable; but it may be difficult for a shipowner to prove that the disease was contracted while the seaman was not on board the ship.
– What is the honorable senator’s interpretation of sub-section 4 of proposed new section 5c ?
– He has no interpretation of it; he has not read the bill.
– I have read the bill. I submit that seamen are already sufficiently protected, and that there is no need to include “ pleurisy “ in the fourth schedule to this bill. If the words be permitted to remain, every seaman who suffers from pleurisy will bc entitled to compensation irrespective of how he contracts the disease. If the bill be passed in its present form, I predict that shipping freights on coastal vessels will increase by £25,000 per annum.
– Senator Leckie is wrong in contending that the inclusion of the word “ pleurisy “ would throw the onus of proof on to the ship-owner. In respect of each of the diseases mentioned in the fourth schedule, the onus is on the seaman to prove that he contracted it while on board ship. I direct attention to clause 4, which governs the fourth schedule. Sub-section 4 of proposed new section 5c provides that -
If a seaman produces a certificate from a duly qualified medical practitioner that he is suffering from one of the diseases specified in the fourth schedule to this act, and that such disease was contracted through his employment, and that a Medical Inspector of Seamen appointed under the Navigation Act 1912-1935 is satisfied that the disease was so contracted, the diseaseshall, in the absence of proof to the contrary, be deemed to have been caused by the employmentin which the seaman was engaged.
That is a complete answer to Senator Leckie’s contention.
– The committeehas already dealt with clause 4. It is now considering the fourth schedule.
– The fourth schedule cannot be read apart from Clause 4. The one without the other is meaningless.
– The honorable senator may refer to clause 4 in a general way, but not in detail.
– I repeat that in respect of each of the diseases mentioned in the fourth schedule the onus rests on the seaman. I can see no reason why the words “ pneumonia, pleurisy “ should not remain. Senator McBride proposes to leave out the words following them. They are unnecessary for the reason that sub-section 4 of proposed section 5c makes it necessary for the seaman to prove that the disease was caused through his employment. There is no need for any drag-net provision.
. - As on several occasionsI attempted to delete from the fourth schedule the words “pneumonia, pleurisy”, as well as the drag-net provision following them, I must support the amendment moved by Senator Leckie. The point is not whether the onus of proof shall, or shall not rest on the seaman, but whether a certain disease shall be excluded from the schedule. Senator Leckie’s amendment is to exclude a disease which is so general throughout the community as to make it practically impossible for any medical practitioner to associate it with any particular occupation. Pleurisy may follow an attack of measles or whooping cough, or even a common cold. So far as I am aware, under no workers’ compensation act is pleurisy regarded as an occupational disease. In Britain, general diseases such as pneumonia and pleurisy are not regarded as occupational diseases.
– I do not want to do the Assistant Minister (Senator Allan MacDonald) an injustice, but when he asked for leave to withdraw his original amendment, I understood him to say that his desire was to withdraw only a portion of it, and that the words “ pneumonia “ and “ pleurisy “ were to remain. Now it would appear that the Assistant Minister has other intentions. I hope that I have not done him an injustice, but that is how I interpreted his remarks.
– When I discussed this matter with the Leader of the Opposition-
– I refer to the statement of the Assistant Minister in this chamber this afternoon.
– I thought that Senator McBride intended tomove an amendment, but he has not done so. My original intention was to withdraw my amendment, with a view to qualifying “dermatitis.”; hut now that the committee has gone further, and Senator Leckie has moved an amendment, I cannot do other than support it.
Question put -
That the word proposed to be left out (Senator Leckie’s amendment) be left out.
The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator James McLachlan.)
Majority . . 6
Question so “resolved in the negative.
– I move -
That the words, “ Any disease contracted in the course of or as the result of the employment” be left out.
The object of my amendment is to place some limit upon the kinds of disease in respect of which an applicant may claim compensation. If the words which I propose should be deleted were allowed to stand, there would be no need to name any disease in respect of which a seaman could claim compensation, because he would be enabled to make such a claim in respect of any disease which he contracted in the course of or as the result of his employment. It is not the intention, I believe, of honorable senators generally, that such an unlimited liability should be placed upon the shipowners. Under my amendment their liabilities will be limited, and at the same time a reasonable measure of compensation for sickness will be assured to the seamen.
.- I support the amendment. In doing so, I point out that clause 56 of the seamen’s award provides -
If an employee ‘belonging to a ship -
receives any hurt or injury or contracts disease in the service of the ship; or
suffers from any illness (not being venereal disease, or an illness due to his own wilful act or default, or to his own misbehaviour), the expense of providing the necessary surgical and medical advice, attendance and medicine, and also the maintenance of the employee until lie is cured or dies, or is brought or taken back to the port where in accordance with his agreement, he is entitled to be discharged, or such other port as is mutually agreed upon with the approval of the proper authority, and of his conveyance thither, and in case of death the expense (if any) of his burial shall be defrayed by the employer, without any deduction therefor from his wages.
It seems to mo that my interpretation of the definition, which was questioned by Senator Wilson, is correct, namely, that the onus of proof that a disease suffered by a seaman was not contracted in the course of his employment, is placed on the employer. Clause 4 of this measure provides that a seaman upon being injured or upon contracting any of the diseases specified, can tell his medical adviser that he contracted the disease or met with the injury in question while working in his employment. How could a medical officer prove the truth or otherwise of the statement ? I submit that the onus of proving that a disease was contracted or an injury sustained in the course of the employment should be placed upon the employee. Wherever that onus has, under workers’ compensation legislation, been placed upon the employer, it has subsequently been found necessary to alter it. For these reasons
I support the amendment.
– I should regret it very much if honorable senators were to agree to the amendment and thus spoil what up to the moment appears to be a very good job of workers’ compensation. The idea of this kind of legislation is to protect the worker from various injuries or disabilities which may arise as the result of his employment. It is wrong to suggest that this liability will fall upon the shipowner or the employer, because, generally speaking, the risks involved in respect of workers’ compensation, whether for injury or sickness, is generally covered by special insurance on the part of the employer, either with a company or under some scheme arranged by groups of employers. An earnest endeavour has been made to include industrial diseases within the sphere of workers’ compensation.
As a matter of fact, the covering of diseases or sickness would be of greater benefit to a workman than covering certain specified disabilities resulting through accidents. I can speak on this point from experience as an ex-railway employee. The Workers’ Compensation Act covering railway employees provides for the payment of certain amounts of compensation in respect of injuries resulting from accident in the course of their employment. However, in cases of exigency a man may be compelled to undertake tasks which expose him to sickness to a greater extent than to accident. In the case of a fire, flood, or a washaway, employees may be called out at any hour of the day or night to keep the railway services running and in such work are obliged to labour under great stress. If a man falls or breaks his leg or arm, he becomes entitled to certain compensation, but should he, in the circumstances which I have described, contract an illness which ultimately leads to his death, no compensation is payable to him. It is not difficult to visualize similar circumstances which may affect seamen in the course of their employment. If a ship strikes a storm the seaman will probably be called upon to undertake more arduous work than he. would in normal weather, and in fighting to save his ship and the lives of the passengers entrusted to his care, his health may be more in danger of sickness than of accident. For these reasons, I suggest that if the amendment be adopted, honorable senators will be spoiling what, up to the moment, represents an advance on previous legislation of this kind. The tendency everywhere is to try to give greater assistance and more assurance to workers who are obliged to undertake arduous and hazardous tasks. I ask Senator McBride and other honorable senators who have supported the measure up to the moment to retain the words proposed to bc omitted , from the clause, because, as Senator Wilson so ably pointed out, the onus is already thrown upon the workman to prove beyond doubt that his injury or illness has been caused by or in the course of his employment. That is the crux of the issue now before the Committee, and I venture to suggest that if these particular words be retained no claimant will be enabled to obtain any compensation to which he is not justly entitled.
– I support the amendment. My main reason for doing so is that I am not prepared to be a party to a provision that will be meaningless. Proposed new section 5c (4), which must be read in conjunction with the fourth schedule, reads, “If a seaman produces a certificate from a duly qualified medical practitioner that he is suffering from one of the diseases specified in the Fourth Schedule to this Act and that such disease was contracted through his employment,”. If the words, which the amendment proposes to delete, viz., “ any disease contracted in the course of or as the result of his employment”, be allowed to remain we shall have a meaningless repetition. The Committee has already agreed that compensation is payable in respect of any disease mentioned in the Fourth Schedule that has been contracted in the course of the seaman’s employment. That being so, the retention of these particular words in the Fourth Schedule is unnecssary. That is my reason for supporting the amendment. I am not reversing my previous opinion. I voted for the previous amendment because I thought that any seaman suffering from pneumonia or pleurisy contracted as the result of his employment should be entitled to compensation.
Question put -
Th at the words proposed to be left out (Senator McBride’s amendment) be left out.
The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator James McLachlan.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as further amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with a further amendment; reports adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Allan MacDonald) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now. read a second time.
The apple and pear industry is a very important one to Australia, many thousands of growers in all States being dependent on the production and export of these fruits. Although, in the past, attempts have been made to organize exports on a voluntary basis, they have not proved entirely successful, because of the absence of statutory powers to ensure that marketing is regulated in an orderly manner. The Australian Apple and Pear Council, which has-been in existence for a number of years as a voluntary body, comprises representatives of growers and exporters of fruit. This council has made arrangements for shipments in each season and has performed very good work in looking after the welfare of the industry. The lack of statutory regulation, however, has caused much difficulty in regulating the export trade, and. as a result, overseas returns have suffered to some extent. ‘Furthermore, shipping arrangements generally have taken up’ a great deal of time which it is not always possible for a voluntary body to devote to such an important matter.
Since 1933-34, the industry has, in each year, made representations to the Government for financial assistance in respect of its exports overseas. Returns from sales of fruit have fluctuated from year to year, and growers have contended that those who export their fruit have needed some financial aid from the Government to meet the violent fluctuations of prices from time to time. Since 1933, the Government has made nearly £500,000 available to the industry in the form of direct contributions towards growers’ export returns. In addition, itgranted £20,000 for research and advisory work in 1935-36 and 1936-37, and £5,000 for similar work in 1937-38. A further sum of £10,000 is being provided for this important work during this financial year with a view to improving cultural practices and raising the quality of the fruit produced in Australia.
During the last seven years the production of apples in Australia has been fairly constant at approximately 10,000,000 bushels, whilst the production of pears has been between 2,000,000 and 2,600,000 bushels in each of those years. The total value of the production was more than £3,000,000.
Exports of apples from Australia have been between 4,000,000 and 5,000,000 bushels per annum for many years, representing approximately 50 per cent, of the crop, whilst exports of fresh pears have increased from 122,000 bushels in 1928-29 to 750,000 bushels in 1936-37. The total value of Australia’s exports of apples and pears is now approaching the £2,000,000 mark, and will probably reach that figure during the coming season.
Although, when we speak of apples, wo usually think of Tasmania, I would point out that the mainland States are also very important, producers. Tasmania’s production in 1937-38 totalled 4,500,000 bushels. In the same year, Victoria pro- .duced 2,500,000 bushels; New South “Wales, 1,140.000 bushels; “Western Australia, 825,000 bushels; and South Australia, 1,250.000 bushels. I may add that crops in all States fluctuate considerably. “Western Australia’s crop of S25,000 bushels was the smallest for a number of years. For the season just about to commence it is anticipated that the western State will produce about 1,500,000 bushels. The South Australian crop was much greater in 1937-38 than in any of the previous seven years. The Victorian crop is fairly constant, although in 1932-33, production was nearly 3,250,000 bushels.
Another feature of the development on the mainland is that many of the areas comprise comparatively new plantings and that, as a result of previous experience gained in the marketing of Australian apples, they have been able to concentrate on varieties more suitable for export. In “Western Australia, for example, the average production for the four years, 1921-22 to 1924-25, was 618,000 bushels from 9,801 acres, and the average exports totalled 309,000 bushels. Comparing these figures with the averages for the four years 1934-35 to 1937-38, wo find that there has been an increase of production to 1,084,000 bushels from 12,635 acres, with a corresponding increase of exports to 752,000 bushels. Production in “Western Australia is limited to a small number of varieties, principally those favoured in overseas markets.
There is a great deal of work to be done in improving the marketing organization of the industry. Further tightening up is necessary on the number of varieties approved for export and on the general quality, both in regard to the fruit itself and its packing. Regulation of arrivals on the British and continental markets is also highly desirable in order to ensure that there shall be v.o glut of fruit at any particular time and that the best prices are obtained for any fruit offered for sale. Transport and shipping arrangements need considerable attention. Negotiations with shipowners will automatically follow on a more accurate forecasting of the crop and the introduction of better methods of picking, packing and transport. Every year competition becomes keener for the available overseas markets, and Australia must see that its export trade is efficiently organized.
The Government has been concerned about this industry for many years and has come to the conclusion that an organization, representative of producers and exporters, and vested with the statutorypowers to enable it to carry out its decisions, is absolutely essential.- This view has been confirmed at conferences with representatives of growers’ organizations in all States, and it was only after the most serious consideration of the matter and of the results of the conferences with growers, that it was decided to establish a statutory body as set out in the bill. There is any amount of valuable work to be done, which cannot be done by a voluntary organization. The Government feels that the responsibility for the proper handling and marketing of the Australian crop rests upon the producers and their agents, the exporters. Provision is made in the bill for establishing a body which will have all the powers necessary to organize and control the export trade. This body will be comprised mainly of producers’ representatives - eleven out of the total membership of sixteen.
In addition to looking after the export of apples and pears, the board will have power to use a portion of its funds, if deemed desirable, in expanding existing markets and in co-operating with other organizations for the development of trade in Australian primary products generally. It will not have the power to buy or sell fruit, or to engage in trade. Its operations will be subject to review triennially.
In introducing the legislation, the Government has at heart the interests of the industry and of growers generally. I commend the bill to the Senate.
– The Opposition is generally in favour of the bill, but at the committee stage it may submit certain amendments. Senators on this side are definitely in favour of orderly marketing and planned production, and greatly regret that orderly marketing has been practised only to a limited extent in Australia. A more equitable arrangement than now obtains is needed in respect of the distribution of our national wealth. When a change of government occurs, the present Opposition will have an opportunity to evolve a method of orderly marketing of primary products and their distribution. Some of the interests involved will probably find cause to complain about certain provisions of this bill. In committee, the Opposition will avail itself of opportunities to suggest improvements which it regards as highly desirable.
– I object to the manner in which this bill has been sprung upon the Senate. We received copies of the measure only a few moments ago, and the notice-paper gave no indication that the second reading debate would take place to-day.
– Has the honorable senator heard nothing about this measure before?
– I have, but the bill as presented to the Senate is in a different form from that in which it was submitted to the House of Representatives. It is unfair to expect honorable senators to give full and fair consideration to the bill at such short notice. 1 particularly object to the course that has been followed, because the measure vitally affects the State from which I come. I understand that the principal, object of the bill is to ‘control the export trade. The Assistant Minister (Senator Allan MacDonald), in submitting his secondreading speech, gave figures with regard to production, but it would have been more interesting to hear figures in relation to the export trade, because Tasmania exports over 60 per cent, of the apples which are shipped overseas from Australia. 1 do not feel justified in voting for the second reading of the bill until I have had an opportunity to examine it in detail. The Assistant Minister remarked that it provided for the appointment of a board consisting mainly of representatives of the producers. Although those representatives will be in the majority on the board, I notice that a considerable amount of hand-picking by the Government will take place in the selection of the personnel. Other serious anomalies in connexion with the board’s appointment could be mentioned.
– The honorable senator is experiencing difficulty in finding fault with the measure.
Sentor AYLETT.- I shall not use all my ammunition at this stage; other points will arise for decision in committee.
After a brief examination, I have come to the conclusion that, like many other pieces of major legislation which affect all the States, this bill, if passed in its present form, would result in hardship to Tasmania, similar to that suffered by it in regard to the allotment of this year’s expenditure on defence works. On certain provisions of the bill it will be necessary to submit amendments. I shall vote against the second reading, because I claim that it would not be in the interests of my State to vote for a bill which has been introduced at such short notice that [ have not had a fair opportunity to study its contents.
– I propose to supply the Senate with the figures relating to the export trade which Senator Aylett stated the Assistant Minister had failed to furnish. This is a very important measure. Tasmania has sought to require that the right of shipment to any market restricted by a quota shall be determined solely on the basis of the average shipment for the last three years.
– The representatives of Tasmania have not said that yet.
– I anticipate that they will advance argument similar, to that put forward by their colleagues in the House of Representatives. It is apparent that this proposal is put forward as suiting Tasmania at the present time. It would give that State an opportunity to start, under this legislation, with an average for three of the heaviest years it has experienced in regard to both production and export. For nine years Tasmania has been fortunate in enjoying a more consistent annual production and overseas export than any other State, and it seeks to take advantage of this fact to the detriment of growers in other parts of the Commonwealth.
Tasmania, if it succeeded, might find itself hoist with its own petard. The apple production of that State in 1937 was 4,611,000 bushels from trees covering 21,609 acres, and the overseas export totalled 2,708,652 bushels. In 1929, which was a lean year, the production was only 2,500,000 bushels, although the area was 25,252 acres, and the overseas export, with no quota operating, reached only 912,145 bushels. In 1927 Tasmania produced only 2,900,000’bushels of apples from 25,008 bearing acres, and exported only 1,060,50S bushels, although in each of the preceding and following years the State produced over 4,000,000 bushels and exported well over 2,000,000 bushels. This demonstrates that a lean year or two arising perhaps from severe black spot or other diseases or pests, may at any time reduce Tasmanian exports by 1,500,000 cases. Tasmania’s right to exports on its quota basis will thereafter be reduced, however large its crops may be subsequently, by 500,000 bushels per annum, not only for three years certainly, but until the filling of occasional deficiencies in the supplies from other States may gradually enable it again to obtain a strangle-hold on the outlets of the industry in other parts of Australia.
For other States the deadly result of this proposal may best be illustrated by reference to the statistics of annual average production. New South Wales produced in 1931 over 900,000 bushels, and, in 1933, 1,250,000 bushels, yet in 1932 that State harvested less than 300,000” bushels. Victoria’s production averages over 2,000,000 bushels and its exports about 600,000 bushels, yet in 1929 it produced only 626,000 bushels, with exports amounting to 15,000 bushels. Four years later, Victoria produced nearly 3,250,000 bushels and exported almost 1,500,000 bushels. Queensland is now producing annually an average of 250,000 bushels of apples, and, although not a big exporter, it requires overseas outlets for up to 50,000 bushels per annum. Had the Tasmanian proposal been applied to Queensland on the basis of its average exports for the three years 1927, 1928 and 1929, its quota would have been 64 bushels I Western Australia is a State whose present orchards were largely established in the post-war period. Until 1927 it had never produced more than 750,000 bushels. In 1935 and 1936, it produced approximately 1,250,000 bushels, and for 1939 a crop of over 1,500,000 bushels is forecast. In the last five years alone, over 1,500 acres of new vigorous trees, all planted before quotas were dreamt of, has come into bearing in Western Australia, and over 3,500 acres has yet to come into bearing, this being almost 40 per cent, of the area now in production. Is this Parliament to refuse these areas the right even of consideration as to outlets?
South Australia suffers, perhaps, more than any other State from the bugbear of alternate cropping, and, whenever it experiences a big crop year, it is likely to have two lean years out of three in its average of immediate past yields. Its crops for the five successive years from 1927 to 1931 were respectively, 361,000 bushels, 1,350,000 bushels, 446,000 bushels, 1,224,000 bushels, and 4S6,000 bushels. Latterly its production has been a little more consistent, but the industry in that State can never afford to accept the inflexible proposal submitted. The successive overseas exports from that State for the years mentioned were: 6,000 bushels, 508,000 bushels, 9,000 bushels, 651,000 bushels, and 29,000 bushels, followed by 432,000 bushels.
It has been suggested that if consideration be given to such circumstances in other States, Tasmania will suffer disproportionately. That is not so. First the proposal to initiate such a distribution On the basis of the immediate past average, exports has the effect of passing to Tasmania export rights which, but for special disabilities within that period in other States, would never have accrued to Tasmania. Further, the averages for the past three years include shipments by Tasmania in excess of its quota provision. Secondly, the effect of seasonal adjustments is, to a substantial extent, self-adjusting in any one year between the mainland States, but even if it were not so, the fact of Tasmania’s high proportion of the Commonwealth exports would so cushion the position as to render it highly improbable that the Tasmanian proportion for any year would be reduced by more than a small percentage. In committee, senators from other States will endeavour to protect the interests of the States that they represent, just as Senator Aylett and other Tasmanian senators will present the case for Tasmania. I am convinced that there will be cause for regret if the bill be not agreed to.
. –I shall oppose the second reading of this bill. If Senator Fraser’s figures prove anything, they prove the importance of the apple and pear growing industry to Tasmania. That State pioneered the export trade in apples, and in order to ensure that only fruit of good quality should be exported apple trees covering 2,000 acres have been rooted out. It must be remembered that there is practically no local market in Tasmania for this fruit, whereas in New South Wales, with a population of over 2,000,000 people, there is a large local market for the apple crop of that State. Similar conditions exist in Victoria. If the bill be agreed to in its present form, Tasmania’s export trade will ‘ probably diminish by 600,000 bushels of apples a year. That would be a big’ blow to the State. Unfortunately, the export trade in apples is not always satisfactory to the growers; I have seen returns which prove that in respect of some shipments the growers have suffered losses. In some years they were lucky not to have more apples to export.
– Then if this legislation will mean that Tasmania will have 600,000 fewer bushels for export, that State should not complain
– Even in the Australian market there have been severe reverses. As Tasmania has 25,000 acres planted with apples, anything which affects the apple industry is of importance to that State. Tasmania is concerned with the clause Which provides that last year’s exports shall be taken as the basis instead of the average over the last three years. That basis will hit Tasmania severely. Like Senator Aylett, I shall not give away all my ammunition at this stage. The opponents of the bill expect to receive assistance from honorable senators on the Government side of the chamber.
.- T am essentially an industrialist and do not claim to know a great deal about the apple and pear industry. I know, however, that the Parliament of Tasmania, which is representative of all political parties, as well as the State Fruit Board, has condemned this measure. As I understand the bill, it has some good points. The Minister said that it was proposed to open up new markets for fruit. That is a phase of the” industry to which consideration should be given. In India,
China, Japan and Russia there are potential markets for apples. Many growers of apples have told me that they are prepared to send free consignments of fruit to those countries, provided that all growers participate in such experimental shipments, and that an orderly system of marketing is followed. If we can do something to expand our markets in the near east and in Russia, we shall confer a permanent benefit on the growers of apples and pears throughout Australia. Any legislation which will lead to the more orderly marketing of Australia’s fruit crop is desirable. This is essentially a bill for committee, and therefore I shall not do more at this stage than say that in committee I shall try to make the bill more acceptable to the people of Tasmania.
.- 1. shall support the second reading of this measure, which is not one which should be discussed merely from the standpoint of certain States, I understand that the apple and pear growing industry has experienced considerable difficulty during recent years. From time to time efforts have been made to place it on a more efficient basis, but remarks by honorable senators from Tasmania indicate that there is still need for an orderly scheme of marketing. They have pointed out that many growers have incurred losses.
– Tasmania has markets for its fruit.
– Senator Darcey said that some exporters had incurred losses on apples shipped abroad. One of the reasons for the introduction of this measure is the desire so to regulate the flow of fruit to the markets that losses will not be incurred by growers. There must be organized marketing if losses are to be avoided. During recent years some measure of -success lias attended the efforts of the fruit-growers to secure a reduction of shipping freights. Although the Labour movement is prepared to assist fruit-growers, their assistance has not been reciprocated, for many fruit-growers are not favorably disposed towards the Labour party. I know that in the district of Harcourt, Labour can didates do not receive the votes which the policy of their party merits.
– That is not so in Tasmania.
– If Senator Sheehan supports this measure, his political fortunes may be rehabilitated.
– I hope so. Only in the hard school of experience will the primary producers of Australia learn that their best friends are in the Labour party. Many primary producers applauded the action of a previous nationalist ministry in disposing of the Commonwealth Government line of steamers, but since those vessels were given away they have found themselves at the mercy of the shipping ring.
– The vessels have not been paid for.
– Unfortunately, that is true, and the Auditor-General says that the balance owing cannot be collected. From time to time attempts have been made to get some orderly System for the marketing of Australian fruits. 1 believe that this measure will assist in that direction, although some amendments may be found necessary in committee. The main function of the board will be to regulate the export trade in apples and pears. That being so, those honorable senators who have expressed their intention to vote against the bill, should allow the second reading to pass with a view to improving the bill in committee.
– I regret that some honorable senators are not disposed to support the second reading of the bill. There is, perhaps, some justification for the complaint that honorable senators have not had sufficient time to study the bill, which was not distributed in the Senate until to-day, but I imagine that most of them have been aware of its provisions for some time. There) is nothing new in the principles underlying this measure, for similar provisions are contained in legislation already on the statute-book dealing with other primary industries. Honorable senators probably know that for some years an apple and pear council has dealt with the export of fresh fruit from Australia. The issue before us is mainly the basis on which the export quotas should be fixed. In that respect,- justice should be done to the large exporting States which have but small home markets, and attention should be paid to the conditions under which those States have operated over a period of years. When the present Postmaster-General (Mr. Archie Cameron), as Acting Minister for Commerce, recently visited most of the States and discussed this proposal with the growers’ organizations, the main point debated was the advisability of fixing the export quotas from year to year.
– Was it to be fixed on the production for the current year or for the preceding year?
– I take it that the proposal was that the quota should be fixed on the production for the preceding year, particularly as shipping space has to be hooked many months ahead. I ask honorable senators to bear in mind that Tasmania has pioneered the apple and pear industry and has been the biggest exporting State, and I suggest that that fact should weigh more heavily with us than any proposal to base quotas on probable production in the other States. It must be obvious that, in . all probability, we shall be obliged in the near future to curtail our exports of fruit. As a matter of fact, Tasmania’s exports havebeen limited, for many years, by the amount of shipping space available. That has not been the experience of the other States. This is another reason why the quota should be fixed in a way which will do justice to Tasmania, rather than on a basis designed to allow for a substantial increase of production in the other States, for which increase no profitable market is at present in prospect. I am not suggesting that Tasmania should be given undue preference in the fixing of quotas. In view of the facts which I have already pointed out, no justification exists for encouraging the expansion of the industry when the market already available is somewhat restricted. The quotas which have operated in the past havebeen determined by agreement between the producing States through the Apple and Pear Council of Australia.
Exports have been limited primarily in order to enable a profitable price to be obtained for that portion of the crop placed on the overseas market. To-day, however, we are justified in anticipating that the market for apples and pears in Great Britain will tend to decrease rather than expand.
– Is the honorable senator referring to the Anglo-American Agreement?
– Yes. Furthermore, in pursuance of its policy of encouraging agricultural expansion, Great Britain is endeavouring to develop its own apple and pear industry. Some honorable senators have pointed out that some of the other States, in making more recent plantings, have confined themselves to those varieties which are in greatest demand on the British market. I remind them that the apple-growers of Tasmania have for many years, under the direction of the Tasmanian Department of Agriculture, reworked thousands of acres with a view to eliminating those varieties which they previously grew but for which the demand has practically disappeared. To-day, the Tasmanian growers are concentrating on those varieties which are most acceptable to the British market. As the result of this policy, over 2,000 acres has gone out of production. A similar problem confronted the wine-growers in South Australia, who, I remind honorable senators, found, after planting extensively the doradillo . grape, that there was no demand for that particular variety. Consequently, they changed to those varieties which the market demanded. I am not quite sure whether, in that instance, substantial relief was given to the South Australian wine growers in order to compensate them for reducing the areas planted with the doradillo vine. For many years the apple and pear growers have had a lean time. I need not remind honorable senators that throughout the war no space was; available for the export of fresh fruit. Subsequently this Government extended financial assistance to the industry. In regard to the fixing of quotas, I point out that Tasmania is at a disadvantage in being the first port of call. Should its quota be too restricted it may happen that some of the other States will not be able to avail themselves fully _ of the space retained for them. In such circumstances Western Australia as the last port of call may receive a tremendous advantage in being in a position to fill space which some of the other States had not been able to fill.
– In such circumstances any excess exports from Western Australia would be taken into consideration and allowed for subsequently in that State’s quota.
– Not necessarily.
-The board would know of such circumstances in advance.
– It might not. In any year a disaster might occur in the industry in one State, whilst there might be surplus production in another, with the result that the proportions originally fixed by the board would be upset. For these reasons, I suggest that it would be quite fair to base the quotas on the production figures for the three years preceding the passing of this legislation.
– What would happen if Tasmania could not supply its export quota?
– That is most unlikely, because in the past the difficulty confronting Tasmanian growers has been to secure sufficient space for the shipment of their exportable surplus. Tasmania has always produced more apples and pears than it has been able to export. Reverting to clause 14 of the measure, I urge upon honorable senators the undesirability of encouraging additional heavy plantings in the other States, when the quantities already available on present production figures are in excess of the market demand. In this respect, the official production figures . speak for themselves. Furthermore, I point out that Tasmania, as the biggest producer, is at a distinct disadvantage, as compared with Victoria and New South Wales, in that those States possess substantially large home markets. For that reason the fruit produced by the growers in those two States is not required to pass the severe test for home use which applies to fruit intended for export. On the other hand, Tasmania has so small a home market that over 60 per cent, of its production is exported overseas.
– The . honorable senator is not suggesting that Tasmanian growers do not sell any fruit in Victoria and New South Wales.
– No; on the contrary, my argument is that Tasmania would not consume 10 per cent, of the total production, and of the remainder 65 per cent, would be shipped overseas, leaving 25 per cent, for sale in other States of the Commonwealth.
– In other words, New South Wales and Victoria provide a good home market for Tasmanian growers.
– Yes.I have never contended otherwise. But the home market is limited and is governed by the amount of fruit produced in the mainland States. I have no doubt that every honorable senator will make out the best possible case for his own State. It is my purpose to emphasize the position of the Tasmanian producers. In my State, fruit-growing is a major industry and has been carried on for more than half a century. Tasmanian growers pioneered the export of apples overseas. The history of the industry shows that whenever assistance has been required, substantial amounts have been provided by the Commonwealth Government, and I am bound to say that a good part of the money has been paid to Tasmania because , it has been the largest exporter overseas. Honorable senators should not aggravate the position by seeking to insert in the bill provisions that will encourage further plantings, thus rendering necessary further assistance. If there be no market for the produce, those already in the industry will be detrimentally affected, and will have to turn to the Commonwealth Government for some form of compensation or assistance.
– Growers are already getting assistance.
– I cannot allow the implication contained in that statement to pass unchallenged.
Growers in all States are assisted on the basisof exports - not in proportion to the amount, of fruit grown.
.. - I am interested in the. point raised by Senator Herbert Hays. It, will have to- be considered in all marketing schemes. There is undoubtedly a grave risk of injury to the apple and pear industry through over-planting and overproduction.
– Has the Minister ever considered the more important question of under-consumption?’
– Over-planting would do- serious harm to Tasmanian growers. I point out,, however,, that thisquestion is one for decision! by the States.
– I have not. suggested that the Commonwealth should limit, production; but I do say that, by this legislation, it may encourage, overproduction.
– I appreciate the point. It will, no doubt, be considered at a later stage. 1 take this opportunity to congratulate the Minister responsible for the bill (Mr. Archie Cameron)’, who spent a great deal of time in its preparation. I cannot understand Senator Aylett not being familiar with its contents, because I know that in South Australia it has had considerable publicity. The Labour Government of Tasmania, I understand, has made an appeal along certain lines, and it appears to me that any honorable senator who says that, he is not conversant with the Government’s proposals is merely labouring to find fault with it. When the second reading was moved in the House of Representatives, Mr. Archie Cameron was congratulated from both sides of the chamber for the excellent work which he had done in preparing the bill. I also pay a tribute to Mr. Stevenson, of the Commerce Department, who assisted the Minister.
– Mr. Archie Cameron went to Tasmania and spent some time among the fruit-growers of that State.
– He visited every State andgave careful attention to all details in the preparation of the bill.
– I think that Mr. Archie Cameron’s efforts were most praiseworthy.
– I am. pleased tohear the honorable: senator say that. Honorable senators opposite seem to be somewhat divided in opinion regarding the measure,, and I advise Senator Aylett. not to expose: himself to the risk of being branded a “ little, islander “ because of his attitude to it..
– I shall take the risk. My first reaction was to condemn it.
– The honorable gentleman should follow the lead given by Senator Collings and Senator Fraser, who take a national view of the Government’s proposals. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that orderly marketing and long-range planning will be in the best interests of all sections of the community.
– I am not in complete agreement with all the principles embodied in this legislation, which seeks to regulate the marketing of apples and pears. On general principles, I think that the less a government interferes with private enterprise the better. My only reason for supporting the bill is that I understand that it. is possible that quotas may be imposed by overseas countries without the consent of the growers. In that event, some organization will be necessary in order to regulate the distribution of apples and pears. I definitely suspect suggestions of orderly marketing; so often such proposals result in most disorderly marketing.
– There are seventeen such schemes operating successfully in Queensland.
– I am not prepared to accept what is done in Queensland as a model of what should be done in my own State. But I realize that there are exceptions to every rule. One must modify one’s political views according to the emergencies of the time and the problems which arise from day to day. Although this bill is contrary to the general principles in which I believe, I am willing to support it, . because it is essential to provide some machinery to regulate the distribution of apples and pears in view of -the possibility of some export restrictions being imposed. Dealing with quotas I remind honorable senators that the Constitution provides that no law of the Commonwealth, or regulation of any instrumentality of the Commonwealth, shall discriminate as between States. Under this bill, the hands of the proposed board will be definitely tied, and, in fact, must be tied in order to legalize its operation under the Constitution. The board may do nothing which might discriminate in favour of any State. The framers of the Constitution had a national outlook, and aimed at securing equality of opportunity for the people of all the States.
– Does not the fixing of quotas amount to discrimination?
– I point out that clause 14 of the bill states -
The, hoard may -
determine the total quantity of apples and pears harvested in any year, which may be exported from the Commonwealth ; and (6) determine, upon a basis applied uniformly throughout the Commonwealth the quantity of apples and pears harvested in any State in that year which may be exported from the Commonwealth.
The powers of the board will be limited, lt would be quite constitutional for the board to lay down that a grower could not export more than 50 per cent, of his production, but it could not stipulate that whilst Tasmania could export 1,000,000 cases, Western Australia could export only 100,000 cases. That would be beyond the powers. of the board and beyond the legislative authority of this Parliament. Honorable senators should bear that in mind.
– It would be competent for the board to set up a standard of quality.
– That is so. The board could stipulate that no apples less than a certain size, or lacking a prescribed firmness could be exported. Subject to the constitutional limitation that there shall be no discrimination between States or parts of States, the Commonwealth has complete power over exports. I raise this point, not because the bill proposes an infringement of that provision, but merely in order to point out that the hands of the board are tied.
– in reply - I thank honorable senators for their generally favorable reception of the bill. The export figures which Senator Aylett asked for are as follows : -
Senator Aylett has asked for greater recognition of the claims of Tasmania, but I suggest that that State has been substantially recognized as the largest exporter of apples and pears. The bill provides that out of the eleven producers’ representatives on the board, four shall be from Tasmania, two from Western Australia, two from Victoria, and one from each of the States of South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland.
– But Tasmania exports more than half of the total quantity of apples shipped overseas from Australia.
– The claims of that State must be limited by reason.
In reply to Senator Herbert Hays, who referred to export quotas, I draw his attention to clause 14 (7.) (8.) : - (7.) If the board is unable to arrive at a unanimous decision in respect of any matter arising for determination under sub-section (1.) of this section, the board shall request the Minister to refer the matter for decision to one or more independent arbitrators appointed by the Minister. (8.) For the purposes of arriving at a deci sion upon any matter referred under the last preceding sub-section to an arbitrator, the arbitrator shall take into consideration the average yearly exports overseas of apples or pears from each State during the period of three years immediately preceding the year in which the matter is so referred . . .
It is clear that adequate provision ‘ is made to cover most of the points raised by. honorable senators from Tasmania. 1 hope that the measure will have a speedy passage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 - (5.) Any member appointed to represent the growers in a State for the first period of three years from the date of the constitution of the hoard shall be selected from a panel submitted by the approved growers’ organizations in that State.
Senator AYLETT (Tasmania) [5.46 J. - I move -
That the words “ from a panel submitted by the approved growers1 organizations in that State “ be left out. with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words - “bv a poll of apple a uri [Kiar growers of that State “. [ claim that the growers should be permitted to elect their own representatives on the board. Under the bill as drafted, they would be required to submit a panel, and it would be necessary for them to take a vote among themselves for that purpose. If the panel contained a larger number of names than the number of members to be elected, the Minister would select the growers’ representatives. I see no reason why the growers should not hold a decisive ballot for the election of their own representatives.
– What would be the cost of such a ballot ?
– Irrespective of the cost, we should recognize the democratic principle of the right of tho growers to elect their own representatives. Why should the Government have the right to hand-pick those representatives from a panel submitted by the growers? [ submit to honorable senators on the Opposition side, that in industrial employees’ organizations the members themselves elect their own officials. The fruitgrowers could register their vote by means cf a postal ballot, but the clause as drawn deprives the growers of the privilege of choosing their own representatives on the board. No doubt, many honorable senators opposite arc members of organizations of primary producers, manufacturers, or shopkeepers, and they have the right to elect their officers by vote. Under my amendment, I seek to give the growers who export apples and pears the right to say who shall be their representatives on the board.
– Are they members of an organization?
– in Tasmania, yes.
– Would the honorable senator give a grower outside the organization a vote in regard to this matter?
– If he had the qualifications mentioned in the bill, I should not discriminate against ‘ him. When the members of primary producers’ organizations are called upon to elect their central councillors and other officials, they do not elect a panel from which those officials shall be chosen, but they elect the officials directly by ballot. We should not victimize the fruitgrowers by denying to them the right to select their own representatives on the proposed board.
– I should be inclined to agree with Senator Aylett if it were not for sub-clause 11 of this clause. It distinctly lays down that, after the expiration of the first period of three years from the constitution of the board, certain things shall be done. It is the intention that the growers’ representatives on the board, as constituted under this bill, shall be elected by a poll at the end of the first three years. I remind Senator Aylett that, in addition to the expense associated with a poll, there are other things which may jeopardize the smooth working of the board. Honorable senators will probably agree that, after a period of three years, there will be a much better chance of a poll reflecting truly the views of the growers. In view of the provision already made to meet the wishes of Tasmania, I suggest that the honorable senator should withdraw his amendment.
– In some of the States there is little or no organization of the fruitgrowing industry. As a consequence, the Minister has experienced difficulty in finding any organization which could express with certainty the views of the growers. Tasmania is not in that position, for the fruit-growing industry of that State has been thoroughly organized for a number of years. The controlling organization meets periodically to deal with matters affecting the industry. Naturally, the growers of fruit in Tasmania claim to be organized, and consequently they ask to be allowed to elect their own four representatives to the board, rather than submit to the Government a panel of eight, from whom four will be chosen. If the Assistant Minister is not prepared to accept the amendment before the Chair, I ask him to consider accepting one to provide that, where the States have an organization which is acceptable to the growers in that State, they may elect the required number to represent them on the board.
– If my memory serves me correctly, the Minister in charge of the bill in the House of Representatives accepted the very amendment we are now discussing. The appeal of Senator Aylett to his colleagues on this side of the chamber requires examination. Members of the Opposition can usually be trusted to support a democratic proposal for the taking of a ballot, but I suggest to ‘Senator Aylett that he should not strain the loyalty of his colleagues tot? far. Should he attempt to do so, he will find that they are as wide awake as he is. In Tasmania, and some of the other States, organizations of growers have been formed, after much trouble and expense. In Queensland, for instance, seventeen commodity boards are working so successfully that when their terms expire, and the growers interested are invited to say whether or not they shall continue, either the decision is that they shall continue, or the growers are so unanimous on that point that no one even troubles to ask for a ballot. The trouble with these organizations is that there are always some growers who will not come in. Such persons are a menace to the industry concerned; they are “ blacklegs “ who jeopardize the effort to improve the lot of the producers generally. : If the amendment be carried, those growers of apples and pears who have definitely remained outside the various organizations will be given the opportunity to vote, and, naturally, they will vote for men who will do their best to defeat the orderly marketing of apples and pears. It is all very well for Senator Aylett to appeal for a democratic form of election, but 1 remind him that the Labour movement does not. give votes to people who are not sufficiently interested in its policy to be members of Labour organizations. I ask the Minister not to. overlook ‘ the fact that a similar amendment was accepted in the other chamber.
.- Whilst there is much virtue in Senator Aylett’s suggestion he must remember that Tasmania is the only State in which the growers of apples and pears . are organized. In Victoria there are three or four organizations of growers, but none of them now is prepared to appoint representatives on this board by a ballot. It must be remembered that every representative who will be selected will be a representative of the growers. The Government will then reduce the total number by half. » I point out to Senator Aylett that this is merely a tentative proposal which will operate until all the States have become organized. The bill makes definite provision for the appointment by the growers of a board to control this industry in the future. I take it that the Government desires that the growers shall have control of their own industry. Under the bill they will have that control after three years. I remind the committee of the definition of “grower.” A grower must have exported 250 cases of apples, and therefore those growers mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) will not have a vote. The board will represent, not the growers of apples and pears generally, but only those growers who are exporters. It will be admitted that a man who exports 250 cases of apples is in business in a fairly big way. The amendment of Senator Aylett is premature. In due time, when the organization is complete in ali States, the growers will have their own boards, and the representatives will be elected by ballot.
– I shall support the amendment, for it proposes the most democratic way to elect representatives to a board. I do not agree with the proposal that a panel of eight representatives shall be selected and from that panel four will be chosen by the Government. That is not democratic. It has been said that Tasmania is the only State in which the fruit-growers are organized, but that is not so; they are organized in New South Wales also. In that State the fruit-growers pay an orchard tax on the acreage basis. I understand that the funds to allow the organization to function come out of the tax. If that be so, the growers in that State will be in a position to take a ballot.
– Is it intended that a grower must be an exporter before he can become entitled to a vote- in the election of the board ?
– All of the growers should be entitled to a vote, and we should definitely define what constitutes a grower. A man who grows a few trees in his back yard, for instance, cannot he called a grower.
– This is an export board.
– But it will deal with the production of apples and pears throughout the Commonwealth, and will exercise considerable control over all growers, whether they be exporters or not. For this reason, all growers should have a vote in the election of the board. For instance, a grower who may not export any apples this year may do so next year.
– He would then become entitled to a vote.
– But, as the board will be elected for three years, he would be disfranchised for two years. I have not had an opportunity to study this measure as fully as I should like, but I have discerned what I regard as a definite weakness. In the election of a board to control the marketing of any product, every grower of that product should be entitled to a vote.
– The Assistant Minister (Senator Allan MacDonald) said that a poll could not be taken this year because no organization of growers now exists in some of the States.
– I did not say that.
– I said that.
– The Assistant Minister said that there would need to be an organization in existence. I understand that the board will not be able to take any action in connexion with this season’s crop.; that being so, sufficient time will be available, I suggest, to enable the growers in the different States who are not already organized to form some organization in the interests of their industry. As has been done in Tasmania, the growers in each of the other States should organize, and; they will have sufficient time to do so before this legislation becomes operative. As no difficulty was ever experienced in the past in discovering the exporters of apples and pears when a proposal to pay a bounty was on foot, it should be just as easy now to provide every qualified grower with a ballot paper in order that a poll for the election of the board may be held as soon as possible. Such a poll could be taken this season, and next year the right to vote could be confined to members of the growers’ organizations. In this way all of the growers would be compelled to organize, and thus take an interest in their own industry.
Sitting suspended from6.15 to 8 p.m.
- Senator Gibson said that Tasmania was the only State that was organized, and therefore growers there would be favoured by the bill. But Senator Ashley has told us that the apple and pear growers in New South Wales also have an organization.
– They are organized in Queensland also.
– We now learn that growers are organized in three States.
– Exports from Queensland and New South Wales are negligible.
– Nevertheless growers in those States would take part in the election of a panel for submission to the Government. As the Act will not come into operation till September, 1939, there will be ample time for growers in other States to become organized, and to elect their representatives. Therefore there should not be opposition to my amendment.
SenatorFRASER (Western Australia) [8.3]. - I am anxious that the bill shall have a speedy passage. As the legislation will not become operative till, next September, there will be ample time for the appointment of a panel of growers. I hold strong views on some of the matters referred to by Senator Aylett, but I would prefer to deal with this measure on a nonparty basis. The bill provides that at the end of three years certain action may be taken by growers to determine whether the act shall be continued. Had that provision not been included, possibly I would have supported Senator Aylett’s amendment. It is desirable that we should have experience of the working of the. act before we pass judgment on the scheme.
– I support the amendment. Tasmania pioneered the apple and pear industry in Australia and established the export trade. After years of costly experiments, efficient methods for carrying fruit overseas were devised. Great credit is due to Tasmanian growers for the present efficiency of the export industry.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Aylett’s amendment) be left out.
The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator James McLachlan.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 5 to 13 agreed to.
Clause 14 - (1.) The Board may-
.- I move -
That at the end of sub-clause (1.) the following proviso be inserted: - “Provided that the quantity so determined shall be based on the proportion which the quantity of apples and pears exported from each State during the period of three years preceding the determination bears to the total quantity of apples and pears exported during that period “.
When speaking, on the second reading of the bill, I dealt with the proposed imposition of quotas. The bill provides that the board may do certain things; the object of my amendment is to stipulate that these things shall be done, and make clear the basis upon which the quantities to be exported shall be determined. I understand that this method has been adopted by the Apple and Pear Council of Australia each year in arranging exports.
.- The Parliament of Tasmania, through the Minister of Agriculture in that State, made exhaustive inquiries concerning the scop? of this measure, and reached the conclusion that it would not suit Tasmania. It was unanimously resolved by the House of Assembly in Tasmania that the bill, in its present form-
- (Senator James McLachlan). - The committee is discussing an amendment submitted by Senator Herbert Hays.
– I intend to show that the clause should not bc- passed in its present form. The Parliament of Tasmania is opposed to it.
– But this is the Commonwealth Parliament.
– I am a Tasmanian, and I am bound to attach some weight to a unanimous resolution of the Government and Opposition parties in the Tasmanian legislature. The clause, as it stands, would penalize Tasmania. In 1884, growers in that State sent 100 bushels to Great Britain as an experiment. Tasmania pioneered the Australian apple export industry. Senator Sheehan has referred to the mainland markets. If f.o.b. buyers were active at remunerative prices, growers in Victoria and New South Wales would find outlets for their surplus crops in the local market, but, if prices were unfavorable, they would consider it necessary to operate in the overseas markets. By adjusting the quota on the. basis of the production for three successive years, the growers in the mainland States would not have it both ways, and would not be able to choose between the Australian and overseas markets. Growers in Tasmania will not know where they stand unless the quota be fixed on a three-year basis.
– The honorable senator must connect his remarks with the amendment.
– Under the clause as drafted, Victoria and New South Wales, in a year of remunerative prices could cut Tasmania out of the export trade but, with the quota adjusted on a threeyear basis, Tasmania ‘could organize its production accordingly. It ia essential to Tasmania that that basis be adopted. Tasmania went to the expense of sending experimental shipments of fruit overseas, and now we have a proposal that the industry in other States shall get the benefit of its pioneering work. In secondary industries, manufacturers can take out patent rights. Tasmania is denied that protection in regard to its export of apples and pears, but it is entitled to some protection in regard to the trade which it has built up.
Senator ALLAN MacDONALD (Western Australia - Assistant Minister) sprung his amendment upon the committee, has apparently in mind the provisions of sub-clauses 7 and 8, under which, in the event of the board unable to arrive at a unanimous decision in respect of any matter arising under sub-clause 1, and the matter being referred to one or more independent arbitrators, consideration shall be given to the average yearly exports overseas of apples and pears from each State during the period of three years immediately preceding the year in which the matter is so referred. He really seeks an average over the preceding three export seasons, and I have had figures prepared to show how this amendment would apply to Tasmania. Take the 1928-29 season, when Tasmania exported 912,000 bushels as against- 2,725,000 bushels in the previous year. “That was a very serious drop. In 1935-36, the export was 2,780,000 bushels, and, in 1936-37, 2,708,000. Tasmania’s normal exports in a good season are about 2,700,000 bushels. If that State experienced two seasons with an export surplus of 2,700,000 bushels, followed by one season with, say, 900,000 bushels, which ‘actually happened in 1928-29, the following position would then arise: -
And so the table would continue at about 1,000,000 bushels below the normal quantity. Therefore, the amendment would not be in the interests of the Tasmanian industry, as the honorable senator who submitted it suggested. I recommend the committee to oppose the amendment.
.- I can hardly follow the Minister’s argument. If we based the quota upon the production figures for the previous three years, a tremendous disadvantage would be suffered by Western Australia and Victoria. The committee should realize that it is dealing not with a Tasmanian measure, but with a Commonwealth one. The representatives of Tas- mania have invited the committee to consider the bill from a Tasmanian standpoint. That State has enjoyed record crops for the last three years, and it asks for an export quota based on the figures for that period. We should remember that Western Australian fruit-growers have experienced two bad seasons. In Victoria, the season was unfavorable last year, and the crop this year will probably be a poor one. If the production figures for the immediately preceding three years are to be taken as the basis of the export quota, other factors in regard to production should also be taken into consideration.
– All that the representatives of Tasmania ask is that the same basis for the calculation of the export quota shall be used under the bill as has been adopted in the past. The amendment merely proposes to give statutory authority to an organization to do certain things that have been done for many years. The Minister remarked that my amendment had been sprung on the committee, but I remind him that this bill was sprung on the Senate this afternoon, no honorable senator having previously seen it officially. In fact, the Standing Orders were suspended to enable the second reading of the bill to be moved to-day.
– I withdraw that expression.
– The Minister has stated that my amendment would prove disadvantageous to Tasmania. I should like to know when the table of figures which the Minister has submitted to the committee was prepared.
– The department is aware of the various points taken in opposition to the bill.
– It even seems to have been aware of my intention to move this amendment. The figures cited by the Minister in charge of the bill neither prove nor disprove what we are asking for, which is simply the retention of the control of this big industry in the hands of those engaged in it, on the lines followed for some years past. They have been doing this for years in a satisfactory way. The only possible purpose that the bill could serve would be to pre vent a break-away by any one State destroying the organization which has been successfully guiding the destinies of the industry for so long. All I am asking for in my amendment is the continuation of a principle which has given entire satisfaction to the growersof every State. Without it, the bill would tend to encourage the expansion of an industry which has already reached saturation point so far as overseas exports are concerned. If the bill be passed in its present form, it will be an encouragement to States, which do not now produce apples and pears, to attempt to produce a commodity for which there is no expanding market overseas, and at the same time it may destroy a major industry now established in Tasmania. If that happens, the Tasmanian growers will be compelled to apply to the Commonwealth for compensation.
– I was surprised at the suggestion coming from one honorable senator that we are putting forward a Tasmanian view only. The Minister in charge of the bill expressed the opinion that under the amendment Tasmanian growers would be likely to export less for the next seven or eight years than they are exporting at the present time.
– I said that would happen in the event of one bad season out of three.
– Whilst Tasmania has had a large quantity of apples available for export, the States of Victoria, Western Australia and New South Wales did not, during the last season, fill the quotas allotted to them under the scheme. Last year, the States that were short of their quotas were New South Wales by 30,980 bushels, Victoria by 37,459 bushels, and Western Australia by 141,221 bushels. At the same time, we in Tasmania had available large quantities of fruit which we could not export. Now those other States want us to wait till their orchards yield sufficient fruit to allow them to reach their quotas. To my mind, that is the purpose of the bill. Our figures over the last three years prove that we in Tasmania have established the industry, and quotas fixed on the basis proposed by Senator Herbert Hays would help to stabilize it. The Tasmanian growers are entitled to every consideration. During the years from 1933 till 1936, of the total quantity of fruit shipped from Australia, Tasmania was responsible for 61.8 per cent., Victoria 17.4 per cent., Western Australia 10.9 per cent., South Australia 6.1 per cent., New South Wales 3.4 per cent, and Queensland . 4 per cent. During the three years which ended with the 1937 season, Tasmania was responsible for 62.8 per cent., Victoria 14.1 per cent., South Australia 6.3 per cent., New South Wales 2.4 per cent, and Queensland . 3 per cent. These figures relate only to shipments abroad.
– Where were those figures taken from?
– They were supplied by the Tasmanian Fruit Board. For the three years ended 1938, Tasmania was responsible for 63.5 per cent., Victoria 14.4 per cent., Western Australia 11.6 per cent., South Australia 8.3 per cent., New South Wales 1.6 per cent, and Queensland . 5 per cent. Tasmania has pioneered the industry, spending large sums of money on it, and, as its mainstay, is entitled to ask that the existing system be continued.
– I do not think that Senator Herbert Hays set out deliberately to mislead the committee, yet his statements if uncorrected would lead to misconception on the part of honorable senators. The purpose of sub-clause 1 is to enable the authority in control of the industry so to allocate the quotas as to meet the needs of all the States which are parties to the agreement. Nothing is to be gained by my criticizing Tasmania as being selfish at the expense of Western Australia. We have to take the proper Australian view of the bill which we are invited to pass, seeing that it will affect the apple and pear growers of the whole of the States. There is, therefore, every necessity for us to take the national rather than the State view. The reason why Western Australia’s exports of these commodities have not recently reached the higher figure previously attained is that climatic conditions have been adverse. That shows the necessity for retaining the sub-clause in its present form. Other parts of Australia have been more fortunate in their harvests over quite a number of years. Senator Herbert Hays appeared to take credit to his State for what the board had done in recent years, but those results were due only to the bountiful harvests which Tasmania experienced as compared with the disadvantageous climatic conditions in other States. I urge the committee to reject the amendment, and vote for the subclause as it stands.
– I am against- the amendment, because it is beyond the powers of the Commonwealth, and, if introduced, would invalidate the whole measure. The Constitution limits the powers of any board created by the Commonwealth to deal with exports. Using the Minister’s own figures, and taking one year instead of three, for the sake of simplicity, what Senator Herbert Hay’s amendment virtually proposes is this : “ The board may determine the quantity of apples and pears harvested in any State for that year which may be exported from the Commonwealth, provided that such determination shall be based . upon the proportion which the quantity of apples and pears exported from each State during a period of three years preceding the determination bears to the total quantity of apples and pears exported during that period “. Taking one year’s figures, the total exported from each State for the year 1937 was as follows: - New South Wales, 117,000 cases; Victoria, 727,000 cases; Queensland, 26,000 cases; South Australia, 269,000 cases; Western Australia, 682,000 cases; and Tasmania, 2,755,000 cases. The amendment, therefore, proposes that New South Wales may export only 117,000 cases and Western Australia only 682,000 cases, but Tasmania may send away 2,755,000 cases. If that is not discrimination between States, I do not know what is. In Cameron v. the Deputy Federal Commissioner for Taxation for Tasmania, a similar point arose. In that case the Commissioner of Taxes had laid it down that, for income tax purposes, a horse in Now South Wales would be valued at £8, in Victoria £15, South Australia £6, and
Queensland £3. The High Court, presided over by the late Chief Justice Knox, and comprising also Mr. Justice Isaacs, Mr. Justice Higgins, Mr. Justice Bich and Mr. Justice Starke, held that the Commissioner’s ruling was invalid and beyond the powers of the Commonwealth, because it obviously discriminated between the States, lt is of no use for us to pass a bill which is beyond the powers of the Commonwealth. If we do, we simply invite its rejection by the High Court, and the whole act may become a nullity. There is a means whereby the Commonwealth can, within its legislative power, control the export of apples in such a way as not to discriminate between States, and at the same time comply with section 99 of the Constitution. The bill as it stands is perfectly legal and valid. The board can with propriety act within the powers laid down in clause 14. If, however, the amendment be inserted, it will immediately render the bill invalid. I therefore urge honorable senators to reject the amendment, on the ground that it will make the bill illegal.
Senator HERBERT HAYS (Tasmania) [8.44 1 . - Senator Wilson has compared this bill with a taxation measure in order to show that my amendment is unconstitutional. Such a comparison will not stand analysis. One measure deals with the taxation of the people, and on that point the Constitution is quite clear that no discrimination shall be shown. My amendment, on the other hand, does not involve discrimination between States. No new principle is involved in it. For years the Apple and Pear Council of Australia has been doing the very thing which the amendment proposes; it has discriminated between States as to the quantities of fruit to be exported.
– Was that not done by agreement?
– Yes; the arrangement was recognized by ali the States, as well as by the Commonwealth. How does the bill propose that the allocation shall’ be made?
– It cannot be done on the basis advocated by the honorable senator
– The bill proposes that the board may adopt a formula similar to that contained in my amendment. A quota is to be fixed on the basis of the exports from year to year.
– It says that the board shall take that point into consideration.
– That is only playing with words. I cannot see any difference in principle between the clause as printed and my amendment. I ask- honorable senators not to be misled by Senator Wilson’s arguments as to the unconstitutionality of my amendment.
– I shall oppose the amendment, for, in my opinion, it incorporates a dangerous principle. It is difficult to arrive at a fiT allocation. Senator Herbert Hays has not shown why we should adopt the average for. three years.
– It is for the whole of the Commonwealth, not Tasmania only.
– I have had some experience in the allocation of production, and I know that it is possible for an allocation to be made on a basiswhich will seriously affect certain sections of people engaged in production.
– I should be willing for the allocation to be made on the basis of the average for six years.
– A fairer basis might be to make the allocation on the basis of the maximum production of the various States.
– Would it not be wiser to leave that to the board?
– Yes. I sympathize with Tasmania, but I submit that in this National’ Parliament we must have regard to the interests of the Commonwealth as a whole rather than .to the interest of any one State; I should want further information before- I could support the amendment moved by Senator Herbert Hays.
– The Minister has given figures relating to Tasmania’s export trade during the year 1928-29. I should like him to give also the export figures for the other States for that year.
Tn supporting the amendment of Senator Herbert Hays, I view this matter from the standpoint of the Commonwealth rather than that of Tasmania. It is not just that one State should be made a chopping block for the others ; yet that is what this bill is designed to do. Senator Wilson, said that discrimination between the States is unconstitutional.
– Section 99 of the Constitution says that.
– In this bill it is proposed that the production of apples and pears in each. State shall be taken into consideration, yet it is supposed to be a bill dealing with export trade. The production of apples in Victoria totals about 2,000,000 bushels a year; Tasmania’s production is about 4,000,000 bushels. Victoria’s production is smaller than that of Tasmania, and, in addition, Victoria has a big home market, whereas Tasmania has not. In the latter State, there are apple trees in every back yard. It is proposed to fix Victoria’s export quota on the basis of its production of 2,000,000 bushels, and to ignore the huge local market that growers in that State enjoy. Tasmania’s quota is to be based on its production of 4,000,000 bushels, without taking into account the fact that there is no local market in that State-
– Tasmanian apples have a market in the mainland States.
– The figures- cited by the Assistant Minister do not agree with those supplied by the Minister for Commerce. During the eight months from January to August of this year, Tasmania shipped 2,881,076 cases of apples, whereas the average for the previous three years was 2,787,656 cases. The Assistant Minister’s figures were considerably lower. -
In his second-reading speech, Senator Fraser said that Tasmania would have to reduce its exports by 500,000 bushels a year. Tasmania could export more apples than in previous years if space were available; it could export from 4,000,000 to 6,000,000 bushels a year. To ask Tasmania to give away 500,000 bushels of fruit is to discriminate against that State by asking it to destroy almost one-quarter of its orchards.
– That might be of advantage to Tasmania.
– If more space could be obtained, Tasmania could ship 1,000,000 cases more each year. The Assistant Minister gave figures for 1928-29, but I remind him that at that time Great Britain was passing through the greatest depression of its history. Although apples of the highest quality were shipped to the United Kingdom in that year, they were practically unsaleable because there was no money to buy them. More shipping space is needed if the export trade is to expand. One can readily imagine what would have resulted had the 2,000 acres of destroyed orchards in Tasmania been replanted with young trees. There is already an over-production of apples in Tasmania, because of the inability to obtain vessels for the export trade, to say nothing of the difficulty in finding markets, even if space were available. Notwithstanding the existing overproduction, on Senator Fraser’s own statement, Tasmania is being asked to give away another 500,000 bushels, in order that those States which have just planted young orchards may reap the benefit.
– That is not in the bill.
– It is not there in black and white, but any one with intelligence can interpret the meaning of this measure. Experience over a number of years has shown that Tasmania’s apple crop has always exceeded the requirements of the market. The other States complain that they suffer “because of circumstances over which they have no control. However, those States claim that they should be enabled to export the whole of their production, although up to the present, they have been responsible for only a small proportion of the export trade. When he recently visited Tasmania as Acting Minister for Commerce, the present Postmaster-General (Mr. Archie Cameron) stated that the reason why he was anxious that the States should reach agreement on this matter, was that exports were not going to increase, but rather decrease. He also stated that Western Australia was in the most favorable position of all the States, and added that that State enjoyed considerable advantages over Tasmania. To-day, however, we find that honorable senators from Western Australia and the other States arc prepared to make a chopping-block of Tasmania in this matter. In view of the advantages which the Postmaster-General said they enjoyed, I cannot understand why they so vigorously oppose Tasmania’s representations on this measure. .
– I should like Senator Aylett to take particular notice of Tasmania’s exports of apples for the last three years on which he suggests that State’s quota should be based. They were : 1935, 2,419,000 bushels ; 1936, 2,757,000 bushels; and 1937, 2,755,000 bushels ; an average of 2,643,000 bushels per annum. As Tasmania’s exports to-date for this year already total 2,881,000 bushels, he would be doing a disservice to Tasmania if he persuaded honorable senators to base that State’s quota on its annual average of exports over the last three completed years. On his basis, Tasmania’s export of apples for this season, for instance, would be decreased by 238,000 bushels. Therefore, honorable senators would be doing a disservice to Tasmania if they adopted the amendment, which, briefly, would have the effect of maintaining the present large exporting States as large exporters, and the small exporting States as small exporters.
– I oppose the amendment. The essence of the argument in support of it is that it will best serve the interests of Tasmania. I suggest, however, that, in view of the figures which the Assistant Minister (Senator Allan MacDonald) has just read, Tasmania need have no fear of losing its position as our leading exporter of apples and pears. As a matter of fact, this bill is a sample of .legislation which, will always meet with the support of the Labour party because, really, it has been copied from labour, organizations.
– Let the honorable senator speak for himself; it does not meet with my support.
– This clause is the most important in the bill. The apple and pear industry is in a parlous condition in all of the States. Furthermore, we must bear in mind the possible repercussions of the recent Anglo-
American agreement. No one can forecast what the effect of that agreement on our export trade will be. As honorable senators know, the apple and pear industry is well established at Harcourt, Victoria. Knowing how the growers in that centre vote at general elections, I hold no particular brief for them. Some day, perhaps, they will realize that their interests are best served by the Labour party. To-day, however, those growers are hopelessly disorganized, and but for legislation of this kind would remain in a helpless position. As Senator Fraser said, this measure must be viewed from a national standpoint. I repeat that it is in consonance with the policy of the Labour party, as it gives effect to one of the planks of our platform, namely, the establishment of orderly marketing. Certainly there is room for difference of opinion in regard to details such as that now being considered by the committee, but in view of the figures just read by the Assistant Minister, I do not think that any honorable senator really fears that Tasmania will fail to retain its leadership among the States as an exporter of apples and pears. I fully appreciate the argument submitted by Senators Aylett and Lamp. I emphasize, however, that no State can hope tq compete with Tasmania in the apple and pear industry. Owing to adverse seasonal conditions, the industry at Harcourt is now in a bad way, the orchards there being bone dry. Tasmania, however, suffers no such seasonal adversity. Yet, as Senator Sheehan knows, the best apples in the world are grown at Harcourt, which is twenty miles from Bendigo. The fears of some honorable senators that this measure will be to the detriment of Tasmania, are unfounded. As it is entirely in accordance with Labour policy, I support it wholeheartedly.
– Senator Wilson has stated that it would be unwise to adopt my amendment because it would make this measure ultra vires the Constitution. I have already said that the principle embodied in my amendment is already embodied in the clause as it stands, so if my amendment can be rejected on constitutional grounds, the same argument can be used against the clause itself. In order to enable honorable senators to compare them, I shall read both the clause and my amendment. The amendment reads -
Providedthat . the quantity so determined shall be basedon the proportion which the quantity of . apples and pears exported from each State during a period of three years preceding the determination bears to the total quantity of applesand pears exported during that period.
Clause 14 (2) reads -
In adopting -a ‘basis to ‘be . applied by the board in accordance with paragraph . (.& ) of the last preceding : sub-section the board shall take into consideration , the average yearly . exports overseas of apples and pears from each State during the period of three years immediately preceding the year in . which the . basis is adopted and such -other factors relating to the production of apples or pears in each State and the available markets therefor as the board thinks necessary.
– There is a big difference between the clause and the honorable senator’s amendment.
– One would . need a microscope to perceive the difference. The Assistant Minister points put that my amendment differs from the clause in that it sets out an instruction which . theboard shall follow. But the clause provides . that’ the controlling authority, that is, the board, may do the very thing which I am proposing.
– Not in exactly the same way, perhaps, but the board may so act if it desires. I submit that if my amendment conflicts with section 99 of the Constitution, clause 14 (.2) does likewise.
– In reply to honorable senators who support the amendment, the Assistant Minister (Senator Allan MacDonald) has cited figures to show how the amendment, if adopted, will operate to the disadvantage of Tasmania. The apple and pear industry is thoroughly organized in Tasmaniaand every one associated with the industry, including the growers, . shippers, buyers and exporters, are ‘behind this amendment, because -they are perturbed about the possibility of losing shipping space. They are anxious that Tasmania shall be (enabled in the future to export to the United Kingdom, its normal . shipments of apples and pears, andto that end ; they ask thatsome specific formula be laid down by which that State’s proportion of space maybe . ‘determined. For this reason, they have come to the conclusion that the export . quota should be ‘based on an average over a period of years, say, three, five or seven years. Tasmanians wish to he allowed to export in the futurethe . same proportion of apples and pears as they have exported in the past. It is useless to say that the amendment will operate to the disadvantage . of Tasmania, . because every one connected with ithe industry in that State is fully conversant, with all the facts. The apple iand pear industry is of . tremendous importance to Tasmania. It is as vital to that State as the production of wool and wheat are to the mainland. F or this reason, primarily, Tasmanians are most anxious that their exports of apples and pears should not be decreased. The cry of the Tasmanian orchardists is for more export space. I have seen thousands of bushels of beautiful apples rotting, merely because export space . could not be obtained for the fruit. During the last’ nine or ten years, Tasmanian glowers have always filled their quota of space, while growers in other . States have not been . able to do so. Tasmania has always had a . surplus of production, and exporters have been able to take space which other States could not fill. It is feared that under this bill the space allotted to Tasmania willbe reduced. We do not doubt the honesty of the board which it is proposed to appoint, but we do not think that the determination of export space should be in the hands of that body. The Minister reminded us that other States have been planting newer varieties of apples. Preference in regard to shipping space cannot be given on that account. If the export quota allowable to some States is - to be increased, it follows that the quota from other States will be reduced. We fear that this will work to the disadvantage of Tasmania. By the process of grafting, Tasmanian growers have been able to grow newer varieties of apples on old trees, and produce apples of a quality equal to, if not better than, those grown in other States. Apple . growing is one of Tasmania’s most important industries, and producers are much perturbed at the prospect of export space being reduced. 1 know of no more pitiable case than that of a grower whose crop is rotting in his sheds, for no reason than that he cannot get export space. The only fair way to fix the quota is to take the average exports over a number of years, without reference to varieties. The Minister quoted figures to show that the amendment would mean a disadvantage to Tasmania. I do not agree with the honorable gentleman. Tasmanian orchardists were engaged in apple and pear growing before the industry was started anywhere else in Australia, and they have had vast experience in the organization of the industry.
– All the honorable senator wants ip a ready reckoner; not an amendment.
– I would not mind if the bill were withdrawn. I would prefer that course to the proposal that a board should be constituted with authority ‘to say to Tasmanian growers - “You have been shipping apples for 50 years; we are now going to give some one else a chance “. That chance would be at Tasmania’s expense. Some formula should be adopted for the more satisfactory allocation of export space. We contend that the only proper basis is the average production over a number of years. If too many apples are being produced, planting of now areas should cease. If growers in other States find that they cannot dispose of their crops it is -their own fault, because for years it has been apparent that a glut was approaching.
– Senator Aylett suggested that Tasmanian growers were being made a “ chopping block “. I am afraid that growers in Western Australia are in that unfortunate position. During the la3t five years they have planted more than 5,000 acres of fruit trees, chiefly apples, in the hope of getting a share of the export trade. Of this area 1,500 acres of trees are now in full bearing, but with 61 per cent, of the space allocated to Tasmania and only 11 per cent, to Western Australia, the hopes of the growers have been dashed to the ground. There is no fairness in this arrangement. This week I received a telegram from Mr. Wise, Minister of Agriculture, Perth, stating -
Strongly protest this proposal as distinctly unfair this State with our fluctuating and increasing production, exports last three years being 1930, Olt-,129 cases; 1937, 429,660 cases; 193S, 337,785 cases. Therefore if proposal accepted, our quota would be 462,191 cases. This year’s crop estimated 1,500,000 cases. With quota suggested we would have a surplus after supplying local requirements of 402,809 cases.
If the amendment “were agreed to, what would the growers in Western Australia do with their surplus production ? Unlike Tasmania, they cannot dispose of their excess production to New South Wales and Victoria.
.- If the export quota for one State is to be increased, the allocation for another State must be reduced. In my opinion the quota should be fixed for several years ahead so that growers will know where they stand. Senator Clothier referred to the problem confronting growers in Western Australia owing to expanding production in that .State. If a market is to be found for that increased production, it must be at the expense of other States, and Tasmania is sure to be the State most affected. Why should established growers in Tasmania be forced out of the business in order that the industry in other States may be encouraged? The quota system will further restrict production in Tasmania because it provides for increased production in other States. Last year Tasmanian orchardists put 2,000 acres of apple orchards out of production. If production is to be further restricted many orchardists will lose enormous sums of money which they have spent in pioneering the industry.
.- The Tasmanian representatives in this chamber have put up a great fight for their State. In that they have had our sympathy, if not our votes; but if they continue in their present attitude they will lose not only our votes, but also our sympathy. As Senator Wilson has said, if they want to lose the bill, they are going the right way about it. I very much doubt the constitutionality of the measure as drafted. If the amendment be carried it will, no doubt, be contested. I assume that our Tasmanian friends want orderly marketing of apples.
-We have that already.
– In that case, does the honorable senator want the bill?
– Now we know where we stand. At present, so I understand, there is a “gentleman’s agreement “ operating between the States with regard to the marketing of apples and pears, and Tasmania has done rather well because crops in the other States have been short. To suggest that Western Australia, Victoria or any other State must curtail production because one or two bad seasons have been experienced, is absurd. Senator Wilson has also challenged the constitutionality of the bill, but we have allowed it to proceed, because we think that some such proposal is in the best interests of the apple-growers. But to endeavour to insert amendments such as this is merely to invite somebody to contest the legality of the measure.
– I oppose the amendment, but I hope that no injustice will be done to Tasmania. May I suggest to the applegrowers of that State, and also to other primary producers that, when they are up against a difficulty- such as this, they should remember that tens of thousands of people in other States of the Commonwealth need apples and primary products, but are unable to buy them? If growers directed their attention less and less to the export market and more and more to the problem of home consumption, we should be in a happier position.
– I am opposed to the amendment. It has been claimed that Tasmanian growers pioneered this industry. Perhaps they did. I suggest now that they should do more pioneering work . in connexion with cool storage of apples. I notice in yesterday’s market reports that apples were selling at £1 a case in Sydney. The quotations are as follows: -
Extra fancy, fancy, and pood, Crofton (Tasmania) ,9s. to 13s.; Delictous (New South Wales), 14s. to 20s.; Democrat (New South Wales and Tasmania), 8s. to 13s.; French Crab (Tasmania), 9s. to 12s.: Granny Smith (New South Wales). 14s. to 20s.; Stur- mer Pippin (Tasmania),8s. to 12s.; Yates (Victoria and New South Wales), 10s. to 14s. a bushel.
– I thought all good apples came from Tasmania?
– Some of the best apples in Australia are grown in the Lithgow district.
The board might well give consideration to the cold storage of fruit. In New South Wales, the people have to pay exorbitant prices for apples and pears. The Leader of the Opposition said that many children could not be supplied with the apples that they need. I point out that many adults also are forced to go without apples, because they cannot afford tobuy them at the high prices which usually prevail.
– Tasmania’s average production over the last three years-
– I draw the attention of the committee to Standing Order 421, which states -
The President or the Chairman of Committees may call the attention of the Senate or the committee, as the case may be, to continued irrelevance or tedious repetition.
I cannot allow the repetition of the figures to which the honorable senator was about to refer.
– The figures mentioned by the Minister were incorrect. Although a statement has been made about apples not being up to standard, 1 remind the committee that last season Tasmanian apples topped the market in England. An honorable senator re- marked that 5,000 acres of young trees had been planted in the last five years in Western Australia, but I point out that, owing to the conditions in the export trade, Tasmanian growers have taken out the trees on 2,000 acres, and have not replanted that land, because they consider that the export trade does not justify it. It would be of great advantage if provision were made in the bill to prevent the extension of orchards in Australia until larger markets were available.
– I am perplexed in regard to this matter. The manner in which the representatives of Tasmania have fought for this amendment leads one to think that there must be good ground for their argument. Tasmania has built up an export trade, and its representatives fear that that trade may suffer; but they appear to have overlooked the fact that Tasmania will have a larger representation on the board than any other State.
– I again draw attention to the fact that the amendment before the committee relates to export quotas.
– But the quotas will be determined by the- board. The object of the amendment is to provide a formula by which the quotas would be determined. Should we practically take this matter out of the hands of the board ? I understand that the function of the board, under the clause as it stands, would be to determine the quotas on a basis that would be uniform throughout the Commonwealth. The representatives of Tasmania need not fear that the board would be prejudiced against the interests of that State. I have every sympathy for the orchardists of Tasmania, who have developed a large export trade in apples and pears, but the board would take into consideration all factors in determining export quotas.
– Under the amendment it is merely desired to empower the board to do what has been done in the past.
– The amendment might do an injustice to Tasmania. Is it not desirable that the export quotas should be determined on a flexible basis? Is it contended that, notwithstanding the conditions obtaining in other parts of the Commonwealth, Tasmania should be limited to quotas determined under a fixed rule ?
– The formula in the amendment would apply not to Tasmania only, but to all States.
– It is said that the saturation point , has almost been reached with regard to fruit production, but it may be possible to find additional markets. The operations of the board should assist in that direction. If Victoria experienced an unfavorable season, as is, undoubtedly, likely to be the case in the Harcourt district this year, there would be nothing to prevent the growers in Tasmania from meeting shortages in other parts of Australia.
– They do that at the present time.
– They would continue to do that under this legislation. Tasmania would have full representation on the board, which would see that justice was done to that State. No member of the committee desires that that State should suffer an injustice.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be inserted (Senator Herbert Hays’s amendment) be inserted.
The committee divided. (Chairman - Senator James McLachlan.)
Majority . . 19
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Sub-clause 3 provides -
For the purpose of giving effect to any determination made by the board under subsection 1 of this section, the GovernorGeneral may make regulations prohibiting the export from the Commonwealth of any apples or pears . . .
I move -
That the words “giving effect to any determination made by the board under subsection 1 of this section “ be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words, “enabling the board effectively to control the export of Australian apples and pears “.
This is in reality a drafting amendment. It is essential that the export of apples and pears from Australia should be controlled by the issue of licences and permits to exporters, whether a determination to limit the export quantity is made or not. The clause as printed provides for the issue of licences and permits only if a determination is made under subclause 1. The amendment sets the matter right, and is in accord with the principle laid down in all other similar legislation, namely, that exports shall be controlled by the issue of licences and permits.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause further verbally amended, and as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 15 to 25 agreed to.
Clause 26 (Poll on question of continuance of act).
– Sub-clause 1 of this clause refers to a request in writing signed by not less than 500 growers and forwarded to the Minister. Does “ grower “ mean anybody who has a fruit tree in his back yard?
– “Grower” is defined in clause 3.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 27 agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives and (on motion by Senator Allan MacDonald) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
When announcing the personnel of the new Government I stated that it was proposed to create a new department to deal with civil aviation and defence and other works, and to increase the maximum number of Ministers of State from ten to eleven.
The bill now before the Senate implements this proposal and provides for eleven as the maximum number of Minis;ters of State with an annual appropriation of £18,600. Under the existing act, a sum of £16,950 is appropriated for Ministers’ salaries.
The necessity for an increase of the number of Ministers of State has become increasingly apparent. During recent years, the growing business of existing Commonwealth departments and the extension of their activities has placed a tremendous burden upon Cabinet Ministers. Among the reasons for this increase is the great expansion that has been found necessary in the defence services. From time to time statements have been made regarding the development of the defence policy which has been found necessary to ensure the security of this country.
In view of the greatly increased responsibility attaching to the Department of Defence and the tremendous increase of the volume of work which is entailed in the development of the defence policy, it has become imperative to relieve the Minister for Defence of some of the responsibilities which now attach to his office. Moreover, the expansion of defence works has been accompanied by the expansion of works services in other departments. This has made it advisable that a new department be established to control the works services of the various departments. It is proposed to vest in the same Minister the control of Civil Aviation, formerly a branch of the Defence Department, but in future to be a separate department. In addition to giving much needed relief to the Minister for Defence, this arrangement will, to a considerable degree, assist in distributing the burden that now falls on other Cabinet Ministers. It will be noted that the appropriation provided for in the bill involves an increase of £1,650 per annum. On each previous occasion when an additional Minister waa provided for, the appropriation was increased by that amount. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion hy Senator Collings) adjourned.
Lithgow Small ARMS Factory - Defence Policy - Australian Broadcasting Commission : Overseas Artists - Commonwealth Superannuation : Retired Public Servants - Dispute at Port Kembla: Export of Pig - Iron - Naturalization Claim.
Motion, (by Senator McLeay) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Senator COLLINGS (Queensland) [10.1 J. - I draw attention to a statement which appeared in the Sydney Sun of yesterday and which, I think, requires some refutation. A number of honorable senators, among whom, unfortunately, I was unable to be included, visited the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow during the week-end. While there, they saw a number of interesting processes, and generally they had an educational and instructive time. My colleague, Senator Ashley, who is Opposition Whip, was responsible for the arrangements, and I believe that those who made the trip will agree that their comfort and convenience were well catered for.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear !
– The newspaper to which I have referred stated, inter alia -
The Parliamentary party descended to the huge buildings, where hundreds of workmen are building guns and implements of warfare for Australia’s defence.
Members of the party saw for the first time bow Australia is going about the building up of its armament resources. The large factories are working practically at full pressure in nil departments. Military rifles, machine-guns and anti-aircraft munitions are being turned out in a constant stream. *
That statement is either true or untrue. If it be true, then the members of the Opposition were not stating the truth in some of their criticism last week of the inactivity of the Government in regard to the defence of Australia. But it is not true, as this press report says, that all the departments at Lithgow are working at high pressure. At the most, it can be said that only those departments that are wOrking at all are working at high pressure. Those who visited the factory yesterday know that not all the departments are working - that huge machines are idle. In the interests of the nation it is essential that the people should not be lulled into a false sense of security by press statements of this kind. The truth is that the Government was without ft defence plan until a week or two ago.
– It did not have even an effective pea-shooter.
– The honorable senator’s interjection is a picturesque exaggeration, but one may truthfully say that the Govern,-“ ment’s defence plan is practically non-existent. To-morrow we are to discuss a bill to provide for the appointment of another Minister, because the previous Minister for Defence (Mr. Thorby) had been relieved of certain duties, and given others. That bill is evidence, not only of the absence of any definite defence plan, but also of the fact of the Government’s incapacity to handle the situation. If everything at Lithgow was proceeding as this statement says it was - that there was a constant stream of military rifles, machine guns, anti-aircraft and munitions - another Minister is not required, because obviously, in that case, the previous Minister did his job well. I conclude by saying that I believed it to be my duty in the interests of the nation, to draw attention to this press propaganda which, besides being untrue, is dangerously misleading.
.- On the 3rd November, I asked a series of questions relating to the engagement of artists from overseas by the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the profits made by that body. Sufficient time has, 1 think, elapsed to justify me in asking that a reply be given to my questions. I should appreciate an answer from the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral.
.- In July last, Senator Sheehan and Senator Cameron and I were interviewed by a number of ex-public servants whose superannuation payments were reduced under the financial emergency legislation. On four occasions the Treasurer was asked to receive a deputation on the subject, but so far no interview has been granted. The facts of the case were discussed during the budget debate, and Senators Wilson ami
Abbott regarded the treatment of these
Bien as a serious matter, especially as it throws some doubt oh the inviolability of the national insurance fund. I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer to arrange for an early deputation on behalf of these men.
– I support the remarks of my Leader in relation . to the report which appeared in last Sunday’s Sydney Sun. 1 do not say that the article contained deliberate misrepresentation, but I do say that it is an example of irresponsible journalism. Members of this Parliament who visited Lithgow yesterday know that not 20 per cent, of the machinery there was working. When I spoke on this subject previously, some honorable senators may have doubted the accuracy of my statements, but yesterday they saw for themselves what the position at Lithgow really is. It is literally true that hundreds of men are employed at Lithgow; there are 370 men working there. During the War period, however, the employees of the factory totalled nearly 1,700. The article also said that more than £200,000 is being expended at Lithgow this year. That is not correct. Another section of the report referred to munitions, but no munitions are manufactured there. I have protested before against the policy adopted in regard to the Lithgow Small Arms Factory. I have been informed by the management that plenty of valuable work could be undertaken if money for the purpose were provided. I am informed that the policy adopted by the Munitions Supply Board is dictated by the Government. The position is serious, for the people of Australia are likely to be misled. When we read such incorrect reports, is it any wonder that some departments are not willing to supply information to the press? There has been some mention of the censorship of defence news. I do not advocate the suppression of news, but when we get journalism of this kind there is some justification for such measures. I hope that the newspaper in question will rectify its misreport.
– I support the remarks of Senator Keane regarding the super annuated public servants who, under the Premiers plan, were deprived of money to which they were entitled. I trust also that the Treasurer will receive a deputation on the subject at an early date, and that when the interview is arranged, New South Wales senators will be informed
A lot has been said recently regarding the Government’s defence policy. The Government would probably not be on the treasury bench had the true position in regard to Australia’s defence been revealed by the newspapers. A capitalistic press is always willing to publish propaganda on behalf of the present Government. The proprietors of the capitalistic press knew that senators and members of the House of Representatives intended to visit Lithgow yesterday, and, consequently, the newspaper to which the Leader of the Opposition referred, set out to mislead the people before the facts could be stated in these legislative halls. In the interests of the nation, I trust that the Leader of the Senate will take this matter up, with a view to seeing that in regard to such important matters as defence only truthful accounts shall be published, and that they be made public first in Parliament.
– It might be necessary to deal also with the Labor Daily.
– That newspaper will soon be known as the Daily News. The Leader of the Senate knows the value of the Sydney Sun for propaganda purposes. In a very cheap fashion, he attacked one of ray colleagues last week in order to get propaganda into the newspapers. In fact, it appears to me that there was an arrangement between the Leader of the Senate and the newspapers for the dissemination of that propaganda.
– The honorable senator has very, high ideals.
– My ideals are as high as those of -the Leader of the Senate. I shall have something further to say on this matter to-morrow when we are dealing with the Ministers of State bill.
’. - I administer the act dealing with superannuation, and I assure Senator
Keane that I shall be very pleased to receive a deputation at any time which may be conveniently arranged, in order to discuss the claims of former Commonwealth officers.
Senator DEIN (New South Wales) [10.10’j. - I was among those who visited Lithgow yesterday, “and was very interested in what I saw. I am somewhat surprised at the remarks made to-night by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) and Senator Ashley, with respect to the report appearing in the Sun. L noticed that those honorable senators said not one word about the report which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald for the simple reason, apparently, that that report played into the hands of the Opposition. Because the Sun report appears to have been a. little the other way, however, they have taken exception to it. I admit that some of the machinery which I saw at Lithgow was not in use, but in fairness to everybody and in order that the community may not be misled, I point out that during the Great War that factory was working at its fullest capacity and was turning out about 1,000 rifles a week. Subsequently, however, particularly about 1931, our expenditure on defence was considerably reduced by a Labour government. I am not blaming that government, but the fact remains that during its term of office our annual defence expenditure was cut down by half, and at that time the factory at Lithgow was almost at a standstill. It is only since the Lyons Government came into power that anything at all has been done to rebuild our defences. In view of these facts the criticism voiced to-night by honorable senators opposite is entirely unfair.
Members of the Opposition interjecting,
– I know that honorable senators opposite do not like to hear criticism which is unfavorable to then* party. I visited Lithgow in 1934, and found that very little work was being done at the factory at that time. In 1937 this Government increased expenditure on defence considerably, and it is only logical to assume that should the necessity for such expenditure remain, activities at that factory will be further expanded. We know, however, that the present tremendous increase of our defence expenditure has become necessary only within the last few months. During the last five or six years, with the exception of the last few months, almost every Labour representative in this chamber and in the House of Representatives has used all the force at his command to oppose any increase of defence expenditure recommended by this Government. It ill becomes Labour senators now to blame the Government for having done nothing. In 1931 the Labour Government cut down the Defence Vote to £3,500,000, whereas this year, this - Government’s expenditure on defence will probably reach £17,000,000. That, perhaps, will not be sufficient; I cannot say. However, had it not been for the action of the Lyons Government in attending to this matter immediately it took office, I do not know what would be the state of our defences to-day. Certainly, they are still inadequate, but, at the same time, the necessity for strengthening them rapidly became apparent to us all. The Opposition, therefore, cannot expect that the whole of our defence organization can be placed on a war footing within a few months.
I cannot understand the attitude adopted by the Leader of the Opposition in this matter. I could not help noticing that at the meeting at Lithgow the representative of the factory munitions employees made one of the longest speeches. That was the only speech reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, because that report was designed to kick the Government. Honorable senators opposite have not complained about that report; evidently, it meets with the approval of the Leader of the Opposition and Senator Ashley. However, because the Sun report did not coincide with their views, they declare that it is altogether wrong. I have read both reports, and I admit that one is just as unfair as is the other. Each is somewhat coloured, and the Leader of the Opposition cannot claim that only one of them is unfair.
All of us sincerely regret the necessity for the tremendous increase of our expenditure on defence. Honorable senators opposite, however, appear to think that, because they could claim a bit of kudos for it, every possible man that can be got hold of should be employed in the manufacture of munitions. What a change compared with their attitude of twelve months ago! Why did they so strenuously resist every defence vote brought forward from time to time by this Government? Senator Ashley mentioned an amount of £200,000, which he doubted would be expended this year at Lithgow. 1 do not know exactly what is the total of the proposed expenditure at Lithgow, but I remind honorable senators that a contract for the building of a. tool-room at a cost of £75,000 has been let.
Senator Collings interjecting,
-I cannot understand the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition. He seems to think that no honorable senator has a right to speak except his humble self. On our visit to Lithgow yesterday we saw a huge factory, designed for the1 manufacture of the Bren gun, which is nearing completion. It cannot be said that this Government underestimates the importance of Lithgow in its defence preparations. Other work must be undertaken there in the near future, because Lithgow is strategically well situated. I am amazed at the attitude now adopted by honorable senators opposite, particularly in view of the fact that year after year when the present Government has proposed to expend large sums on the strengthening of our defences, members of the Labour party in this chamber and in the House of Representatives have invariably opposed such expenditure. At the eleventh hour they now complain that sufficient money is not being expended on defence.
– I rise to.a point of order. The honorable senator has made a statement which is- not in’ accordance, with fact. I could use match stronger language if I were prepared to. let myself go. He said that during’ recent- years the Opposition has always resisted expenditure on defence. That statement is incorrect, and the honorable senator can find no confirmation of it in Hansard, or elsewhere. It is offensive to- me as Leader- of the Opposition),, and I ask for its unqualified withdrawal.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes). - The honorable senator has not raised a point of order. If he has been misrepresented his remedy is in the explanation which he has already made.
– I ask that the statement about which I complain be withdrawn. *
– The Leader of the Opposition must realize that if an honorable senator could demand the withdrawal of any statement made by another honorable senator,’ there would be an end to all debate. In this instance Senator Dein has made a statement and the Leader of the Opposition has contradicted it, and there the matter rests.
– Suppose, Mr. President, that the statement is a lie, could we not ask that it be withdrawn?
– Order ! The honorable senator must not use that word. A senator complaining’ of misrepresentation cannot ask for a withdrawal; he can only contradict the statement, and then the public or any one who may be interested,, can judge between the two. Debate consists of assertion and counter-assertion. I repeat that if an honorable senator could demand the withdrawal of every statement, which he claims to be incorrect that, would, be the end of debate.
– I draw the attention of honorable senators, to the fact that the trouble at Port Kembla has not yet been settled. Honorable senators will recall that a similar position arose earlier in the year when the wharf lumpers refused to load scrap iron for shipment to Japan. In their stand they were supported by the Tasmanian Government and by many people who wrote letters to the press. I was deputed to interview ministers of religion of all denominations in Tasmania with a view to ascertaining their opinions of the attitude taken by the- men, and, in every case, I found support for the men. It was held that a high moral principle was involved, and that the men were justified in refusing to load this materia! for Japan.
– The men are now loading scrap iron for Japan.,
SenatorDARCEY. - They are compelled to do so under what is known as the “ dog collar “ act.
– They have agreed to do so.
– Under the threat of this Government to apply the penalty provisions of the Transport Workers Act should they refuse to do so. In connexion with this matter I interviewed many ministers of religion in Tasmania, from the Bishop of Hobart down to thehumblest curate, and, without exception, they supported the men in their stand. The same principle- is involved in the present trouble at Port Kembla-. These men are actuated by the highest motives. Japan has been declared, to be the aggressor in the present Sino-Japanese conflict, and any one can see that this material will be used for the manufacture of implements in order to enable Japan to carry on an unjust war. I hope that honorable senators will ensure that the penalty provisions of the Transport Workers Act will not be invoked against these men. It is a shame that such a threat should have been held over them ; they have adopted their present stand simply in order to maintain a high moral principle.
– Senator Dein this evening did not tell the truth about the labour party.
– Order! I cannot allow the honorable senator to proceed in that way. The honorable gentleman; would be in order if he said that the statement made by Senator Dein was inaccurate. As he knows, it is unparliamentary for an honorable senator to say that another honorable senator is not telling, the truth.
– When I declare that Senator Dein was not telling the truth to-night about the Labour party, I speak as I feel and believe. But, apparently, honorable senators are’ not permitted to do this. Instead of declaring . that an untrue statement is a lie, they must be content to say that it is grossly inaccurate.- Very well. I now say that Senator Dein’s statement, which was not true and which I regard as. a lie, was grossly inaccurate. I repeat thai SenatorDein- was grossly inaccurate in saying that the Labour- party had consistently opposed proposal’s to increase defence expenditure: Labour members in the House of Representatives and also in the Senate have supported a larger defence vote;’ but we- have persistently advocated that the money should be spent in such a way as will ensure the- most effective defence of this country. Upon that point we- have- fallen foul of the Government. We believe that the money voted should be spent to better advantage. Undoubtedly, thousands of pounds are now being wasted.
– The honorablesenator is merely admitting what I said.
– The honorable gentleman did not say that. Since I am not a clairvoyant, I cannot know what is in Senator Dein’s mind. I can only listen to what he says. The honorable gentleman definitely charged the Labour party with having consistently opposed the defence vote.
– I could prove it by reading from speeches made by members of the Labour party.
– We all know Senator Dein. Quite often, he says stupid things and, although it may be possible to convince an intelligent man by logical arguments, it is impossible to impress a stupid man.
I read this evening, a newspaper article advocating that action should -be taken by the Government to compel aliens in Australia to become naturalized. The residence) qualification suggested by the writer was four or five years. I have frequently brought before the Senate the case of an alien friend of mine, who, for many years, has been desirous of becoming a naturalized citizen. This man, a Russian named Pikunoff, has been resident in Australia for more than 25 years. I know him well. In my opinion, he is an estimable citizen. I have endeavoured for many years to have this man naturalized, but, so far as I know, the Government has never consented. If it is the intention of the Government to compel all aliens to become naturalized, why does it not - do the right thing in connexion with this man?I have made inquiries from Government officials and find that there is nothing known against the man. I ask the Leader of the Senate to request the Minister for the Interior to make the closest inquiries into the character of this man, and to tell me frankly the result. If the man is not what I think him to be, why should I not be told? If he is not regarded as a suitable person to be naturalized, surely be has the right to be so informed. Why is this matter being delayed year after year? Pikunoff is a married man with a number of children, and for many years has been a respected citizen of Brisbane and in regular employment.
– Has the Minister given any reason why naturalization has not been granted ?
– No. I have been informed that I will not be furnished with the reason for refusing naturalization to this man. I say in all sincerity that if a senator or member of the House of Representatives sees fit to take up the case of an alien seeking naturalization, his representations should be heeded by the Government. It is only right that I should know and that Pikunoff himself should know why he has not been naturalized. I hope that I have impressed the urgency of the matter upon the Leader of the Senate.
– in reply - The matters raised by honorable senators, particularly that referred to by Senator Brown, will be given, due consideration.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Arbitration (Public Service) Act - Determinations by the Arbitrator, Sc. -
No. 20 of 1938 - Commonwealth Public Service. Artisans’ Association.
No. 28 of 1938 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquiredat Darwin, Northern Territory - -For administrative purposes.
Senate adjourned at 10.39 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 November 1938, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1938/19381122_senate_15_158/>.