15th Parliament · 1st Session
The President (Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– by leave - On the notice-paper to-day are questions by Senator Arthur regarding industrial conditions in the Australian Capital Territory. Since the answers to these questions were prepared, strong representations have been made to me during the last few hours, making serious complaints against the way in which some of the awards of the Territory are being observed by various contractors at work here. These representations were made to the Attorney-General and myself, and steps will be taken immediately to have a full investigation of the complaints.
-Will the Minister consider the right of the Inspector of Awards to police industrial awards in the Australian Capital Territory?
– I propose to have a full inquiry made regarding the industrial conditions in the Territory, and the way in which awards are observed. Any matters relating to the subject, such as that mentioned by the honorable senator, will, undoubtedly, be considered by the Department.
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice - 1.Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a statement in the Canberra Timet of the 14th June, to the effect that a contractor engaged on large scale house-building operations at Canberra had dismissed a number of men in order to avoid the payment of wages in respect of the King’s Birthday holiday?
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
On the 9th June, Senator Arthur asked the following questions, upon notice: -
The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are aa follows: -
On the 9th June, Senator Arthur asked the following questions, upon notice: -
The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Defence been drawn to a report published in the Sydney Morning Herald stating that two graziers and a solicitor had been fined sums ranging from £30 to £100 for having failed to furnish income tax returns % Will the Minister see that these men are excluded from the classes of persons to be proclaimed under the National Registration Act as being subject to the inquisitorial questionnaire as to property? I suggest to the Minister that he should see that these robbers escape the questionnaire.
– I shall see that the honorable senator’s remarks are brought under the notice of the Minister for Defence, but I am sure that the Government has no intention to allow anybody to be treated differently from others in connexion with the wealth census.
– On the 14th June, Senator Aylett asked the following questions, upon notice -
I am now able to furnish the honorable senator with the following information : -
Senator FOLL laid on the table reports and recommendations of the Tariff Board on the following subjects:-
Air compressors ( including air blowers).
Articles mode partly or wholly of silver covered by tariff item 315.
Pencils of wood, and penhandles of wood.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator McLeay) read a first time.
. -I move -
That the bill be now reada second time.
In September, 1937, following propo sals made to the States by the then Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons), Parliament appropriated an amount of £200,000 to assist the States to overcome the problem of youths, male and female, who were unemployed through having during the depression missed the opportunity for industrial training.When the billmaking that appropriation was introduced, the Minister explained the negotiations with the States, and it is, therefore, necessary for me merely to mention briefly the circumstances under which the grant was made. All of the States were invited to put forward proposals for dealing with the problems as they presented themselves to the respective governments. A survey was made of the extent of youth unemployment in each State, and of the direction in which the expenditure of the money would afford the greatest relief. All the schemes submitted by the States were approved by the Commonwealth. No hard and fast rules were laid down, and the schemes differ in detail; but the principal features are along the following lines : -
Generally speaking, efforts have been made by the States to train individuals for those pursuits which are most suit able to their capacity and circumstances.
Owing to the amount of work entailed in making the requisite survey, and completing arrangements for training, the schemes did not come into operation as early as had been anticipated, and the £200,000 voted by the last Parliament was not fully expended in 1937-38. The balance has been used during the current year. The present position is that three States have exhausted the money made available by the Commonwealth and by their own Parliaments, and their funds will be substantially overdrawn on the 30th June next. It is, therefore, necessary to make available the remainder of the grant promised by the Commonwealth.
The additional £200,000 to be provided by this bill was included in the 1938-39 Estimates. In November last it appeared that about half of that amount would be sufficient for this financial year, but it is now clear that some States require their full quota. Parliament is, therefore, asked to appropriate the full sum included in the Estimates. The money will be paid to the States as required to meet their expenditure. The allocation of the proposed vote of £200,000 is the same as that of the similar sum voted in 1937-38. It is based on population, with a slight variation allowed for the degree of unemployment among youths in the various States. The amounts for the respective States are -
Most of the States are contributing approximately £1 for £1 with the Commonwealth, and the total expenditure, Commonwealth and State, will be approximately £800,000.
This scheme, which was inaugurated by the Commonwealth, has undoubtedly proved of great value to the community, and, in particular, to those youths whose training was interrupted or prevented altogether by the depression. As an indication of the number of individuals benefited, the following figures. furnished at the 31st December, 1938, may be of interest : - lt is as well to emphasize that as the circumstances and the methods of training vary considerably in the States, the figures that I have mentioned are not a reliable guide to the relative benefit received by each State.
The. provision of £200,000 by this measure will complete the full grant of £400,000 originally contemplated by the Commonwealth. I commend the measure to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Fraser) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the loth June ( vide page 1868), on motion by Senator MoBbi.de -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- I assure the Senate that the Opposition is in a chastened mood this morning as the result of its astonishment at the brutal measures adopted by the Government last night to enable it to Scurry into recess. We hardly know whether it is possible even for this vigorous Oppo*sition to restore a semblance of constitutional procedure in this chamber.
I regret that the Senate will not have the opportunity to throw the bill but altogether. The procedure in this chamber is somewhat different from that which is followed in the other branch of the legislature. There, the debate takes place on a motion for leave to introduce a bill; here, the bill comes before us as the result of a message from the House of Representatives, and is discussed on a motion that it be read a second time. Were the procedure in this chamber similar to that followed in the House of Representatives, we could enthusiastically move for the entire repeal of the act; but, unfortunately, We cannot do that. No previous measure which has been introduced to this Parliament has given rise to such a succession of disasters as has accompanied this legislation. We greatly regret th-t what Labour asked for at the beginning was not acceded to in the other House; the Opposition there asked that the bill be withdrawn and redrafted in order to correct things in the bill which eventually the Government found were insurmountable blemishes.
– That is not quite correct.
– It is so nearly accurate that I defy the Assistant Minister to state the position differently and be correct. I am not guessing. The Opposition would like the opportunity to move that this legislation be expunged from the records of the Parliament; it would like the slate to be wiped clean. As it is, the country will have to wait until the Government is forced to appear before its masters, when Labour will have an opportunity to re-write the chapter, and give to the people of Australia a real national health ‘ and pensions insurance scheme. I have no desire to detain the Senate at length ; the simple duty of the Opposition is to oppose the bill.
This measure provides for the annulment of proclamations only insofar as they relate to certain sections of the act. The administrative provisions are to be kept in operation, and the approved societies are to be kept alive. I have a shrewd suspicion that there is only one reason why the approved societies are to be kept alive; it would cost the Government more to kill them and pay to them equitable compensation for the crime that has been committed against them, than to allow them to continue. Great damage has already been done to friendly societies by the vacillating policy of the Government in relation to national insurance, and this bill does not place them in anything but an uncertain position. What is likely to happen no one knows. The honest thing to do would be to destroy the measure, and make the first loss the last loss. The Government should get out of the business which it has bungled from beginning to end. This bill is only a time-saving device. The Opposition does not forget the party meetings that were held in this building on this matter. In one room, there was a meeting of the Country party ; in another room, a meeting of the United Australia party preparatory to a joint meeting called for 12 noon. The hours passed but the attempt to reconcile the irreconcilable continued. Six o’clock came, and the .parties moved into the Senate club room, where they held the joint meeting. The late Prime Minister (Mr. Lyons) entered the room and quickly summed up the situation. When he saw there was no chance of harmonizing the conflicting forces, he did what he was so capable of doing - he poured oil on the troubled waters. He said, in effect, “Gentlemen, obviously it seems impossible to compose our differences. I suggest that we adjourn, so that I may have an opportunity to find some way out “. Those present grabbed the offer with both hands, and the meeting adjourned. The Prime Minister was charged with the responsibility of finding a way of escape.
– Was the honorable senator present at the meeting?
– I have means of ascertaining what goes on that would stagger the Assistant Minister. I defy him to say that my statement is inaccurate. Having thus temporized with the problem, members dispersed, saying, Miicawberlike “Thank God, that is settled “. All we ask is that the Government’s promissory notes, which cannot be met on due date, shall be cancelled. We are prepared for the slate to be wiped clean ; and for the Government to have an opportunity to rehabilitate itself if it will take a reasonable view of things. As honorable senators know, Mr. Lyons passed on, leaving the legacy of national insurance to his successor. Prom then until now the same sordid struggle has continued. Mr. Menzies, the new Prime Minister, finds it impossible to reconcile the irreconcilable, and so he is sparring for time. He does not want national insurance to be killed immediately, and therefore, he asks for a chance to wriggle out of the difficulty. He suggested the appointment of a select committee. It would have been better if he had moved for the repeal of the act, for it will never come into operation. I make that prophecy. The Government’s scheme of national insurance is dead, but it is being allowed to remain above ground, where it is creating an unpleasant odour. When a member of the House of Representatives suggested that it be buried, objection was raised by another member,who said that, if the scheme were buried, it would be possible to dig up the corpse. He suggested cremation. I repeat his suggestion; and if it be accepted by the Government, I promise that members of the Opposition will attend the cremation ceremony, and later, will present the ashes to, the Prime Minister. There is no need to say more. If the bill contained anything of value, we should discuss it, but because it is only a sham the Opposition will oppose it.
– I am astonished that the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings), who desires that this legislation should be repealed, did not attempt to annul as much of it as possible since he could not move for its repeal. As an opponent of the so-called National Insurance Act, I shall support the proposal to annul certain proclamation which, unless annulled, will bring the scheme into operation on the 4th September. I should much prefer to see the whole act repealed, and I regret that the Standing Orders of the Senate do not permit that to be done. The history of this legislation is marked by vacillation, procrastination, indecision and broken promises by both this and the previous government. I do not intend to hold a post-mortem inquiry into past events or review the gymnastics of certain prominent, political acrobats, but their somersaults might have excited the envy of “ the man on the flying trapeze.” The best that I can say to the Ministers on the subject of national insurance is that they remind me of the words of the old song -
Since Jack Jones came into a little bit of splosh,
E dunno where ‘e are.
The defeat of this measure, which the Opposition desires, would simply result in the present National Insurance Scheme coming into operation on the 4th September. I wish to protect this country against such a disaster. I do not desire that to happen, and I should gladly vote for the repeal of the whole act. The reason why the Western Australian Country party members voted against the National Insurance Bill, when it was before Parliament last year, was because the scheme fathered by Sir Walter Kinnear and adopted by the Government failed to give any advantages to self-employers. That big class includes agriculturalists, pastoralists, graziers, dairymen and other farmers, orchardists and gardeners, as well as small shopkeepers, dressmakers and others conducting small businesses. When the last census was taken in 1933, 272,620 persons were registered as working on their own account in the agricultural, pastoral and dairying industries. Those people comprised wheat-farmers, fruit-growers, sugargrowers, tobacco-growers, marketgardeners, mixed farmers, graziers and dairy farmers. All are primary producers, and they are the very backbone of our nation. They are directly concerned with the great export industries responsible for the overseas trade balance, upon which alone our ability to meet overseas commitments depends. I refused to accept as a national scheme of social insurance and security the Government’s measure which compels every one of those 272,620 persons to contribute financially to the extent to which he or she employs even casual labour. Yet these producers, their wives and families are excluded from any benefit or protection. Not only would those producers have to pay direct contributions in proportion to the labour employed, but also much of the cost of this scheme would’ have been paid by them. The producers engaged in the export industries would have had no chance, either directly or indirectly, to pass their share of the load of national insurance on to any one, and all of it would have rested on their already overburdened hacks. All the other members of the Country party in both Houses share the views that I have expressed on this point, and the omission of protection for the primary producers should have proved fatal to the measure at that time, because a majority of the members of the House of Representatives did not desire the bill when it was introduced. However, the Government, through the Treasurer (Mr. Casey), promised that if the measure were carried additional legislation would be introduced when Parliament reassembled for the budget session, in order to supplement the scheme and to give protection to the primary producers and other self-employers on lines that were to be formulated. The statement was made that Sir Walter Kinnear would draw up a supplementary scheme to provide benefits for the pn-. mary producers and other self-employers. I am convinced that Mr. Casey is the soul of honour, and made his promise in good faith. I understand that he. set out to prepare a supplementary scheme, but that financial difficulties arose not only in regardto the scheme itself, but also on account of the heavier expenditure on the preparations for defence. Although the promise was given and broken, I exonerate the government of the day for its failure, because of the force of the difficult financial circumstances that prevailed in the meantime. I point out that on the strength of that promise, Country party members in both Houses were persuaded to vote for the scheme. The budget session came and went. A year has passed and that promise of the Government to introduce supplementary legislation for the protection of 272,620 primary producers and other persons has not been honoured.
– Would the honorable senator have supported a bill providing for them ?
– AsI am not acquainted with the details, I am unable to answer that question, but I should have carefully considered it on its merits. I am pleased that I was one of the members of the Country party, who together with my two Western Australian colleagues In the House of Representatives refused to perpetuate injustice by supporting the legislation introduced into the chamber. We hoped that an alleviating measure would be introduced, but we were not misled into supporting unfair legislation on the chance that it would be remedied later. The Government of the day acted in an undemocratic manner in forcing its bill through the Senate ten days before the senators elect took their seats. I opposed that procedure at the- time. That legislation placed a huge fresh financial load on the backs of the overburdened producers, and I objected to it being imposed by the votes of senators who had been defeated at the polls several months earlier. I would repeal a measure enacted in such circumstances. I gladly agree to annul proclamations which serve to keep the act alive us is proposed in this bill. I am glad that I can find something on which to congratulate the Government, and it is that the bill provides that the proclamations cannot he revived or renewed except with the express approval of both houses of Parliament. Surely the Opposition agrees with me in supporting the Government in having such a provision included in the measure. I hope that every safeguard in the direction of parliamentary control will be provided, but there should be no resurrection of this apparently dead measure.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. I- may have misled. Senator Johnston and others when .1 made my statement regarding the Labour party’s intentions towards the bill. I said that we are opposing it. By that I meant that we are dissatisfied with, the measure because it does not mean . the repeal of the act. But we cannot in this chamber move for repeal. . I said that the responsibility must rest upon “the Government. That is the attitude that -we are adopting. We shall not oppose the bill to the extent of voting against it, but I point out to Senator Johnston that the proviso to the last clause in the bill was inserted at the instigation of the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives -
Provided that the powers shall not be. exercised unless and until a resolution approving the exercise of the powers has been passed hy both Houses of the- Parliament.
It is because that provision is included in the bill that we do not intend formally to vote against it.
.- I remind the Minister that yesterday he undertook to supply to me definite information as to the fate of the approved societies, and I hope that he will do so. The introduction of this measure marks the end of the national insurance scheme, and I agree with the view expressed by our leader. By no chance can this scheme be resurrected without a vote of the House of Representatives and of this chamber. I am glad that the House of Representatives rejected the farcical idea of appointing a select committee. The failure of the scheme has had a disastrous effect on friendly societies, and that is why I submitted questions to the Minister weeks ago. It has done a lot of harm to various organizations, but it has not injured the British Medical Association to which the serious attention of the Government will have to be directed. It was not the United Australia party or the Labour party or the Country party from which most of the organized opposition came - it came from the British Medical Association, and the Government should realize that that one big union interfered with what might have - been an excellent scheme. The Government would have been wiser had it accepted the Labour party’s proposal to repeal the whole act. We should be prepared to cut our losses, heavy though they have been. Surely a scheme that did not provide for the most important feature in our social life - unemployment - was doomed before it was born. I regard the defeat of the Government on this matter in the House of Representatives as extremely serious. The Government, should have regarded its defeat on a vital question such as this as evidence that it had lost the confidence of the House. In the circumstances the Government would have done the decent thing had it resigned. We have witnessed in. connexion with this legislation a political somersault by the leaders of the anti-Labour parties, not only in the House of Representatives, but also in this chamber. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) was so enamoured of the national insurance scheme that he resigned from the
Lyons Government because of its failure to implement the act. Subsequently, the right honorable gentleman became the leader of the Government and included in his Cabinet, as Minister for Social Services, Sir Frederick Stewart, who regarded the National Health and Pensions Insurance Act as a means of achieving his life-long objective. Sir Frederick Stewart must see in the bill now before the Senate the end of his aspirations. I emphasize what my leader has already said, namely, that, in the annals of political life, there has been no greater political muddle than that associated with this legislation. When the party on this side of the chamber occupies the treasury bench; we shall bring down an all-embracing scheme of national insurance, associated with which there will be no muddle. It cannot be denied that the handling of this matter by the Government leaves much to be desired. For nearly 40 years, the government of this country has been placed in the hands of the parties represented by honorable senators opposite, and the people have been promised time after time by successive governments that a national insurance scheme, covering invalidity, old-age, sickness, widows’ pensions and unemployment, would be placed upon the statute-book. That promise was repeated with emphasis in 1931, in 1934, and again in 1937. The insincerity of the parties opposite in this connexion is made manifest by the bill now before us. I am concerned with the position of those approved societies which have suffered as the result of this abortive legislation. As a member of a friendly society, I know the extent to which they have suffered. I assume that they will get justice from the Government and full reimbursement of all moneys expended in anticipation that this legislation would be implemented. Not only have the approved societies expended large sums in anticipation that this legislation would be put into operation, but they have also lost prospective members who did not want to subscribe to both schemes. I trust that that aspect of the matter will not lost sight of when the Government is adjusting claims for compensation lodged by these societies.
– I remind honorable senators that this is just another instance of the will of the people defeating the will of the Government. The reason for that is that people realized exactly what was intended by this legislation. They realized that its provisions would have an impoverishing effect on the people generally; that wages would be reduced, and, generally speaking, that the standard of living would be lowered, although it was alleged at the time by the so-called educationalists and others that it would result in the living standards of the people being raised. This is another instance of the instinct of the people rising superior to the scheming and intriguing of political parties and manipulators. If the scheme had provided for the whole of the costto be borne by Consolidated Revenue, it would have been an entirely different proposition; all would have paid into a common fund according to their ability to pay, and all would have had the right to participate in the benefits. That is the only principle upon which a scheme such as this could operate fairly and in the interests of the people. It was proposed under this legislation, however, not only to reduce wages-, but also that the Arbitration Court should not in the ordinary way make up the wage after it had been reduced. Honorable senators know that the Arbitration Act provides that when the cost of living -is raised as the result of increased charges, the court shall have power to make adjustments of wages. In the interests of this legislation, however, the court was forbidden to do that. The workers were to bo given no redress. I realize, of course, that there is a school of thought represented mainly by honorable senators opposite which believes that wages constitute all to which the workers are entitled and all that they earn. They argue, that that being so, anything in the nature of improved or expanded social services, should be made a charge on wages. I remind honorable senators that wages are based on the cost of subsistence. Wages do not represent, to any degree worth mentioning, the full value of the wealth which the workers can create by their labour, either individually or collectively. If the workers of Australia were prepared to live on less than they receive to-day, they would receive less, and all charges possible would be made on the working wage with the object of getting it down to the irreducible, minimum. Making the contributions proposed to be levied under this legislation, a charge on wages is not a legitimate use of the legislative power; it cannot be justified because it would enable the owners of the means of production to escape their legitimate obligations. In my judgment and, I should say, in the judgment of those who have given any thought to the matter, all expenditure incurred on social services should be made a charge on industry, on the enormous wealth that is created as the result of the labour of the workers, particularly through the medium of up-to-date machinery and methods. Another objective of this legislation was to make old-age pensions a charge on wages rather than on Consolidated Revenue. The present annual charge on the Consolidated Revenue Fund for invalid and old-age pensions amounts to between £15,000,000 and £16,000,000. When the National Health and Pensions Insurance Bill was brought before the House of Representatives, the then Treasurer (Mr. Casey), stated that the time was approaching when, in his opinion, the cost of invalid and old-age pensions would be greater than the revenue could stand. The objective he had in mind was, by the gradual process provided in the bill, to lift the charge from Consolidated Revenue and place it on wages. So, when these facts were known - they were not known possibly as clearly and as intelligently as actuaries or economists would know them - pressure was applied to the Government which, at least in part, was responsible for the introduction of the bill before us. Then again, and this is most important in my mind, the National Health and Pensions ‘ Insurance Act made no provision for the relief of unemployment. Although honorable senators opposite and their colleagues in the House of Representatives say that they sympathize with the position of the unemployed, nothing worth while has been done to relieve the problem. Those who need relief most are those who are denied the right to earn a decent livelihood. The reason why that relief is not forthcoming to the extent that, ii should is that, the unemployment problem has not yet become the danger that it must become before honorable senators opposite and the members of their parties in the House of Representatives will take heed of it. On the whole, it, is not, a matter for wonder that this bill has been placed before ns. As the result of discussions which have taken place outside Parliament, and the manifest disapproval of the people, although the Government has wasted in the scheme £150,000, Lt dare not put the national insurance legislation into operation. I am not inclined to be optimistic about this matter; 1 am not inclined to view the national health and pensions insurance legislation as altogether a corpse. I know perfectly well that if the opportunity presents itself, the so-called corpse will be revived. In directing attention the other day to the economic position which is developing in Australia, I pointed out that our annual interest bill’ of £45,500,000 is increasing every day, and that our defence commitments are rapidly growing. We do not know whence the money to meet these charges is to come. In the light of these happenings, I can visualize an attempt being made again to do what this national insurance legislation was* intended to do, should the opportunity offer. Pressure of economic conditions, will, as it did in 1931 and 1932 raise the question whether the standard of- living of the people, or the accumulated capital in the hands of the owners is to be reduced. One of those two things will happen. Experience has taught me that we would be foolish to take too much for granted. The Government has simply called a halt for the time being. Should the opportunity offer, those who hope to secure profitable positions under this scheme and profit by it will attempt to resurrect it. The only thing that would defeat such an attempt would be the accession to office of a Labour government which would re-organize the internal economy of the Commonwealth and provide -that the charge for social services should be met from the Consolidated Revenue Fund. This could be done without inflicting the slightest hardship on any individual of the community.
Labour’s proposal is within the realm of practical politics. The critics have inquired where the money to finance the scheme would come from. There need be no misgiving on that account, because the re-organization of the internal economy of the Commonwealth and the material resources of the nation at the disposal of the Government would enable it not only to raise the standard of living but also to make it possible for every unemployed man and woman willing to work, to secure employment at a decent wage. At present much of our material resources is practically lying idle and our man-power is deteriorating and becoming demoralized. By making the best use of our resources in the way that I have suggested, the Government would prevent a repetition of the tragic blunder made in the depression years.
– This bill marks the end of legislation that was placed upon the statute-book by means similar to those which the Senate has been forced to accept this Government’s proposals with reference to the creation of a new Department of Supply and Development and the national register. National health and pensions insurance was prominently before the people for some considerable time before the introduction of the bill by the Lyons Government. This time last year the proposal was under discussion in this Parliament. Honorable senators will readily recall the circumstances. The National Health and Pensions Insurance Bill was rushed through the Senate in the dying hours of the session which ended in June last, the purpose of the Goverment being to have it passed through this chamber before the newly elected Labour senators could have an opportunity to consider it.
If one action more than another of the Lyons Government helped to destroy the popularity of the national insurance scheme it was the indecent haste with which the measure was forced through both Houses of this Parliament. I remind Government supporters that notwithstanding the conspiracy of silence on the. part of some of the newspapers concerning proceedings in this Parliament, a not inconsiderable number of the people do take notice of happenings here. They are particularly interested in the Government’s national insurance scheme, because this is a form of social service to which they are entitled. As a matter of fact, those who sponsored the measure went to a great deal of trouble to declare that it was one of the most important pieces of social legislation that had ever been introduced to the Parliament of any country. The then Treasurer (Mr. Casey) took to himself much credit for the passage of the bill, and the right honorable gentleman who is now Prime Minister of the Commonwealth (Mr. Menzies) felt so keenly the decision of the Lyons Government to delay the commencement of the act that, at great personal sacrifice, he surrendered his portfolio of Attorney-General. That position had brought him a great deal of publicity, if not renown, because was it not in his capacity as Attorney-General that, a few years ago, he went to London and pitted his legal knowledge and forensic skill against the best legal luminaries of the Empire in a case involving important constitutional issues? But times have changed. Owing to the lamented death of Mr. Lyons, the, right honorable gentleman has now reached the highest position in the Commonwealth. To-day he is Prime Minister. He has a Cabinet of his own choosing. He is not troubled by the obstructive tactics of dissident elements in the Ministry, as was the late Mr. Lyons, when, last year, the decision was made to postpone the coming into force of the act. We now have an entirely United Australia party Government, every member of which was selected by the leader of that party. Yet we find that this measure, which was to do so much for the people of Australia, is being consigned to the limbo of forgotten things. It has been suggested that, at some time in the dim and distant future, it may be revived. We have been told that the scheme is not dead and buried; it is merely in a state of suspended animation. I take this opportunity to remind Ministers of the people’s hostility to ill-considered legislation that is rushed through this Parliament, without proper examination by the representatives of the people.
If the Government intends later to revive the scheme, Ministers would do well to take notice of the remarks of Senator Cameron this morning, because he touched the crux of the problem. Social legislation, to be acceptable, must contain provisions that will be of real benefit to all of the people. It is useless to foist on them measures like the one with which we are now dealing. The Government must take notice of unemployment. I admit that the legislation which this bill suspends contains some excellent provisions, but because the framers of it failed to take cognizance of the great problem of unemployment, the act is entirely unacceptable to the people. There was a feeling that the national insurance scheme in operation would mean that payment of contributions would be demanded in respect of invalid and oldage pensions. I mention this because of the criticism that was levelled against the Scullin Government. Supporters of this Government never tire of emphasizing that the Scullin Government, notwithstanding its honest desire to ease the force of the blow, was compelled to reduce pensions payments in the earlier years of the depression.
SenatorMcBride. - The honorable senator admits that the Scullin Government did reduce pensions; that is something, at all events.
-We do not deny that. As I have stated, the Scullin Government was driven by force of adverse circumstances to take that action, but it was honest enough to go to the people and inform them that, owing to the attitude of a hostile majority in the Senate and the machinations of financial interests, it was compelled to make some reduction of social benefits. The people know that if the Scullin Government had not done that, another government formed by members of the United Australia party and Country party would have done worse. If proof were needed of the manner in which an anti-Labour governrnen would have dealt with the old and infirm during the depression, it is to be found in the national insurance proposals, under which the old and infirm would be required to pay for their pensions instead of this service being as it should be, a charge upon the wealth of the nation. The scheme has been unmasked, and because of public opinion, the Government has been unable to proceed with what it intended to do. If the Government proposes to introduce social legislation,I hope that it will profit by its experience. This is the closing scene of a tragic blunder on the part of those’ who have been entrusted with the government of this country. I hope that the present Government, and even future governments, will profit by the mistake.
– in reply - I shall not go over the whole of the ground that has been covered by honorable senators who have spoken on the second reading of this measure; but I appreciate the assurance of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) that he and his party will assist in the passing of this bill. I do not, however, share with him the pessimistic view that . this is the last we shall hear of this legislation. If supporters of the Government in the House of Representatives had held that opinion, they would have supported the demand made in that chamber by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) for the repeal of the act. The fact that honorable members of the same opinion as Mr. Curtin could not obtain a majority in the other branch of the legislature shows that, whilst there are differences of opinion as to what is desirable in a national insurance scheme, they are not sufficient to bring about the repeal of the measure. It is interesting to examine various utterances by members of the Opposition in this chamber and in the House of Representatives. They have not at any time suggested that the people of Australia are not desirous of, and entitled to, national insurance. Their principal objection to the act is that, in their opinion, the pension should be provided on a non-contributory basis, and that the medical benefits should be increased. Mr. Curtin has said publicly that he believes that the medical benefits should be contributed for, so the differences of opinion between members of the
Opposition and the Government have narrowed down considerably.
The inclusion of provisions to deal with unemployment has received full and sympathetic consideration by the Government. If honorable senators opposite are sincerely desirous of bringing about a complete and satisfactory scheme, they have acted in an extraordinary manner in refusing to support the appointment of a select committee to investigate the matter.
– That would be merely one way of shelving the issue.
– Honorable senators opposite would have great difficulty in convincing the electors that their action was justified. They will not be able to cite one country in which national insurance has been introduced on the basis that they suggest should be adopted in Australia. In New Zealand, the Government has found it necessary to provide for contributions on a scale not contemplated under our act.
A question was asked yesterday by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Keane) regarding the compensation paid to approved societies in respect of expenses they have incurred in anticipation of the operation of the act. Up to the present time, 155 of these societies have been approved, and, in view of the extra expenditure and inconvenience to which some of them have been put in consequence of the delay in bringing the act into operation, the Governmenthas met them in a manner which I believe to be entirely satisfactory to the societies concerned. Up to the 30th May, the Government has paid out to them the sum of £70,399, and it intends to continue the granting of assistance to them in order to allow them to carry on during the period of delay that has ‘been caused by the postponement of the scheme. I believe that the arrangement made with the societies has met their immediate needs.
Most of the remarks of several honorable senators who have taken part in this debate had nothing to do with the bill, and, therefore, I do not feel obliged to reply to them. I shall, however, refer to one statement by Senator Sheehan, who criticized the action of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) with regard to this legislation, and suggested that his present attitude indicated inconsistency . on his part. The honorable senator probably knows that, when the Prime Minister resigned from the Cabinet of which he was then a member, the suggestion was made that the Government itself intended to ask for the repeal of the act, and the Prime Minister, holding the views that he had expressed, felt it necessary for him to dissociate himself from any such action. I suggest, therefore, that his present attitude in refusing to accept an amendment for the repeal of the act is thoroughly consistent with the stand that he originally took. I doubt whether Senator Sheehan could substantiate his statement that honorable senators on this side had said that this was the greatest piece of social legislation ever placed on the statute-book of any country. I asked who made that statement, and up to the present time I have not received a reply to my question. The Ministry fully realizes the limitations of this act, and knows that it does not provide for unemployment, although national insurance schemes in other countries do make provision for it; but the Government can state with confidence that this act is the greatest piece of social legislation ever placed upon the statute-book in Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.
Clause 4 (Annulment of certain proclamations) :
– Does this mean that no further action will be taken in regard to this bill without reference to the Parliament?
– That is the position.
Clause agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Debate adjourned from the 15th June (vide page 1918) on motion by Senator McLeay -
That the bill be now read a first time.
– On the first reading of this bill, honorable senators have the opportunity to deal with subjects which they desire shall be brought under the notice of Ministers and the Senate generally. I have a number of matters to which I wish to refer, and I hope that some notice will be taken of my remarks, and of the points raised by other honorable senators. If I take this opportunity to protest against this unseemly end of the session rush, my protest may provoke a smile, and the interjection that it is a hardy annual. I know that it may be said that every government acts in this way; that in the last days of a session heroic measures have to be adopted to dispose of the business, on the notice-paper. I point out that because of the limited number of days on which this senior branch of the legislature has been allowed to sit, honorable senators have not been able to give anything like proper consideration to the measures placed before them. I do not know that I should attempt to help the Government out of its difficulty, but I shall take the risk, and point out that its action is not popular either in this chamber or outside it. I draw attention to the fact that no one has suggested that there has been any obstructive tactics in either chamber. Indeed, the Prime Minister, Mr. Menzies, said last Monday -
It is fitting for me to point out that I have levelled no charge of “obstruction “ against either party. The only comment I make is that the rate of progress has undoubtedly been slower than would have been the case if the Government party had been in a majority.
That was a perfectly natural statement for the right honorable gentleman to make. The only comment that I make regarding it is that, situated as he is with a minority party, he should refuse to carry on the government without obtaining a mandate from the people. I shall quote from the Melbourne Age of the 13th June -
Although nearly two months have passed since the Menzies Government first met Parliament, the rate of progress with important and urgent measures inherited from its predecessors has proved disappointing. The responsibility is not wholly at the doors of Ministers. Although conceding the right, of legitimate criticism, and the need for adequate debate, many electors are aware that obstructive tactics have been a major cause of delay.
That is where the trouble lies. What virtue was there in the Government’s decision to adjourn Parliament on the 9th June, or its later decision, acceptance of the inevitable in not to adjourn on that date. If the business of the country warrants it, and if members of Parliament’ are to fulfil the functions for which they were elected, and for which the taxpayers pay, the Parliament should be kept open until the business of the country has been completed.
– The Government is prepared to go on for as long as is necessary.
– The Assistant Minister knows that the Government does not intend to go on, but is determined to reach recess to-day. It ought not to matter to members of the Parliament whether the sittings end to-day or next Friday, or even three months hence, so long as there is work for them to do. I object to the rush tactics adopted prior to every recess. At the moment, I am not referring specifically to the “ guillotine “, although the Opposition strongly objects to its application. That however , is the responsibility of the Government. To-day’s Sydney Morning Herald contains the following paragraph -
The return. of Sir Earle Page to Parliament was marked on Wednesday by a renewed assault on the Prime Minister as the author of “ one of the most contemptible volte faces in the, history of the Commonwealth “. The language was bitter as before; there was the same apparent eagerness to wound, hut on this occasion the Country party leader was obviously afraid to strike. Mr. Curtin had presented him, and those among his followers who think like him, with a tantalizing opportunity to wipe out the Insurance Act and overthrow the Menzies Ministry at a single blow. They had only to vote for the Labour amendment for repeal and the thing waa done.
They did not do so, ostensibly because Sir Earle Page now thinks that the act should not- be thrown on the scrapheap, . but more probably because he feared that the defeat of the Government on this issue would lead to a general election. Discretion was deemed the better part of enmity.
I stress that statement because it has been said, in both the press and this Parliament, that the Labour party fears an election. Senator Leckie said so yesterday. The Sydney Morning Herald, which is not a Labour publication, is correct in saying that the Country party fears an election, for members of that party know that, whatever may happen to the United Australia party at the next election, the Country party will practically be annihilated. The paragraph continues -
Though Mr. Menzies has been patient in his acceptance of delays to vital defence legislation and was restrained in the comments which he made on Monday, he cannot fail to be aware that their continuance would inevitably jeopardize, the prestige of his administration.
In other words, that publication says “ Mr. Menzies, take your courage in both hands; consult your masters and stop this trickery “. I do not often give to the press a free advertisement, but I do occasionally sin in that direction by making favourable comment on the editorials which appear from time to time in the Canberra Times. That journal does not favour the Labour party; in political matters it is impartial. Today’s issue of the Canberra Times contains an excellent leading article headed “ Bludgeoning Legislation Through “. I agree with the editor that the taxpayers who have to foot the bill for the cost of parliamentary government in this country do not approve of bludgeoning. If there is one thing concerning which the electorate is agreed, it is that those who draw pay as members of Parliament should at least make an honest attempt to earn it. The Opposition is making that honest attempt, but it cannot do as much as it would like, because of the senseless rush towards recess. The leading article to which I have referred reads -
By the application of the guillotine two important legislative proposals have passed the House of Representatives this week. One dealt with national insurance and the other with Supply for the next three months. Recourse to such procedure might be a tactful move on the part of a Government, but it defeats the purpose for which members areelected to Parliament, for by the mere carrying of u motion declaring the question beforethe House as urgent, discussion is stifled, and there is a danger that the measure shall not be as effective in its objective as might be the case when suggestions for improvement are submitted. These frequently arise duringthe course of the discussion on ideas that develop from the viewpoints expressed, lathe majority of councillors there is wisdom,, and in the reverse order it might be declared with equal force that when numerical strength is absent there is the opposite effect.
The only justification advanced for the guillotine application has been the so-called stonewalling methods of the Opposition, but whois to say when stonewalling is operating.
If my memory serves me aright, the call during the discussion of the National’ Registration Bill was given practically alternately to Government supporters and members of the Opposition. The article continues -
To the party in power any opposition may be regarded as stonewalling and yet to the other side it may be an honest attempt to help in the legislation of the country. Free discussions on all questions form the basis of our democracy, but gradually those rights arebeing whittled away from us just because of the needless fear that in politics departure from standards which are specified by one side or the other, is regarded as a lack of faith in that particular organization. No legislativeproposal has yet been submitted to Parliament that has not been improved by the contribution that the Opposition lias been able to make.
Guillotining might represent a temporary gain to the Government that uses that method, hut there is always the danger of its boomerang effect when with the turn of the wheel of fortune, as invariably happens, the electors, decide upon a change in the Government and place the Opposition in power, and when that position comes about the present advocates of the guillotine methods would naturally beresentful at getting a taste of their own medicine.
The Opposition does not think that it is here to oppose measures brought forward by the Government merely because they are Government proposals. Last night it allowed a measure which it approved to go through without comment. Even a bil] with which the Opposition did not agree was allowed to go through because the limitations imposed on the Senate did not permit of an attempt being made to repeal the legislation which the bill sought to amend. The same thing has happened on many occasions. The Government cannot escape the consequences of its own. actions-
As to the fear of an election, I shall quote again from to-day’s Sydney Morning Herald -
Opinion is growing in the lobbies that there are prospects of an election before the end of the year.
This belief is based on the realization that the state of affairs that has been apparent in Parliament for the last few weeks cannot continue indefinitely, and that if a coalition between the United Australia party and the United Country party cannot be achieved the only alternative is an election. Most members are hopeful that an agreement will be reached, although a section of Government supporters is moving to achieve this end.
There is no suggestion that the Labour party is moving to that end. The Government has accepted humiliation and rebuffs because it hopes for favorable developments during the forthcoming recess.
The paragraph continued -
The Government has been accepting humiliations and rebuffs this session because it has hopes of favorable developments during the recess. If they do not materialise before the budget session begins in August, the breach between the two parties will become wider, and Mr. Menzies will ultimately be forced to appeal to the people, if stable government is to be achieved.
I suggest that the Government should take an early opportunity of seeking a verdict from its masters.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
SenatorCOLLINGS.- Honorable senators will realize that during the progress of the session, correspondence accumulates because of the difficulty of attending to it. I shall refer to some matters about which I have received letters, in the hope that the Leader of the Senate (Senator McLeay) will bring them under the notice of the appropriate Ministers.
In the early part of the year inquiries were made in the Senate and in the House ofRepresentatives regarding the SalamauaWau road. A mass of correspondence was received, particularly from the New Guinea Mining Association. It is twelve months or more since the bill providing for the construction of the road was passed, and I should be glad if the Minister would inform me what progress has been made. So far nothing has been accomplished to the satisfaction of the miners, and others interested in this work.
For some years the Brisbane Trades Hall has sought a licence for broadcast ing, and I have repeatedly referred in this chamber to its application. The Trades Hall stands on one of the highest vantage points in the city, and installation of the necessary apparatus would not be difficult. There is a file in the official archives on the matter, but Sir Harry Brown who was very courteous to me on the one occasion I met him upon this matter, stated that it was technically impracticable to allot another wavelength to Queensland. He also said that there was not another wavelength available. I accepted his dictum but I have since been informed that it is not a valid reason for refusing the request of the Trades Hall and so I shall be glad if the Minister will bring this matter under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral.
Some days ago I received a letter from Mr. A. A. Lewis, of Elizabeth-street, Melbourne, in which he told me a pitiful story about old-age pensioners having to sleep in parks in that city. This morning, I had another note from him, enclosing copies of the ministerial replies to his communications. I shall read them because they show departmental indifference, which cannot be justified in the circumstances. The correspondent mentioned that these pensioners have no possible means of paying for shelter and board out of the pension of ?1 a week. I shall first read the letter from the Attorney-General (Mr. Hughes) -
I have your letter of the 27th May, 1939, telling me of your meeting with a number of invalid and old-age pensioners in Fitzroy Gardens. 1 shall ask the Treasurer if there is any possibility of increasing the rate of the invalid and old-age pension, and let him have your views.
Sir Earle Page wrote
I have your letter of 27th May relative to an increase in the rate of old-age pension, and I shall forward your suggestions to the Treasurer for his consideration.
I might have attempted to raise the matter under the Invalid and Oldage Pensions Appropriation Bill, which we passed yesterday, but I did not do so because I imagined that I might be ruled out of order. The communication sent by the Prime Minister to Sir Earle Page in reference to this matter read -
I have your letter of 1st June.1936, forwarding one addressed to you by Mr. A. A. Lewis, of 4G Elizabeth-street, Melbourne, relative to an increase in the rate of old-age pension, and shall communicate with 7011 again later on the matter.
The Minister for Social Services (Sir Frederick Stewart) wrote to Mr. Lewis - 1 have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of May 27th. You may be sure that my administration of this department will bc marked with extreme sympathy towards any section of the community in difficulties, but, unfortunately, there are practical limits to the extent one can go in these matters. However, I thank you for bringing the circumstances under my notice.
The limits, of course, will be determined by the needs of defence expenditure. If all social services are to be starved because of defence expenditure we shall neglect a very important part of our responsibilities.
The Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr. Curtin) replied sympathetically to Mr. Lewis as follows : -
I have your letter of 27th ultimo regarding the matter of old-age pensions. 1 note you have communicated with the Prime Minister and Sir Frederick Stewart in this matter. I assure you that at all times the Labour party has sympathetically considered the claims of the invalid and old-age pensioners, and in my policy speech I made special reference to them and set out what I proposed to do to ameliorate some of their sufferings.
Mr. F. Strahan, Secretary to the Prime Minister’s Department, wrote -
I am directed to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 27th May, 1939, suggesting an increase in old-age and invalid pensions, and to inform you that the representations made in connexion with the matter have been noted.
Mr. Lewis then communicated with me, and asked what more could be done. On behalf of my correspondent and myself, I wish the attention of the appropriate Minister to be drawn to this matter.
During the year senators have received communications from Australian organizations relative to educational interests. Those bodies have asked the Commonwealth Government to recognize the need for greater expenditure on education that can be borne by the States. Primarily education is the responsibility of the States, but . there are financial phases of the work - which we cannot expect die States to assume wholly. It would take too long to elaborate the subject, but a letter dated the 28th March of this year from the general secretary of the New South Wales Public School Teachers Federation stated -
The issue is whether the Commonwealth Parliament is concerned with the right development of Australian children, which is the crux of Australian development.
I replied sympathetically to the secretary and pointed out that education was originally the responsibility of the States, but I promised to bring the matter under the notice of the Commonwealth Government, and I do so now. I also received a letter from the Australian Teachers Federation, in which these comments Appear -
Extending over a long period the Australian Teachers’ Federation has applied to the Commonwealth Government for aid to education!. We have also on a previous occasion represented the claim to individual members and senators, but very little advance has been made.
We are aware of the demands upon the financial resources of the Commonwealth for defence, but we would urge that money spent upon education, e.g., technical education, would relieve the adverse circumstances affecting defence, in fact, the whole defence plan must fail unless a sufficient supply of technically trained men be available.
There is just one other valuable communication to which I shall refer. It is from the Australian Council for Educational Research, of 145 Collins-street, Melbourne. That body sent me a letter through Mr. Frank Tate, who, as honorable senators all know, is a great educational authority. The members of the executive of that council are: Mr. Frank Tate, C.M.G., I.S.O., MA., president; Professor H. T. Lovell, M.A., Ph.D., vice-president; Professor Mackie, M.A. ; and the executive officer is Mr. K. S. Cunningham, M.A., Ph.D. That body approached the Prime Minister and its letter to me explains that it received a reply in March last stating that - financial aid could not be made available by the Commonwealth Government; the grounds given for the refusal being that our activities are wholly of benefit to State institutions, namely the Education Departments and Universities. We naturally feel disappointed with this outcome and particularly with the grounds on which refusal was made, because we feel that the work we are doing is primarily -of federal significance.
The council asks the Commonwealth and the States to contribute for ten years from
December, 1939, one half of the present endowment of £7,500 received from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. On a population basis the annual contributions of the various governments would be-
The council stated -
Up to March, 1939, the Governments of New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania have announced their - willingness to contribute their share if the other States do likewise.
It is not an unreasonable request to make, and I ask the Leader of. the Government to pass it on to the Ministry. I suggest that it is high time that the Commonwealth Government realized a modest measure of responsibility in the matter of education.
There is just one other matter. Some weeks ago, Senator Herbert Hays, after talking with me, and because of correspondence we had received, raised the question of the allowances to unofficial postmasters and postmistresses. He received an answer from the department, but it was not satisfactory to me, and I am sure that if he were present he would say that it was not satisfactory to him. I suggest that this matter is worthy of more than passing attention. I know of cases, particulars of which I am prepared to produce at the appropriate time, in which the wages paid to these men demonstrate that the most serious sweating has been practised. It is a sorry state of affairs that this should happen in a department which for so many years has returned handsome profits. It is a blot on the administration that this section of the postal employees should be so seriously underpaid. I ask the Minister to bring the various points I have raised under the notice of responsible Ministers.
– There is a well-known Australian slogan “ Australia rides on the sheep’s back “ which I believe was used by Mr. Bruce, when, as Prime Minister a few years ago he went right through the great pastoral districts of Queensland and pointed out how much Australia owed its settlement, development and financial stability to our great export industry, the wool industry. The very fact that that phrase has become a national slogan shows the general appreciation of the value of a great industry which has pioneered the greater part of Australia, which was responsible for opening up country for closer settlement, which in the southern districts preceded the plough, and which, in the main, is responsible for the existence of those scattered populations which are to be found throughout the great outback of Australia. In the’ north the pastoral industry was responsible for the civilizing of the natives. Even’ in recent years in the Kimberley district, in the far north of Western Australia, pastoralists have at times, had trouble with the natives. Only a few years ago a Kimberley pastoralist, with whom I went to school, lost his life at the hands of the natives in this work of colonizing the far north for which the pastoral industry, almost unaided, is responsible. The wool industry is not only out greatest export industry, but it is also the source of our financial stability and the mainstay of our ability to meet our national overseas obligations. Looking back over the history of the last few decades we find that the pastoral and agricultural industries have borne almost, the entire burden of the generous tariff support given, to the highly protected secondary industries of Australia. This protection has been maintained at the expense of the rural population. Many of our fine pioneering families and their descendants who have done so much in the development of Australia now find themselves faced with financial embarrassment and, in some cases where droughts have been serious, with financial ruin. For the first time the Australian sheepbreeding and wool industry has had to ask the Commonwealth Government, and to some extent the State governments, for substantial financial assistance in the way of a bounty on the production of wool. In this connexion I refer the Minister to resolutions which have been forwarded to the Prime Minister by the Australian Primary Producers Federation, a new organization in this industry, by the Australian Woodgrowers Council, and also by the Graziers Federal Council, which represents all States of the Commonwealth. These organizations have asked for a bounty on the production of wool sufficient to allow a margin of profit to the wool-growers. The first request made to the Government from these sources was for a bounty of Id. per lb.; but later the request was amended to a sum necessary to ensure a margin of profit to growers which, on present prices, means more than Id. per lb. These unprecedented requests by the wool-growers have been necessitated by the desperate state of their industry, which in the past has prided itself on keeping free from interference by governments. The pastoralists have been forced to seek assistance because of their inability to bridge the gap between production costs and the low prices received for their product. The present position of the industry has been brought about by five main factors, three of which were referred to by the Leader of the Country party in the House of Representatives (Sir Earle Page) yesterday. The first of these factors is the action of governments in allowing the whole economy of the Commonwealth to become so ill-balanced that whilst some sections are able to make huge profits under the shelter of the tariff, others, such as the wool industry, have been compelled to buy all of their requirements in the dear local markets and to sell their product at the world’s cheap price. To enable woolgrowers to continue to supply our overseas funds, the Government should assist the wool industry, even if it means taking by way of additional taxation some of the huge profits of the highly-protected secondary industries. Some urge that it is far safer to provide a bounty from internal funds than to hold Australian wool off the world’s markets in an endeavour to achieve a higher price than world parity. Of course there are two schools of thought as to the best method of marketing wool. The second reason for the granting of a bounty is the loss to Australian wool-growers caused by the tariff, and the absurd and blundering trade-diversion policy adopted by the Commonwealth Government two or three years ago, the cost of which fell, very largely, on the shoulders of the wool industry. The third reason is that the wool industry has endeavoured over the years to produce without a loss by reducing costs. All those costs which are within the growers’ control have been cut to the limit. Since 1929, the average price of wool per pound in Australia has been four times above, and six times below, the cost of production. The Commonwealth Wool Inquiry Committee indicated in November, 1932, that the cost of producing one pound of wool was ll£d. Although wages paid for shearing and crutching since then have been increased from 1.55d. to 1.63d. per lb., the cost of wool production is estimated to have fallen from 11.22d. to 10.46d. per lb. during that period. This has been secured by a reduction of government charges, particularly pastoral land rents by the State governments, by small reductions of taxes, and also in some instances by reduced interest charges. I pay tribute to State governments for the concessions they have made, particularly the Government of Western Australia, for the consideration which it has extended to primary industries in the way of reduced Crown rents in respect of big properties in the far north and throughout the pastoral areas. Unfortunately, owing to the huge defence programme upon which we have embarked, it appears that taxes will have to be substantially increased. This increase of taxation will counter-balance to some extent the concessions made by State governments. Other factors operating against the success of the industry are the steadily firming interest rates and the reduced returns from the sales of wool. In many districts, due to had seasons, the clip is being reduced. In the first ten months of 1938-39, 2,377,408 bales of wool were exported and sold for £33,913,352. During a similar period in 1937-38, 2,067,167 bales of wool were sold for £36,364,567. Thus, although 310,000 more bales were sold last year, the return to the growers was less by £2,400,000. It is obvious that the decreased return is responsible for the depressed condition of the wool industry. The Country party believes that this state of affairs should not be permitted to continue. The fourth reason is the failure of the Australian WoolGrowers Council to change its policy in regard to wool marketing. I share the belief of the Western Australian Primary Producers Association, the Selectors Association of Queensland, the Farmers and Settlers Association of New South Wales, and the United Country party of Victoria, that the several proposals, including the recommendations of the Australian Wool Inquiry Committee, which aimed to protect the interests of small growers, have not received the support they merited. These proposals were rejected because they conflicted with the council’s traditional policy of laissez faire. At any rate, all of those organizations have withdrawn from the Australian Woolgrowers Association for the reason I have mentioned. The objective of the Western Australian Primary Producers Association for several years past has been the establishment of a wool marketing organization with power to fix a minimum reserve price for .all wool. We ‘believe that the establishment of such an organization and the fixing of a minimum reserve price for wool would improve prices paid to producers, particularly men operating in a small way. But until such organization is formed we have through the new body, the Australian Primary Producers Federation joined in the requests for the payment of a bounty on wool production. This appeal comes from the whole of the organizations, representing large and small growers of wool.
The fifth reason why assistance is required in the pastoral industry, is the severity of the drought in the pastoral districts of Western Australia, particularly in the northern gold-fields areas during the last six or seven years.
I have had placed in my hands some interesting statistical information showing the tremendous decline of the number of sheep in Western Australia in the last few years. With your permission Mr. President, I should like to have it incorporated in Hansard.
– I think the honorable senator had better read the document.
– Is the honorable senator stonewalling the Government’s business ?
– If the Leader of the Opposition can point to a more important subject than the condition of the wool industry in Australia I should like to know what it is.
– Last night, according to the honorable senator, the most important subject was wheat.
– The Country party members decided that this subject should be ventilated in this Parliament as soon as possible. The Leader of the Country party (Sir Earle Page) referred to it in the House of Representatives yesterday, and I am bringing it to the notice of the Senate to-day.
– What does the honorable senator know about the date of the next election?
– The members of the Country party are not concerned about that matter. My intention now is to place before the Senate information relating to the decline of the num’bers of sheep in Western Australia. The figures for the State are as follows : -
These figures show a decrease for the whole State of nearly 2,500,000 sheep since 1933. I should add that most of the loss has been sustained in the pastoral areas and not in the farming districts. The figures for the northern gold-field division are as follows: -
The above figures show a total decrease in the northern gold-fields division of nearly two-thirds of the total number of sheep. As will be seen, there have been tremendous losses in the pastoral areas in the last few years. For the north-western division the figures are -
There has been a decline of 1,300,000 sheep in that division since 1929. The figures which I have given are the latest that I have been able to obtain. In some districts drought conditions continued for a year or eighteen months longer than in others. A reduction of over 1,300,000 in one district alone indicates a very serious state of affairs. The people living in the north-west of Western Australia have to endure very trying climatic conditions. In the earlier days of settlement they had to withstand losses from hostile natives as well depredations by wild dogs, and other adverse circumstances. The natives ultimately became of great assistance in dealing with the flocks, and they were well treated by the squatters.
It will be seen that for the reasons given, assistance is required for the general rehabilitation of the wool industry. Special assistance is required for those pastoralists whose flocks have been so very sadly depleted through the recent lengthy period of drought.
In the House of Representatives yesterday, the Leader of the Country party (Sir Earle Page) on behalf of our party urged the Government to give sympathetic consideration to the request of woolgrowers that the question of a bonus on the production of wool should be submitted to the Tariff Board for inquiry and report. This procedure would enable the producers to state their case fully and publicly and I strongly support this request.
The Tariff Board should also be asked to report on the establishment of a woolmarketing organization, which should be vested with power to fix a minimum reserve price for wool, unless the Government is prepared to act on the recommendations already made by the Australian Wool Inquiry Committee. The Tariff Board would he unlikely to recommend a bonus on wool production unless it were satisfied that the present marketing conditions were such as to ensure to the grower a proper price. Many small growers consider that the present policy is one of marketing the producer’s wool at the buyer’s price. I also urge the Government to make certain that no fresh taxes will be imposed on the pastoral industry, and to expedite the negotiations for trade treaties with America, Japan, and other countries which are large users of Australian wool, with the object of restoring health to this great basic industry whose depressed condition must cause a great loss of employment in practically every other Australian industry. This action, however, would not meet the position of those pastoralists who have suffered through drought, and whose flocks have been so seriously depleted as was shown in the figures which I have read to the Senate.
The Pastoralists Association of Western Australia has supplied me with figures, showing the decline of the wool clip in the purely pastoral areas of Western Australia, excluding agricultural areas, and the even greater decline of its value during the past eight years. The position is clearly set out in the following table : -
These figures show the serious condition into which the industry has drifted, and emphasize the need for material assistance from the Commonwealth, particularly in these areas which have suffered so much from drought.
In view of the enormous losses of sheep suffered by very many pastoralists, direct monetary help should be given to growers in order to enable them to restock their holdings in those districts where climatic conditions permit of restocking. This would be done by a grant to the States. The Commonwealth cannot make grants to individual pastoralists, but it may make advances to the State governments, which will then be able to render assistance to droughtstricken pastoralists, as was done to wheat-growers under the Loan (Farmers’ Debt Adjustment) Act; that is to say, the assistance should be in the form of loans without interest, the question of whether or not the money should be repaid being left to the discretion of the governments of the States concerned. It is essential that assistance for the restocking of holdings should he given at once to pastoralists who have lost, in many instances, the major portion of their flocks through drought. A bounty on wool alone would not rehabilitate those pastoralists whose flocks have been decimated by drought, to which our outer pastoral areas are unfortunately subject. I appeal to the Government to give full consideration to, and take early action regarding, these requests, particularly the unanimous request of the associations representing the producers of both large and small clips, who desire that the subject of a bounty on the production of wool be referred to the Tariff Board for report. The vicious cycle has operated for many years, and the pastoral industry is the only one that has had no direct assistance from the Government to enable it to meet the successive burdens.
SenatorCollings. - It has always stood on its dignity.
Senator E. B. JOHNSTON.The pastoralists are now driven into the position of having to ask for assistance, because they can no longer carry the burden which the honorable- gentleman and his friends have helped successive govern ments to place upon the wool industry, through ever-increasing duties, industrial awards, and costs of production.
I appeal with confidence to the Government to act in this matter, and to grant the measure of assistance that I have suggested in regard to those pastoralists whose holdings have been depleted - in some cases the flocks have been almost entirely destroyed - through drought. I make this appeal with the greater confidence because of the notable utterances of the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), which show his desire to assist primary industries in every direction.
SenatorColllings. - Does not the honorable senator trust him?
– I am expressing my confidence that this appeal will be met by him and the Government in the proper spirit.
– I thought that the honorable senator doubted him.
– I expressed no mistrust yesterday. I said that his public utterances during his brief regime as Prime Minister enable me to address this appeal to the Government with much greater confidence than I might have had before those statements were made. I may add that I submit the appeal with great confidence, because in the present Cabinet there is at least one Minister who has a life-long, practical knowledge of the pastoral industry. I refer to Senator McBride, whose expert knowledge of this industry, of the depressed prices experienced by it, and of the ravages of drought, should be of the utmost, assistance to the Government in the consideration of this most important subject.
– I support, to a large extent, what Senator Johnston has said. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) stated a few days ago that a double dissolution was not brought about in 1930 because certain customs duties had not been ratified ;but I point out, in passing, that the enactment of a small validating measure would have solved the difficulty, and I still maintain that the Labour Administration of that period was unwilling to face the election.
The wool industry, which is the largest export industry of Australia, is now in a serious position. At one time, artificial fibres were practically unknown, or were manufactured to such a limited extent that they had no serious effect upon the demand for wool; but, owing to certain countries being unable to purchase wool on the world’s markets, the chemists and manufacturers have devoted their attention successfully to the production of artificial fibres. The fibres are converted into textiles, and a vigorous advertising campaign, which might be described as an anti-wool campaign, has been waged. As Australia is the largest wool-producing country in the world, the Government should be deeply concerned regarding the position in which the industry now finds itself.
In 1930, the total quantity of artificial fibres manufactured was 450,000,000 lb.; in 1934, the total had risen to 780,000,000 lb.; and, in 1937, to 1,210,000,000 lb. Most of the materials are made from artificial fibres, such as rayon, and are in direct competition with wool. Last week, the reply furnished to a question asked by me in this chamber showed that fibre manufactured synthetically is being mixed with wool, and that the goods are sold as woollen goods, the general public believing that it is getting an article which is all wool. Staple fibre is being imported into this country and mixed with wool fibre in the way I have described. I have asked that this matter be referred to the Tariff Board for report. Practically 50 per cent, of the export currency for the present year is supplied by the pastoral industry. I include the exports of wool and fat lambs. Therefore, anything which damages this great industry is necessarily against the public interest, because it injures the people of this ‘ country, and reduces the funds available with which to meet our national commitments overseas.
One reads in the newspapers, headlines such as this : “ Increase of the price of wool to 20d. per lb “. The impression is formed that the wool-grower is in a very favorable position, but the price of 20d. per lb. is probably received for a specially picked line of not more than five bales. It may be wool needed for special manufacturing purposes, and the bidding for it would naturally be very keen. When the highest price at a sale is ls. 6d. per lb., it may be assumed that the average price received would be about 12d. per lb. At the March sales in Brisbane, the average price realized for greasy wool was 10.13d. per lb., Australian currency. In Queensland, practically 99 per cent, of the wool at any sale is merino, which fetches a higher average price than cross-bred. The price of lOd. per lb., would represent 8d. per lb. sterling, and, comparing it with the pre-war basis, would be equivanent to abour. 5d. per Ib. Taking the average over the last 35 years, during most of which period we were on the gold standard, the price that I have quoted is considerably lower than the average.
Many people consider that a woolgrower is a big station owner who has large flocks, but that is quite a wrong conception, for the great majority of the growers in Australia own small flocks. The following table has been extracted from figures issued by the Commonwealth Statistician in November, 1938: -
That table shows that of 95,207 flock masters in Australia 52,960 have flocks of under 500 sheep. The cost of producing wool, which varies in different districts, was investigated by the Commonwealth Wool Inquiry Committee in October, 1932. That committee after taking evidence throughout Australia reported that the average cost of producing wool was 14d. per lb. of greasy wool sold after allowing 5 per cent, on the outlay of capital needed to run one sheep, which worked out at an average of £3 per head on the average carrying capacity of the holding. If a grower had a flock of 2,000 sheep his outlay in improvements, land, &c, would be in the vicinity of £6.000 on which amount the committee allowed 5 per cent. interest. In respect of a freehold property, the cost would be greater - probably £6 for each sheep.
– Has the honorable senator seen the financiers about the interest ?
– Yes. In a number of cases in North-west Queensland, interest has not been charged for a num ber of years. In addition under the Farmers Debt Adjustment Act, the banks and financial institutions have written off debts over the whole of Australia amounting to about £13,000,000.
– Have the shipping companies been approached about freights on wool ?
– Yes. The report of the committee also stated that11½d. per lb. represents the cost of production without interest, managerial expenses, or commission. That is the lowest amount at which greasy wool could be sold without loss, provided the owner was running the place himself without outside labour and received no remuneration for the work of himself or his family. It will be Seen, therefore, that a return of10d. per lb. does not cover expenses. There are, of course, some properties in favoured positions which show a profit, as for instance, those in good country, close to markets, which have gone in for the top dressing of pastures. Speaking generally, however, it is impossible for the wool-growers to make ends meet with wool at only 10d. per lb. In favoured districts some pastoralists derive income from the sale of fat lambs, which have brought good prices for several years.
The Leader of the Opposition referred to shipping freights. I agree with him that that is a direction in which the Government should attempt to reduce costs. The Commonwealth Year-Book contains some valuable information on this subject. I quote from page 120 of the Commonwealth Y ear-Book No. 31 of 1938-
The latest figures available, which give the rates current at 31st March, 1038, show that the rate for general merchandise from Australia to United Kingdom and Continent was 63s. per ton weight or measurement, while the rates for wheat (parcels) and wool (greasy) were respectively 33s. 9d. per ton weight and1d. per pound plus 5 per cent, less 10 per cent. The charter rates for wheat ranged between 30s. 9d. and 36s. 6d. per ton.
The freight on greasy wool to England is £91s. 8d. a ton.
– That represents about10d. a sheep.
– Yes. I suggest that the Commonwealth Government should examine the extremely high rates with a view to their reduction.
Railway freights also are high, as the following table shows: -
In Queensland, 300 miles is not an unusual distance to carry wool by rail. Tapering rates are provided for greater distances. A charge of £5 5s. 6d. a ton is too high for an industry which is in such a serious condition.
– Does the honorable senator know that, despite the much lower rate in Victoria, large quantities of wool in that State are carried by road?
– I am aware of that.
– Road freights are lower.
– Both the wool and wheat industries are in difficulties, although the wheat industry has been given assistance in various ways.Wheat is carried on the railways of the several States at rates much lower than those charged for wool. The rates in respect of wheat are: -
It will be seen thatin Victoria the rate over 300 miles for wool is the same as for wheat. The Commonwealth Government would be justified in urging the Queensland Government to charge for wool the rate n’ow charged for the carriage of wheat on the State railways.
– Wool could be carried more cheaply by motor lorries.
– In many instances, the distances are too great for motor transport and I believe that we should use the railways, where possible, as we are then supporting our own investment.
– The Queensland railways will not carry heavy goods unless they get the lighter freight also; it is a case of all or nothing.
– Lower rates than for wool are charged by the railways of the various States for the carriage of butter. That is shown in this table : -
I make these comparisons in order to show that, although wool is the only one of the three great primary industries to which I have referred which has not been assisted by a home-consumption price, or a bounty, or in some other way, higher rates are charged by the railway authorities of the several States for carrying wool than for carrying either wheat or butter. Wool also pays higher freights by sea, and higher insurance premiums. The marine insurance premium on general cargo carried from London to Australia is 2s. 6d. per cent; on general cargo carried to London, the rate is 5s. per cent. From sheep’s back at, say, Julia Creek in the north-west, to Brisbane, via Townsville, the rate is 6s. per cent. In considering this subject, we must not’ lose sight of the effect of the wool industry on employment in metropolitan districts; In the manufacture of woollen goods of various kinds, many thousands of persons are employed. Honorable senators should consider these facts, and take steps to ensure that those engaged in wool-growing are given a chance to make a reasonable living. Australia is a high protection country. Our woolgrowers have to dispose of their clips in the world’s markets in competition with wool produced in other countries having lower wage standards. The Government, therefore, should do all that is possible to help this great basic industry. State governments and shipping companies could assist by reductions of the railway and shipping freights, and Commonwealth and State governments by a reduction of taxes.
– The honorable senator advocates a reduction of the shipping freights. A nationalist government sold the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers.
– Did that line ever make any profits? As a matter of fact there were definite losses every year. Permission to carry forward losses would also be of material assistance in the manner of tax payments. Certain losses are allowable deductions. This is a necessary condition for every industry in which there is an element of risk due to seasonal conditions and price fluctuations! The sheep man has to contend with numerous pests, droughts and floods. He is not in the comparatively secure position of a city manuf acturer, and in preparing his return for income tax ‘purposes he should have more generous treatment with regard “to the averaging of losses. I could mention many cases in which heavy losses have been incurred. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings), knows that growers in northern Queensland have lost 3,000,000 sheep from droughts and flood in about three year’s. The value of those sheep could be put down at £l a head. If a fire had occurred in a city and caused £3,000,000 worth of damage, the story would be front page news in the newspaper, ‘whereas a -similar loss to our woolgrowers, because it was sustained over a period of years, was hardly noticed in many sections of the press.
– The honorable senator has spurned our sympathy.
– I do not think that I can be rightly accused pf ever having spurned anybody. If the Opposition advances a sound argument on a subject I am prepared to listen to it.
– The Country party has voted against every tariff proposal that has been introduced for the benefit of secondary industries.
– That is not correct. I have supported the Leader of the Opposition in divisions on tariff items.
– Senator Johnston did not do so.
– I do not believe that the Commonwealth can be run on a freetrade policy. Primary and secondary industries are interdependent. Hitherto the wool industry has not sought Commonwealth assistance. We now ask that it be given some measure of protection, in order that the growers may have the same chance of making a living as have those engaged in our secondary industries. 1 am 11Ut the selected representative of the wool industry, but I have heard that some growers have suggested that the Commonwealth Government should assist the industry by providing a bounty of Id. per lb. I leave this matter to the sympathetic consideration of the Government.
I had proposed to speak about the pearling industry at Thursday Island, but I shall see the Minister personally about it. .
Senator ARMSTRONG (New South
Wales) [3.37].-I have .to bring forward a ^complaint affecting the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, and . I think it applies ;to>; other .branches of the Government/ Service also v .T. am concerned about the -,. way - which. the Public Service .Boards has been’ ‘making appointments’ ‘oft ^persons’ :from outside the Service to; :.the - fourth division. The Government- Gazelle., of the 22nd December^ 1938,- notified as vacant, the position of Field- Officer (Retail Prices) of the Statistician’s Branch,. Adelaide. The same Gazette “announced the creation of the position of Supervising .Field Officer at Canberra. Mr. A. B. Croft was appointed to the position at Canberra at a salary of £529. That information was given in the Government Gazette of the 12th January, 1939. His name did not appear . in the permanent staff list of January, 1938, so that after about twelve months’ service as Field Officer at Adelaide, he was promoted, given an increase of salary of £100 a year, and transferred to Canberra. Another appointment from outside the Service was made to fill the position that he vacated at Adelaide. The details are set out in the Government Gazette, of the 2nd March, 1939. In this instance, Mr. R. Y. Padman was appointed at a salary of £420. These salaries represent the plums of the Fourth Division, and there are very -few positions available at those rates. As no appeal can be made against such appointments, it is grossly unfair to the Commonwealth Public Service that men from outside should he able to obtain positions whenthere are available officers of long experience in this Service. If that statement about these appointments is not correct I hope that the Minister will let me know. If I am right, I ask him to see that the conditions complained of shall not be allowed to continue.
.- Inquiry would reveal that a tremendous amount of overtime is being worked ‘ in the Government departments in Canberra. That is due to the initiation of the Government’s expanded programme of works, hut it is not an efficient Way of having work done. Since a large number of skilled clerks are out of employment, it would be better to make additional appointments to the staffs of the various departments. This is a matter which should receive the attention of the Public Service Board. Serious delays have occurred in the Migration Department, the officers of which are working long hours, whilst in the Works Branch, one of the key services, much overtime is being worked. Many unemployed men in our capital cities would be glad of this work. If they were engaged, permanent employees would not be required to work overtime.
There should be a combing out of the married women in some departments. According to’ allegations that have been made, this is a matter that should have immediate attention.
I was glad to hear the Minister for the Interior (Senator Foll) say that he intended to clean up the shocking industrial conditions- obtaining in Canberra. There is a good deal to be’ “done in the Works Branch. Appropriations to give effect to the -Government’s programme will have to be made later. The honorable gentleman is new to his office, but he has handled expeditiously the various matters that we have brought to his notice. Senator Cameron, Senator Sheehan and I have visited numerous industrial concerns, and we could not believe that any building contractor would victimize eight men because they had spoken to an arbitration inspector and threatened to take action on account of a breach of an award. The Minister will take a very important step if, during his administration, he orders that future works contracts should contain a clause providing that if a contractor breaks any of the award conditions the contract shall be cancelled. A new ordinance should be issued giving to the inspector the right to police awards. I find it hard to believe that eight men were told to get off a job because they had said that the contractor was not playing the game. I understand that to get off the job in Canberra means to be off jobs in the whole of the Territory. But the Minister has taken action, and the three married men are to be given work again. If we cannot get industrial matters-right in Canberra, what hope have we of getting them right in other parts of Australia? Parliament is the source of industrial legislation, and I hope that the matter to which I have referred will be cleared up before Parliament reas.sembles
The Minister for the Interior has taken over a busy department. Migration problems confront every honorable senator. Numbers of people whom we do not know, interview us on this matter. Allegations are made that some delay occurs between the giving of approval by the Minister and the issuing of landing permits. I understand that the honorable gentleman is looking into this matter. Government supporters cannot say that we are “ egging “ on migration ; we are simply handling cases on behalf of persons who interview us. I have dealt with about 36 cases, and I understand that a number of excellent migrants have been admitted. I believe that there are certain people in Australia who trade in the admission of migrants. Their method is to write to Austrians, for instance, stating that for a certain amount they believe that they can secure their entry to the Commonwealth. I have in mind a particular case in which a very charming lady came to see me - I might mention that Senator Cameron also was present - and produced letters in handwriting which, I. noticed, bore a remarkable resemblance to that in letters brought to me by other people seeking similar assistance. I ask the Minister to institute inquiries with a view to ascertaining if agents in Australia are acting on behalf of groups of individuals.
The Public Service Board is chiefly responsible for the appointment of additional officers to the various departments. The fact that in many of our public departments to-day, public servants are called upon to work a considerable amount of overtime, seems to suggest that the departments are hopelessly understaffed. At a time when there is so much unemployment in our midst, every effort should be made to augment the staffs of public departments to full strength. I trust that this will be done without delay.
– The members of the Country” party in this chamber have had a fieldday to-day, knowing that before long they will have to face their masters. It must not be forgotten that for a number of years that party has held the balance of power in both branches of .the legislature. Taking full advantage of its position in the past, it has been able to influence the Government to introduce measures, the responsibility for which it now seeks to unload on to somebody else.
– That party was responsible for the placing on the statutebook of the Loan (Farmers’ Debt Adjustment) Act, under which £12,000,000 was provided for the relief of necessitous farmers.
– We remember that measure only too well. At first that money was appropriated for the needy, and not for the greedy. But later the law was amended so that there was plenty of money for the greedy but none for the needy. I should like to know the num!ber and occupations of persons who died during the years 1937-38 and 1938-39, leaving estates valued at over £20,000. If that information be supplied, we shall be able to present a very interesting and convincing case in this chamber. We, on this side, are mindful of the conditions pertaining in the wheat and wool industries ; but we are also mindful of the needs of the citrus-growers, the potato-growers, and the many other sections of the community in whose interests not one member of the Country party has uttered a word. To that party those people are but a forgotten legion. Much has been said by representatives of the Country party regarding high railway freights. Many of the wealthy people whose interests are so jealously guarded by honorable senators of that party live on the other side of the world. For the transport of their wheat and wool they use their own motor lorries, which operate on highways paid for out of the general revenues of the States; but when, owing to an adverse season, it became necessary to transport their starving stock to other areas for agistment, they clamoured for the stock to be carried at nominal rates. When the Transport Act was passed by the Parliament of New South Wales, they were compelled to transport their wheat and wool by rail. Not for much longer will the Country party be able to ride roughshod over this Government, because, as the Leader of the Opposition has pointed out, most honorable senators opposite are shortly to face their masters. I am sympathetically disposed towards the farmers ; I realize the difficulties under which they live; but my sympathy also goes out to other sections of the community whose plight is no better, and to the unfortunate unemployed who have been thrown on to the scrapheap in the capital cities, many of them ‘being forced with their wives and families to exist in hag shacks on a few paltry shillings a week.
In reply to a question which I directed to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, I was informed that unofficial postmasters are paid an average of £96 10s. per annum. I could inform the honorable senator of the names of a number of unofficial postmasters who receive an average remuneration of only 12s. 6d. a week. I now ask the Minister to inform me of the number of unofficial postmasters who receive less than. £1 a week, the minimum they were promised last year during the budget debate. I hope to have an opportunity to deal with the plight of these overworked and ill-paid persons during the forthcoming budget session.
– I suggest that when the Government, through the medium of the National Registration Act, takes a census of the unemployed, it should also consider ways and means of placing those unfortunate men and women in employment. It is practically useless merely to take a census, and to state in general terms from time to time that the Government is prepared to do all that is humanly possible for -the unemployed. I have been privileged to be a member of this chamber for the last twelve months. When I was first elected to this Parliament I directed attention to the growing numbers of our unemployed. I say with conviction that the position has not improved since then ; in fact, if the figures relating to unemployment are reliable, the position has gone from bad to worse. Those figures are obtained through the .State Labour Bureaux, where men eligible for sustenance are registered. In Victoria, thousands of men do not register, for the simple reason that they are not eligible for sustenance. According to our records, the number is increasing day by day, and nearly one-third of those who were registered as being unemployed early in 1932 are still unemployed. It may seem that I am unduly harping upon this matter, but I submit that I am justified in taking up a little time to bring it prominently under the notice of the Government. The State governments and subordinate bodies, such as the municipal councils, are not in a position to do anything really worth-while for the unemployed. They are able to provide sustenance and a small measure of relief, but any large contribution towards the problem of unemployment is beyond their resources. This Government should make some earnest endeavour to solve the problem. It is not sufficient merely to obtain figures and to leave it at that. Victoria has no register of women and young girls out of employment, because the Government did not consider such a register necessary. It cannot be denied, however, that there are large numbers of women and young girls who need relief. Unless this matter be mentioned over and over again, very little will be done. I have no desire to say anything which might be regarded as unjust. This brings me to the action of the Government in applying the guillotine. Ministerial supporters should know that all politicians possess the power of coercion over their fellows. They should remember also that action and reaction are equals as well as opposites. By that I mean that by applying the “ guillotine “ for the purpose of preventing honorable senators on this side from expressing their views on measures presented for discussion, the repercussion on the Government may, possibly, be more drastic than if we were given a reasonable opportunity to express thoughts on ministerial proposals. I know it has been said that there is too much talking and possibly too much repetition in the parliamentary debates. Admittedly there may be perhaps more talking than the average Minister or member cares to listen to. Perhaps also there is repetition. But I put it to Ministers that the more encouragement that is given to men and women to express their thoughts through the medium of the spoken or the. written word, the more we do to raise the cultural level of the people and improve the position generally. It does not matter, I suggest, whether many of us express our thoughts crudely or not. Sometimes gems of wisdom come from the illiterate as well as the literate; so the Government, I believe has more to gain by refraining from the use of the “gag” than b,y using it. I know perfectly well that by some Government supporters, this is considered the smart and perhaps the statesmanlike thing to do. They have the mistaken belief that the use of the guillotine brings results and, in their clubs and social gatherings, I have no doubt, they congratulate one another upon the effective manner in which they “ gagged “ those “ Labour fellows “ in Parliament. Personally the use of the guillotine or the “ SaS “ does 1X04 distress me very much, because I know that although we may be “ gagged “ in Parliament we are not “ gagged “ outside ; and, as I have said, action and reaction are. equals as well as opposites which constitutes the saving quality of the position. Government supporters would do well to remember that. Although the “gag” may be applied in this chamber and in the House of Representatives for the purpose of bludgeoning through legislation and in order to meet the convenience of Ministers and their supporters, this process in the long run will not achieve the results expected of it. If proof of what I am saying were needed, I need only remind honorable senators of the fate of the national insurance legislation. The Government and its supporters have been obliged to abandon that measure, which was rushed through this Parliament last year.
– The honorable senator knows that that is not correct.
– It is correct. That legislation aroused so much opposition among the people that the Government was unable to stand up against it.
– They tacked and gybed and their craft went down!
– I assure Government supporters that in this matter I am speaking in all sincerity and not out of pique because I was prevented from saying all that I might have said concerning that legislation. I have all the opportunities that I desire for speaking. I would, however, impress on the Government that it has nothing to lose by taking up the attitude adopted by Voltaire when he said, “ I do not agree with a word that you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it “.
The subject of unemployment has not been discussed as it should have been, because Ministers have “ gagged “ honorable senators. In the discussion on the National Registration Bill it was said that we on this side should not be opposed to compulsion, because we approve of compulsion in respect of education, trade unionism, the registration of motor vehicles, and so on. I put it to the Senate that we are not opposed to compulsion as a principle of government, but we are opposed to the way in which it is to be used in some of the legislation that has come before us- lately, particularly in the Supply and Development Bill and the National Registration Bill.
– We are now dealing with a Supply Bill.
– I am aware of that. This is a bill to grant Supply for the purpose of giving effect to Government proposals, including measures which have recently been passed through this Parliament. I would not like the Minister to leave this chamber harbouring the belief that this Government has accomplished something really worth while by applying the gag. There is plenty of work to do yet. The Government will go into recess without having given us an ample opportunity to discuss measures dealing with unemployment. While there is sweating, and while other social evils exist in our midst, this Parliament should be kept in continuous session.
– Does the honorable senator think that continuous talking would solve these problems?
– Exactly. We have reached our present state of civilization because, in the wider parliament beyond the walls of buildings such as this, mon all through the ages have been continually talking and discussing the problems of their times. If men had not been talking and acting to better their conditions, the present cultural level of the world would not have been achieved. For the edification of the Leader of the Senate, permit me to say that man originally was a barbarian. The next and higher stage of civilization was slavery, followed by serfdom, feudalism, and finally capitalism, our present cultural level. But we are now evolving towards a still higher social state - the collective ownership of the means by which we live. And need I say that when we reach that level, the Labour party will be in control ? This evolutionary change is the outcome of the continuous exchange of ideas between men. I know that the world hates new ideas. It always has. Christ was crucified because he. promulgated a new idea. The men comprising the vanguard of the Labour movement were crucified because they, too, promulgated new ideas. Honorable senators on this side are detested by some Government supporters simply because we are challenging the old ideas and orthodox methods which have been responsible for starvation in the midst of plenty j because we are challenging the idea that a few individuals in the community should, for profit, be allowed to exploit their fellow-men. But we who have been through the school of experience are not concerned. We are inured to adverse criticism, sneers and victimization. All the things that are done or may be done to silence us are of no avail. We shall continue to talk, in the hope that we shall ultimately succeed in persuading our opponents of the truth that is in us, and for the sole purpose of reaching that higher cultural level to which I have alluded.
– I bring to the notice of the Senate the desirability of encouraging the establishment of new industries in Australia. The new Department of Supply and Development should be able to achieve important results in this direction. The council has already done much to aid industrial development in Australia, but hitherto its attention has been directed principally to our primary industries. There is room for a great deal of scientific research with a view to the expansion of our secondary industries. I hope that Senator Foll, the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development, will see if ways and means can be devised to do what I suggest. The Government’s expanded defence proposal will mean a considerable increase of taxes, and it is obvious that the incidence of taxation may retard the development of certain new industries. The Lyons Government and the present Ministry havegone some distance in the direction of encouraging the manufacture of tinned plate in Australia. The annual importation of tinned plate is large, and the establishment of the industry in this country will provide a great deal of employment, as well as assist in the technical training of youths. A committee has been appointed to investigate the extent- of importations of large quantities of commodities, with a view to ascertaining what local industries could be usefully established. I do not know how far the work of that committee has proceeded, but it has wide scope for inquiries, and its investigations may well result in the establishment of new industries with a resultant benefit to the people generally.
Some investors are content to put their money into Commonwealth bonds and other gilt-edge securities, which usually afford relief from State and, in some cases, Commonwealth taxation. When these investments are large, the method adopted proves lucrative, but I put forward a plea for those investors who take risks in connexion with industrial or trading concerns. Through their initiative and energy, new industries are established with benefit to the employees and to every body concerned. Therefore, I suggest that in respect of income from investments in new industries that provide an increase of employment the deductions allowed should be, possibly, two or three times greater than the deductions allowed in respect of income from other sources. In the administration of such deductions, a period of three to five years would be required to enable the new industries to get on their feet. Possibly, at the expiration of that period, by means of ordinary company or dividend taxation, the Treasury would reap its full share of the profits made ; but, during the initial period, the Government should consider allowing these companies a greater deduction than they have obtained up to the present time, in order that they might have greater encouragement than they have had in the past.
I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General what became of the new postage stamp which was to have been issued in connexion with the flight of the clipper Guba from Port Hedland to Africa? I understand that a special stamp was to be issued for the carriage of mails on the exploratory voyage of the Guba and that sufficient profit would have been made out of the sale of stamps to cover the cost of the trip.
– I believe that an international difficulty arose in regard to that matter.
– I hope that the Minister will make inquiries regarding it. Some of my philatelist friends were most disappointed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
Senator McLEAY (South Australia -
Minister for Commerce) [4.21] - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This measure makes provision for the sum of £10,477,100 for ordinary services for the first three months of the financial year 1939-40. This amount is made up as follows: -
The amount of £10,477,100 is estimated to be sufficient to carry on the essential services on the basis of the appropriations passed by the Parliament for the present financial year 1938-39. The items making up this total represent approximately one-quarter of those appropriations, except in a few instances where expenditure is heavy in the early months of the financial year.
The usual provisions are made in the bill for “Refunds of Revenue” and “ Advance to the Treasurer “, the amounts being £500,000 and £2,500,000 respectively. The latter amount is mainly required to carry on uncompleted works in progress at the 30th June, and also to cover unforeseen and miscellaneous expenditure. It will also temporarily finance the special grants to South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania on the same basis as that approved by Parliament for the present financial year.
For the current financial year 1938-39, £2,000,000 was made available for the Treasurer’s Advance prior to the beginning of the year, and, a further £500,000 in September, 1938. Provision for the full amount is the more necessary for the coming year, because the Government proposes that there shall be a full budget debate before passing any of the individual appropriation bills in respect of works, States grants, &c, which will ultimately relieve the charges to the Treasurer’s Advance. No provision is made in the bill for any new expenditure or for any departure from existing policy.
– In the circumstances, I have not the slightest intention to attempt to make an intelligent contribution to this debate. Honorable senators are now asked to vote the sum of £10,477,100, and we are given an extensive document showing how it is proposed to allocate the expenditure. This document was put into our hands only yesterday, although we should have had it, together with some explanatory notes, at least a week ago. I admit that it is beyond my powers to analyse this bill at such short notice, and I shall not attempt the impossible. The Government can have the measure, but, later, I shall take an opportunity to tell the people how, in the circumstances now prevailing, millions of pounds are thrown about in a reckless and unintelligent manner.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Issue and application of £10,477,100).
.- I suggest that, on future occasions, when bills of this kindare submitted, it would be helpful to the Senate if the Government adopted the practice followed in the House of Bepresentatives, and supplied to each honorable senator explanatory notes giving details of proposed expenditure.
Clauses 4 and 5 agreed to.
– Under the heading “ War Services “, I notice that the sum of £310 is provided for “ medical treatment and funeral allowances for persons enlisted for home service “. I should like to know what that sum covers.
– I shall supply the honorable senator later with the information desired by him.
– Among the sums provided for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is an item relating to secondary industry research. I agree with Senator Allan MacDonald that the activities of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research should be expanded, and I urge the Government to consider an increase of the appropriation for secondary industry research, when considering the next budget.
Schedule agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes). - In conformity with the sessional order, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed from page 2037.
– No one will deny that one of the greatest tragedies of to-day is that of our unemployed youths. As this bill seeks to do something for them, I assure the Minister that the Opposition will support it. No nation can afford such . wastage of human energy, not only because of its economic effect on the nation, but also because of the moral and spiritual loss to the youths themselves. The Government has called upon the young manhood of this country to rally in its defence, but it has not been active in planning for their economic security. The late Prime Minister, Mr. Lyons, said that the problem of finding employment for the youth of Australia was a national responsibility. .Some time ago the Labour Government of Western Australia appointed a royal commission to investigate this subject, and the inquiry elicited much valuable information. Following the receipt of the commission’s report, the Government of that State took action within the limited financial means at its disposal.Recently, the Employment Council of New South Wales found that 1,500 youthswere added to the ranks of the unemployed each year. It found also that many hundreds of young men and young women were discharged by their employers before they reached the age of 21 years, thereby adding to the numbers already out of work. That unfortunate state of affairs is due largely to the limited scope for employment provided by our secondary industries. Many boys who obtain positions in emporiums or shops are cast upon the labour market as unskilled workers before they reach the age of 21 years, and others are taken on in their places, at lower rates of pay. As the result of a survey of certain industries in order to ascertain the proportion of juniors to adults, the Commonwealth found that in 40 firms, selected at random, there were 1,246 juniors employed to 305 adults. The following table con.tains some examples : -_
Those figures show how far we have proceeded along the blind alley of youth unemployment. The latest census revealed that there were 90,000 unemployed youths in Australia, of whom 23,000 youths had never done a day’s work. The Commonwealth Statistician estimates that approximately 90,000 juniors enter the wage-earning group every year, and that deaths, retrenchments and retirements account for 50,000 workers. The net excess is, therefore, about 40,000 a year. The Senate has passed a bill providing for a national register. I suggest that a census he taken of the youth of this country, with a view to finding employment for those who cannot obtain it. It is of little use for a youth to learn a skilled trade, such as carpentry or bricklaying, if the market ‘be already oversupplied with trained workers. There should be some balanced method whereby there shall not be a great surplus in one trade and a shortage in another. The development of our secondary industries is of great importance to the youth of this country. Much could be done for them by the establishment of the shipbuilding industry in Australia, for shipbuilding embraces many trades in which youths could be usefully employed, instead of walking the streets, to the detriment of the nation as well as themselves, and causing concern to their parents. More than a monetary grantis required if this problem is to be solved. I do not deny that this grant will be helpful; but it does not go far enough. Before any large building is commenced, architects prepare detailed plans’ and specifications. Similar planning is necessary if the problem of youth unemployment is to be solved.
On several occasions I have mentioned - and I shall continue to mention as long as I remain a member of the Senate - the treatment of boys who wish to enter the Public Service, the Navy, or the Air Force, but are prevented from doing so because, in their early years, they committed some misdemeanour and, unfortunately, were found out. In some instances, they were guilty only of boyish pranks; in others the really guilty persons escaped. If the rule which applies to these lads were to apply generally, perhaps some men holding high positions in the public life of Australia, even in this National Parliament, would be denied the opportunity to serve their fellowmen as they are doing. When volunteers were called for in 1914, no questions were asked as to such misdemeanours. I strongly urge that the form he altered by deleting from it all questions of this nature. After all, these lads have been sufficiently punished for their misdeeds, and should now be given a chance. They should not be debarred from entering the various Commonwealth services. I hope that the Minister will consider this request, for I assure him that so long as I remain a member of the Senate, I shall bring this matter up at every opportunity. This is an injustice inflicted on youths who have committed peccadilloes. They are denied entrance to the Commonwealth Navy, Public Service, and Air Force, and this Parliament should do its duty by ending such a tragedy.
– This is one of the most important bills that have come before the chamber for some time. A most serious responsibility of this country is to provide a proper foundation for coming generations to build on. Much depends on the early training of the hoys and girls who are to be the future citizens of the Commonwealth. Parents make sacrifices in the interests of their children and send them to school. Unhappily, many a father who has spent money on his son now finds that industry has no place for him. What is to become of such a young man ? There is the danger that he may associate with undesirable characters and eventually drift into a career of wrong-doing. Under the present conditions we are not helping him to fit himself to play his part in the development of this country. If he is left to battle for himself and does not find satisfactory work, he will become morally affected.
– Does not the honorable senator think that the hard school of adversity is a good university?
– I think that a good technical education would supply an excellent foundation on which a youth could build. If more of the 90,000 unemployed youths, many of whom no doubt are over 21 years of age, were ready to step into the positions that the Government proposes to create through its defence programme, the Leader of the Government (Senator McLeay) would not find it necessary to insist on the census register. Unfortunately, all the youths do not have an opportunity to receive technical training. The result is many go astray and eventually, as Senator Fraser said, they are brought before the police courts and either fined or sentenced to a short term of imprisonment. When such a lad is released, what incentive has he to love his native country? What inspiration will he have if he is called upon to play a part in the defence of Australia? If a youth has undergone skilled training his thoughts turn, not towards criminal projects, but towards filling an important position in the Commonwealth. Who is to blame for lads going astray? In the majority of cases, the fault is not theirs; we are responsible and the Government is more so. The Government should make provision to see that the unemployed youths receive technical training for various trades.
– Is that not what we are doing by providing £400,000?
– Only recently the Sydney County Council advertised eighteen vacant positions, and received no fewer than 800 applications. That reveals a frightful state of affairs. The honorable senator has asked whether the Government has not supplied money for this purpose. It is making the paltry amount of £200,000 available.
– Yes, in addition to the £200,000 voted two years ago. The honorable senator does not appreciate the value of the figures.
– I appreciate it, but the amount is small when we remember the vast army of unemployed youths who are being denied their rights to citizenship through the neglect of the Government to make adequate plans for their employment. At the same time, the Government experiences no difficulty in providing £78,000,000 for defence purposes. The Government should’ remember that the very foundation of defence is the youth of the country.
– What amount does the honorable senator suggest?
– I suggest a much greater - amount. When the machinery for the national register is put into operation, the Minister will be able to have tabulated “the details concerning unemployed youths, and then he will know exactly the amount of money needed to provide them with a course of training and sufficient jobs. It is not for me to answer the Minister’s question; it is for the Leader of the Government to do so. The Minister seems to think that the sum of £200,000 is adequate to meet the present position. Although many youths are being helped, there are still on the waiting list the names of 3,226, of whom 800 are in Western Australia and 620 in Tasmania. No doubt many thousands have not applied. The State governments have done much to assist the Commonwealth Government in dealing with this problem. They have spent more than it has. Of course the Commonwealth’s plea will be “ Where is the money to come from “ ? The Government has spent £169,000 on its wildcat national insurance scheme. That amount could have been more advantageously expended in training the unemployed youths of this country. The Government could have assisted in another direction. Senator Cooper is a member of the Country party which claims to have induced the Government to vote £12,000,000 for farmers’ debt adjustment. If that money had been distributed in the right direction, it would have been of some assistance to the unemployed youths, but a tag was attached to its expenditure, and the money went to help the mortgagees and not the farmers. Had that £12,000,000 been left in the hands of the States for use at their discretion in the assistance of farmers and the adjustment of their debts, small farmers would have been able to retain their sons on the land instead of throwing them on the already saturated employment markets in the cities. Only £6,000,000 of that appropriation has been distributed.
– That is all that the States have asked for.
– That is so, but only because they have been told that if they ask for increased allocations they will have to accept correspondingly lesser amounts for other purposes. If the Government is desirous of contributing in a worth-while way to the solution of the youth problem, it should make available the balance of the appropriation for farmers’ debt adjustment without restriction. It has already wasted £169,000 on a national insurance scheme which has been jettisoned. In 1936 this Parliament appropriated a further sum of £6,000,000 forthe assistance of farmers and for the adjustment of their debts. That money might well have been used to prevent the drift of country boys to the cities where nothing but unemployment stares them in the face. To-day we are faced with the spectacle of 90,000 unemployed youths who look to the future with perturbation, seeing no careers ahead of them. Is it likely that these boys feel that they have anything to defend in this country? What a contrast there must be between their outlook in a time of emergency and that, of their more fortunate fellows in skilled occupations ! This Government is making no attempt to tackle this problem. If, at any time, it oan find millions of pounds for defence purposes, surely it should be able with equal facility to find the money necessary to enable some scheme to be operated for the benefit of those unfortunate members of the rising generation.
.- As the immediate past President of the Melbourne Technical College I am pleased to support this bill. I appeal to the Minister, however, to consider the making of unconditional grants. I understood the Minister to say that they can only be made on a £1 for £1 basis.
– That condition has not been strictly enforced in the past.
– If the Government can see its way clear to make unconditional grants it will help us very considerably. We estimate that in Victoria alone we require £600,000 in order to bring our technical schools up to date.
– The honorable senator will have to go to Senator Darcey’s bank for that.
– This is not a matter in respect of which we can afford to be facetious. If it were possible for the Victorian Government to raise the money for the improvement of its technical schools it would do so, because it realizes, as does also every authority in Victoria, how necessary it is that our technical schools should be improved. We have not sufficient accommodation and much of ourequipment is obsolete, and we have to charge fees for the education of these youths. Quite a number of them are not in a position to pay the fees demanded. If we had sufficient money to enable free instruction to be provided the country as a whole would benefit. At present those who are not in a position to pay fees are denied instruction.
– What are the fees?
– They vary for different subjects.
– I take it that they are very low.
– They are made as low as possible, but many growing boys and girls are practically the sole support of their parents and are incapable of paying fees. In some instances where we have been satisfied that it would be absolutely impossible for students to pay we have succeeded in obtaining for them free instruction. Our opportunities for extending free instruction, however, are limited because of our lack of funds. I trust that when this matter is being discussed again, the Government will give very serious consideration to the suggestion which I have made. All honorable senators will, I am sure, agree that an educated community is a much greater asset to the country than a partially illiterate community. Virile and trained young men and women constitute the greatest asset of any country. Any money expended for this purpose is not wasted. By raising the cultural level of these growing young men and women we are doing the very best work that could be done in their interests and in the interests of the nation.
– -I am pleased that the Government is recognizing its responsibilities to the youth of Australia by providing £200,000 to assist in the solution of the youth problem. Although I regard the amount provided as totally inadequate for the purpose, I realize that its wise expenditure will make some contribution towards the solution of the problem. I regret, however, that in arranging for the distribution of this money to the various States, the Government has adopted the population basis. Under this bill £186.000 will be distributed over twothirds of the Commonwealth, and only £14,000 over the remaining one-third.
– When money is distributed for the assistance of people no other basis would be equitable.
– I do not agree with the honorable senator. That basis was not adopted by those great statesmen, Mr. Bruce and Sir Earle Page in the distribution of the Federal Aid Roads grant. Under the Federal Aid Roads Act distribution was made on a population plus area basis. I do not suggest that the method of distribution of that grant should be entirely followed in the allocation of money under this bill, but I do claim that greater recognition should be given to the tremendous responsibility undertaken by the Western Australian Government in tending the needs of a population of 465,000 scattered over one-third of the Commonwealth. I know that the Government claims that it is sympathetically disposed towards the western State, but it does not show its sympathy as I should like, namely, by action in grants of this nature. L realize the difficulties which this Government has to face in legislating for a whole continent the population of which is ill-balanced; but I repeat that more consideration should have been extended to the Western Australian Government because of its heavy task in endeavouring to develop such a large area, and to establish under the shelter of the tariff, secondary industries for the absorption of the unemployed and the employment of our youth.
– Very rarely do I find myself able to compliment the Government on any of its legislative acts. I support the bill wholeheartedly. I congratulate Senator Fraser on his second-reading speech on this bill. I make no comments on the manner of distribution of these grants ; I do not know how otherwise it could be arranged. I wish, however, to point out what a tragedy it is that in this year 1939 the National Parliament of Australia - one of* the greatest countries in the world, with a vast area, an almost infinite variety of soils and climates, with mineral and other resources so vast that after 150 years of development we have only touched the fringe of them, and yet with a population of less than 7,000,000 - has to admit that it has allowed to develop within the last few years a problem of youth employment. What do we do with our young people? Senator Aylett detailed a part of the process. Remember, they did not ask to be born; they are not responsible for being here ; we are responsible for their presence in the world. We have baby clinics established in various parts of the country, and prenatal clinics for the guidance of prospective mothers, to ensure that when their children are born they will inherit their inalienable right to be well born. Then we look after the child. We educate it in the schools, universities and colleges. We teach it most of the things that it should be taught. As it develops, it is taught in the schools civics and a number of other cultural subjects. We treat the child as the raw material from which ultimately will be developed the adult unit of the nation. We teach it co-operation ; we teach it love instead of hate; we try to develop it along ethical lines until it reaches the age of fourteen years. I. deplore that under existing systems of education children are allowed to leave school at that age. If I had my way they would remain at school until they reached the age of 21 years, and then they would be fit for the duties and responsibilities of life. We teach the child all the decencies of life, though perhaps not all the cultural things, that it should learn. But because, in government policies, we never distinguish between cause and effect, when a boy reaches the age of fourteen years, he is thrown into the competitive world where only the fittest survive, which does not mean the best, but rather those best fitted to overcome the evil conditions prevailing. The boy, when confronted with the rotten and evil competitive conditions in which the world is struggling, has to unlearn many of the things that have been taught him if he wishes to survive in the maelstrom, where the only law recognized is the law of tooth and claw - the law of the jungle.
– That surely is an exaggeration.
– If the Minister thinks that what I am saying is an exag geration of the position, will he explain the need for this measure that is brought forward to rescue some, at least, ‘ of the 90,000 young men comprising that lost legion of young Australians who, under existing conditions, can find no place in the industrial life of this country, because they have no hope of employment. They ‘are without hope, human outcasts, compelled, many of them, to congregate at street corners, where they unlearn nearly all the best of the things th.it were taught them in their earlier years.
Some who criticize this youth employment movement ask where is the money to come from ? It should be a crime even to mention money in this connexion. The vital problem which confronts the Government is to find a place for these youngmen in the scheme of things; and I remind the Senate that the conditions which make this bill necessary are the Government’s responsibility - not ours. The Government must, somehow, find jabs for the youths. Under present conditions these young men, who are potential wealth-producers, are not only a national loss, but, as Senator Fraser has said, they are also a spiritual loss, and a cultural loss. No price is too high to pay to rescue them from the sea of misery and destitution in which they and their parents have been plunged. We must find the money to meet the needs of these young people. Money is readily made available to buy or make munitions with which to blow men’s souls to hell or to destroy their bodies and hang them, shattered and torn, on barbed-wire entanglements on battlefields ; but when a proposal is made to find money to preserve the lives and souls of these young men and to give them a chance tobecome good citizens of the nation, we are asked where it is to come from.
I had not intended to say so much this evening, but I felt justified in trying to stir Government supporters to action. And may I say, without fear of being misunderstood, that I do not for one moment think that they have less of the milk of human kindness in them than have honorable senators on this side. I have never thought that of them. But. I do say, with all respect to them, that in the consideration of this social problem Government members seem to be unable to appreciate the real position of these unemployed youths - this lost legion of refugees in our own and their own country - who are the victims of the mistakes of their elders. We must stop tinkering at effects and deal with the causes of this social evil. We, on this side, appreciate the action of the Government in setting aside the sum of money mentioned in the bill for assisting youth employment schemes. We think that the Government might have gone further; but we are grateful for this measure. I hope that the best use will be made of the money by the authorities who will handle it, and I trust that when Parliament reassembles after the recess, we shall be told that Ministers have, in the interim, been considering some form of planned economy which will improve our social system; that, in short, the Government intends to deal with causes, and not merely effects.
– in reply - The matter mentioned by Senator Johnston will receive the consideration of the Government. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) intends, during the recess, to visit Western Australia, and while in that State he will see what can be done in the matter.
Senator Aylett, I think, was guilty of exaggeration in his references to the condition of unemployed youths in some of the States. The honorable senator omitted to mention what is being done in the various States by the establishment of night technical schools and in other directions, to improve the opportunities of these young people. The fault is not entirely in the present social system. It is not always possible to interest them in these matters.
– If the Minister had a. patch in the seat of his trousers, perhaps he would not care to be seen in those places either.
– I think that the position has been greatly exaggerated. I contend that the amount of £400,000 is a generous contribution from the Commonwealth to youth employment schemes in the various States. This amount will be subsidized £1 for £1 by State governments, so, in the aggregate, the sum available will he substantial. Political leaders should not, merely for the sake of publicity, magnify the problems. There is some risk that the rising generation may be spoon-fed too much.
– No harm can result from giving publicity to their troubles.
– The honorable senator would do well to remember that his leader (Senator Collings), who has certainly been educated in the school of adversity, is a credit to his party. By his own unaided efforts he has risen to a most responsible position in this Parliament, and has well earned the respect of every member of this chamber. I advise my young friend from Tasmania to look to his leader for inspiration. If we could imbue the young people of this country with some of the fine qualities displayed by the honorable senator’s leader, we should develop a better outlook upon the problems of to-day. I always feel annoyed when public men in their references to unemployment make statements which I regard as an exaggeration of the problem.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with amendments.
In committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ amendments) :
Clause 3 - ‘ alien “ means any person over the age of sixteen years who is not a British subject within the meaning of the Nationality Act 1920-1036:
Uou.se of Representatives’ amendment - Omit the definition of “ alien “. insert the following definition : - “ alien “ means any person over the age »f sixteen years other than a person who -
is a British subject within the meaning of the Nationality Act 1920-1936; or
is, by reason of a declaration made under section eighteen a of that act, entitled, whilst in Australia or any territory, to all political and other rights, powers and privileges to which a natural born British subject is entitled;
Definition of “ Commonwealth officer “ verbally amended.
Clause 7 -
A register of aliens or an index of aliens shall not be open for inspection except for official purposes.
House of Representatives’ amendment -
Omit “ for official purposes insert “ by a person authorized inwriting by the Minister “.
Clause 8 -
1 ) Subject to this section, every alien in the Commonwealth shall, within the prescribed time and in the prescribed manner, make application to the Registrar for the sub-division in which the alien resides to be registered as an alien under this act.
Penalty: Fifty pounds or imprisonment for three months.
Nothing in the last preceding subsection shall apply to- -
an alien who does not intend to reside in the Commonwealth, and does not remain in the Commonwealth, for more than sixty consecutive days : or
House of Representatives’ amendment -
After sub-clause (1) insert the following sub-clause: - (1a) Every alienmaking application to be registered us an alien under this act shall make application in the name which he bears at the time of making the application but shall also state in the application the name which appeared on his passport or other document of identitywhen he first entered the Commonwealth, or, if he produced no passport or other document of identity, the name by which he was then known.
Sub-clause 2 verbally amended.
After “ days “ paragraph (d) insert “, or such shorter period as the Minister, in any particularcase, may direct”.
Clause 13 -
An electoral officer or a Commonwealth officer may require an alien to produce his certificate of registration and any alien who refuses or fails to produce his certificate when so required at a time and place named by the electoral officer or Commonwealth officer shall be guilty of an offence.
House of Representatives’ amendment -
After “ offence.” insert the following subclause : -
A registered alien who leaves or attempts to leave the Commonwealth without having first surrendered his certificate of registration to an electoral officer shall be guilty of an offence.
Insert the following new clause: - 13a. - (1) The Minister may require an alien to report himself to such electoral officer or Commonwealth officer at such times and places as the Minister thinks fit and the certificate of registration of the alien shall be endorsed with the particulars of such requirement. (2)Any alien failing to report himself as required under sub-section (1) of this section shall be guilty of an offence.
Penalty: Fifty pounds or imprisonment for three months.
Clause 16 verbally amended.
Motion (by Senator Foll) agreed to -
That the House of Representatives’ amendments be agreed to.
Resolution reported ; report adopted.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with a message intimating that ithad agreed to the amendments made by the Senate with an amendment.
In committee (Consideration of House of Representatives’ amendment) :
Clause 15 -
The nature of the particulars required to be furnished by the persons or classes of persons of whom a census is taken under this section shall be specified in the Proclamation.
Senate’s amendment -
Leave out sub-clause (2), insert the following new sub-clause: -
The persons or classes of persons who are required to furnish particulars for the purpose of any census of persons or classes of persons directed to be taken under this section shall be specified in the proclamation.
House ofRepresentatives’ amendment of the Senate’s amendment -
Amendment amended as follows: - By omitting all the words after “ leave out sub-clause (2) “.
– I move -
That the amendment of the House of Representatives upon the Senate’s amendment be agreed to.
I point out that the purpose of moving for the insertion of a new sub-clause was to clear up any legal doubt as to the meaning of the phrase “classes of persons “. On further consideration it now seems that the difficulty is not insuperable, and I ask the committee to leave the clause as it stood when the bill reached this chamber, except that subclause 2 is no longer necessary.
: - There is no special virtue in saying “I told you so”; but there are occasions when one naturally feels justified in deriving pleasure from the fact that what we told the Government supporters in this chamber should be done has now been done by the House of Representatives. If I have any regret, it is that the Minister in charge of the bill has apparently been let down by the members of his own party in the other branch of the legislature. I am proud of the fact that the Opposition recognized that the sub-clause was a dangerous one and unworthy of the Government.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment agreed to.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Foll) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This is a short measure consisting of six clauses, the first two of which are self-explanatory. Clause 3 provides for the inclusion in the principal act of two definitions, one of Australia, and one of the Commonwealth. It states that, in each case, the terms shall include territories of the Commonwealth to which the act extends. The fourth clause provides for the inclusion in the principal act of a new section, 5a, which says that the act shall extend to the territories of the Commonwealth, as if each of these territories was part of the Commonwealth. Parts 4, 5, 12, 13 and 14 of the Defence Act do not apply to natives of any territory governed by the Commonwealth under a mandate.
Attention has been drawn to what is a serious defect in the Defence Act at the present time, in that it does not apply to either Norfolk Island ‘ or Papua. The acts governing some territories of the Commonwealth contain a clause which negatives application to them of any other act, unless that act is expressed to extend to the territory. For example, owing to the prohibition contained in section 7 of the Papua Act 1905-1934, the DefenceAct, and consequently, the Australian Military Regulations, do not operate in Papua. For the same reason, the Control of Defence Areas Regulations are not operative at Port Moresby, and it was recently found that there is no law to prevent the erection there of certain oil installations in a position where they would menace defence works. The extension of the Defence Act to the territories has become urgent, because of the necessity for raising forces for local defence purposes.
Clause 5 provides for the repeal of section 8 of the principal act, and the substitution therefor, of a new section. This has been rendered necessary by the approval given by Cabinet to the recommendation of Lieutenant-General Squires, in his first report, that there should be a grouping of formations into “ commands “, in- order to enable the Army to function efficiently -in times of peace and war. The Inspector-General reported that a serious defect in the existing organization of the Military Forces- was the absence of any grouping of formations into “ commands “, which he considered militated against efficient training and administration in peace, and involved a . risk of confusion in the event of war. The three main objections to the existing peace organization may be summarized as follows: -
Tasmania, must, for operational reasons, be grouped initially into two commands.
On the basis of the Inspector-General’s recommendations, approval has been given for the organization of the Australian Military Forces into four commands and one independent garrison. It has been decided that the present 1st Military District, Queensland, and the present 5th Military District, Western Australia, should remain independent commands, under army head-quarters. The Darwin garrison will also be retained directly under army head-quarters, but two commands will be created, one comprising all units - both permanent and militia - in New South Wales, and the other all the units in the present, 3rd, 4th and 6th Military Districts. The Australian Military Forces will therefore be organized in future as follows : -
Northern Command (Queensland) ;
Apart from the educational establishments, army head-quarters will deal with these five head-quarters only on all matters - operational, training and administrative
At the present time the act permits the Commonwealth to be divided into military districts and sub-districts only. The amendments proposed are merely to enable commands and sub-commands, also, to be established. Paragraph viii of section 8 now provides for an officer or officers to be appointed to’ command the whole or any portion of the Defence Force in time of war. The words “ in time of war “ have been omitted, for there seems to be no reason why this power should be limited to a time of war. In fact, officers are appointed in peace time to command portions of the Defence Forces, and these appointments should be legalized. Clause 6 of the bill provides for a consequential amendment.
The Government considers that the reorganization of the commands, as set out in the bill, will make for the easier and more efficient working of the Defence Department.
– This appears to be a purely technical bill, which has been introduced in order to give effect to recommendations made to the Government by its military advisers, and, therefore, the Opposition will not oppose it. I thank the Minister in charge of the bill for the manner in which he has presented it, and especially for the explanatory notes.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) - by Leave - agreed to -
That leave of absence be granted to every member of the Senate from the determination of the sitting this day to the day on which the Senate next meets.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till a day and hour to be fixed by the President, which time of meeting shall be notified to each senator by telegram or letter.
Government Finance. - Bren Guns - Militia Forces: Commonwealth and State Employees - Artesian Bore Waters - War Pensions Assessment Appeal Tribunals - Public Service Arbitrator : Postal Workers Union - Wheat Stabilization Scheme - Business of the Senate: Limitation of Debate - Commonwealth Bank: Mortgage Branch.
– I move -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
To some of the questions upon notice replies could not be furnished this morning, but are now available.
asked of me the following question: -
In view of the reported failure of the present internal loan and its effect on the defence programme, will the Minister inform the Senate what alternative financial arrangements the Government contemplates to meet its commitments ?
The Treasurer advises that the loan having been underwritten, the full amount of it will be received by the governments concerned. The Commonwealth will participate to a small extent only in this loan, and no portion of its share is to be used for defence purposes.
. -Earlier to-day Senator Ashley asked the following questions, upon notice: -
In view of the statement by the Minister that there are minor defects in the supply of tools, jigs and gauges made by Messrs. Holden’s of South Australia, for the manufacture of the Bren gun -
Will the Minister inform the Senate as to the extent of the minor faults?
Is it a fact that tools, jigs and gauges to be effective are required to be made from a 16th to a 1,000th pant of an inch, and that these minor defects would render them useless?
Is it a fact that tools, jigs and gauges have been made in the Lithgow factory for the manufacture of rifles, and that such factory has also made anti-aircraft guns, machine guns, machinery for the manufacture of shell bodies by private enterprise and intricate talkie machinery?
Does he affirm the statement made by him that the factory in New South Wales is incapable of producing such tools owing to lack of machinery ?
The information is not yet to hand, but a reply will be furnished to the honorable senator as early as possible.
On the 13th June, Senator Cooper asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence certain questions regarding leave and pay of Commonwealth and State employees attending military camps as members of the militia forces. Replies were furnished so far as employees of the Commonwealth and New South Wales Governments were concerned, and further informationwas promised regarding the other five States. The Minister for Defence now advises that Victorian and Tasmanian Government employees are treated similarly to Commonwealth and New South Wales employees. As regards South Australia, the position is that if the employee elects, for personal reasons, to attend camp during his recreation leave, he receives full militia pay and full civilian pay. If he has special leave, he receives militia pay plus the difference between military and civil pay, in order to bring his pay to that of his normal civil pay. In that case, he does not therefore receive full civil pay plus full militia pay for the period of leave. Similar conditions to those in South Australia apply to employees in Queensland, except for temporary employees, who must have four months’ service. In Western Australia, employees who elect to attend camp during recreation leave receive full civil pay and militia pay. If they attend at other times, members of the permanent salaried staff receive both civil and military pay, except in the cases of a few juniors, where- militia pay exceeds civil pay, in which event civil pay is not paid. Members of the temporary and wages staff do not receive civil pay unless they attend camp during recreation leave.
On the 15th June, Senator Brown asked me a question regarding artesian bore waters. I am now in a position to inform the honorable senator that representations were made to the Commonwealth Government in this connexion by the Governments of New South Wales and Queensland. The former Government suggested that a preliminary conference of representatives of the States be held to consider this and cognate matters, such as water conservation and irrigation. In the opinion of the Government of New South Wales, this conference would be the necessary prelude to a joint investigation of these matters by the Commonwealth and the States. This proposal was considered by the Australian Agricultural Council, which recommended that it be adopted. The conference was accordingly held in Sydney on the 24th April last, but the decisions which were reached by the conference have not yet been communicated to the Commonwealth Government.
– This morning, Senator Armstrong asked the following question, upon notice: -
Will the Minister inform the Senate as to the names of the members of the War Pensions Assessment Appeal Tribunals, and how often they meet ?
The Minister for Repatriation has supplied the following answer : -
There are two assessment appeal tribunals. One of these operates in the States of New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania, and its chairman is Mr. H. P. Ritchie. The second tribunal operates in the States of Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia and its chairman is Mr. H. H. Howard, LL.B. These tribunals meet daily in the particular State in which they are operating for the time being. A list of medical practitioners available for tribunal purposes in each State is approved by the Minister and the chairman of the tribunal selects from that list the practitioners most competent to deal with the particular class of disability under consideration. Such list in each State embraces the names of practitioners versed in all branches of medicine and surgery. All such medical members ure eminent in their profession. If a list of iiic names of medical members approved for such work in any State is required, it cun be supplied.
The tribunals consist of a chairman and two medical members, but the personnel of the medical members varies in accordance with the nature of the disability forming the subject of the appeal.
– I desire to bring before the Senate a matter which, if not raised now, will cause me to break faith with some correspondents. Senator Ashley and I have received a communication from the executive of the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union of Australia stating that there is dissatisfaction among the members of the union with a decision recently given by the Commonwealth Public Service Arbitrator, Mr. M. C. Boniwell. I do not believe in bringing complaints to this chamber merely because I receive them, but the gentleman who has given the decision in this case is new in his office. I wish to make the position of the Labour party on these matters perfectly clear. I make no suggestion whatever that the decision of the Public Service Arbitrator should be interfered with ; that would be entirely wrong. We on this side stand definitely for the principle of arbitration; we do not believe in accepting a decision only when it suits us, and saying things that are better left unsaid when the decision docs not meet with our approval. Arbitration is the recognized principle for the settlement of disputes in this country; it is also the law of the land. After a brief recital of the facts which have led to the dissatisfaction, I shall say only that it might be suggested to the Public Service Arbitrator, in the best possible spirit, that more than legal knowledge is required in arriving at satisfactory decisions affecting sections of public servants who are dissatisfied with their conditions. I believe that the legal members of the Senate will agree that it is easy for a man to become so absorbed in the legal aspect of a case as to lose almost entirely that higher and more important side - the human aspect. T suggest, with all respect, that the Arbitrator should not lose sight of the fact that arbitration is supposed to includeconciliation. The aspect of conciliation should always be kept in mind. What actually happened was that the Postal Workers Union approached the Public Service Arbitrator in the approved way, and submitted a claim for an increase of £80 a year to all mail officers. The Public Service Arbitrator granted an increase of £5 a year to those employees who had reached the maximum rate of pay, and also to others who were in receipt of the subdivisional rate next to the maximum rate. There is a great difference between granting £30 a year to the whole of the mail officers and £5 a year to about 50 per cent, of them. I am not competent to criticize the decision of the Arbitrator, but I know that there is intense dissatisfaction with Lt. There seems to be such a difference between what the organization submitted as a claim and the award that was given, that the statement in the correspondence that other people, who are not directly interested, think that the award should have provided for at least £10 or £.1.2 a year more seems to be justified. Having ventilated the matter, I hope that there will be no misapprehension about the attitude of the Opposition to it. If there is one thing that this party stands for, it is arbitration; and whilst its members are often dissatisfied with arbitration decisions, they usually bide their time, and submit another claim, in the hope that eventually conditions will be improved. I repeat my suggestion that the Public Service Arbitrator be advised by the Minister controlling the department that there is a human side to these matters - the aspect of conciliation - and that it would be advisable for him not to lose sight of that fact.
– Last night Senator Sheehan made a statement in reference to Labour’s proposals on wheat, and referred to certain remarks I made on the 8th June. In an endeavour to answer my accusation that Labour’s interest in the wheat industry was somewhat belated, Senator Sheehan pointed out that in 1930 the Labour Government passed a bill through the House of Representatives, under which it guaranteed the farmer 4s. a bushel plus 8d. for freight, or a total of 4s. 8d. The honorable senator complained that after the bill had been passed by the House of
Representatives it was defeated in the Senate. I should like to point out what would have happened if the measure had been agreed to in this chamber. In that event the Government would have been under an obligation to pay the wheat-farmers 4s. 8d. a bushel, as provided for in the bill. In the year in question the production of wheat in Australia amounted to 214,000,000 bushels. The amount that would have been required to bring the wheat price up to 4s. 8d. would have been in the one year £25,000,000. The Scullin Government would have been under an obligation to pay £25,000,000 in 1931 when the financial position was such that the Government had to ask Parliament to cut down the old-age pensions, civil servants’ salaries and many other charges. Although. I realize the necessity for doing something to stabilize the wheat industry, I urge honorable senators to tackle the problem not by making to the farmers idle promises that cannot be carried out, but by preparing a plan for stabilization which will give to the farmer the relief that every honorable senator knows is his due. It is possible to formulate a scheme that would be helpful to the industry, and that could be carried out without an undue strain on the finances of the country. Labour’s suggestion in 1930 simply fooled the farmer and raised his hopes in a proposal which could not have been carried out then, and could not be carried out now.
As this is our last meeting this session, I shall say a few words on the limitation of time for debates. I regret as much as honorable senators opposite that occasionally insufficient time was afforded fully to consider every clause in a hill. But the Government has the choice of alternative courses - to submit to the obstructionist tactics of the Opposition, in which case the business of the country could not be carried on, or to place a time limit on the talk, much of which is not relevant to the matter before the Chair.
– That is a reflection on the Chair.
– Both on the Supply and Development Bill and the National Registration Bill the Government allowed ample opportunity for the fullest discussion of those measures and of every clause, but through the obstructive tactics, the waste of time-
– And tedious repetition.
– The committee stage had to be curtailed. There was not only tedious repetition, but the Opposition called for a division on every clause dealt with before the guillotine was applied. More than an hour of the time of the .Senate was taken up by the ringing of the division bells. This is the senior chamber in the Parliament of a great nation, and 1 trust that honorable senators will realize their responsibilities to the Commonwealth; their duty is to help in the conduct of the business of this country, and not bring it into ridicule by wasting the time of the Senate either by introducing irrelevant matter or by resorting to the dilatory device of calling for divisions unnecessarily. The Opposition would have been put in rather an extraordinary position if the Government had lost some of those divisions. The Opposition divided the committee on all clauses, and in some instances would have been very sorry if it had been successful. Therefore I should not oppose a proposal for a reasonable limitation of debate. Every bill and every clause should be properly discussed in this chamber. I should refrain from supporting the guillotine when insufficient time was given for the debate, but the obstructive tactics resorted to by the Opposition lately left me no alternative to limiting the time of denote.
.- ^1 shall not allow Hitler II. to get away with it. Senator Wilson had dreams of stabilizing wheat prices, and with the assistance of Senator Uppill drafted a scheme. Labour in the interests of the wheat industry had a scheme.
– Had pinched it!
– I shall show the honorable senator where he is wrong. On the 8th June Senator Wilson said -
On the 15th August last, Senator Uppill and I put forward a plan for the stabilization of the industry. On the 25th August it was placed before the Wheatgrowers’ Conference in Sydney, and on the following day before the Premiers Conference. Subsequently it was referred to the Commonwealth Government for consideration.
Of course imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I wish to compare Senator Wilson’s plan with the Labour leader’s policy speech of 1934.
– Is that the Scullin 4s. 8d. a bushel or the 7s. 6d. scheme?
– The honorable senator has something to learn in regard to wheat schemes. I shall now tell the Senate what Mr. Scullin proposed in 193<t-
For the past four years the wheat-growing industry has been in a parlous plight. It is an industry of great national importance, providing employment and food for our people us well as producing an exportable commodity to pay for necessary imports. In view of these facts the wheat industry must bc placed on a sound basis. Temporary asistance from year to year leaves it in a precarious position.
The Labour party proposes that, after reference to the growers by ballot and with the co-operation of the States, a stabilization plan be adopted covering a period of three years.
The outlines of the plan are -
A national wheat pool on lines similar to those proposed in the bill introduced by the Labour Government in 1030.
A guaranteed price of 3s. Hd. per bushel f.o.b. for all wheat sold off the farm.
Wheat for home consumption to be sold from the pool at 4s. per bushel.
The pool to be financed through the Commonwealth Bank.
Fifty per cent, of any increase in price over 4s. a bushel f.o.b. to be paid to the bank until the money advanced has been liquidated.
The home consumption price to remain ut 4s. during the three years period.
The price of flour to be fixed on a fair basis in relation to the price of wheat.
State and Commonwealth legislation will be required enabling the wheat-growers and Government representatives to control the pool, and to protect farmers from foreclosures during the period of stabilization.
The whole position to be reviewed at the end of three years.
During the years 1916, 1017 and 1918 there was a national wheat pool. The price of wheat was fixed at 4s. Od. a bushel and the price of bread was 4d. per 2 lb. loaf. There is no reason, therefore, why bread could not be sold at its present price with wheat at 4s. a bushel.
As I said, Senator Wilson is a young man, but despite his legal training he still has something to learn. Labour has not imitated any other party’s policy. We cannot gain much from Senator Wilson’s plans for the wheat industry. Before accusing the Labour party of plagiarism he should be sure of his facts. It is not a case of Labour taking a leaf out of Senator Wilson’s book; on the contrary, he feared that Labour had a substantial scheme, and although he was prepared to go a certain distance, he was not prepared to support it fully. I hope that, if a scheme of stabilization be adopted by the Premiers Conference, Parliament will be called together in order to pass the legislation required to afford relief to the wheat-growers of Australia.
– I regret that the Government has been unable to bring in legislation to establish a mortgage branch of the Commonwealth Bank. I hope that the Minister will give an assurance that this legislation, which is so important tothe primary producers, will he enacted without further delay.
. -in reply - The Commonwealth Bank Bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives, and I hope to receive it in this chamber when the Parliament reassembles about the middle of August. A vital question was mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition in respect of the Public Service Arbitrator.I appreciate the tone in which the matter was raised, hut I think that it would be very unwise for arbitrators’ decisions to be discussed in Parliament. The Government would not dream of attempting to influence the decisions of arbitration tribunals.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Tariff Board - Reports and Recommendations -
Air Compressors, (including Air Blowers ) .
Articles made partly or wholly of silver covered by Tariff Item 315.
Pencils of wood, and Penhandles of wood.
Seat of Government Acceptance Act and Seat of Government (Administration) Act -
Ordinances of 1939 -
No. 2 - Medical Practitioners Registration.
No. 3 - Canberra Community Hospital.
No. 4 - Stock Diseases.
Public Health Ordinance - Public Health (Dairy) Regulations amended.
Nauru - Report to the Council of the League of Nations on the Administration of Nauru, during the year1938.
New Guinea - Report to the Council of the League of Nations on the Administration of the Territory of New Guinea, from 1st July, 1937, to 30th June, 1938.
Commonwealth Public’ Service Act - Appointment Attorney-General’s Department - D. J. Simper.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired at Northbridge, New South Wales - For Postal purposes.
Senate adjourned at 6.15 p.m. till a day and hour to be fixed by the President.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 June 1939, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1939/19390616_senate_15_160/>.