15th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Minister for the Interior seen the report appearing in the Sydney press to the effect that the Minister for Works in New South Wales, Mr. Martin, has declared that the Commonwealth and State governments have been embarrassed and delayed by the non-arrival of the British engineer who is to supervise the Sydney graving dock? Will the Minister state whether it is correct that the engineer is ten days’ overdue and whether his non-arrival delayed decisions in regard to necessary resumptions?
-Itis not the province of State Ministers to issue statements with regard to defence works, as the various State authorities merely carry these out as agents or contractors for the Commonwealth Government. I have already been in touch with the Minister for Works in New South Wales, and he has assured me that he did not make any statement that the State and Federal governments had been delayed and embarrassed by the non-arrival of the British engineer who is to supervise the construction of the Sydney graving dock.
The facts are : First, the British engineer, Major Thorne, is not due to arrive in Australia until the second week in September. This was the original date scheduled for his arrival, and he has not been delayed. Secondly, the fact that the engineer is not in Australia has not in any way delayed negotiations in connexion with resumptions. This is a matter which does not come within the engineer’s province. Three properties have already been acquired, and it is anticipated that only small portions of ten other properties will be required. Thirdly, these resumptions are not required directly to make room for the dock, but solely for access purposes. In regard to the work generally, I have to-day received advice from the consulting engineers, Sir Alexander Gibb and Partners, that plans and particulars sufficient to enable the commencement of the first section of the scheme have been completed. This section comprises acres of reclamation, and the plans should arrive in Sydney early in September, at about the same time as Major Thorne. Meanwhile, the work is being pushed on with all possible speed.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The Minister for Commerce has supplied the following answers : -
Claims of Friendly Societies
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
With reference to national insurance and the claims of friendly societies for reimbursement of expenditure incurred by them -
Have claims been refused on the ground that if those of one society are met the Government will have to meet larger claims from others? If so, is it not more a question of whether the money expended by societies was so spent in good faith, on the assumption that the scheme would come into full operation ?
Were not societies entitled to expect the repayment of such expenditure, cither from the first year’s allowance or from subsequent years, and is it not a fact that because the scheme was shelved the societies were in consequence unable to recover from such subsequent years’ operations?
Does the Minister admit the following to be a correct statement of the position : -
That all approved societies entered into the campaign for the enrolment of national insurance members in good faith.
That societies were not told they should not advertise or exert every possible energy in the enrolment of persons covered by the scheme, but were actually encouraged from the start, by the competitive character given to the scheme, to use every endeavour to obtain as great a number of enrolments as possible.
That long before the order to cease operations was given, harmful expressions of doubt as to the ultimate fruition of the scheme were expressed by Ministers and others on many occasions, thus causing an immediate reduction of the volume of enrolments and creating a considerable increase of the cost per head of enrolment?
Is it a fact that the expenditure by societies in excess of 6s. per member is, in the case of friendly societies, being carried by the parent society, and as the expenditure is not legally deductible from sick and funeral funds, it must, in consequence, be carried by the management fund of the societies?
Is it not a fact that, as a general rule, the management fund is barely sufficient to administer the society and that in the case of societies not backed by a parent society, the expenditure will have to be borne by individuals ?
– The Minister for
Social Services has supplied the following answers : -
Every claim has been dealt with on its merits having regard to the allowable maximum expenditure. See answer to question No. 2.
I am unable to say whether this influence operated.
Insurance: Agents’ Fees
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Commerce, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained, and will be furnished to the honorable senator as soon as possible.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
What fee or salary is being paid to each chairman and member of each special Commonwealth War-time Authority who has been appointed since September, 1939?
– The information is being obtained, and will be furnished to the honorable senator as soon as possible.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
Purchases and Leases
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply and Development, upon notice -
– The information desired by the honorable senator will be made available to him as soon as possible.
Preference to Returned Soldiers
asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows : -
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.
The hill provides for the payment of bounty on raw cotton produced during the years 1941 to 1945 inclusive. The basic rates of bounty for each successive year will be 43/4d.,41/2d.,41/4d., 4d. and 31/2d. per lb., respectively, when the Liverpool spot price of American middling raw cotton is 6d. perlb. As the Liverpool price varies up or down from 6d. per lb., each basic rate of bounty will be reduced or increased by an equivalent amount, except that in no circumstances will the bounty be allowed to exceed 51/2d. per lb. The bill also provides that the basic rate of bounty, and therefore all adjustments thereof in accordance with fluctuations in the Liverpool price, will be reduced at any time to the extent that any Customs duty may be imposed on imported raw cotton. As it is possible that the Liverpool Cotton Exchange may close during the war, the bill enables the Minister to use the New York spot price of American middling raw cotton and other factors, as a basis on which to determine an equivalent Liverpool price, so that Australian cotton-growers may receive equitable rates of bounty. An annual sum of £150,000 will be provided from Consolidated Revenue to pay the bounty, and, as usual, the unexpended balance in any year will, in addition to the £150,000 provided for that year, be available for the bounty in any future year under the act.
Other provisions in the bill merely give usual powers which are essential to the efficient administration of the bounty and the safeguarding of the interests of the Commonwealth. Existing raw cotton bounty legislation expires on the 30th November next with the completion of the harvesting and ginning of the 1940 cotton crop in Queensland. Early adoption by Parliament of the present bill is essential, in view of the great need to increase substantially local cotton production for war-time needs. These needs apply particularly to summer uniforms and various items of equipment including tents, canvas, &c, for all the fighting services, and the manufacture of certain high explosives. Australia’s raw cotton requirements have advanced from 35,000 bales for the year ended on the 30th June, 1940, to at least 65,000 bales for the coming year. The 1940 Queensland crop may produce only 8,000 bales. Should production remain at 8,000 bales, much of thebalance£ 57,000 bales will have to be imported from the United States of America, thus involving a serious drain upon the Empire’s sterling funds in that country. Largelyincreased production of raw cotton in Australia would permit of a considerable reduction of American imports, as both countries produce similar types of raw cotton. Hence, more of our foreign exchange resources would be available for the purchase of aeroplanes, machine tools, and other American commodities of great importance to Australia’s war effort.
A marked expansion of local cotton production will require considerable organization by the Queensland Government and the Queensland Cotton Board, and also much preparatory work by present and prospective cotton-growers in clearing many thousands of acres in lighttimbered country and preparing the land for planting by next October. This expensive work could not very well be undertaken without the security assured to growers by Parliament’s early approval of the bill. The present legislation arises mainly from an exhaustive investigation of the industry made by the Tariff Board, the results of which are contained in its report of the 3rd April, 1940. In that report the Tariff Board drew attention to various unsatisfactory phases of the Queensland cotton industry which had combined to cause the average yield an acre to fall to low levels, now below the yields in most other countries, especially those in which irrigation is practised. A few weeks ago, the Government was able to complete negotiations with the Queensland Government in regard to satisfactory measures to cope with the various problems reported by the Tariff Board. These problems are mentioned in the definite undertakings given in writing by the Queensland Government, that its plans for improving the efficiency of the cotton-growing industry will preeminently and almost exclusively provide for: -
A special campaign by enough thoroughly-qualified men to instruct all farmers personally and quickly as to the absolute need for practising correct rotations and other essential cultural methods; such campaign to be followed up persistently with the object of ensuring that the best practices shall be adopted by the bulk of the farmers in the shortest possible time. This campaign will include the circulation of suitable literature ;
The Queensland Government has also agreed to ensure complete co-operation between its Department of Agriculture, the Queensland Cotton Board, cottonspinners, and the Department of Trade and Customs, on all relevant matters, particularly in regard to the supply at all times of the types of raw cotton most suitable for use by Australian manufacturers. A fully-representative committee will soon be appointed to advise both Governments on these matters. As evidence of the Queensland Government’s recognition of the economic burden and the grave risk of continuing to produce raw cotton in Australia wholly under dry farming conditions, and of its good faith in relation to the undertakings to. which I have referred, I should point out that those undertakings, when fully implemented, will cost at least £650,000. Moreover, during the financial year 1939-1940 the Queensland Government provided £65,126 for loans to cotton farmers and scientific research, including £21,500 for irrigation works and experiments, and will provide a much larger sum for similar work during 1940-41.
The Premier of Queensland has signified his Government’s intention to proceed with plans for the exploitation of underground water supplies, the provision of finance for individual pumping schemes, and the construction of an additional irrigation weir on the Dawson River north of the town of Theodore. The Queensland Government has already inaugurated a scheme to ensure the adoption by cotton farmers of the best cultural methods, and the personnel of the Queensland Cotton Research Station is now being augmented for the specific purpose of facilitating work on plant breeding and the control of pests. A special soils officer from the Waite Institute at Adelaide is actively engaged in the Callide and Theodore areas in the location of soils most suitable for cotton production. The Commonwealth Council for Scientific and Industrial Research will assist in locating better rainfall areas. In view of these arrangements the Government has brought down the present bill which provides for gradually reducing rates of bounty during the next five years. The basic rate for the first year, 1941, will be 43/4d. per lb., as against the present basic rate of41/4d. per lb. The increase of11/2d. per lb. above the basic rate of31/4d. per lb., recommended by the Tariff Board before the war, is considered essential - partly to cover increases of various items of production costs due to the war, and to assist in the installation by growers of pumps, pipes or channels, and other equipment for irrigation. The chief reason for the higher bounty is, however, to encourage a marked increase of production by making the industry reasonably attractive to farmers.
After 1941, the basic bounty will fall by id. per lb. each year until 1945, when the basic bounty will be ½d. per lb. less than for the 1944 season. These reductions of bounty are designed to meet the gradually lower costs of production which must flow from improved cultural practices, more intensive scientific research, and from the steadily increasing degree of production under irrigation, which the Queensland Government has undertaken to bring into effect.
It should be noted that the basic rates of bounty just mentioned by me are related to a Liverpool price of 6d. per lb., and that they vary up or down as the Liverpool price varies down or up from 6d. per lb. Since the war began, the Liverpool price has always been higher than 6’d. per lb., and is now 8.19d. per lb. If the last-named Liverpool price should be maintained throughout the 1941 period of production, the basic rate of bounty for that year of 4Jd. per lb. would produce an actual payable rate of 2.56d. per lb., which would cover a total production of raw cotton, under the annual appropriation of £150,000, of 28,615 bales. This quantity is 11,000 bales more than Australia’s record output in 1934. If the 1941 production should be less than 28,615 hales, the corresponding saving in bounty would be carried forward to any future year in addition to the regular provision of £150,000 for that year. Moreover, a large increase of production will reduce ginning costs, and thus further benefit cotton-growers.
In the cotton-growing industry there ure now approximately 2,700 growers, 1,000 field workers, and 2,000 cotton pickers. The ginneries employ 170 persons, the total number directly employed thus being 5,870. Advices just to hand from Queensland indicate that possibly 80,000 acres will be planted to cotton in Queensland for next year’s crop, as against only 38,000 acres for the 1940 season. If this estimate should be realized cotton-growers will have rendered good service to the Commonwealth in connexion with its war effort.
It is worth while remembering that the cotton industry in all its phases is the largest individual industry in the world and that, under conditions of the highest efficiency, this industry in both primary and secondary phases has every chance of becoming one of the largest in the Commonwealth. When cotton-growing has been converted almost wholly to production under irrigation, the cost of producing raw cotton in Australia will become substantially lower than it has ever been, and this will enable the industry to be continued on a much larger scale at lower rates of bounty - alternatively, with relatively small tariff protection. Incidentally, a great expansion of cottongrowing will create opportunities for other farmers who may, through stress of war or shrinkage of exports of their present products, find it necessary ‘-to seek another vocation.
Finally, the .bill constitutes a cooperative effort by the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments to raise the cotton-growing industry to a level of efficiency not nearly approached previously in this country. Both Governments are sharing the necessary expenditure to this end. If this joint policy succeeds - and there is no reason why it should not do so - the total number of farmers and workers now engaged in the industry will be greatly increased, and Australia will be far less reliant upon overseas sources of supply than at present. I strongly commend the bill to the Senate.
. - I also commend this bill to the Senate. I am fully in accord with the principles embodied in it. The measure represents a pleasing contrast to the previous attitude of this Government. When the Government decided, a year or two ago, to discontinue the cotton bounty this important primary industry was threatened with extinction, because without a bounty the growing of cotton would not have been a payable proposition. I am very pleased, therefore, that the Government has seen fit to bring down this bill.
– It was never suggested that the payment of the bounty would be discontinued; the intention was to continue the bounty at a reduced rate.
– At times it is very difficult to understand just what is in the mind of the Government. The cotton-growers of Queensland found it hard to understand what was intended. However, I do not wish to engage in recriminations regarding things done or left undone in the past. I believe that the Government is adopting a wise course in continuing the. bounty, and so encouraging the development of this industry, which is of vital importance to Australia. At present our primary industries are faced with serious marketing problems, and it is gratifying to know that, in connexion with the cotton industry at least, no such problems have arisen, and are npt likely to arise in the near future. Undoubtedly the cotton industry itself must accept a share of the responsibility for failures in the past, but, as I have said, in years gone by the attitude of the Commonwealth Government retarded rather’ than helped the expansion of cotton-growing.
I believe that there is now a better understanding between the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments - an understanding which should have been arrived at . a long time ago. No doubt the exigencies of war have promoted this closer relationship, but, even in time of peace, agreement on a progressive policy would have been wise. The better understanding now reached will, I hope, result in the continuance of the cottongrowing industry under improved conditions which will safeguard the interests of the people engaged in it. I am confident that the Queensland Government will faithfully discharge all of its obligations. Large expenditure will be involved, but I am satisfied that the results will justify it. Improved methods of cultivation and the use of irrigation and fertilizers can greatly improve production..
– Has an efficient cotton-picker yet been perfected?
– The human being is a fairly good cotton-picker, but, perhaps, some day science will alter the entire complexion of this industry.
The final paragraph of the Minister’s second-reading speech is a true statement of the position. He said-
Finally, the bill constitutes a co-operative effort by the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments to raise the cotton-growing industry to a level of efficiency not nearly approached previously in this country. Both Governments are sharing the necessary expenditure to this end. If this joint policy succeeds - and there is no reason why it should not do so - the total number of farmers and workers now engaged in the industry will be greatly increased, and Australia will be far less reliant upon overseas sources of supply than at present.
That paragraph effectively sums up all that can be said about the measure. There can be no doubt about the importance of developing the primary industries of this country. The only possible argument that could be used against giving assistance to industries such as this is that the people might more profitably be employed on more essential work. Particularly in Queensland, most primary industries have reached saturation point so far as production is concerned. At present they are largely dependent upon overseas markets, and restricted shipping space is presenting a very serious problem. It is gratifying to know that that problem does not arise in connexion with cotton.
I am confident that the Senate will pass this measure, and I am sorry that its introduction has been so long delayed, because in this country it is necessary to plan in times of peace just as in times of war. I have heard honorable senators opposite say repeatedly that it is primarily the duty of the States and not of the Commonwealth to assist industries of this kind. However, owing largely to war conditions, the necessity for planning our economy is being forcefully brought home to the Government. When I hear the remark, “Oh, another bounty for some industry I reply that in a country such as Australia governments are obliged to help in this way not only primary industries, but also secondary industries. By means of this assistance the cotton industry will be enabled to establish itself on a firm foundation. When it was first suggested that governments should assist in the development of other industries in Queensland, opponents of such a policy declared that it was uneconomic to aid any industry which could not stand on its own feet right from the start. However, owing to the rapid advance of agricultural science, most of those industries subsequently became economic. Our experience shows that an industry which it may be uneconomical to establish to-day will very likely soon become self-reliant. After all, it is only by experience that we can hope to develop industries in this country. Indeed, this is our greatest problem.. We must have a much greater population, but we can only sustain more people by the development of industries.
Although the importance of the cotton industry is emphasized during war, we cannot overlook its value in time of peace. Whether we be at war or not, we must develop the resources of Australia, and it is the duty of governments to give to industries the assistance deemed to be essential to their development. I admit that this Government, generally speaking, has dealt considerately with primary industry throughout Australia. This has been the case particularly during the last two years, because its supporters now seem to be more prepared to listen to proposals which hitherto were anathema to them. To-day, for instance, the Government realizes that industry as a whole must be organized on a national basis. It realizes that the successful marketing of our primary products is the concern of the national Government, rather than the responsibility of a few individuals. When I say that government assistance to industry is often essential, I do not speak merely of assistance in the form of bounties, or doles; I mean financial assistance generally. When industries are in need of financial aid, they should not be allowed to fall under the control of a few individuals on whom they would be obliged to rely if governments remained unsympathetic.
I strongly support the proposals contained in this measure. As I said before, however, the apathy of this Government has been largely responsible for the tardy development of the cotton industry up to date, particularly when for so long it remained deaf to the growers’ requests for irrigation facilities and for the encouragement of more scientific methods in the industry. With the joint assistance of the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments, I am sure that the cotton industry will now be enabled to develop rapidly and efficiently, and will eventually become a great asset to this country. I trust that the measure will receive the unanimous support of honorable senators.
– The Country party wholeheartedly supports this measure. I agree with Senator Courtice that, under modern conditions, governments must exercise a paternal supervision over industries in matters which at first glance, perhaps, appear to be primarily the concern of the States. This is particularly so in respect of industries which are vital to the prosperity of the nation as a whole, such as the wheat industry, in whose behalf requests for assistance so often come before this Parliament. In. Senator Courtice’s remarks, I sense an outlook which leads me to believe that he should be a member of the Country party.
– I support the bill. I. point out that the Kimberley district in Western Australia is very suitable for cotton production. Indeed, just after the last war, the Western Australian Government assisted in an attempt to settle a number of returned soldiers in this industry in the north-west portion of the State. I admit that the venture was considered too hurriedly, no attempt being made to secure the best expert advice. Consequently, that effort proved a failure. However, we learn from experience. Because of the splendid river system in the Kimberley region, which would allow of the provision of irrigation that portion of Western Australia could be developed into one of the richest cotton-growing areas in this country. Under this measure, the Government proposes to pay a bounty on raw cotton produced in Australia. I do not think that that assistance goes far enough. I am aware, of course, that we shall be obliged to deal with certain postwar problems. However, one of our first, responsibilites is to bring more land under production with a view to developing our primary industries to the greatest possible extent. To achieve that objective, the payment of bounties is not sufficient. For instance, the assistance to be provided under this measure will not help to open up fresh areas which are suitable for the growing of cotton. The Government should devise a plan for the development of our primary industries as a whole. It should immediately consult with the State governments with a view to co-ordinating the efforts of those governments in this direction. If that were done, we should thus be enabled to prepare the way for the establishment of industries which will be most valuable to the nation, not only in the near future, but also when the war is ended. Undoubtedly, we have a home market for raw cotton. However, whilst we must do everything possible to exploit that market, we should at the same time provide, by way of substantial capital expenditure, for the development of additional areas suitable for the production of cotton. I urge the Minister to give consideration to this aspect of the matter. The Government should not confine its assistance to this industry to Queensland. Australia is a huge continent, and in dealing with problems of this kind, State borders should be entirely disregarded. At the first opportunity the Government should get in touch with the State governments with a view to putting in hand these very necessary productive undertakings. The proposal contained in this bill will provide only a small measure of assistance to primary production in Australia because it will be availed of mainly by those farmers with a large reserve of family labour. A report which I read some years ago pointed out that cottongrowing in Australia would be essentially a family industry ; that is to say, it would be undertaken chiefly by farmers with large families. On that ground I have no fault to find with the measure, because it is desirable to encourage rural settlement throughout the Commonwealth and this proposal will, no doubt, help in that direction. It will probably encourage people to remain on the land instead of finding their way into factories in our capital cities and elsewhere. Thus the payment of the bounty may help to preserve a balance of population as between rural and urban areas, and so aid in the defence of the Commonwealth. I support the second reading of the bill.
– If war has one redeeming feature it is that it operates as a driving force in the establishment of new industries. Senator Abbott, speaking earlier this afternoon, twitted Senator Courtice with at last seeing the light. As a matter of fact, honorable senators on this side saw the light many years ago. One of the principal planks of Labour’s platform is to make Australia a selfcontained nation, and in order to achieve that end we have always encouraged the establishment of new primary and secondary industries. The present war has done much to stimulate this movement. Had Labour’s policy been adopted many years ago we would to-day have been in a much better position to deal with all the problems that war brings to a people. For instance, the cottongrowing industry would have been well established. It seems to me that in this matter the Government is making a virtue of necessity. I believe that this proposal is one of the direct effects of the outbreak of war. Had such a scheme been mentioned in normal times, we would have been told that it would be economically unsound to grow cotton in Australia because it could be imported so much more cheaply from the United States of America or other cotton-growing countries where labour is cheaper and where cotton-picking machinery is employed to keep down costs of production. Therefore I repeat that war has its redeeming features.
– The honorable senator should wake up. The bounty on the production of raw cotton has been paid by this Government for many years.
– But the- Government is now proposing to do something which it refused, to do previously. As Senator ‘Cunningham has said, we should take a long view of the situation and ask ourselves what we are going to do in connexion with our primary industries after the war. Will it then be urged that the need for cotton growing in this country is not pressing, and will the industry be neglected again simply because the raw product may be obtainable more cheaply from other countries? I express this thought in the hope that this aspect of cotton-growing and other forms of primary production will receive attention.
– What other forms of primary production has the honorable senator in mind?
– If I may be permitted to digress, I would direct attention to the position of the meat industry. We have been told that there is a glut of meat in England at the present time. Are we to understand that it is the intention of the Government to restrict the production of meat, as has been suggested in connexion with wheat, simply because, at the moment, it is impossible to market the product with the same facility as prior to the war? What I am trying to convey to the Senate is that when discussing primary industries at a time when war is the driving force for their development, we should keep in mind the necessity for organizing an internal planned economy so that when war ceases we can, as has been suggested by Senator Cunningham, continue those industries and make this country as self-contained as possible. It is not difficult to envisage the course of events after the war. We may assume that there will be consultations between the governments of various countries concerning the marketing of primary products, and no doubt a system of quotas will be established with a view to restricting production of specified commodities. This being so, we should not allow the false impression to go abroad that, in bringing forward this measure, the Government is actuated only by a desire to encourage the growing of cotton in Australia. As I have shown, the war is the driving force in this matter. It is compelling Australia to embark upon industries which would not otherwise be established.
.- The honorable senator who has just resumed his seat has accused the Government of having awakened at last to the necessity for a bounty on cotton, but I point out that a Cotton Bounty Act was passed by this Parliament in 1926.
– That measure did not provide for so large a bounty as is proposed in this bill.
– The honorable senator invariably endeavours, by misrepresentation, to belittle the efforts of the Government. For the last fourteen years attempts have been made to encourage the growth of cotton in Australia. Its production fell off because unsuitable methods were adopted. The Government of Queensland realized that the mistakes of the past could be remedied, and that the industry could be carried on successfully under conditions similar to those under which sugar is produced in Australia. Therefore, the Commonwealth Government proposes to increase the bounty on cotton for the next few years. If the industry can be established on a sound foundation, I shall not object to the initial expenditure required to assist the cotton-growers. I understand that the bounty is to be paid to the producers of raw cotton, who will, in turn, pay a portion of it to the producers of seed cotton; but it seems to me that the growers of seed cotton are entitled to the whole of the bounty. The measure appears to be somewhat ambiguous in that regard.
– I agree with Senator Cameron that the present Government and previous Commonwealth Governments have been remiss in regard to the encouragement of the cotton industry. The history of cotton production in Australia conclusively substantiates my statement. For 80 years cotton has been grown in this country. It was first produced in Queensland in 1860, but, even to-day, the industry is not established on a sure foundation. Had past governments done their duty, realizing the possibility of war, the growers of cotton would have been assured of a payable price for their product. Members of my family have been compelled to gather their cotton crops, because the low price offered for their product made it impossible for them to employ labour for that work. Senator Cameron has truly stated that the present war has demonstrated the need for the encouragement of this industry. Its success should have been ensured long ago. because cotton is one of the ingredients required in the manufacture of munitions. The only fault that I have to find with the proposed bounty is that it is to be progressively decreased, the assumption being that the cost of production will eventually be reduced. Personally, I think that the Government should have agreed to the payment for a number of years of the rate of bounty proposed to be paid in the first year.
Apart from the value of cotton production as ameans of supplying an important defence requirement, the success of the industrywould mark an important advance in the direction of making Australia self-supporting. Honorable senators opposite often deplore the development of economic nationalism throughout the world, on the ground that it leads to war. I point out to Senator Abbott, who supports the bill, that its principles are contrary to many of the ideas which he has enunciated in this chamber in the past. They are also contrary to the political beliefs of many other honorable senators opposite. We, on the opposition side, believe that progress towards economic independence should lead in the direction of world peace. Honorable senators opposite must expect the inevitable development, in this and other countries, of economic systems under which nations will become increasingly self-supporting. When the war is over -and we all hope that it will end speedily - Australia will have vital problems to solve. If its progress is to be maintained, governments will have to adopt financial methods different from those employed in the past. Senator Abbott, like the late Sir George Reid, is a “ member facing both ways “, and in common with his colleagues of the Country party and members of the United Australia party, refuses to face economic facts. They support this measure because they believe that it will provide employment, assist our defence requirements, and increase development, but, at the same time, they deplore the development of economic nationalism.
– What was the attitude adopted by the honorable senator and his colleagues on the marketing referendum ?
– The members of the Opposition supported the marketing proposals.
– If the honorable senator did, he opposed the wishes of his party.
– The members of the Labour party, who are always allowed a certain measure of freedom, have at all times advocated improved marketing methods. We are supported in our opinions by our non-Communist friends, and our anti-Communist colleagues, and some of the views held by proCommunists.
– How many parties are there within the Labour party?
– Not more than there are within the United Australia party. That party is more subtle, and instead of having different designations for its various sections it is about to allow them all to go before the electors as the representatives of one big political party.
– Is the honorable senator supporting the bill?
– Of course I am. The only fault that I have to find with the measure is that the bounty is to be reduced annually, instead of a definite attempt being made to establish an important industry on a permanent basis. I am showing honorable senators opposite that serious problems will arise in consequence of the methods that are being adopted to-day. The supporters of the Government who are opposed to economic nationalism endeavour to assist industries by means of bounties and other temporary expedients. As the Minister for Commerce (Mr. Archie Cameron) once said, the members of the United Australia party constitute a hopeless, helpless, aimless, shapeless mass of political plasticine.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. J. B. Hayes). - Order! The honorable senator must discuss the bill.
– We know the goal we are seeking, but honorable senators opposite have no idea of their ultimate destination. All sections of the Labour party have stated most clearly that there must be definite co-ordination and organized development of Australian industry. Such a policy has always been advocated by the Labour party, because it realizes that the sooner we develop Australian industries the sooner we shall become a self-supporting nation. Honorable senators opposite deal with problems such as this in a piecemeal manner, and consequently the electors have no confidence in them. The Labour party plans for the future, but this Government and others of a similar political complexion legislate only for the moment. This Government provides only a temporary means to overcome the problems with which it is confronted. It should look further ahead, and establish a permanent system under which cotton-growing and other essential industries can be placed on a sound economic basis, and in that way assist, not only our war effort, but also every individual activity which may be of benefit to the Commonwealth.
– I congratulate the Government upon introducing this measure which should be the means of stabilizing the cottongrowing industry of Australia. During the past 20 years the industry has experienced periods of success and of failure. In 1920, when approximately 45,581 lb. of raw cotton was produced in Australia, the industry was in the initial stages of development, and financial assistance was granted by Commonwealth and State Governments in order to provide a fixed price- over a period of years. Cotton has been grown in practically every mainland State, but climatic and other conditions in Queensland were found to be more suitable than those in the other States. Unfortunately, in the early stages cotton-growing was not developed on a scientific basis, and growers were allowed to produce unsuitable types of cotton. In some instances the results were unsatisfactory, and as small returns were obtained, the industry did not prosper. Since 1920 the Commonwealth Government has supported the industry by the payment of a bounty on seed cotton which is cotton in the boll. In a great many instances inferior types of cotton were grown and the industry languished. From lj)26 to the present day the Commonwealth Government has paid bounties amounting to £1,250,000. In 1934 it was found that better results could be obtained by paying a bounty on the raw cotton after it had been ginned and all the fibres and other material removed, and in consequence cotton of a superior quality was produced. Years of experience has shown that the dry-farming methods adopted in Queensland have not been entirely successful, and during the last ten years it has been found that in good seasons the production an acre has been considerably higher than in bad seasons, when, in fact, the crop has been unprofitable. It is now realized that cotton grown under irrigation enables the growers to obtain a satisfactory return regardless of the season. I am glad that an agreement has been reached whereby the Government of Queensland will expend approximately £640,000, over a number of years, on the irrigation of cotton-growing areas, and the Commonwealth Government will pay a bounty on a sliding scale, which will assure a reasonable profit to growers. It has been said during this debate that the Commonwealth Government has taken a long time to realize the necessity for stabilizing the cotton industry. In justice to the Government, however, I point out that it has already given £1,250,000 to the industry and proposes to pay £750,000 in bounty during the next five years. There is a distinction between the kind of assistance to be given by the Government of Queensland and that to be given by the Commonwealth Government. The latter is making a definite grant to the industry, but the Queensland Government will be able to recover the money it is proposed to expend. The irrigation area will be an asset to it; the cost of water will be a charge against the cotton-growers and can be recovered in the form of rent or water tax. I am glad that at last the Commonwealth has been able to secure the co-operation of at least one State in the development of an industry which will probably grow into one of our greatest primary industries. It is estimated that 9,000 bales of cotton will be harvested this year; Australia’s annual requirement of cotton at the present time is 65,000 bales, so that the rate of production can be increased by 5S,000 bales a year before local needs will be supplied. The textile industry is already soundly established. Large mills in the southern States are manufacturing cotton goods, which are as good as any that are produced elsewhere. Those mills depend for the bulk of their cotton supplies on Egypt, India and America. All of their requirements could well be grown in Australia. I agree with Senator Cunningham that cotton-growing should be developed with a view to employing many of our returned soldiers in the post-war years. It is an industry that can be commenced with a limited amount of capital, and is one most suited to closer settlement. Many parts of Queensland, apart from the Callide Valley and Dawson Valley areas, are suitable for cottongrowing. The Mareeba district could be irrigated from the Barron River. Other areas of the Commonwealth are equally suitable. Approximately seven times the number of people at present employed in cotton production could be engaged if we produced sufficient cotton to meet local requirements. The Minister informed honorable senators that there are 2,700 growers, 1,000 pickers, 2,000 ginnery workers and 170 others, making a total of 5,870. Therefore, if the industry were developed sufficiently to meet the local demand, 42,000 persons could be engaged directly in cotton production. Another important benefit that would accrue is that approximately £1,000,000 a year which is now expended in the purchase of foreign-grown cotton would be kept in Australia.
I commend the Government for having introduced this bill. Rapid improvement should be shown now that the Queensland Government proposes to deal with the industry on scientific lines. It will appoint officers to experimental stations in order to advise the growers regarding the varieties of cotton to plant, methods of treating diseases, and other problems. I feel sure that the industry will be as successful as the sugar industry already is. The industry need not be confined entirely to Queeusland. I hope that it will be developed so that Australia not only will supply its own requirements but also export to other countries.
– I compliment my colleague, Senator Courtice, on the excellent speech he made on the bill this afternoon. He speaks with authority on all matters affecting primary industries, to which he has given a long life of service. Unfortunately some of the remarks that have been intruded into this debate have sounded suspiciously like political recrimination. There is no occasion for that. Honorable senators will recall that Senator Courtice was not guilty of committing a breach of that kind; I propose to follow his example. I shall draw attention to some of the facts concerning the cotton industry with which all honorable senators should endeavour to make themselves intimately acquainted. Senator Brown said that honorable senators on this side of the chamber know where they are going. He intended that remark to apply to the Labour party’s policy, not to the subject which is probably uppermost in all of our minds - the impending elections. Nevertheless the Labour party knows where it is going in that connexion. Honorable senators opposite also probably know where they are going, but they cannot be so positive as we are that they will come back after the elections.
I wish to administer a mild rebuke to Senator Abbott for a statement he made this afternoon1. From time to time, when honorable senators on this side of the chamber show that they have a definite policy, which they understand and which they are capable of expounding, Senator Abbott suggests that we should join the Country party.
– That is a good idea.
– It would be good for the Country party; it would bring sincerity of purpose and capacity for action into the ranks of that party. Those virtues would be a valuable acquisition to it. But the doors of the Labour party are always open. As soon as any honorable senator opposite can show signs that he is ready for the political penitent form we shall be glad to receive him as a repentant sinner.
– I am linking my remarks with the debate, if not with the bill itself. As soon as we are convinced that honorable senators opposite are sincere in their attitude towards national problems we shall be glad to include them in our ranks. Our interest in the cotton industry is not for some petty political reason. Wo have an allAustralia policy; no other policy can bold our interest. We believe in the development of Australia to the fullest degree; whether that is brought about by the present Government or we have to wait until we occupy the Government benches before our goal is reached does not concern us unduly. Our purpose is unflagging; we do not chop and change with every political wind that blows. We do not have one policy for election campaigns and another for other occasions. We regret that greater attention has not been paid by the National Government to the development of the cotton industry. There is nothing unkind in that statement. I remember the establishment of the cotton industry in Queensland. I do not mean that I saw the first cotton grown in that State, because cotton was first produced there 80 years ago. Some honorable senators will recall the frequency with which an old Queenslander and a particular friend of mine, now unfortunately dead, attempted to impress upon members of the National Parliament the value of the cotton industry to Australia. I speak of Mr. Daniel Jones, who was probably the greatest cotton expert that this country has known. For countless years his was a voice crying in the wilderness, and as soon as anybody mentioned his name he was referred to as “ that cotton crank “. The fact is that SO years ago, cotton was successfully grown in Queensland. It is true that cotton can be grown successfully in some other parts of Australia, but not all parts. Undoubtedly it can be successfully grown in the Northern Territory and in Western Australia. Climate, is of course, an important factor as also is the character of the soil. In passing, I should like to say that a great deal of very valuable rnsearch work in connexion with the cotton industry has been carried out by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research; also, the Queensland Government has played a great part in the development of this industry. I do not say that, merely because the Queensland Government is a Labour Government, although, naturally, I am proud of that fact, and of the further fact that no other government in the world has done so much to stabilize primary production and make it worthwhile for the farmers. The distinction between the parties to which honorable senators adhere in this chamber is not merely in respect of designation ; it is mainly a difference of policies. As Senator Brown said, we on this side of the chamber strongly advocate a planned economy. We are not content blindly to stumble on facts temporarily brought into prominence by some set of circumstances over which we have no control; we believe in planning all the time, instead of having to decide at the last moment how obstacles can best be surmounted. Take, for instance, the marketing referendum which was supported by the Labour party. The hurdle encountered by the Labour party in that matter was that an appeal was - being made for greater powers for the Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth was then, as it is still, in the hands of people to whom, rightly or wrongly, wisely or unwisely, the electors refused to grant the greater powers. The powers sought, would not have been refused had the Commonwealth approached the task wholeheartedly and not. undertaken the job in a piecemeal fashion. It should have thrown in its lot with the Queensland Government, and so encouraged this important industry. I have watched the struggles of the cotton-growers during the last 25 years. I saw the first cotton planted in the Dawson Valley; I saw the men and women who came to the job of raising cotton ; I saw how wholeheartedly they threw themselves into their work and how hundreds of them failed because they did not follow the right lines - because there was nobody to undertake the responsibility of advising and guiding them. Huge areas went out of cultivation because wrong methods were adopted. Then came a revival. Experts got to work, greater areas were planted, and an increased measure of prosperity came to the men and women engaged in the industry. Later, the industry received a blow, and once again cultivation was reduced. I saw abandoned homesteads and thousands of acres of land lying fallow instead of being in production. All these things make us on this side of the chamber good supporters of the cotton industry. We want to see it expand and we want to see it fairly treated. We want to see the Government give it the greatest possible encouragement because, as Senator Cooper said, this industry is vitally important to Australia. Its successful development will mean the saving of millions of pounds which now is sent abroad, and that we shall obtain relief in other forms of agriculture which, at the moment, are suffering through overproduction. It is necessary to find other avenues of production, and that can be done only if we have a planned economy and a broad outlook. In short, as Senator Brown said, we must know where we are going. That is all that we plead for. It is not hypocritical to say that we fully approve of this measure, although we believe that it should have gone further. There is one thing that the Government must not do: It must not encourage a primary industry to-day and then gradually withdraw its support without having ensured the continued prosperity of that industry. Growers do not plan a long time ahead; they cannot. They know only what they will produce this year and possibly next year. If they are faced with the possibility that assistance will be decreased next year and in subsequent years until it is finally withdrawn, they have not the incentive to do more planting, there will not be the same tillage, and there will he a smaller area under plantation. On the other hand, it is not necessary to spoon-feed an industry all the time. There must come a time when an industry can be rightly expected to stand on its own feet. It should not be forgotten that millions of pounds has been expended every year on the encouragement of secondary industries, many of which are now able to stand on their own feet. For instance, the steel industry is now well established on an economic basis, and that could not have been done had there been a vacillating protective policy. Australian industries will be developed only to the degree that our leaders realize what a. wonderful country this is, and what a still more wonderful country it can be. The Government should concentrate on a properly balanced policy, providing for the protection and consequent prosperity of our primary industries, and, concurrently with that, the development of essential secondary industries to absorb the products of the land.
As I have said, I have seen what may be regarded as the beginnings of the cotton industry. I know its value and what its prosperous continuance means to the men and women who desire no other life than to be engaged in primary production. I have seen what has been accomplished in the great sugar industry in Queensland, and the wonderful job that has been done in that State and in other parts of Australia. Because I have seen these things, I realize that we can do the same splendid Australian job for the great cotton industry which Australia needs so much. So I commend the Government for this measure. I hope that the Government will make sure that this industry is not subjected to any more shocks or setbacks, and that it will be encouraged to stand on its own feet as other industries are now doing. The Queensland Government should be given full praise by the Commonwealth for what it has done for cotton growing. There is one particular aspect of that Government’s valuable work to which I should like to refer - it was touched upon by Senator Cooper - and that is the replacement of dry farming by irrigation. The Queensland Government made it possible for individual cotton-growers to have their own irrigation plants. I am not sure of the figures, but I believe that the application of scientific irrigation to cotton growing increased the production fourfold. There are several other features of this industry which are very important and which might very well be brought within the ambit of this discussion. Once more I say that this bill is a very welcome measure, and I am sure that every honorable senator will support it. We on this side of the chamber hope that the Government will keep in mind not merely how much assistance it can afford to give, although, of course, that is important, but also the value of this industry to Australia and the great benefit that will be derived from it should adequate encouragement be given.
– Were it not for the fact that cotton is so vitally necessary to our -war effort I should not be inclined to support this measure. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) admitted that we have been endeavouring to grow cotton in Australia for nearly 80 years, and the fact that the industry is not yet on an economic basis seems to indicate that it has to overcome great natural difficulties. To-day, all our primary industries are confronted with grave marketing problems. The production of many commodities is subsidized, and, in respect of others, bounties are being paid. These subsidies and bounties are making our industrial economy top-heavy. For that reason we should go very carefully with regard to this industry. I should not feel inclined to support any vast scheme of development unless it is first thoroughly tested, and, whilst I am not opposed to the proper testing of any plan deemed likely to place an industry on a proper basis, there is a danger that we shall encourage uneconomic expansion. If the object of this scheme were to divert primary producers from other uneconomic industries, I should not be opposed to it. It has been suggested that as a contribution to the post-war adjustment the expansion of cotton growing is very desirable, but I remind honorable senators of the difficulties in which we landed ourselves by the settlement of returned soldiers along the river Murray. That scheme imposed a tremendous drag on almost every State, and even to-day the burden has not been entirely lifted. In view of that unfortunate experience, any large developmental scheme should be considered very carefully. However, it is true that to-day we have to import a good deal of the cotton required in Australia. Speaking from memory, I think that our imports amount to something like 65,000 bales a year, and about half that quantity comes from non-sterling countries. That is one reason why we should endeavour to make Australia selfsufficient in respect of cotton, but apart from that aspect, I am not at all enthusiastic about the measure, although I do not intend to oppose it.
– in reply - I thank honorable senators for the reception they have given to this measure. I should like to refer to one matter which has been raised by honorable senators, namely, the sliding scale on which the bounty is paid. When a conference was held, the Government and the primary producers agreed that in order to assist irrigation it was necessary in the early stages to keep the bounty up to the top figure of 4½d., sliding down by id. in the second year. The cotton industry is not seeking a bounty merely for the sake of receiving a bounty; it wants a longterm policy, and so lie Government is introducing a plan extending over five years, in order that cotton-growing may be thoroughly stabilized. Obviously, once an industry is established and those engaged in it are obtaining a fair return for their produce, Government assistance should not be continued. Those engaged in cotton-growing believe that by means of this five-year agreement, the industry will have what it has never had before, namely, an opportunity to convert, generally speaking, from dryfarming to wet-farming, thus enabling increased production to the acre. As was pointed out by Senator Leckie and other honorable senators, the Government has provided substantial financial assistance to the cotton industry in the past. Apart from bad seasons and low prices, the main reason why the industry failed to live up to the expectations of those directly interested in it, is because it was obliged to operate on a year-to-year basis. The growers were not enabled to look ahead. As a sugar-grower, Senator Courtice knows what stabilization means to an industry. He knows that the sugar agreement gave to sugar-growers an opportunity to plan ahead. The Government considers that the cotton industry should also be stabilized ‘ in’ this way. The growers should know what they are to receive for their product over a given period, and that for a given period they can rely upon a measure of Government assistance. That is the basis of this proposal. We hope that the industry will thus be placed on a permanent basis within the next five years, at the end of which period this agreement will he reviewed. The principal problem which we have to face is that the areas in Queensland most suitable for cottongrowing, mainly the Dawson and Callide Valleys, are very much subject to drought. A series of bad seasons in those areas caused a large number of growers to abandon the industry. Already, as the result of this agreement, large areas are being prepared for cotton, whilst many growers are not waiting for the installation of large irrigation systems, but are establishing their own small irrigation plants, or transferring plants which are now being used for other purposes to land which they intend to devote to cotton. Undoubtedly, this assistance will result in a large increase of the output of the industry, and, as all honorable senators admit, we need cotton very badly at the present time. In reply to Senator Leckie, I point out that all of the bounty will be paid to the growers themselves. I emphasize that cotton is one of the few products grown in this country in respect of which the supply fails to exceed the demand. Indeed, up to date we have been producing only one-fifth of our total requirements. Consequently, when we revert to normal times, and the demand is considerably reduced in comparison with our war-time requirements, a large margin will still remain, ber cause of the progress which has been made in cotton-manufacturing in this country, to permit of considerable expansion of the industry.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 (Limit of annual bounty).
– I should like to know whether, when the bounty was decided, consideration was given to the claims of the small cotton-grower as against the big grower. The big grower is able to produce cotton much more cheaply than the small grower and, consequently, if he be paid bounty at the same rate, he will enjoy a considerable advantage over the small grower, particularly if the price be not increased. Usually the small grower cannot sell his product on terms as favorable as can the big grower. Therefore, unless some provision be made to meet the position of the small grower, we shall most likely witness a recurrence of what happened in the wheat industry, in which small growers have been displaced by big growers.
– No differentiation is made between the small grower and what the honorable senator is pleased to term the big grower. No suggestion of that kind has come from the growers themselves. I point out that the so-called big grower does not exist in the cotton industry. The average area of the farms is about seventeen acres. Cottongrowing is essentially a small farmers’ industry. Consequently, nothing can be gained by differentiating between growers, simply because some might happen to have under cultivation a little more acreage than others. In addition, the same price will be obtained for the product as a whole, because the cotton goes to the ginnery which is owned co-operatively by the growers themselves, and all are paid at the one rate.
– I point out that after the last war, an attempt was made to establish cotton-growing on small farms in the Derby district in the northwest of Western Australia. The methods then used were rather primitive, and the venture failed. However, in view of the advances made in cotton-growing as the result of the application of scientific methods, involving a greater knowledge of suitable types and treatment, it might be possible to encourage the people of that district to make another attempt to establish the industry in that area. Great strides have been made in. the industry, particularly with regard to irrigation, and more economic methods of treatment and handling of the product. I ask the Minister to give an undertaking that an officer of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research will be despatched to the Derby district to report on the possibilities of establishing the industry there. The people of Western Australia believe, particularly since the outbreak of war, that the Government is prone to overlook their claims for consideration when dealing with proposals of this kind for the expansion of primary industries. Considerable scope exists for the expansion of the cotton industry in Australia, just as we are now discovering, at a rather late hour, our need to increase our production of flax. We should use the impetus of war to establish the cotton industry in those areas which are admitted to be suitable.
. -Iamofopinion that this measure will very largely achieve what the honorable senator suggests. The provision of this bounty will encourage owners of suitable land to grow cotton. I am not aware of any special action which the Commonwealth Government can take in respect of any particular area. At present the industry is largely confined to Queensland, hut the bounty will be paid on cotton grown anywhere in Australia. Consequently, settlers in the north-west of Western Australia who grow cotton will qualify for the bounty.
-No one is growing cotton in that area now.
SenatorFOLL. - The provision of this bounty is in itself an encouragement to them to grow cotton. I suggest to the honorable senator that he could well address many of his remarks to the Government of Western Australia, and find out if it is prepared to assist in the establishment of the industry in its State by providing water conservation and irrigation schemes, as the Queensland Government has done.
– The Commonwealth Government could take certain steps which would encourage the establishment of the industry in that State.
– Such an impetus is provided by this bounty. However, I shall bring under the notice of the Minister in Charge of Scientific and IndustrialResearch (Senator Collett) the honorable senator’s suggestion that an officer of the Council for Scientific and IndustrialResearch be despatched to the Derby district. I think that Senator Cunningham dispelled any doubt about the quality of the soil in the Kimberley Ranges. He told us that it had been proved definitely that cotton could be grown in that area. I therefore advise the farmers of Western Australia to take advantage of the opportunity provided in this bill to engage in cotton-growing so that they, too, may obtain the benefit of the act.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 7 agreed to.
Clause 8 (Specification of bounty).
.- This clause enacts that the bounty shall be payable in respect of raw cotton which has been graded in one of the grades prescribed in section 12 of the act. Section 12 provides that -
All raw cotton in respect of which bounty is claimed shall be graded into such grades and staple lengths as are prescribed.
That would seem to leave room for a good deal of guesswork, and it is possible that growers of the better grade of cotton will not receive an adequate reward as compared with the growers of inferior grades. It is desirable that the Minister should make the position clear.
– The various grades of cotton upon which bounty will be payable are prescribed in regulations to be found in Statutory Rules 1936, No. 22. Sub-regulation 1 of regulation 4 reads -
For the purposes of the act and of these regulations, raw cotton shall, subject to the next succeeding sub-regulation, be graded into the following grades: -
White Cotton -
Strict good middling
Strict low middling Low middling
Strict good ordinary
Light Spotted Cotton -
Strict good middling light spotted
Good middling light spotted
Strict middling light spotted.
Middling light spotted
Strict low middling light spotted
Low middling light spotted
Yellow Spotted Cotton -
Good middling yellow spotted
Strict middling yellow spotted
Middling yellow spotted
Strict low middling yellow spotted
Low middling yellow spotted
Heavy Spotted Cotton -
Good middling heavy spotted
Strict middling heavy spotted
Strict low middling heavy spotted
Low middling heavy spotted
White Wasty Cotton -
Good middling white wasty
Strict middling white wasty
Middling white wasty
Strict low middling white wasty
Low middling white wasty
In pursuance of sub-section 3 of section 9 of the act, bounty is payable at half rates.
– The grading is well understood by those engaged in the industry.
– That is so. Subregulation 2 provides -
Each of the grades referred to in the last preceding sub-regulation shall be classed according to staple lengths of raw cotton ranging from one to three-sixteenths of an inch to one-quarter of an inch, each staple length being progressively less than the preceding staple length by one-sixteenth of one inch.
The grading of cotton is carried out on much the same lines as is the grading of wool.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 9 (Rates of bounty).
– I understood the Minister to say that at the conference of representative growers and the Government it was agreed that it would take about five years for the industry to be self-supporting. On what was that belief based? Is it anticipated that the Australian growers will supply the whole of the requirements of the Commonwealth at present prices, or is any allowance to be made for a possible increase or decrease of prices?
– I think I said, in my reply to the second-reading debate, that it was considered by the growers and by the Government that the payment of the bounty for five years would give the industry a chance to become established. It is hoped that, at the end of that period, the growers will he able to carry on without further government assistance. But no one can foresee the future trend of events. No one can say what will be the price of cotton a few years hence. World prices may fall so low that it will be necessary for the Government to continue some form of financial aid to the Australian industry. The amount of bounty which the Government may have to pay will be determined by world parity. One can only surmise what will be the position at the end of five years ; but, as I have said, it is hoped that the industry will then be able to carry on without further government assistance.
– What I am about to say should, perhaps, have been said during the debate on the second reading; but I take this opportunity to remind the committee that cotton-growing is not the only war-time industry that may require assistance. The principle of the bill is sound and the motive of the Government a good one. It is desirable that the Australian cotton industry should be expanded, and there is a remote possibility that at the end of five years, it will be able to carry on without further aid. As I have said, other industries of definite war-time value are being developed in this country. The production of flax, for instance, is equally important, yet government assistance to that industry is limited to one year. 1 hope that the Minister representing the Minister for Commercewill make further inquiries to see whether this important primary industry cannot be treated more liberally. I commend the Government for what it has done for the cotton industry, but I contend that there should be no differentiation between the definite war-time activity of flax-growing and the growing of cotton. As honorable senators will recall, the expansion of flaxgrowing in Australia is being undertaken at the request of the British Government. It should receive the same treatment as is given to cotton-growing.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 10 to 24 agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 5.19 to 8.15 p.m.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing and Sessional Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator McLeay) read a first time.
Senator McLEAY (South Australia -
Minister for Trade and Customs) [8.16].- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time. The primary purpose of this bill is to remove a doubt which exists as to whether the Bight Honorable Sir John Latham, Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, may legally be appointed to the position of Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary for the Commonwealth of Australia in Japan. Section 8 of the Judiciary Act provides that a Justice of the High Court shall not be capable of accepting or holding any other office or any other place of profit within the Commonwealth except any such judicial office as may be conferred upon him by or under any law of the Commonwealth. In order to meet any contention that the proposed appointment of Sir John Latham might be invalid as being contrary to the provisions of this section, it is thought desirable that legislative provision be made to enable him to hold the office to which it is proposed to appoint him. The enabling provision of the bill confers authority to hold the office as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary during the present war and the period of twelve months immediately succeeding its termination. The bill also provides for the designation of the senior justice of the court upon whom the duties and powers of the Chief Justice devolve in the absence of the Chief Justice from Australia. Under section 7 of the act the duties and powers of the Chief Justice devolve upon the senior justice in the event of the absence of the Chief Justice from the Commonwealth. Such senior justice will be designated as Acting Chief Justice.
– Although this is a short measure it is of considerable importance, and certain of its phases are worthy of consideration. That these are unusual times was obviously recognized in the House of Representatives where the bill, which had the support of the members of all parties, had a speedy passage. Long before I knew that the introduction of a measure such as this would be necessary, I had formed the opinion that nothing which has been done recently in connexion with the defence of Australia could be more opportune than the proposal to appoint a representative of Australia in Tokyo. It is unnecessary for me to say that I did not agree with the political opinions held by Sir John Latham when he was a member of this Parliament; but he has been out of the hurly-burly of politics for some time and now enjoys the serene atmosphere of the judiciary. I remember, however, the very valuable work which he performed as the leader of the Goodwill Mission which visited the East some time ago, and I recall how well he was received in Japan, and particularly the fine address which he delivered to the members of this Parliament after his return to Australia. If ever there was a time when it was essential that Australia should be seeking the friendship of other nations - and particularly the nation concerned in this instance - it is now. The appointment is a gesture of goodwill, and one which I believe will be reciprocated in the country to which Sir John’s new duties will take him. It might be possible to offer some form of carping criticism, but I trust that that will not be done, because it is essential in the interests of Australia that he should take up his responsible duties with a knowledge that every one in this country wishes him success in the important work which he is to undertake, and that it will not be possible for any one to say that his appointment met with other than the full approval of the representatives of all shades of political opinion in this national legislature. For these reasons, I am not raising the legal aspect of the appointment, which was dealt with effectively by my colleagues in the House of Representatives this afternoon. It is pleasing to know thatin that chamber there was no opposition to the measure. My interest in the appointment is based on views which I have expressed in this chamber on numerous occasions, and that is that long ago we should have framed a definite policy of goodwill with all nations willing to reciprocate. This appointment carries us a long way along the road towards such a policy. Personally, I wish Si’’ John Latham all possible success in his new office, and I trust that the passage of this bill will assist him to carry out successfully the duties of the important office to which he has been appointed. By the passage of this measure we can feel that individually and collectively we are doing something to assist him in his great work.
– I support the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings). Probably it would have been of great advantage to Australia had Sir John Latham been able to remain in J apan, when he visited that country some years ago, in order to build on the foundations then laid. While Sir John is in Japan I feel sure that he will be able to work in the interests, not only of Australia, but also of other Pacific nations. I trust, however, that when he reaches Japan he will be able to confer with members of the Japanese Government, and also that the Minister appointed from Tokyo to Canberra will not be placed in the position in which Mr. Gauss, the representative of the Government of the United States of America, was placed. Mr. Gauss had to linger along the banks of the Molonglo, because there were no Commonwealth Ministers in Canberra to meet or confer with him. I wish Sir John every success in the highly important duties that he is to undertake. I trust that he will have the assistance of Japanese Ministers, and that when he returns to Australia, the Parliament and the people will be more than satisfied with the service which he has rendered to this nation.
– As one who was associated with the distinguished gentleman who is the subject-matter of this bill, I desire to pay tribute to his selfsacrifice in accepting this high and important office at the hands of the Commonwealth Government. I do not regard the post which he is about to fill as a bed of roses, neither do I think that the appointment is one which he would seek. Having achieved probably what was his life’s ambition, that of Chief Justice in his own country, his acceptance of this office has been dictated by his high sense of public duty. As a colleague, I know that he was always loyal to those with whom he was associated and loyal to Australia. By dint of his own efforts, he has become a great Australian. Having reached what we might term the zenith of his ambition, he is now sacrificing himself and his family life to take up the important office of Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary for the Commonwealth in Japan. We have been told how Sir John is regarded by the Japanese people and of the success he attained when he visited Japan as the leader of a goodwill mission. I know from association with distinguished Japanese people who have visited Australia how highly he is regarded in Japan, because the Japanese people believe, as we do, that he is a man whom all can trust. He will leave Australia with the goodwill of every section of the Australian community. He goes to Japan to serve a great end - the establishment of a better relationship between Australia and a powerful people with great traditions in the north Pacific zone. The people of this country know that Sir John is a gentleman to whom the destinies of this country can ‘ be trusted. The Japanese people know that in him they can place implicit faith. Some may say that this measure violates a principle of our constitutional and judiciary law, but the times are abnormal. I was glad to hear the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings) and the leader of the other section of the Labour party in this chamber speak as they did concerning the appointment which, I think, means so much to the future of Australia. I congratulate the Government most sincerely upon having obtained Sir John’s consent to accept this important post.
.- I do not propose to discuss the appointment of Sir John Latham as Australia’s representative in Tokyo other than to say that I believe that every one in Australia believes that the best possible appointment has been made. I am afraid, however, that the Government has been unwise in restricting the appointment to the duration of the war and twelve months thereafter. In these days no one can forecast what is likely to happen in the next few years; but it appears to me that when the war is over and the inevitable clearing up between nations has to he undertaken, that may he the time when the services of Sir John Latham in Japan may be even more valuable to Australia than they can be at the present time. Therefore, the appointment should be made for a longer period. Twelve months after the termination of the war is an unreasonably short time in which to expect our representative in Tokyo to do what must necessarily be done.
– This bill need not be the last word.
– That is true, but it is not necessary to restrict the term of the appointment thus possibly necessitating the passage of another bill of this kind. I have no other criticism of the measure. As Senator A. J. McLachlan has said, the appointment has met with the approbation of all sections of the Australian community.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Senator McLeay) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till 1.1 o’clock to-morrow morning.
Gold-mining Industry - National
Insurance: Approved Societies - Trade Unions Advisory Panels. Motion (by Senator McLeay) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I wish to bring to the notice of the Government the difficulties confronting the gold-mining industry at the present time. Unfortunately many people appear to believe that the industry is making excellent progress, whereas it is suffering as the result of rising costs of production and high rates of taxation. I impress upon the Minister representing the Treasurer the importance of publishing a statement showing in detail the cost of the realization of Australian gold in the United States of America. I mentioned this subject recently, referring particularly to the fluctuating dollar-sterling exchange rate in America. That problem has now been overcome by the pegging of the exchange rate at a permanent level. But gold producers doubt whether they are receiving the full return for their product after the deduction of the realization expenses incurred by the Commonwealth Bank, which exports the gold to the United States of America. The Commonwealth Bank Board seems to be reluctant to publish details of those expenses. I ask the Government to obtain from the board details of the transhipment and realization costs in the United States of America and the balance due to the producers.
I mention this matter because of the increases of production costs caused by the high prices of materials, and because of the huge burden of taxation which the industry is now bearing. The following list of commodities shows the percentage increases of prices charged for them since the outbreak of war: -
I could mention another 50 items, all of which have become more expensive since the beginning of the war. The rate of increase varies between 5 per cent. and 50 per cent. I have here a statement prepared by the Great Boulder Proprietary Gold Mines Limited referring to the transference of the company’s directorate and office from England to Australia. The statement contains some remarkable figures indicative of the taxation burden which the gold-mining industry is bearing. They show that, of the company’s estimated net profit of £460,000 for the year ending the 31st December, 1940, only £63,248 will be received by the shareholders. The balance will be used to pay taxes. The Australian gold tax, payable on a quantity of 114,000. oz. at the rate of 16s. 41/2d. anoz., will amount to ?85,500. State taxes levied by the Government of Western Australia at the rate of 3s. 103/4d. in the ?1, will amount to ?72,950, making a total of Australian taxes of ?158,450. When the Minister for Mines in Western Australia recently criticized the Commonwealth gold tax as being harsh, he conveniently omitted to refer to the amount levied by his State Government as income and other taxes. That amount is nearly equal to the Commonwealth tax. The company will also have to pay British taxes amounting to ?238,302. This burden of taxes is not very encouraging to the gold-mining industry, particularly in areas bearing only lowgrade ore. There are many low-grade districts in Western Australia, and Australia’s gold production could be doubled if they were developed properly. I hope that the Government will endeavour to prevent further increases of the financial burden of the industry and will ensure that it receives the fullest possible credit for the disposal of gold in the United States of America. I am aware that gold is shipped to the United States of America in order to provide funds for the purchase of munitions of war, but the Government should not neglect the interests of producers of that commodity, who have expressed doubt as to whether the Commonwealth Bank is paying the full amount due to them on the realization of their gold in America. I ask the Government to obtain the information for which I have asked.
– I am dissatisfied with the answer given to a question which I asked in this chamber to-day on the subject of national insurance. Friendly societies entered into the national insurance scheme in good faith, and I cannot understand why the Government has not reimbursed them fully for the money they expended in preparing for the scheme. National insurance must be introduced eventually. These societies will think twice before they take action in connexion with any scheme of national insurance which might be proposed in the future. They had completed their preparations in order to play their part under the scheme originally propounded. The least the Government can do is to reimburse them.
– I propose to say a few words with respect to the position of the Trade Unions Advisory Panel, which has been very much misrepresented in the press. As a member of the Emergency Committee of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions I shall explain just exactly what has happened, so that any one interested in the matter may be enabled to learn the facts from the point of view of the council. As the result of talks which took place between the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and members of the Emergency Committee the Council submitted certain proposals to a conference of trade unions. We understood at the time from the Prime Minister that he had agreed in principle to these proposals, which were as follows: -
Trade union advisory panels shall be appointed for the formulation of recommendations on any question affecting the following matters -
Panels. - To effect such proposals there shall be appointed one major panel and at least nine (9) subsidiary panels.
The functions of the panels shall be within the limits of the powers contained in paragraph 1.
Major panel ;
Subsidiary panels -
Shall determine whether applications for awards or variations of awards affecting the members of more than one union shall be proceeded with. 3a. Representation of major panel -
What we virtually agreed upon was that we should have nine subsidiary panels on which the unions concerned, and which I have just named, would be directly represented. Then, each subsidiary panel would have a representative on the major panel. We were under the impression that the Prime Minister had agreed that this basis of representation was about as effective and as equitable as the unions could desire. We considered also that most disputes of a minor character could be settled by the subsidiary panels, but in the event of no settlement being arrived at a dispute would be referred to the major panel, which would deal directly with the Government in connexion with the matter. The proposal to establish a major panel and nine subsidiary panels was agreed to by a conference of representatives of federal unions, and later by three out of the five State branches of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions. Consequently, this proposal had the endorsement of the majority of the unions directly concerned, as well as the Trades Hall councils, on which all unions were represented. Later, however, much to our surprise, we received the following letter, dated the 24th July, from the Prime Minister : - “Dear Mr. Crofts,
Re Trade Unions Advisory Panel.
With reference to your correspondence and interviews on this matter Cabinet has given consideration to the position which exists as a result of the rejection of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions scheme by the States of Queensland and New South Wales.
We are of opinion that these circumstances render, it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the Australasian Council of Trade Unions proposals to operate with the effective support of the major unions. In addition to this, I have been advised by representatives of the Australian Workers Union, the Maritime Transport Council, the Amalgamated Engineering Union, the Textile Workers Union, and the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen’s Association and the Arms and Munition Workers Union, that those unions are prepared at once to co-operate with the Government in the formation of the Trade Unions Advisory Panel, each such union to appoint one representative and the Australasian Council of Trade Unions to appoint two representatives. Further representation of other unions would be welcomed.
The representatives of the unions to which I have referred feel that the Australasian Council of Trade Unions plan, which provides for a large number of subsidiary panels, is too complex, and that a firm foundation could be best established by creating a central panel along the lines indicated.
It is now months since my discussions with the Australasian Council of Trade Unions began, and the Government has been extremely patient in carrying them on. We are convinced that finality must be reached and we find it impossible to accept the position that our capacity to get a Trade Unions Panel should depend upon a decision from the Trades and Labour Council in the smallest and least industrial State. We are therefore proposing to invite the organizations above nominated to join in an Advisory Panel and at the same time we are inviting your organization to appoint two representatives on such panel.
Having regard to the character of our war industries, which are most concerned with the constitution of a panel, it cannot be doubted that the body which will be constituted as a result of this decision will bo fully representative and effective. I propose to act accordingly this evening.
Yours sincerely, (Signed) Robert G. Menzies,
The point I make is that the panel suggested by the Prime Minister will not be fully representative of the unions, and will not be responsible to the trade union movement. Some of the unions named by the Prime Minister, including the Engine Drivers Union, the Munition Workers Union, the largest section of the sea transport workers, the Marine Stewards Union, and the Waterside Workers Union, have refused to have anything to do with it.
– I am trying to induce the Government to honor its obligations and promises to the trade union movement. I am protesting against what I regard as double-dealing, or working at cross-purposes, which is more likely than anything else to provoke industrial disputes. That is exactly what I am doing, and I am doing a great deal more than the Government to help our war effort industrially.
– The honorable senator is running true to form.
– I have always run true to form; but I cannot say that of the honorable senator.
– I should not like to run true to the honorable senator’s form.
– If the honorable senator did so, he would, perhaps, be less objectionable, and would be able to do more to help us win the war than he is doing at the present time. Insofar as the panel is not fully representative of the trade union movement, the statement by the Prime Minister is not correct.
– It is more likely to be correct than anything the honorable senator says.
– I rely not on stupid personal interjections, but on facts. Following the receipt of the Prime Minister’s letter a meeting of the Emergency Committee of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions was held, and authorized the president, Mr. Monk, and the secretary, Mr. Crofts, to make the following statement, which they duly made : -
The Prime Minister is once again endeavouring to cover up his own incapacity to meet the industrial situation in the war period by suggesting it is ludicrous to infer that he, as Prime Minister, is attempting to split or defy the trade union movement by endeavouring to throw the blame upon the Australasian Council of Trade Unions.
Mr. Menzies himself vacillated with the problemfor months, and he did not, at any material time, definitely place before the representatives of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions concrete proposals.
The broad principle of the establishment of a panel was advanced by the Prime Minister following upon what had been proposed by his predecessor, Mr. J. A. Lyons. The proposal for setting up a major panel with subsidiary panels representing industry units was postulated by the Australasian Council of Trade Unions and acquiesced in by the Prime Minister.
At the last interview before the peremptory decision of the Prime Minister conveyed to the Australasian Council of Trade Unions under date of the 24th July, Mr. Menzies had before him a detailed scheme of one major and nine subsidiary panels. He intimated prior to the federal unions conference that this scheme met with his approval in principle, and only minor alterations in verbage may be necessary. To show the Prime Minister’s complete agreement with the scheme, it is only necessary to quote the lastportion of his letter to the Australasian Council of Trade Unions under date of the 14th June - “I should add, for the purposes of record, that my specific proposal in relation to the Trade Union Advisory Panel is that the relevant unions should be grouped into a series of sections such as transport, textile workers, engineers, and so on, and that the unions comprising each group should themselves choose a panel of, say, five, to be the panel for that group, each panel in turn nominating a representative to a central panel,’ with the final proviso that, if the Australasian Council of Trade Unions is unrepresented on that final panel, its president and secretary for the time being should become ex-officio members of it”.
We emphasize the use of the words “ for the purposes of record “, which, at least, have proved to bc a protection for the officers of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions in their negotiations with him.
Mr. Menzies was quite aware that it was necessary for the five trades and labour councils to vote upon the issue. He met representatives of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions on Friday, the 19th July, in Sydney, after he knew both the Sydney and Brisbane councils had rejected the proposal. He knew that two conferences, representing the coal-mining and metal trades groups, had met the previous day and agreed on the basis of establishment of subsidiary panels on the assumption that the majority of the councils would favour their establishment. He raised no objection that day against awaiting the outcome of the Hobart Council’s decision.
Next came his letter of the 24th July, stating that the Cabinet had decided to set up a panel outside the ambit of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions. It was nothing short of an open insult to the Australasian Council of Trade Unions to intimate he proposed to act that evening in setting up the panel. He had at no time suggested or discussed an alternative scheme to that suggested by the Australasian Council of Trade Unions. This communication was the first and only intimation to us of his desire to establish a different panel. The Prime Minister stands condemned for his attempt to stampede the invited unions to constitute a panel by inferring that two representatives of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions would be members of the proposed panel.
I think that I have read enough to indicate that, for all practical purposes, the Prime Minister had agreed with the Australasian Council of Trade Unions and that the panel should he appointed on the basis of the proposals contained in the statement which I have just read. Apparently something happened to cause the Prime Minister to change his mind. All that I can suggest is that after he had practically agreed to the proposal made by the Australasian Council of Trade Unions, he had consultation with certain people, and the outcome was his letter of the 24th July, lt seems to me that it was suggested to him that he should do as he had done previously with respect to the appointment of the State boards of management in connexion with the production of munitions. In answer to a question asked by Mr. Rosevear in the House of Representatives, the Prime Minister said that the names of the representatives of the trade- union movement had been recommended in the first place by members of the State Munitions Committees of Management. On each of these are representatives of employers and permanent officials. Subsequently, the names of representatives of the trade union movement were added to the committees. It appears to me that it was suggested to the Prime Minister that he should appoint a central trade union advisory panel on the same basis. That meant that representatives of the trade union movement would not be nominated directly by the movement itself but by certain employers’ organizations, thus excluding representation direct from the factories through subsidiary panels to the major panel which would be able to deal in a proper manner with any dispute that arose. No such machinery is now provided because of the division in the trade union movement, as a result of which certain unions have been denied the right of representation. Our scheme provided for the representation of all trade unions. The State munitions boards which have been appointed did not make that provision. Mr. P. J. Clarey, M.L.C., is the representative of the trade union movement in. Victoria. Other members are Sir Alexander Stewart, who is chairman, Mr. N. Harris and Mr. C. Ruwolt. When Mr. Clarey was invited to become a member of the board, he consulted the trade union movement and informed the executive of the Trades Hall Council that he would place the matter in their hands. If the council endorsed his appointment he would accept the position. That was done. I emphasize that all through the negotiations we did all that was humanly possible to meet the Prime Minister.
– Nothing of the sort.
– The letter of the 14th June, which I have read, is on the file.
– That covers a multitude of sins.
-It shows that the Prime Minister practically agreed to our proposal, and that we cannot place much reliance on the word of the right honorable gentleman.
– He was sick of being humbugged.
– It would seem that even when an undertaking is given in writing in clear and precise terms we cannot safely take it for granted. In consequence of what has happened in connexion with the appointment of this panel, the Government is more suspect than ever, and the smooth running of industry which would have been achieved had our proposal been accepted, will not now be possible to the same extent as if the Prime Minister had dealt honestly and fairly with us.
– Order ! The honorable senator must not accuse the Prime Minister of dishonesty.
– I am not accusing the right honorable gentleman of dishonesty in the ordinary sense of the word - far from it. I am however, accusing him of writing a letter in which we were given to understand that the scheme which we submitted would, subject to a few minor alterations, be agreed to, and then almost over night, as it were, performing a complete volte face. We were told that we must agree to the central panel which he himself or some one else had appointed. I have deemed it necessary to set out the position as clearly as possible in order that the people may judge us. We stand or fall by what we have done.
– Who does?
– When I say “ we “ I mean the officers who were responsible for the proposals submitted by the Australasian Council of Trade Unions. I include also a majority of the unions concerned and three of the five State Trades Hall councils which agreed to the proposals. I repeat that we stand or fall by what we have done, and I am confident that if the facts were placed before any impartial tribunal, the Prime Minister would have great difficulty in justifying what he has done.
I may, however, say that this development did not come as a surprise to me, because I know that the Government would prefer to be complete master of the situation. It would prefer that the unions should be subject to its will.
That is the policy of this Government and it does its best to give effect to it. But I would remind the Senate that the trade union movement also has a policy in respect of this matter, and I submit that its views are entitled to consideration. I go farther and say that unless its views are considered on their merits and by men who will honour their promises, the very trouble which we are told this Government seeks to avoid will undoubtedly arise. I make this protest at this late hour, not in a spirit of vindictiveness, but in the hope that an effort will be made to correct the position, so that the Government will have behind it the full support of the trade unions through their representatives on the panels.
– Tell them to get some decent delegates and there will be a chance.
– I note the significance of the Minister’s interjection. No doubt the honorable gentleman reasons subjectively. In his view the “decent” delegate would be the man who would bow to his will without question or demur, whereas an individual like myself, who would challenge the Minister’s knowledge or possibly his capacity to judge, would be considered indecent.
– That is in very bad taste.
– If my reply to the interjection is in bad taste, I have the excuse that it was provoked by the very bad taste of the Minister, who, apparently, would regard as “decent” delegates only those who were 100 per cent, “yes” men.
– Some of the unions were humbugging the Prime Minister all through the negotiations, and the honorable senator knows it.
– If there was any humbugging at all in connexion with this matter, it was on the part of the Prime Minister himself. We called on him and we also saw his secretary. The Prime Minister said, “ I am a very busy man ; I think it would facilitate matters if you met my secretary and we could possibly work out a scheme “. We did that.
We discussed the proposals from every point of view, and I assume that, subsequently, the Prime Minister’s secretary conferred with the right honorable gentleman about’ what was to be done. We hoped right up to the 24th July that everything was plain sailing, and that at least we would have a workable system of panels, appointed on a basis that would have the endorsement of both the Government and the trade union movement. Of course, this development is no new experience with this Government. It issues regulations one day and backs down <m the next day. If the Government treats the general public in this way, we cannot expect it to act much differently towards the trade union movement.
– What hurts some members of the party opposite is the loyalty of the six unions which are represented on the pane) appointed by the Government.
– I should say that those ‘unions are influenced more by their hearts than by their heads.
– That is a compliment to the men.
– If the honorable senator .thinks so, I have no objection. I repeat that, at this late hour, I trust that the Government will try to do better than it has done in this matter. If this war lasts, and we are to have a munitions organization that will work like a perfect piece of machinery, tactics very different from those resorted to by the Government will have to be adopted.
– The trade unions will never work like a perfect piece of machinery under the honorable senator’s leadership.
– I do not desire to be a leader. I have never wished to be more than a humble follower or a worker. I do not desire to pose in the reflected glory of others, as does the honorable senator who interjects. I trust that my protest will be considered on its merits, and that the Government will endeavour to meet <the trade union movement as originally intended and promised.
– I assure Senator Allan MacDonald that his representations with respect to the price paid to gold producers will be brought under the notice of my colleague, the Treasurer (Mr. Spender), and that I shall endeavour to obtain the information which he seeks.
– in reply - I am sure that honorable senators resent the attack made by .Senator Cameron upon the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). I think that we all appreciate the fact that, if there is one problem we arc up against, it is that of providing munitions for our soldiers who are risking their lives. The people of this country owe everything to the Prime Minister for the work that he has done in respect of the munitions drive. His attitude to the members of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions and the trade unionists has been most tolerant, and it ill became the- honorable senator to make the statements to which he gave expression to-night. I do not propose to reply to them in detail ; I shall refer them to the Prime Minister. I recall the record of the honorable senator in the last war, and the statements made by him in Melbourne when the Prime Minister was appealing to members of the Labour party to sink political differences, and to join with him in doing everything possible to win this war, knowing that the Mother Country was in extreme peril. Senator Cameron, who was selected to discuss those matters, remarked to his fellow delegates, according to a statement which appeared in the press* that what the Prime Minister had said was “ eyewash “. While men of Senator Cameron’s type are negotiating with the Government, we shall not make the headway desired in the production of munitions. Political parasites like the honorable senator do more than anything else to hinder the war effort.
– I rise to a point of order. The Minister has referred to mc as a political parasite. I ask that that remark be withdrawn.
– As exception has been taken to those words, I request the Minister to withdraw them.
– I withdraw the comment, in view of the objection taken to it. If thereis one thing of which we all are proud in these difficult days, it is the attitude of the trade unionists of this country. Senator Cameron said that they are all right in their hearts, but not in their heads. I contend that the honorable senator is neither right in the heart nor right in the head. The genuine trade unionists, in this war as in the last war, are prepared to a man to stand behind the Government. It ill becomes the honorable senator to attempt to make political capital because he happens to be a member of the Australasian Council of Trade Unions.
– He has settled more disputes than any other man in the Labour movement. He settled the coal strike.
– I only want the Government to’ honour its promise.
– The matters raised by other honorable senators will receive the consideration that they deserve.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1940, No. 143.
Air Navigation Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1940, Nos. 155, 162.
Income Tax Assessment Act - Regulations amended- Statutory Rules 1940, No. 138.
Nauru - Ordinances of 1940 - No. 1 - Appropriation (Supplementary) 1939.
No. 2 - Nauruan Royalty Trust Fund Appropriation (Supplementary) 1939.
No. 3 - Appropriation.
No. 4 - Nauruan Royalty Trust Fund
Papua Act - Ordinance No. 4 of 1940 - Customs (Export) Tariff.
Immigration Act - Regulations amended - Statutory Rules 1940, No. 144.
National Security Act - Regulations amended, &c.- Statutory Rules 1940, Nos. 161, 104.
Senate adjourned at 9.23 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 August 1940, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1940/19400821_senate_15_164/>.