Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Thursday, 15 October 1914

Senator SENIOR (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Slot all of it. The honorable senator forgets that during a portion of that period, and the more prosperous portion, a Labour Government was in power in the Commonwealth. He also forgets that prior to that event in different States the Labour party was in power. Surely he will admit that we did more during the time we were in power than was done during the whole regime. of Tory Governments.

Senator Bakhap - Two State Labour Governments had brought about record deficits in the history of Australia.

Senator SENIOR - That is not unlikely. It is quite possible for a man to have an overdraft at his bank and yet to be perfectly sound financially. It is quite possible for even two or more Labour Governments to have what appears from their Budget to be a deficit, and at the same time to be in a sound and prosperous position. In fact, a deficit may be brought about by the negligence and diffidence of Tory Governments to do their duty.

Senator Bakhap - The deficits were produced in the prosperous years to which you have alluded.

Senator Pearce - The deficit inWestern Australia was brought about by the Tory Legislative Council throwing out our taxation measures.

Senator SENIOR - Exactly. I could point to a State Government bringing about a similar position in South Australia. I could point to Tory Governments, as well as to a Tory Legislative Council, baulking legislation which would have advanced the best interests of the State. We know full well that any deficit in New South Wales has been brought about purely because Tory Governments would not develop the State as development became necessary, and do it quickly.

Senator Bakhap - The honorable senator is referring to what was alluded to in the Age recently as " financial chaos."

Senator SENIOR - The allusions in the Age to many matters are not always correct. That newspaper might refer to Senator Bakhap as a man who is able to look only through a keyhole, and perhaps it would be nearer the truth than it was in the allusion to which he has referred. The honorable senator is adroit in constructing side tracks which he endeavours to induce a speaker to follow. We have no need for anything like panic or despondency. So far from the resources of Australia being exhausted, they have yet scarcely been touched. One matter arising out of the war has been brought more forcibly under our notice than has ever been the case in the past. At a time when we are about to revise a Tariff it is most opportune that we should remember that many of the articles which we have required in the past have borne upon them the stamp " Made in Germany." We shall continue to need those articles as time goes on, but we shall not require to obtain them from the same source. It is incumbent upon Australia to manufacture those articles for herself in the future. Australians must rise to the occasion, face the difficulty, and solve this problem as statesmen should solve it. No part of the globe is better able to supply the needs of the people than is Australia. No country in the world could be more selfcontained. There is no other country of which it is quite so disgraceful to say that she sends her raw products to the other side of the globe to be manufactured into goods which are afterwards bought by her own people. We in Australia must make up our minds to meet Australian needs, and where the products of our land exceed our needs we must be prepared to send, not the raw material, but the manufactured article, to the people of other lands. We are complain ing largely of our unemployed whilst we are exporting our wheat to be ground in other lands. We should grind our wheat here, and export our flour.

Senator Bakhap - Would people pay the price for our flour.

Senator SENIOR - Senator Bakhap will, I am sure, contend that the question of price is always determined by the law of supply and demand, and ifthere is a demand for our flour, people will be found to purchase it. I have not the slightest doubt that there will be a very considerable demand for it.

Senator Shannon - The honorable senator should not forget that much of our wheat is used for mixing purposes in other countries.

Senator SENIOR - I grant that. I remember the time when wheat grown at Mount Gambier was ground at Mount Gambier by the old-fashioned stone grinders, but to-day some of the millers tell us that they cannot grind the wheat grown at Mount Gambier, since the introduction of new milling machinery requires the production of a harder wheat. We 'are importing superphosphates to Australia very largely to-day, whilst we are exporting bran, pollard, and wheat, and, with those exports, £100,000 worth of superphosphates every year. We are faced to-day with a drought, and I am afraid that a number of pastoralists will have to slaughter their stock, while we are at the same time exporting foodstuffs, when by grinding our wheat we might keep some of our own people employed, and supply many of the needs of the community. These questions call for serious reflection, but we must, first of all, banish every feeling of despondency because of the war. Sadness must ever follow war, but there should not be amongst us any feeling of despondency. We should, on the contrary, feel that it is our duty to rise to the occasion and meet our own needs by utilizing the labour we have here. I heard it stated recently in connexion with concentrates now lying at Port Pirie, and a valuable product of the Broken Hill Silver Mines, that they cannot be utilized here. It is said that in order to utilize them here it would be necessary to spend something like £1,500,000on machinery. It is about time that we recognised that we have minerals in Australia and should, as a people, be prepared to treat them be re, so that wo may export to other lands, not the raw material, but the finished article.

Senator Bakhap - The honorable senator should not forget that in connexion with the reduction of ores, very special skill is necessary, and this skill has been developed for generations by the people of Belgium and of Germany.

Senator SENIOR - The honorable senator's interjection is but a key opening up another point. I am pleased to say that many years ago, in Australia, we decided upon compulsory education. The next step must be to extend that education to the secondary and technical branches to enable Australians to- meet the needs and prosecute the true development of Australia. We must go still further, and take steps necessary to develop Australians as well as the products of Australia. We should recognise that money spent in that way will prove about the most profitable investment we could make. In the past, when there has been any position of eminence requiring special skill to be filled, the practice has, unfortunately, been to disparage the produce of our own land, when Ave should have been preparing Australians in such a way as to fit them to fill the highest positions in the country.

Senator Long - The people who have been relying solely upon- German imports are now posing as Australian patriots, but they are too late.

Senator SENIOR - Germany has taught us many lesson's, and possibly in time to come will teach us many more. She is perhaps teaching us an important lesson in the present war. It may be that she is teaching us that we should cease to be dependent upon her, and should be self-dependent. We should take advantage of the lessons she has taught, particularly in the way she has trained her people. It may surprise some honorable senators to learn that more .than 1,000,000 Germans are employed directly in the forests of Germany, and more than 3,000,000 find employment in' connexion with the output of those forests. If in Australia we attempted to preserve our forests or to go in for a policy of re-afforestation, our friends of the Opposition would imme diately raise their eyes and cry " Socialism." They overlook the fact that Germany to-day draws half her revenue from socialistic enterprises in connexion with mines, coal fields, and forests.

Senator Bakhap - Does the honorable senator accuse members of the Opposition of having at any time disputed the value of a policy of afforestation?

Senator SENIOR - I do not accuse the honorable senator of that, but I do say that in South Australia every attempt of the kind has been burked by the Tory section in the State Parliament. Possibly in the little State of Tasmania, which is so small as almost to escape one's notice on looking at the map of Australia, it is recognised that the depletion of the forest is greatly to the disadvantage of the interests of the State.

Senator Bakhap - I recognise that the waste products of our saw-mills are not. utilized as they arc in Germany.

Senator SENIOR - Here again is a reference to what is done in Germany, and it is the socialistic management 'of her forests and other natural resources that has given Germany the strength she has to-day. I hope that in the time to come our friends of the Opposition will not raise their usual cry when we take such socialistic measures as appear to us to be necessary to enable Australians to utilize the raw products of the country for the benefit of- the people of Australia.

Suggest corrections