- Parliamentary Business
- Senators & Members
- News & Events
- About Parliament
- Visit Parliament
Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Table Of ContentsDownload Full Day's Hansard View/Save XML
Previous Fragment Next Fragment
- Start of Business
- MANDATEDTERRITORY OF NEW GUINEA
- SUPPLY BILL (No. 2) 1937-38
- RELIEF FOR DEPUTY PRESIDENT
SUPPLY BILL (No. 2) 1937-38
- First Reading
- Second Reading
Wednesday, 8 September 1937
Senator COURTICE - Why has not this G overnment done that ?
Senator ARKINS - I am glad that the honorable gentleman appears to be in agreement with me. I would like to believe that the Labour party would also see the wisdom of coming into line, because there is a distinct possibility of inducing a considerable number of very desirable young men and young women from Great Britain as well as from some of the central European countries and North America to make their homes in Australia. I feel sure that if we opened up some of the available land for closer settlement, we could attract from the United States of America a large number of young men who have "had training in afforestation and therefore would be a distinct asset. Our objective should be to attract to Australia, the highest type of youths - young men of Nordic descent - whose forefathers braved the perils ' of the Atlantic and established for themselves homes in the new world. Young men of this type should be welcomed in Australia and encouraged to carve out careers for themselves in this country.
Senator Collings - What would happen to the horde of unemployed Australian youths?
Senator ARKINS - That is the kind of objection which one always hears from Labour representatives whenever proposals are advanced for increasing the population of Australia. I am sure it is a groundless objection. If we had double our present population, we would be much better off as a nation than we are to-day. Our great disability, from an economic and defence point of view, is lack of population.
I should like the Government to reconstitute the Public Accounts Committee, which rendered distinct service for many years. I have received many letters from citizens who are interested in this matter. Mr. Remington, the president of the Constitutional Association of New South Wales, has made a very useful suggestion. Usually criticism from outside of parliamentary institutions lacks constructive suggestions, and shows antagonism towards members of Parliament, but Mr. Remington, in urging that, the Public Accounts Committee be reconstituted, suggests, and I heartily agree with him, that the Treasurer of the Administration immediately preceding the Government that is in office when th, committee is appointed should be its chairman.
Senator ALLAN MACDONALD (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - Would the honorable senator approve of the appointment of Mr. Theodore, the Treasurer in the Scullin Government?
Senator ARKINS - If he were still in the House and stood in that category, he should be chairman. Of course the Government would have a majority on the committee. That is the method adopted in the House of Commons. By having the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer as Chairman of the Finance Committee a brake is kept on extravagance. The system operates irrespective of the party for the time being, in office.
Mr. Remingtonalso had something to say regarding the insufficiency of the statistical information obtainable. L agree with him that the information is inadequate, and also that there should be a greater uniformity in regard to it. It sometimes happens that information on a certain subject is compiled on a different basis in almost every State. Statistics should be uniform throughout the Commonwealth, and, moreover, it should be possible to obtain from the statisticians much more detailed information on a greater variety of subjects than is now the case. For instance, it would be useless to ask what quantity of flour, sugar, or yeast, &c, is used in the baking trade, or the quantity of bread produced, for the statisticians could not supply the information. I hope that before long there will be a reform of our statistical methods.
I could say a great deal about the Australian Broadcasting Commission, but I have become tired of criticizing it. I do say, however, that we in this Parliament should be able to obtain information regarding the activities of that body. We should be able to know, for instance, how much it costs to bring to Australia a conductor, singer, or instriunen.tali.st, or a group of instrumentalists from some other country. Such information is of public importance and should be supplied. Moreover, if a visiting conductor submits a report, that report should be made available to the public. Otherwise, of what use is it? The fourth annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Commission contains the following reference to a competition for Australian composers: -
The results of the Australian Broadcasting Commission's 1934-1935 competition for Australian composers were announced during the period under review. The entries submitted were judged in England by a distinguished musical authority, Mr. John Ireland, who commented favourably upon much of the work. The competition drew 269 entries, covering a wide range of types of musical compositions - symphonic, choral, brass and military band, chamber music, operetta and vocal and instrumental solos. The commission was widely commended for this encouragement to local composers.
It is remarkable that the report does not give the name of any of the men and women who won the prizes; it merely says who the judge was. The public is concerned to know, not who judged- the contestants, but who among them were sufficiently brilliant to win prizes. I know some of the successful competitors; but in spite of the fact that they were adjudged, brilliant composers, not one of their compositions has been broadcast by the commission. These brilliant Australians have not had the advantage of having their names brought before the Australian public or at the least written in the records for posterity to read. Their only reward has been the few guineas which they earned as prizes.
Senator COLLINGS (QUEENSLAND) - Are there no competent judges in Australia?
Senator ARKINS - There are;, but it may be better to get an outsider to adjudicate. Even in Australia there are cliques. We sometimes hear of friction in public bodies. The Australian Broadcasting Commission runs on friction; and if its members are not careful, it will die because of friction.- If painters, sculptors or other artists entered a competition, and some of them won prizes, would not their names be made public and kept on public record and their pictures exhibited? It is time that the affairs of the Broadcasting Com mission saw the light of day. Despite all the complaints about the commission, we are told that its chairman is to receive an honorarium of £2,000. There has been much comment on this payment, and we in this Parliament have been wrongly accused of " calling the dogs off ". The accusation is unfounded, but the fact that it is made shows the construction placed on these things by many members of the public. The ban placed by the commission on broadcasts by members of the executive committee of the 150th anniversary celebrations in New South Wales, merely because some of them are also members of Parliament, is most unfair. Some time ago, in referring to the treatment of Australian musicians by the commission, I described its action as a scandal, and said that many wrongs done had not been righted. For saying such things, I am criticized; but although I do not like having to bear the odium, I say these unpleasant things in the interest of the public.
Honorable senators, know that, from time to time, I advocate new and advanced ideas in my speeches. Some time ago, 'I advocated that men without, academic attainments should co-operate with the scientists of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, but some honorable senators ridiculed the suggestion. Unfortunately we, in Australia, are far behind Great Britain in many matters; we are behind in matters of social security, affecting old-age, invalidity, health, and employment. In the House of Commons, there is what is known as a Science in Parliament Committee. Among its members are men of great scientific ability, who are charged with the duty of watching the various scientific matters which arise from time to time. 'This Parliament, too, is fortunate in having among its members, men with scientific qualifications, and we would do well to follow the example of the House of Commons.
Reverting again to the Australian Broadcasting Commission, I suggest that, instead of expending large sums of money to bring to Australia, men and women from other countries which would not pay a brass farthing to assist an Australian, the commission would do well to encourage Australian artists. We have only to call to mind such names as Peter Dawson, Malcolm McEacharn, Madame Melba, Ada Crossley, John Brownlee, Percy Grainger, and a host of others, to convince ourselves that Australian artists are among the best in the world.
The Australian Broadcasting Commission might well follow the example of the British Broadcasting Commission and use some of its revenue in conducting experiments in television. The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Jennings) in the House of Repr esentatives, who recently returned from a trip abroad, told me of an interesting visit which he paid to Broadcasting House, London. While there, he saw things which astonished him. He saw, for instance, a tennis match which was being played at the time some miles distant. The picture was entirely without vibration. He said that the thing was uncanny, and expressed his amazement at what was being done in Great Britain to develop the science of television. Recently, the cables announced that one of the greatest entrepreneurs in London had installed television in six or eight of his theatres. Here in Australia, nothing has been done in that direction.
Senator ALLAN MACDONALD (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - Has not the Postmaster-General's Department clone something?
Senator ARKINS - I understand that it has not conducted any experiments in television. As far as I know, there is no television instrument in Australia, either for transmission or reception.
Senator Marwick - There is one in Western Australia.
Senator ARKINS - I am dealing with what I consider is the responsibility of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and the Government. It requires but little imagination to realize how great a boon television would be to people in the outback districts of Australia. Just as the telephone, the radio, and the motor car, have helped to improve conditions outback, so would television add to the enjoyment of those who live in remote places. The Government should see that some of the revenue of the Australian Broadcasting Commission is expended in conducting experiments in television.
Senator ARKINS - We have had the report of the delegation which went to London to attend the Imperial Conference, and also the report of the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Scholfield), one of the Australian delegates to the conference of the Empire Parliamentary Association in Great Britain, who also went to Geneva to attend the sittings of the International Labour Conference. Mr. Scholfield gave us some very interesting information concerning the International Labour Office which is becoming almost of greater importance internationally than the League of Nations itself. We must remember, however, that the International Labour Organization 'operates under the aegis of the League of Nations, and practically the whole of the countries which first subscribed to the covenant of the League still subscribe to the International Labour Office. I have constantly quoted in this chamber from reports of this organization, particularly the remarks of Mr. Butler, an Englishman, who is the head of that body. Undoubtedly he is a wonderful man, and the organization which he controls play3 a very important part in the affairs of the world, because it seems likely that the pathway to peace lies in international industrial understanding.
Mr. Scholfieldsaid that when he attended the Paris Exposition he was particularly struck by the poor quality of the Australian exhibit. He is an observant young man, and if what he says is correct, that display was a disgrace to this country. Whether exhibits of Australian goods are made in foreign countries, or in any part of the British Empire, we should see . that we are represented adequately and by the best that we produce. This is undoubtedly the best possible form of advertising. Every effort should ha.ve been made to ensure that only our best products were '.exhibited at the Paris Exposition, which was visited by people from all over the globe. We go to a great deal of trouble in displaying Australian goods at agricultural shows in all of the States, and when we exhibit our products in other countries we should see that they are of a quality that will do credit to us.
Criticism of the sort levelled by Mr. Scholfield is all too frequent, and the Government should see that Australian goods exposed in the shop windows of the world should be of the highest grade that this country can produce.
I have endeavoured to illustrate the wonderful progress which has been made in Australia during the regime of the present Government. I know that people have very poor memories, and that many see only the things that confront them at the moment ; for that reason I propose to give a summary of the tragedy that faced the State of New South Wales under the premiership of Mr. Lang, just before the Lyons Government assumed office. At that time the public debt had increased by £28,000,000 ; the deficit had increased to £14,227,884 and the accumulated deficit totalled over £23,000,000; building values had decreased by over £17,000,000; property sales had decreased 1.v nearly £13,000,000; mortgages had decreased by £16,250,000; the 'unemployed had increased to 200,000; food relief had increased from £3,252,846 to £10,500,000; the interest rate on short term loans had increased to 6 per cent.; the wages tax bad increased from 3d. to ls.; expenditure on 'relief works had dropped to £766,000, a fall of £1,500,000; the loss on Government enterprises amounted to over £9,000; railway losses amounted to £4,564,605; tramway losses "mounted to £290,140; hospitals all over the State were in debt to an amount in excess of £650,000; and no less than 30;000 employees were rationed in the railways service alone. Owing to the sound policy of the Lyons Government in the federal sphere and the Stevens Government in New South Wales, that State has emerged from disaster and chaos to the stable conditions enjoyed before the depression. The percentage of unemployment throughout the Commonwealth is the lowest on record ; our financial position and recovery from the depression is not only a credit to the Commonwealth and the Government, but is also, according to high officials of the British Government, a pattern to the rest of the world. It cannot be denied that the Commonwealth generally is in a ' flourishing condition as a result of the policy of the Lyons Government. Business has increased; primary industries are flourishing, although seasonal conditions have contributed to some extent to their success; secondary industries have gone back to normal; new industries have been established and previously existing industries have been expanded to a remarkable extent. While all of these things have been brought about, the economic power of this country has been developed and cared for by a paternal government, of which we should be proud. We should also be proud of the fact that, in spite of all the difficulties that confronted us, Ave are now laying the foundations of a defence policy that redounds to its credit. We have also commenced to create the basis of internal peace in this country. Already, large sums of money have been expended on investigation of national insurance, and £70,000 has been provide-.! in the budget for the establishment of unemployment and health insurance, which will do much to guarantee social security to the people of this country. When we review the progress that has taken place in this country during the last few years, we must remember that this Government was returned to hold thi! reins of office for one thing only, namely, to put the country on a solid financial and economic basis. And it has achieved its objective. We make no apology to anybody in the Commonwealth for the policy which we have followed, and which has been so successful. I. am confident: that the people of Australia will remember the tragedy of the past, and, comparing it with tile prosperity of the last few years, will return the present Government to office in order to ensure the security and future prosperity of this great Common wealth .