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Thursday, 13 October 1921


Senator CRAWFORD (Queensland) . - I intended to speak briefly yesterday on one or two matters, but as it seemed to be the general desire to conclude the debate on the motion then moved by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Millen) before the dinner adjournment, I decided to defer my remarks until to-day.


Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I hope the honorable senator does not associate me with the desire to conclude yesterday's debate before the. dinner hour. I had no desire to curtail it.


Senator CRAWFORD - I am prepared to exempt the honorable senator from any association with the desire I have mentioned. Dealingfirst of all with the Budget, of which a brief summary was given by the Minister for Repatriation, I feel that the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) should be congratulated upon his management of the finances of the Commonwealth. I note with very particular gratification that no new taxation is proposed, because I think we have reached the limit of taxation, which it is possible for the industries of the country to stand. I know the feeling on the part of some people that the wealthy citizens of the community cannot be taxed too heavily, but there is a limit beyond which taxation cannot go without suffering to the community as a whole. Money which is takenfrom individuals by way of taxation doesnot in many instances deprive persons of private expenditure, but what it does do is to withdraw money from investments, and prevent additions to the working capital of the country, which at this time more than any other is so urgently needed to establish fresh enterprises, and to extend those already in existence, thereby giving employment and increasing the wealth of the whole of our citizens.

It is true that the Treasurer forecasts a deficit of £2,817,108, which will reduce the balance of £6,618,327 brought forward last* year to £3,801,219. I do not think that he has been unduly optimistic, so far as his forecast for the current year is concerned, any more than he was in regard to the year 1920-21, when the actual receipts were £2,152,908 more than his estimate, and the expenditure £4,248,491 under the estimate of the Budget. I think that our financial position is very satisfactory indeed, particularly in view of the fact that there is outstanding at the present time, in the shape of uncollected taxation, a sum of no less than £7,000,000. The value of our exportable products has fallen, but not, I think, permanently. Recent information shows that there is a strongupward tendency in the price of wool, and in Victoria and the other wheat-growing States there is promise of a. most excellent" crop during the coming season.

It is a matter of common knowledge, although no official pronouncement on the subject has been made, that the Commonwealth will very shortly lose the services of Sir Joseph Cook as Treasurer. I feel that no matter how useful the right honorable gentleman will prove in another sphere, the good work he has done as custodian of the finances of the Commonwealth will' not be, . and ought not to be, readily forgotten. I believe in economy. It goes without saying that we all believe in economy, but in view of all the circumstances I regard the Budget recently presented by the Treasurer as, if not better than, at least quite as good as might have been expected. Taking all things into consideration there is, in my opinion, every reason for congratulation on the present financial position of the Commonwealth.


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - It might have been a little better. The Government might have remitted some of the income tax.


Senator CRAWFORD - I know that there is complaint on the part of taxpayers concerning the amount they have to contribute to the revenue, but I believe that on the whole their payments are made quite cheerfully, because, speaking generally, they know why our heavy expenditure was incurred. Australia, having done all that could very well be done in the way of supplying man power for the prosecution of the war, is not now going to complain when the bill is presented for payment. Senator Thomas' interjection reminds me that on page 63 of the Budget-papers there appears a most interesting tabulated statement setting out in detail the war expenditure of the Commonwealth defrayed from revenue. It shows that including the expenditure estimated in the present Budget, the amount which Australia has spent from revenue in connexion with the war is no less than £132,628,928, of which amount £106,370,117 was provided from direct taxation.

I wish to join with honorable senators who have spoken in expressing my very strong approval of the appointment of Senator Pearce as Commonwealth delegate to the Washington Disarmament Conference. 1 am very glad, indeed, to know that when questions in which the Com-: monwealth is vitally interested are under discussion at Washington, "Australia will be there," in the person of Senator Pearce, whose views I am satisfied will be listened to with deference and respect, and will carry a great deal of weight in the deliberations of the Conference. Although Australia has a population of only some 5,500,000, the Commonwealth is of very great importance, not only in the eyes of. the United States of America, but of the whole civilized world, white and coloured. Australia is bound to have a most potent influence upon the futurehistory of the world. It is the only country outside Europe in which it is possible to build up a purely white nation. Although it has but a comparatively small population, its area is slightly in excess of that of it,ne United States of America. Our population - 'and I think we have every reason to be thankful for this fact - is at the present time as white as that of almost any other country in the world. That cannot be said of the great Republic itself, where there are very many millions of coloured people. America, besides being menaced with an influx of coloured population from without, has. already a very large coloured population within her borders, and in that respect differs most materially from Australia. The relations of the coloured and white peoples of the world have received recently a great deal of attention, not only in Australia, but in almost every other country. Quite recently there has been published a book entitled TheRisingTide of Colour j which I would commend to every honorable senator, and indeed, to all who are interested in the subject. I purpose making from this work a small quotation containing information which certainly can be gleaned from other sources, but which I do not 'think is so succinctly expressed as it is on pages 6 and 7 of this book -

The "statistical disproportion between the white and coloured worlds becomes still more marked when we turn from surveys of area -to tables of population. The total number of human beings alive to-day is about 1,700,000,000. Of these 550,000,000 are white, while 1,150,000,000 are coloured. The coloured "races thus outnumber the whites more than two to one. Another fact of capital importance is that the great ,bulk of the white race is concentrated in the European continent. En 1914 the population of Europe was approximately 450,000,000.

The late war has undoubtedly caused an absolute decrease of many millions of souls. Nevertheless, the basic fact remains that some fourfifths of the entire white race is concentrated on .less than one-fifth of the white world's territorial area (Europe), while the remaining one-fifth of the race (some 110,000,000 souls) scattered to the ends of the earth must protect four-fifths of the white territorial heritage against the pressure of coloured races eleven times its numerical strength.

As to the 1,150,000,000 of the coloured world they are divided, as already stated, into four primary categories - yellows, 'browns, blacks and reds.*' The yellows are the most numerous of the coloured races, numbering over 500,000,000. Their habitat is eastern Asia. Nearly as numerous, and much more widespread than the yellows, are the browns, numbering some 450*000,000. The browns spread in a broad belt from the Pacific Ocean "vestward across southern Asia and northern Africa to the Atlantic Ocean. The blacks total about 150,000,000. Their centre is Africa, south of the Sahara Desert, but besides the- African continent there are vestigial black traces across southern Asia to the Pacific, and also strong black outposts in the Americas. Least numerous of the coloured races are the reds - the "Indians" of the western hemisphere. Mustering a total of less than 40,000,000 the reds are almost all located south of the Rio Grande in "Latin America."

This quotation clearly shows that the only part of the world outside Europe in which it is possible to build up a great white nation is the Commonwealth of Australia. I say, therefore, that our delegate at the Washington Conference will, for that reason amongst others, be most heartily welcomed. It is, for that reason amongst others, most important that we should be represented there, and for that reason, also, the representations of our delegate arc sure to carry additional weight.

It may be that, although Australia is a country of vast area., there are certain portions of it which are not very productive; but that holds good of almost every country, although, perhaps, not exactly for the same reasons as in our case. I have a fair knowledge of quite a number of the States of the. Commonwealth, and I claim to have1, as I presume every honorable senator has of his own State, a very comprehensive knowledge of the conditions and the productiveness of the State1 of which I am one of the representatives in the Senate. Upon looking into the question, I find that Queensland, although it has a population of less than 750,000 - a population less than that of the city of Melbourne, notwithstanding that it is nearly eight times the size of Victoria - exceeds in area Germany, Holland, Belgium,. France, Spain, and Portugal by no less than 2,000 square miles. Those European countries before the war had a population of just under 150,000,000, so that this one State of the Commonwealth alone i9 capable of supporting a population equal to that of any of the great nations of the world. Queensland is rich in all that is essential to the development of a large population in. healthy and prosperous conditions. It is rich in timber and minerals, and has a vast area of fertile soil, including some of the richest in Australia. While it is true that its seasons are variable, nevertheless, on the average, its rainfall is good, and it has vast possibilities in the way of irrigation.. One of the greatest assets which Queensland lias - and Senator Sir Thomas Glasgow, who is a pastoralist, will be able to speak with still greater authority on this subject - is its natural grasses. About two years ago I was in a portion of Queensland that I had not visited before, and, although no rain had fallen there for eight months, there was dry grass in abundance. The cattle and sheep were in good marketable condition, and the horses looked just as well as those which we see in the streets of Melbourne, which are corn-fed and are groomed twice a. day. Queensland has suffered a great deal because of what has been said in regard to its climate, but having lived now for a. quarter of a century in the far north of that State, I can say without fear of successful contradiction that the climate of Queensland, whether judged by a part or the whole of the State, is equal to that of any other State in the Commonwealth, and that people can live healthy lives and rear healthy families there just as in any other part of Australia. At this point I should like to quote some interesting figures from one of our latest T ear-Books dealing with infant mortality rates which have an important bearing upon my . remarks. During the eleven years, 1908- 18, the infant mortality per thousand in respect of children under 5 years of age, in the capital cities of the Commonwealth was as follows: - Sydney, 75; Melbourne, 84.23; Brisbane, 79.16; Adelaide, 74.82; Perth, 80.28; Hobart, 87.51; Townsville, 62.62; and Cairns, . nearly 1,000 miles north of the New South Wales border, 60.92. It has to be remembered also that Cairns is only a few feet above sea level and, like Townsville, it is unsewered. Judged by this test, therefore, it is quite clear that the tropical districts of Queensland are as healthy as any other portion of Australia.


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then there was no necessity to introduce kanaka labour.


Senator CRAWFORD - Kanaka labour was introduced, not because white men could not work in the itropical districts of Queensland, but because tropical production there could not be carried on in open competition with tropical production in other countries where there is an abundant supply of cheap labour. I should like also to quote from a Commonwealth official paper, Tropical Australia, being the report of the discussion at the Australasian Medical Congress in Brisbane, on 27th August, 1920.. The report refers to a paper read by Mr. C. A. Elliott, chief actuary of the Australian Mutual Provident Society, on the subject, " The life assurance aspect of residence in tropical Australia," and it is as follows : -

It is obvious that any substantial, or even apparent, . influence, tending to curtail . life in any part of Australia, will be of acute commercial interest to life insurance offices -doing business in that part of the continent. As Mr. Elliott . points out : " Offices do not seek business in unhealthy localities, nor issue policies in the case of persons who they know are going to reside in unhealthy localities." It is common knowledge tomedical men that insurance offices " load " in various ways for extra risks, and that "their actuarial advisers are very much alive to the necessity for locating risks and securing corresponding protection. As a result of examination of nearly 5,000 policies issued to adults during the ten years from 1910 to 1919, inclusive, from the Cairns and Townsville offices ofthe Australian Mutual Provident Society, Mr. Elliott arrives at the following conclusions, after including exposures and deaths on active service: -

The rates of mortality deduced from the inquiry were surprisingly low.

The actual deaths for the period reviewed were 68. The number of deaths expected from A.M.P. experience, 1849-1903, if all policies had been whole-life assurances, was 88, or if endowment 81. " I have no hesitation in saying that as far as we know at present there is no need for life assurance offices to treat proponents who live in North Queensland differently from proponents who live in other parts of Australia."


Senator Senior - But societies do load the policies of people who live in the tropics, although there appears to be no necessity for doing that.


Senator CRAWFORD - The Australian Mutual Provident' Society does not load the policies of people living in North Queensland. It is, of course, a common practice for societies to load life assurance policies, but not necessarily because the proponents live in tropical areas. It is well-known, I think, that visitors to North Queensland frequently remark upon the pallor of local residents, and under the heading " Blood conditions," Dr. Breinl, who for several years was director of the Tropical Institute in Townsville, has something of interest to say in a paper which is included in the report of the Congress to which I have just referred. He states -

Much has been said and written about the occurrence of tropical anaemia, and anaemia due to the influence of climate only. Any one visiting North Queensland, coming from a temperate climate, is struck by the pale and pasty appearance of the skin, especially of the women and children who have lived there for any length of time, and on many occasions we have been able to observe how the ruddy complexion of new comers from temperate climates becomes after some time changed into the same pale colour so characteristic of the people resident for longer periods. The pale skin colour naturally would lead the untrained observer to the conclusion that there exists an anaemia for which no pathological cause can be found.

Blood counts on a large scale on school children as well as on adult women and men however proved that in children between the ages of seven and fourteen the number of erythrocytes, and the colour index showed no difference when compared with averages considered normal for Europe; and in healthy adult women of pale complexion the colour index was found frequently very high. These observations thus prove that an anaemia due to climate does not exist in North Queensland, and the pallor of the skin must, therefore, he explained in a different way. It is just possible that a tender skin, exposed to the sunlight, may seek protection against the sun rays in the formation of a thicker horny layer, brought about by a more active production of cells in the germinative layer of the exposed skin. An extra thickness of the horny layer would make the skin less transparent, and the real colour due to the red blood in the capillaries wouldbe more diffuse, and the skin would appear paler.

Perhaps the continuous and profuse pouring out of sweat causes the cells of the epidermis to become sodden, and thus alters their transparency. It has been frequently observed that a stay of a few months in a cooler climate changes the pale, sallow skin to a pink complexion, which, however, disappears again some time after the return to tropical North Queensland.


Senator Senior - People require two skins when they go there !


Senator CRAWFORD - I am under the impression that nature has furnished us -with three skins. I have, as I stated, lived for a great many years in the far north of Queensland, and I have come into contact with a great number of men of almost all the Asiatic and Polynesian races. To be quite candid, I must confess that I have found much, more good in those men than I expected - much more to admire than I thought. But for all that, I am convinced that the right policy for Australia is that of the absolute exclusion of all coloured races; and we should not flinch or falter in our determination to keep the population of the Commonwealth absolutely white.

It seems to me that the Washington Conference, with the departure of Senator Pearce, has, for the moment, overshadowed the return of our representative at the Imperial Conference (Mr. Hughes), and the great work he accomplished on behalf of Australia at that historic gathering. It is my intention to make only a passing reference to the Imperial Conference. The Prime Minister has returned to us, resumed his place in Parliament, and given an account of his stewardship. Though no great public demonstration has been made on his return, I feel sure that the Prime Minister to-day stands higher in the estimation of the people of Australia than he ever did before, and that any event- which would deprive this country of his services in his present high office would be regarded by all good Australians as a national calamity.

Having said so much in approval of the Prime Minister, I wish to turn to a question on which I hold very strong convictions, and on which I am reluctantly opposed to what I understand to be the proposals of the Government. I refer to the proposed Constitution Convention. I am opposed to that Convention for many reasons, three of which I shall briefly state. In the first place, I object to the Convention because there is no real need for any revision of the Constitution; secondly, because there is no popular demand for any amendment of the Constitution; and thirdly, because, if there were either a need or a demand, or both, the proposed method is both unconstitutional and ineffective. As Senator Bakhap very ably pointed out yester day, when discussing this matter, the Constitution itself provides the method for its revision. What is proposed? First of all, it is understood that we are to have an election of delegates, but whether they are to be elected by the several State Parliaments or by popular vote has not, as yet, I think, been announced by the Government. Then there are to be the meetings of the Convention, after which the whole of the Convention's proposals will have to be submitted to, and run the gauntlet of, both Houses of this Parliament, because they must receive the imprimatur of Parliament before they can be referred to the people. Assuming all this to have been done, it is absolutely certain that when the proposals are referred to the people they will be turned down by an overwhelming majority. De we not remember that quite recently, when the Commonwealth Government, having received the sanction of Parliament, submitted certain proposals to the people for amendments of the Constitution, a majority voted against them? The people were then asked to vote on only one or two minor proposed amendments to take effect for the duration of the war and for six months thereafter; and yet the increased powers sought were refused. We have to remember that at that time conditions were abnormal, and a much better case could be made out for an increase of Commonwealth powers for a limited period than can be made out now for a permanent increase. Personally, I think that unless a great change comes over the people of the Commonwealth, it will be, either now or in the future, practically impossible to get the people to carry by popular vote any proposal to which strong objection is shown. There is no doubt that the principal rule in the referendum' game is, " When in doubt, vote N/o." If the people were in doubt with regard to the one or two proposals previously submitted, how can they be expected to have clear convictions regarding a number of points, which, if the Convention takes place, will in all probability be referred to them? All I can see as likely to come 'out of the proposed Convention is heavy expenditure, several months of' political turmoil, and absolutely negative results. This Convention will distract the attention of members of this Parliament, and of other

Parliaments, too, fromurgent matters requiring their most earnest consideration.


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Who has asked for' it?


Senator CRAWFORD - I have not met any one who has expressed any interest whatever in the proposed Convention.


Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - There has been a good deal of agitation in Victoria.


Senator CRAWFORD - There may be soma kind of agitation in this State, because Victorians can see the trend of events, and are beginning to learn that Victoria is not going to be a dominating factor in Federal politics to the extent (she has been up to the present. Already New South Wales has a much greater population than Victoria, and I have sufficient faith in the State I help to represent to believe that when we have sane State government it will not be long before Queensland will overtake New South Wales in regard to population and production.


Senator Gardiner - Will not Queensland do it in spite of all Governments?


Senator CRAWFORD - My faith will carry me even that far, but with good government the progress will be more rapid.

During recent years a very great change has taken place in the activities and responsibilities of the Commonwealth. Government and of the Commonwealth Parliament owing to the status we have attained as active partners-' in the British Empire. I read with very great interest a speech delivered by the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) in another place in regard to the business transacted at the Imperial Conference. I also read what is stated to be an official summary of the proceedings at the Conference as published in the Glasgow Herald on the 6th August last. In addition, I perused a most interesting statement made by the Prime Minister of New Zealand (Mr. Massey), who said - "Whilst I do not desire to go into details at the present moment, I regard the Imperial Conference, which has just concluded its sittings, as being far and away the most important gathering of representatives from the different parts of the Empire which has ever yet been held. A great deal of the work has been essentially the work which is usually dealt with by a Cabinet rather than by a Conference. Apart from matters connected with the war, which were considered when the Imperial War Cabinet was in existence, the Conference was epoch-making in that it has marked the first occasion that the representatives of. the Dominions have joined in the government 'of the Empire as a whole. Veryimportant matters have been dealt with, and momentous decisions have been arrived at which will have a far-reaching effect in the direction of Empire unity. I am very strongly of opinion that we have laid the foundation's of a system which will, in years to come, develop into a satisfactory form of government for the British Empire. I believe that when the public realize the importance of what has taken place they will be of the opinion that the result has been good work well done."


Senator Gardiner - Can we realize what is taking place until we get the information ?


Senator CRAWFORD - Possibly not.


Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - One must have a very poor vision if he cannot realize what occurred at the Conference.


Senator CRAWFORD - I think we know sufficient to agree with what Mr. Massey has said in regard to its importance. During the last two or three years five different Commonwealth Ministers have gone overseas on very important business. The Prime Minister has been to London om two or three different occasions, as also has the Treasurer (Sir Joseph Cook) and the ex-Treasurer (Mr. Watt). The Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) attended the Geneva Conference, and the Minister for Defence (Senator Pearce) is on his way to Washington as our delegate at the Disarmament Conference. The responsibilities of " Ministers and members of Parliament are extending beyond the limits of the Commonwealth, and we are assuming great responsibilities in connexion with the Mandated Territories, the affairs of which are to be administered by the Commonwealth. Therefore, the Commonwealth, instead of seeking to obtain additional powers from the State authorities, should be considering whether it could not advantageously return to the States some of the powers they now possess.


Senator Vardon - What powers does the honorable senator suggest should be returned to the States?


Senator CRAWFORD - I agree with the suggestion made yesterday that further limitations should be placed upon the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, because that work can be done by the State Courts quite as efficiently and, I am sure, with greater expedition.


Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - And with much, greater -variety.


Senator CRAWFORD - I do not know whether there is any advantage in that regard. All arbitration legislation is still in the experimental stage, and I think we could arrive at what is right and proper if different authorities were making experiments concurrently, instead of bo much of the work being thrown on the one Court. The Judges of State Arbitration Courts must necessarily have a better knowledge of the conditions existing in their own States than a Judge of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court can possibly possess.


Senator Vardon - There must be a reasonable amount of uniformity.


Senator CRAWFORD - Quite so. Instead of appointing a Basic Wage Commission, the Government should have called a conference of the Arbitration Court Judges of the different States, under the presidency of Mr. Justice Higgins, to consider the whole position, because more satisfactory results would probably have been achieved at less cost. I do not know whether it is yet too late to convene such a conference. Satisfactory industrial conditions are of greater importance to the Commonwealth than anything else. I do not support the contention of some that reduced wages will solve all our difficulties. Wages should be as high as industry can afford to pay, otherwise we shall have over-production. What is the use of producing extensively if the workers engaged in production do not receive sufficient of the wealth they help to produce to enable them to purchase what they need? After all, the workers are the principal consumers in any country, and create the demand. If wages are lower than industry can afford to pay, the result is reduced consumption, which leads to overproduction. One would think that before seeking fresh fields to conquer, the Commonwealth would exploit those which at present come within the compass of its legislative and administrative authority. But there are quite a number of matters upon which the Commonwealth has authority to legislate, but which, so far, it has not touched. Insurance, weights and measures, bankruptcy and insolvency, public companies, banking, and marriage and divorce, are matters in ' respect of which it is desirable that there should be uniformity throughout the States, but to them the Commonwealth has not, so far, given the slightest consideration.


Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - This Parliament is afraid to touch marriage and divorce.


Senator CRAWFORD - Not for personal reasons, I am sure. I hope that before introducing any legislation in regard to the proposed Convention the Government will give the matter their very earnest consideration, but if such legislation is proceeded with, I believe that honorable senators will do their duty and take the responsibility of saving Australia from the turmoil and expense which the Constitution Convention would necessarily involve.







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