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Tuesday, 10 August 1926

Senator ANDREW (Victoria) .- I listened with a great deal of interest to Senator Ogden who, in the first place, commended the Government for the excellent programme it had brought forward, and for the magnificent work it has accomplished, but concluded with some destructive criticism concerning the Government and those supporting it. He favours the principle of elective ministries, but under such a system the majority would rule, and, therefore, it would not make any material difference.

I, too, wish to commend the Government for the useful legislation which it has introduced, and for the excellent work performed during the present session in the interests of the people. I believe that the policy endorsed by the electors is steadily being given effect to. In my opinion the Treasurer is an ornament to the Government:

Senator McHUGH - An ornament; no doubt.

Senator ANDREW - Yes, he has brought his ability to bear on most of the legislation introduced into this Parliament, and the Commonwealth is to be congratulated upon having such a statesman in its Cabinet.

Senator Ogden - Is the honorable senator a member of the Country party?

Senator ANDREW - Yes.

Senator Ogden - And Dr. Earle Page is the leader of that party.

Senator ANDREW - The honorable senator is not a member of any party, but I remind him that there is room in the Country party for brainy men such as he is.

Senator Ogden - I am here to look after the interests of the country before those of any party.

Senator ANDREW - It is the object of the Country Party to look after the country, and particularly the primary producers, who are the backbone, muscle and sinew of the country.

Senator Ogden - Dr. Page has violated every plank of the Country party's platform.

Senator McHugh - Does the honorable senator believe in a high tariff ?

Senator ANDREW - No.

Senator McHUGH - Dr. Earle Page voted for high duties.

Senator ANDREW - I did not, and I am responsible only for my own sins. Dr. Earle Page is answerable for his own actions. However, I rose chiefly to direct attention to certain subjects in which I am interested.

At a recent conference of Health authorities, the statement was made that during the last seventeen years no fewer than 70,000 people had died in Australia from cancer. That is a most alarming statement. This subject should receive immediate attention at the hands of the Commonwealth Parliament. Here is an opportunity for research work. Coupled with cancer, is that other dread disease, tuberculosis. The statistics show that during the last seven years between 25,000 and 26,000 persons have died in Australia from that disease, which is well designated the White Plague. Some spasmodic attempts have been made to check it, but, unfortunately, lack of funds has prevented anything from being done on an extensive scale. Any proposal for the treatment of tuberculosis should include adequate provision for dependants of sufferers. Clinical observation, hospital treatment, and sanitoria are essential features in any scheme to deal with it. Unfortunately, tuberculosis is very prevalent in mining .centres where men are obliged to work under more or less unhealthy conditions. In Bendigo we have established an X-ray laboratory, a sanatorium and hospital- accommodation, but, as I have stated, the stumbling block is the n necessary financial provision for the maintenance of dependants. I trust that the Government will give this subject careful consideration, and devise some scheme to forward the movement.

Yesterday I was privileged to attend a lecture delivered by Colonel Pottinger, who recently completed a tour of 20,000 miles through India, and I wa3 impressed by statements which he made as to the possibility of opening un the Indian market for our surplus primary products. Colonel Pottinger stated that at present the market is being supplied by the United States of America. Since India is much nearer to Australia than to America, we should be able to secure a good footing there.. During the war the native population acquired a taste for European food products, particularly flour and fruit. We should take advantage of our proximity to that market and seek to develop our . trade in that country. Standardization of all labels is important, because the natives buy mostly on the label. Colonel Pottinger stated that on one occasion when he wished to give a present to one of his Indian servants, he gave him a choice of three knives. One pocket knife was a combination affair, with which we are familiar, but to his: surprise the native chose a smaller knife. He gave as his . reason that it was a Rodgers cast steel knife. That brand, I understand, is well known to the natives, "who believe it to be the best article of its kind produced.

Recently, Australian apples have been a glut on the English market. The landed cost, exclusive of orchard charges, is about 8s. 7d. a case from Tasmania, and 8s. 4d. from the mainland, and yet they -were sold at from 5s. to 9s. a case. 'If, owing to our distance, -or to the fact that our season clashes with the season in countries that are nearer to Great Britain, we are unable to dispose of any of our surplus primary products at a profit on the London market, we should consider the possibility of developing trade with India.

On several occasions I have directed attention to the policy of the Pensions Department in withholding a certain pro portion of pension payments in cases where pensioners are inmates of public institutions. The practice. is to pay 10s. 6d. to the institution, and 4s. to the pensioner and to retain the balance. In the budget statement, the liability on .account of invalid and old-age pensions is stated at £1 a week, and the excuse is made that where pensioners are inmates of a public institution, it is necessary to retain some portion of the amount to cover administrative expenses. It should be less costly to pay a number of pensioners by one cheque than to distribute the amount of pension money -to a large number of individuals. I have been supplied with the following particulars of Victorian institutions which provide homes for invalid and old-age pensioners: -


The revenue was -

As a general rule, the old people only become inmates of such institutions when they are unable to look after themselves. Consequently, their maintenance is more costly than otherwise it would be. The daily average of old-age pension inmates in the several 'benevolent homes for the year ending the 30th June, 1925, was as follows : -


I hope that the Minister will reconsider his decision in connexion with payments on behalf of inmates of public institutions, and pay the full amount.

Not long ago we passed a measure authorizing the payment of £25,000 for assistance to mining, but as £10,000 of that amount will be paid in respect of operations in the Northern Territory, only £15,000 will be available for the development of mining throughput the Commonwealth. The whole of it could, with advantage, be spent on one mine. The Government would be well advised to provide a much larger vote, if it wishes the industry to be revived.

Recently, also, we passed a measure for the payment of 4d. a gallon on the production of power alcohol from cassava. I opposed that proposal on the ground that it was not comprehensive enough. If bounty is to be paid on the production of power alcohol, it should not be restricted to one source of production, but should be paid irrespective of the substance from which it is produced. It could be manufactured from the huge heaps of sawdust that lie at the timber mills in the forests, and also from the refuse of the canefields and the wine presses. If its production from all sources were- encouraged, Australia would be in a fairly independent position in the event of the stocks of petrol from over-' seas being withheld. I commend the Government for the work it has done during the session, and I am confident that the electors will be satisfied that it has made every effort to comply with the mandate given by them.

Debate (on motion by Senator Elliott) adjourned.

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