Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 21 May 1936

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for External Affairs) [4.14].- Senator Abbott dealt with the matter of shale deposits in New South Wales. I feel sure that my colleague, the Postmaster-General (Senator A. J. McLachlan), who is a member of the sub-committee of Cabinet dealing with this matter, has noted the honorable senator's remarks.

Senator James McLachlan and Senator McLeay asked for government assistance for the export of citrus fruits. There is an old saying that " Heaven helps those who help themselves." In the government policy for the granting of assistance to primary industries, one of the desiderata is that those who arc engaged in production should organize themselves.

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - They have done that.

Senator McLeay - One State has held out.

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE - It is, of course, desirable that all the States should co-operate; but I see no reason why two States should not decide to organize. Every recipient of a bounty is in favour of bounties; but the mere granting of a bounty does not strengthen an industry, because it does not of itself provide for any permanent improvement. Everything that Senator James McLachlan said to-day about what those in this industry intend to do was said when the Government first paid a bounty to them. The promises then made have not been fulfilled. We shall not get anywhere with an industry which fails to organize itself, for, in addition to governmental and financial assistance, organization within the industry is essential. The dried fruits industry has succeeded only because it has been organized. Before that development took place, hundreds of thousands of pounds were paid out without any permanent benefit resulting. Only when the whole industry adopted a definite policy, and became organized, thereby enabling the Government to assist it by finding markets, did progress take place. The same can be said of the dairying industry, and of others. Those engaged in the citrus industry must take notice of these things. They were warned by the Government that the bounty would not continue, and that they must organize themselves. The bounty was given merely to tide them over the period required for organization. I suggest that honorable senators, to whom representations in favour of bounties are made, should impress on those who approach them the need for organization. I shall bring the honorable senator's representations under the notice of the Acting Minister for Commerce (Mr. Thorby).

Senator JamesMcLachlan, in referring to the distribution of the wheat bounty, said that some department had stated that it would be unconstitutional to distribute the money on a bushelage basis, whereas that difficulty would not arise if distribution were made on an acreage basis. It makes a great difference who distributes the money. It is certainly not unconstitutional for the Commonwealth to distribute a bounty on any basis that it thinks fit; but the Slates are forbidden to pay bounties on primary production. It may be that that is the explanation of the difficulty. I shall have the matter inquired into further. Section 91 of the Constitution reads -

Nothing in this Constitution prohibits a State -from granting any aid to or bounty on mining for gold, silver, or other metals, nor from granting, with the consent of both Houses of the Parliament of the Commonwealth expressed by resolution, any aid to or bounty on the production or export of goods.

In view of that provision, it would have been necessary to get legislation passed by the States, and also a resolution of both Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament.

Senator JAMES McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Can the right honorable gentleman say whether the Government would allow the citrusgrowers of Victoria and South Australia to form an association?

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE - I cannot answer that question off-hand; but I should say that the Minister would not allow one State to sprag the wheel. I remind the honorable senator, however, that Western Australia also exports oranges, and that there must be some considerable degree of uniformity. At this stage, I cannot reply to the honorable senator other than to say that the Constitution does not prevent a State from distributing a grant on an acreage basis, although there may be doubt as to its right to distribute it on a bushelage basis without the passing of a resolution by both Houses of the .Federal Parliament. "

I listened attentively to the interesting remarks on defence by Senator Brand, which, I am sure, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Parkhill) will study. His remarks as to the alleged anomalies in the Repatriation Act will be brought under the notice of the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Hughes). I may add that, when introducing service pensions, the Government recognized that there would be a natural desire on the part of those who would become eligible for them to press for extensions which would make them equivalent to war pensions. In this matter, we must be careful, because this class of pension is different from a war pension. It may be that those who point to these so-called anomalies do not realize that their agitation would gradually cause service pensions to become equivalent to war pensions. I think that I am right in saying that the organizations representing the returned soldiers deprecate any agitation in that direction.

Senator Collings - That is so.

Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE.What are called anomalies are not really anomalies, but differences in the classes of pension. I shall bring the honorable senator's remarks under the notice of the Repatriation Commission.

I assure Senator McLeay that the Minister directing negotiations for trade treaties is doing all that he can to expedite a treaty with Belgium.

The honorable senator raised a question which I thought was dead, when he referred to the Canberra allowance. I should like him to tell me why a public servant living in Canberra is more entitled to an allowance than is the same class of public servant living in Queanbeyan.

Senator McLeay - If the cost of living is higher in Canberra-

Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE.But is it higher? Some time ago this subject was investigated exhaustively. The Government ascertained the cost of living figures, not only for Canberra, but also for hundreds of other towns. If the claim for an allowance to public servants in Canberra is based on the cost of living, and if it is agreed that all public servants are to be treated alike, there is no justification for treating public servants in Canberra differently from similar public servants in a number of other places. If there is to be an allowance to those living here, because of the cost of living being higher than in, say, Sydney, then public servants living in other parts of the Commonwealth are equally entitled to an allowance.

Senator McLeay - Is not the cost of living in Canberra 20 per cent. higher than in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide?

Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE.There are other places besides Canberra in which the cost of living is 20 per cent. above that of the capital cities.

Senator McLeay - Surely there is no place in which the cost of living is higher than in Canberra?

Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE.There are plenty of such places. I know of towns in which the cost of living is 40 per cent. higher than in the capital cities, and, moreover, where the disabilities are greater than in Canberra. I assure the honorable senator that all the factors which he has mentioned were taken into consideration when the Government decided to discontinue the Canberra allowance. That concession was given, not because of the cost of living here, but because of the decision of the Government of the day to remove the Federal Capital from Melbourne to Canberra, thereby necessitating the transfer of a. number of public servants. They had either to come to Canberra or leave the Service. At that time there was a great disparity between living conditions in Canberra and Melbourne. The allowance was limited to those public servants who were compulsorily transferred to Canberra. It was always regarded as a temporary allowance. When the initial stages associated with the transfer passed, there was no justification for treating public servants stationed at Canberra differently from similar public servants in a number of other centres of population. To restore the Canberra allowance would be, not to remove an anomaly, but to create further anomalies.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a first time.

Suggest corrections