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Thursday, 22 August 1912

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - I had made up my mind when this amendment was first submitted that I could not support it, but the remarks of Senator Russell and others have caused me to consider other questions and aspects before I can give a vote. I can understand the anxiety of the honorable senator to keep the Woollen Factory in Victoria. I can understand the strength of the argument that there is a better class of factory labour in Victoria than in New South Wales. Personally, I hope that it will continue to be so. I have had some experience of factory life, and I hope that when it comes to be a question of increasing that class of labour, Victoria will always be ahead of New South Wales. She has had about thirty or forty years of Protection, and it may be that she has trained a large class of factory hands who are superior for work of this kind. The fact that many of the men of Victoria have been attracted by work in the more healthy States has left a' large proportion of women workers, whose' helpmay be necessary in' factories of this kind, available in Victoria. That consideration weighs with me a good deal. If it were merely a question of voting out this proposal in order to place the factory at Botany I would not help the movement a bit. Even if we succeeded in carrying the motion I doubt whether we shouldget the factory at Botany, which, according to Mr. Smail's report, is one of the most suitable places in the Commonwealth. I doubt whether we could get it at Liverpool' either, which is also a place in which I am directly interested. But action of that kind would simply mean hampering the Government in establishing a Woollen factory, and would possibly bring about another scramble such as Senator Rae condemned so justly. I should like to give a vote with' the object of closing up this matter altogether until such time as a factory can be established at Yass-Canberra. I desire to see the Federal Territory sufficiently developed to make it desirable to have Federal enterprises located there. But if the factory is to be at Geelong in the meantime,. I should like to know what the Government intend to do in regard to insisting upon acquiring' sovereign rights over the land upon which it is built? When it was proposed that the Naval College should be in New South; Wales, the Government were not satisfied to take a grant of land from that State, but. insisted on the land being handed over to them with sovereign rights over it. I am wondering whether they will insist on the same conditions in regard to this factory. If there are good and ample reasons why the Commonwealth should have sovereign rights over land for a Naval College, there are just as good reasons for having them over land for a Federal factory. It has to be remembered that under existing conditions the Commonwealth will have to hand over to the State of Victoria 25s. per head for every unit in the State. Evidently the payment of that money will be saved so far as the employes of the Woollen Mill are concerned, if the Government insist on having sovereign rights, not only over the land on which the factory is built, but also over the area on which the employes live. Suppose there are 2,000 or 3,000 employes. Reckoning them and their dependents, it will mean that the Commonwealth will have to pay the State Government .£5,000 or £6,000 on account of them. That large sum would go a long way towards paying the interest on the money expended on the factory. That expenditure can be saved by the simple method of insisting on the same terms from Victoria, in regard to this factory, as were demanded from New South Wales in respect of the Naval College. I cannot believe that this Government will deal with Victorian' interests in one way and with New South Wales interests in quite another. If I thought there would be any unfairness in that direction, I do not know what I should do. I observe that Mr. Smail, the expert, inspected thirty-three places, which were supposed to have claims to the establishment of the Woollen Factory. He must have been going at express speed, and is now entitled to a rest at the expense of the Government.

Senator Guthrie - He has been here twelve months.

Senator GARDINER - He certainly has not had too much time in which to visit thirty-three places from YassCanberra to Portland, and carefully inspect them all. For one thing, I must commend Mr. Smail. He has put his comments upon the various sites in a very few lines. It is quite refreshing to get information of this description compressed within a couple of sheets of printed paper. That is much more convenient than having to wade through a volume an inch thick. He puts Geelong first, Launceston second, and Botany third. I can remember hearing of Geelong tweed as long as I can remember anything, but the fact that Geelong is not much of a place, even now, suggests that the woollen industry has not been developed there to a very great extent. Is it either that or some other reason with which we are not yet acquainted?

Senator Pearce - They have had Liberal Governments in this State.

Senator GARDINER - It may be due to the Protectionist policy. We know that the spoon-feeding policy assists industries up to a certain stage, but they must still be spoon-fed after they have reached that stage. I find that this expert visited thirtythree places. Judging by his summing up of his opinions of the different places, I should say that he was quite impartial in his judgment. He' gives Victoria the first place, Tasmania second, with Launceston and Hobart. Botany, because of the labour and other facilities there, is given third place; Liverpool is considered rather an excellent place from the fact that Henry Bull' & Co. manufacture woollens there to a very large extent. I have to congratulate the expert upon having discovered in Australia so many places suitable for this particular industry. To me it is idle to quibble as to whether the industry should be established in New South Wales, Victoria, or Western Australia.

Senator Pearce - Western Australia is not in it at all ; yet it is said that the Minister influenced the report.

Senator GARDINER - Western Australia is getting a railway, for which the rest of the people of the Commonwealth will have to pay for many years to come. That, I suppose, is quite enough for one twelve months, and I think the Western Australian people are pretty well satisfied. Adelaide has also been visited by this expert. Viewing the whole of the thirtythree places mentioned in the report, and noting the small difference between them, I am firmly of opinion that when the Australian Government is .in its own home at Yass-Canberra, we shall find that industry after industry will be established there. They can be linked up by the power which will be generated by the rivers which our Victorian friends are never tired of sneering at. It will be only a matter of the development of the Australian sentiment when we shall do what Senators Rae, Millen, and Givens wish us to do now, and establish all our industries at Yass-Canberra.

Senator Rae - The Senate decided to do so last year.

Senator GARDINER - I do not thinkthat any one who voted for the resolution referred to by Senator Rae will be prepared to say that we should adhere to the letter of it, irrespective of commercial advantages and whether it would be common sense to do it or not. On the evidence before us, and having a knowledge of the greater part of the Commonwealth, with the exception of Western Australia and Tasmania, of which States I have no great personal knowledge, it appears to me that this factory might be established almost anywhere in the Commonwealth. The only feature which gives Victoria the advantage, and which weighs with me, is that there is in this State the class of labour most suitable for factories of this kind. A reference has been made to the establishment of the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow, but it cannot be placed on the same footing as a woollen factory. Irrespective of any resolution of the Senate to have all Government industries established at the Federal Capital, I should never dream of removing the Small Arms Factory from such a place as Lithgow, which is specially suitable for the purpose, not merely because there is iron and coal there, but from a defence point of view. We know that if anything like a serious attack were made upon Australia, a factory for arming our people for their - defence would be one of the chief points of attack ; and the natural defences of Lithgow render that place almost impregnable. That is a matter which should be taken into consideration in the establishment of such a factory. I have no wish to remove the existing Ammunition Factory from its present site in Victoria ; but I do think that an ammunition factory should be established at Lithgow for the same reason as that which makes it so suitable for the establishment of a small arms factory. The comparison of a small arms factory with a woollen factory is not altogether a fair one. I find from the report of the expert that although he did not visit the Rockhampton and Gladstone districts, he made exhaustive inquiries concerning them, and found that the climatic conditions were not any more suitable than at Ipswich and Brisbane. I think we can agree that that is so. Adelaide apparently is quite a possible place, but has no special facilities, and is quite out of the running against Geelong. Perth, Guildford, Bridgetown, and Collie have no outstanding features in their favour, and in spite of the proximity of coal at Collie it is regarded as quite an impossible place for the establishment of such a factory.

Senator Millen - Who sent the expert to such a place as Collie?

Senator GARDINER - I do not know that it was not wise to let him have a good look round ; he evidently had an opportunity to see many places- suitable for the establishment of a woollen factory, and some places unsuitable for such a purpose.

Senator Rae - He got a splendid holiday for a start, in being given a run round the different States.

Senator GARDINER - I have done a little travelling, and I should not regard such a run round the States as this ex pert had as a haliday. I am surprised that the Government did not instruct the expert to report upon half-a-dozen places that are known to be suitable for the establishment of a woollen factory. Liverpool, Parramatta, Botany, and Marrickville are all places at which woollen factories have been carried on for years. Then we might take Victorian centres, commencing with Geelong. We know that there would be no difficulty in establishing a woollen factory at any of these places. I . do not exactly know what is the purpose' of the Government in the establishment of this factory. Is it intended only for the manufacture of cloth for the Defence Force and Government employes? If that be so, it is possible that we are making too much fuss about the matter altogether.

Senator Guthrie - That is a big matter when we find that none of the woollen factories in Australia would take the contract.

Senator Pearce - This will be the biggest woollen mill in Australia.

Senator GARDINER - I do not know what the size of the mill is to be, or whether it is intended to manufacture cloth for the Defence Force and all Government officials from " His Excellency of Yass-Canberra ' ' down.

Senator Rae - If it is to manufacture cloth for all our citizen soldiers that will be a very big item.

Senator GARDINER - I recognise that. It may manufacture cloth also for postal and railway officials.

Senator Guthrie - The man who will recognise the honorable senator if he keeps on much longer will be the policeman.

Senator GARDINER - I like that, when I am willing that the Government should report progress, and if they agree to do so now 1, am prepared to sit down at once. I have waited for three days and have not spoken a word upon these Works Estimates, although they contain many items of importance to the constituency I represent. Yet, when I occupy ten minutes on this important subject Senator Guthrie threatens me with force. If there is one thing I like it is trying to resist force. Senators Russell and Long have been putting up a good fight for the establishment of this Woollen Mill in their own States.

Senator Long - I dp not want it in my State, because it is my State, but because that is the best place for it..

Senator GARDINER - The honorable senator knows very well that the only reason he is supporting the request moved by Senator Givens is that he hopes the decision arrived at by the Government may not be adhered to, and that he may get the ear of the Minister and induce him to establish the factory at Launceston or Hobart. I rather admire the fight which has been put up by Senators Russell, Barker, and other Victorian senators who have taken time by the forelock and have already got the ear of the Minister, and possibly also the ear of the expert. I do not mean that they have secured the ear of the expert in any underhanded way, but that they have taken advantage of opportunities to impress him with the special advantages of the Geelong site. I am sorry that I have not yet learned their up-to-date methods of fighting for my own State.

Senator McGregor - I saw a placard on the bureau of independent workers at Geelong.

Senator GARDINER - If Packer's brigade is strong down there that might be a very good reason for the establishment of this Woollen Mill there because I believe that people of that character are very suitable for this factory work. I had the advantage of a run through Great Britain, and what I saw there of factory work and workers did not fill me with any great desire to have factories established in my State. I say that the conditions inseparable from the manufacture of woollen goods are such that I hope that the majority of our people will always be able to enjoy a better, healthier, and more independent way of making a living. I am satisfied to let Victoria have this factory. The Victorians deserve it. They have educated their people down to it. I did intend, when I rose, to speak until 12 o'clock, but I do not wish honorable senators to miss their trains. I assure Senators Givens, Rae, and Millen that as soon as Yass-Canberra is established as the Federal Capital, as soon as the Parliament of Australia meets there, and as soon as industry after industry is established, and successfully established, there, with the necessary population, I hope to be with them in fighting to have woollen mills built up where those added values which Senator Millen spoke of so logically will be given to the land by the presence and the needs of the community in the Federal Territory.

Senator McGregor - He was prepared to sell the whole of the Northern Territory.

Senator Millen - That is not true.

Senator McGregor - You argued thai way.

Senator Millen - I argued against you giving big squatters big leaseholds.

Senator GARDINER - Whether Senator Millen did argue in that or any other way, there is no getting away from the logic of his argument that it would even pay a private company to undertake the erection of all the public buildings in the Australian Capital if the Government would give them just 100 years' right to the unearned increment. With that enormous prospect before the Government, I cannot understand them not getting along with the establishment of YassCanberra at the rate of speed at which one would think it would be got along with under the able and capable management of the present Minister of Home Affairs. I was delighted indeed to hear Senator Blakey state that already there is an income of nearly £5.000 a year. But with the immediate establishment of the Capital, and an up-to-date and rapid development of the Federal Territory for all the purposes for which it can be developed, I venture to say that in a very short period that sum will increase to £50,000. That is a reason for a more rapid development, and when that takes place this little place which honorable senators are too much inclined now to look at as part of New South Wales, will generally be recognised here as Australian Territory. I wish that the Government would enter into negotiations with the New South Wales Government to get more territory than they have secured, and to run a line straight from Jervis Bay, 200 or 300 miles inland, and then direct south, taking in the whole of the south-eastern corner of New South Wales and a piece of Victoria as well, and thus get a Federal Territory which we could develop.

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