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Tuesday, 4 September 1906


Senator GIVENS (Queensland) .- When previously I addressed the Committee on this question I said I did not feel inclined to vote for the item without that full information to which the Committee are entitled. Notwithstanding Senator Stewart, I hold that the Committee have a. right to scrutinize every vote, more especially every new or unusual vote. Senator Stewart was rather severe in his criticism of honorable senators who desired information. There is no doubt that he was perfectly within his rights in being even severe; but honorable senators, who have been criticised, have an equal right to show the fallacy and sophistry of his position. The honorable senator waxed facetious at other honorable senators because of their thirst for information, but I do not think there is one who has a greater thirst of the kind that he has himself.


Senator Stewart - I am satisfied with the information given.


Senator GIVENS - Because Senator Stewart is satisfied to take the vote on trust, he thinks that every honorable senator ought to follow his example. The honorable senator became quite sarcastic because we had ventured to criticise the vote at all ; he evidently thinks that, inasmuch as it meets with his approval, it should meet with the approval of everybody else. On this occasion Senator Stewart has departed from his usual logical attitude. For instance, the honorable senator contends that because we have control of the waters surrounding Australia we should proceed to act in exactly the same way as we should if we had control of the land. The honorable senator asserted that if we had control of the land we would think nothing of spending £100,000 in exploration ; in fact, the honorable senator will soon rival Sir John Forrest, .and ask us, " What is a million or two?" The honorable senator said that we would be quite willing to expend large sums in prospecting for minerals. That may be ; but it would be exceedingly foolish for the Government to search for minerals, and, having found them, hand them over to private individuals. If I spend money in searching for gold and find it, I reckon that gold is mine; and so with the community as a whole. The members of the party to which I belong desire to initiate new and more equitable economic conditions ; and if we are to be guided bv what has been done bv our political enemies and opponents in the past, there is no justification for our existence in this or any other Parliament. Senator Stewart said that if we owned the land we would have an army of surveyors exploring and classifying the ground. But let me point out that, under such circumstances, we would expect an enormous revenue from that expenditure, just as we should if we owned the mines. Neither instance cited by Senator Stewart is on all-fours with the present proposition. Senator Stewart pointed out the great evil, which I have not the slightest hesitation in admitting, that the fishing industry is in a totally disorganized state in

Australia. But, even if the proposed trawler were successful in opening up new fishing grounds, it would not have the slightest effect in placing the fishing industry on a better basis. It. is when fish are most plentiful that the disorganization is the greatest. It is currently said in Melbourne that when fish are plentiful, either in the Bay or outside the Heads, they are destroyed in order that the dealers may get their own price in the market.


Senator Turley - It is so in Queensland.


Senator GIVENS - Therefore the more Ash we get, the more disorganized will the industry be.


Senator de Largie - That is private enterprise !


Senator GIVENS - Yes ; and yet Senator Stewart takes us to task for daring to criticise private enterprise.


Senator Stewart - Not at all.


Senator GIVENS - The proper way to develop an industry of this kind is by means of protection! or a subsidy, whichever may be deemed most desirable. Certainly I do not hold with our finding out new fishing grounds and developing the industry, and then allowing private individuals to take advantage of the discovery with their trawlers, while the Government vessel moves on to find other fishing grounds. I am in favour of the imposition of protective duties for the support of any industry which it can be shown has a reasonable prospect of success in Australia. I refer to protective duties that will really protect, and not to such duties as are imposed by the mongrel Tariff we have at the present time. I am in favour also of the granting of subsidies for the establishment of new industries. But I believe that it is entirely wrong for the Commonwealth to expend money to discover a source of wealth, and then hand it over to private enterprise. We have often been told that we should do nothing to interfere with States rights, and I should like to know if we have any assurance that the States will not regard this proposal as an infringement of their rights. I have a word or two to say in reply to Senator Keating, who gave the Committee some very interesting information, and quoted authorities which in no way justify the Government proposal. The honorable and learned senator quoted Mr. SavilleKent, one of the most eminent authorities on fisheries that we have ever had in Australia, as to the quantities of fish to be found along the Barrier Reef, on the north eastern coast of Australia. If the Minister knows anything of trawling, he must know that it would be absolutely impossible to trawl anywhere near the Barrier Reef, because the sharp coral of which the bottom is composed would cut the nets to pieces. To insure successful trawling, the operations must be carried on over a fairly even bottom, and preferably over a sandy bottom, such as exists on the Dogger Bank in the North Sea. It is quite impossible to trawl over a sharp rocky bottom, though other methods of fishing in such waters might be adopted successfully. Senator Keating also quoted Mr. Saville-Kent as to the shoals of fish to be found on the coast of Australia; but trawling would be useless for catching those fish. Trawling is carried on to catch fish that keep close to the bottom, and we know that fish that travel in shoals are usually found close to (he surface of the sea. My chief objection to the vote is that I object to the money of the people of the Commonwealth being spent to assist private enterprise, when I know that every available excuse is put forward to prevent the expenditure of the people's money for the benefit of the citizens of the Commonwealth as a whole. I know that the Government will scout the idea of engaging in Commonwealth enterprise for the benefit of the whole of the people. Whenever any such proposal has been made the whole force of the Government has been employed to defeat it.


Senator Clemons - Is the honorable senator quite sure of that?


Senator GIVENS - I am quite sure of it. I challenge Senator Clemons to refer me to a single occasion on which a proposal bv any member of the party to whicli I belong that the Commonwealth should engage in an industrial enterprise for the benefit of the whole people has not been opposed by every Government of the Commonwealth, with the exception of one.


Senator de Largie - Surely the honorable senator cannot object to the Government improving their ways now that they have learnt better.


Senator GIVENS - No one would be more pleased than I should be to see the Government doing what I think should be done, but they are not proposing to do that here. They are proposing to spend the people's money to assist private enterprise, and even the leader of the antiSocialist party, Mr. George Reid, is prepared to do that. He is willing to hand out the taxpayers' money wholesale to assist a handful of people who are better able to take care of themselves than are the majority of the people of the Commonwealth.


Senator Clemons - He does not support a protective Tariff,- which is the form usually adopted for giving public money to private individuals.


Senator GIVENS - We know that there are no anti-Socialists, because members of all parties are Socialists so far as it suits themselves ; but it is a well-known fact that Mr. George Reid, the leader of the so-called Anti-Socialist Party, lias frequently announced his willingness to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds of the taxpayers' money to further private enterprise. If it is wise that we should expend public money to assist individuals, why should " it not be right and just to spend public money to help the whole people? Until I get a satisfactory answer to that question, I shall be prepared to vote against this and every other similar proposal.







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