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Friday, 28 September 1906

Senator TRENWITH (Victoria) . - I do not purpose to speak many minutes, but a point has been presented by Senator Gould which I think is worthy of consideration and reply, and that is that bounties have a tendency, as he said, to drive, or, as I prefer to say, to take men from one form of production to another. I do not think that that at all follows. Perhaps there is no industry in which there is more need of assistance in the direction of experiment than that of agriculture in all its forms.

Senator Lt Col Gould - And that can be dealt with by means of a Department of Agriculture, whose duty would be to cultivate various grains and products in order to show the people what could be done.

Senator TRENWITH - Certainly that is a direction in which the Government might very well proceed, but that, to my mind, is not the only one, and the payment of bounties has largely the same effect. They have an educational effect, as they enable agriculturists to make incursions into the region of experiment, which they could not otherwise afford to make, from the peculiar , nature of their vocation. Unlike almost every one else, the agriculturist has to wait almost invariably twelve months for the result of his labour. In the ordinary well-beaten tracks, he is beset on every hand with uncertainty and anxiety. Therefore he is naturally more conservative than are men engaged in any other industry. He knows that if he were to make an experiment, and it failed, it would mean not merely a loss of one year, but practically a loss of two years. The land on which he made the experiment would be lost entirely for the year, and if he then used it in a direction in which he had knowledge and experience, another year would elapse before he could get any return.

Senator Lt Col Gould - Therefore the Government propose to drive him by the adventitious aid of a bounty into making an experiment which might result in loss to himself as well as to the community.

Senator TRENWITH - This country is as diverse in its climate, and characteristics as is perhaps the outside world. We cannot conceive of a climate and soil which are not to be found in Australia. Therefore there is reasonable ground for saying that with care and education there is nothing that may be produced elsewhere which cannot be produced here. The only thing we lack is the necessary experience and knowledge to produce the article. When a man is engaged in a comparatively few but well-known paths of agriculture, a small bounty enables him to make an experiment, in addition to, not in substitution of, his ordinary method of agriculture. He can make the experiment at the cost of the community. If the experiment fails, it shows that it is an unsuitable undertaking; but if it succeeds it will have succeeded in some measure - probably in a large measure - through the outlay of considerable time and industry on his part, an outlay for which the bounty will not repay him, and for which the price realized by his article will not completely repay him, but which the two combined may suffice to remunerate him, or, at any rate, to assist him in bearing any incidental loss. If through the experiment there results a success, and there are acquired knowledge and experience that lead to the continuance of the industry, the whole community benefits. We have a striking instance of the advantage of bounties in Victoria. Speaking from memory, this State paid £250,000 .in bounties for the encouragement of the butter industry. 'We had all the possibilities of butter-making in Victoria from the foundation of the State. We had over a considerable area an extremely reliable ra'infall and good grazing land - so good that we are able in this State, as people are not in most parts of the world, to graze, milk, and fatten all the year round on natural grass. But, with all those advantages, ive were not able to make butter of uniform quality, even for local consumption. Rancid, uneatable butter was common at that time, and we made no butter for export. The bounties granted by Victoria did not al], as they should have done, reach the pockets of the people for whom they were intended. Probably half the money was wasted. But, notwithstanding that, the result was that we did establish a system of butter-making that has given us a guarantee against the putting on the market of butter of the uncertain and unsatisfactory quality that was sent into consumption before the time of the bounties.

Senator Lt Col Gould - If the bounties went in the wrong direction, the industry could not have been developed by them.

Senator TRENWITH - The honorable senator is wrong. The bounties encouraged people to make efforts that they would not otherwise have made. A considerable amount of the money went to maintain and assist them in their efforts.

Senator Millen - Surely the honorable senator will allow that the development of the factory system has been the dominant factor in the success of the butter industry ?

Senator TRENWITH - Yes ; and inVictoria the factory system arose out of the payment of the bounties.

Senator Millen - It arose concurrently with the bounty system. .

Senator TRENWITH - I am not sure that there were any butter factories in Victoria before the bounties were paid. At any rate, I am quite certain that there were not many. That was the cause of the uncertain, irregular character of the butter. We sometimes had to pay 5d. per lb. for butter that was as good as any in the world, and at other times we had to pay half-a-crown for butter that was rancid. But the bounties led to the introduction of the factory system, and out of that system arose a production of butter that was consistent and regular in its quality, and which enabled our great export trade to be developed. No doubt butter is so essentially an industry natural to Australia that the industry must ultimately have been developed. But .mv point is that the payment of the bounties resulted in an immensely rapid development of the industry. Take olive oil. I agree that there does not appear to be any need to pay bounties to initiate the production of olive oil in this country. We have been able to produce it in large quantities, and of unsurpassed excellence. But it is possible that the granting of bounties will lead to the more systematic and extensive production of olive oil, until not only will it cover the whole area of the local market, but it will be an important article of export, and ultimately become a splendid revenue-producing industry.

Senator Millen - Can the honorable senator give us any information as to the history of the bounties paid in Victoria on raspberry pulp.

Senator TRENWITH - Yes. The effort of the State in that direction was not successful, the reason for which was that the supervision was not sufficiently close. We permitted producers to send their raspberry pulp to Europe in a condition that was not a credit or a recommendation to our produce.

Senator Millen - Bounties are not always successful then.

Senator TRENWITH - I have never denied that in some instances the giving of a bounty might prove that an industry was unsuitable.

Senator Clemons - Can the honorable senator give us any information about the bounties paid for the cultivation of vines in Victoria?

Senator TRENWITH - Yes. Senator Dobson referred to that with perfect truth. He said that the giving of bounties in Victoria for the planting of vines had led to their being planted merely to obtain the money from the Government, and that as soon as the bounties ceased, the vineyards were abandoned. That that was the case in some instances. I have no doubt; but that the production of wine was very materially accelerated by the granting of the bounties is undeniable. Because a bounty is given to A., B., and C, and A. does not succeed, may prove that A. is unfitted for what he undertakes, but that is all.

Senator Staniforth Smith - Did not Victoria grant a bounty of 3d. per lb. on tobacco ?

Senator TRENWITH - This State has made several experiments in tobaccogrowing, which up to the present has not been remarkably successful. The State also bought tobacco, and sent it to England under Government supervision, but it was said that the supervision was lax, and that the tobacco arrived in a bad condition. As to the planting of vines, however, although some of the vignerons did not persevere after the bounties ceased, it is nevertheless a fact that from the granting of bounties sprang the considerable export trade we now have in wines. What I am urging is that the granting of bounties is merely another form of educational influence. I quite agree with Senator Gould that agricultural colleges and the grouping together of the best intelligences for purposes of training in scientific agriculture, is a splendid thing. But it is only another form of education provided at the expense of . the State. I shall be very glad to assist in that direction whenever I can. There is nothing so true as the expression " Knowledge is power," and wherever knowledge can be extended bythe State the whole community is advantaged. The granting, of bounties is another method of disseminating knowledge, or, rather, of encouraging people to bring out of themselves what is in them. I certainly do not think that the granting of bounties will necessarily divert agriculturists from one line of production to another. But it will encourage them to make experiments which, probably, they would not otherwise be disposed to make. It is because these experiments will probably be an advantage, not only to the men who make them, but also to the country, that I shall support the Bill.

Debate (on motion by Senator Staniforth Smith) adjourned.

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