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Wednesday, 6 August 1930

Senator DUNN (New South Wales) (2:55 AM) . - If the majority of the Senate which is in opposition decides to' destroy this child almost at birth so that the Government majority of seventeen in another place will not see it, we cannot expect to be entrusted with another child for fear that it, too, will bc strangled. The Senate should therefore be on its best behaviour and allow this bill to pass, otherwise those in another place will think that the Senate is not a very capable nurse to which to entrust the inauguration of further hills. I hope that the bill will pass through this chamber and go to another place, showing to those there that the practice of initiating legislation in this chamber is a wise one. The Leader of the Opposition said that the consumption of beer was decreasing. Perhaps the only thing concerning which the right honorable gentleman and I are in agreement is that we are both total abstainers.

Senator Sir Hal Colebatch - The honorable senators are none thebetter for that.

Senator DUNN - We are certainly none the worse for it. Nevertheless I have never voted for prohibition. The Leader of the Opposition said that the sale of beer was decreasing.

Senator Herbert Hays - He was quoting from Mr. Gunn's report.

Senator DUNN - Various nations have their national drinks. In some countries the national drink is wine, in another champagne, in another beer, and so on, I am reminded of a verse which goes somewhat as follows: -

The Frenchman likes his sparkling wine;

The German his lager beer;

The Englishman his half and half;

And thinks it brings good cheer;

The Scotchman likeshis whisky neat;

The Irishman likes it hot;

But Australians have no national drink -

They drink the blinkin' lot.

In the opening remarks of his report Mr. Gunn states -

On the 22nd May, 1930, certain hop-growers in the New Norfolk district, Tasmania, wrote to the Minister for Markets (Honorable F. J. Moloney) and submitted the following requests put forward by a meeting of hopgrowers held at New Norfolk on the 16th May, 1930:-

1.   That the Federal Government be requested to immediately place a total embargo on the importation of foreign hops and substitutes for hops into Australia,

And it is indicated that Australia imports hops from such countries as the United States of America, Belgium, and Jugo-Slavia. I see no reason why we should encourage the importation of foreign varieties when we have a sufficient quantity of locally-grown hops to supply our demands. The report continues -

2.   That the Federal Government be requested to set up at once a compulsory hop pool for the production and marketing of hops in Australia.

3.   That the Federal Government be requested to set up immediately a royal commission to investigate the recent hop pools in Tasmania and the hop industry generally.

Subsequently the second request was altered to one asking the Commonwealth Parliament to enact legislation to regulate interstate trade and commerce in hops.

The people of Tasmania have urged the Government to grant some protection to the local hop industry. Ever since this Government has been in power honorable senators opposite have pleaded the cause of the primary producers, and the small man on the land, alleging that Labour was out to down such people. I have done a lot of political campaigning in this country, and have always found that the average farmer is not a supporter of the Labour party. Yet here is an endeavour on the part of a Labour Government to assist these people. Mr. McPhee, the Premier of Tasmania, who was in Canberra within the last 48 hours, gave an assurance to the Vice-President of the Executive Council that he agreed in the main with the principles embodied in this bill.

During the various debates that have taken place in the Senate we have frequently heard it stated that the Labour party has never been prepared to do the right thing by the returned soldiers ; that it is always anxious to act prejudicially to their interests. There are a number of returned soldiers among the Opposition in the Senate, and I represent them on the Government side. I have here a telegram from New Norfolk, Tasmania, signed by the secretary of the Derwent Valley branch of the Returned Soldiers Association, which reads -

Hop industry Derwent Valley most serious position. Returned soldiers employers employees affected. Strongly urge immediate federal assistance.

I also am a member of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers Imperial League of Australia, and in all sincerity I put it to the returned soldier representatives opposite: Are they prepared to turn down this request from their colleagues on the land?

Senator H E ELLIOTT (VICTORIA) - What about the returned soldiers in the hop industry in Victoria?

Senator DUNN - I understand that the big breweries in the capital cities of Victoria provide a sufficient market for all the hops grown in that State. Senator H. E. Elliott is an ex-General of the Australian Imperial Force. Is he prepared to support the Government in its endeavour to assist these returned men? If he is not, I am prepared to meet him on the hustings and state the case for the Government against his defence of his attitude in the matter.

Senator H E ELLIOTT (VICTORIA) - How does the honorable senator account. for the objection of the Victorian growers to this bill?

Senator DUNN - Not many of them object to it. Mr. Gunn's report intimates that they are sufficiently protected by the Victorian market. But these unfortunate men in the Derwent Valley are growing for export trade. Personally, I think that the name Tasmania should be changed to Jonesmania, as the Jones family seems to have a strange-hold on the island. Jones and Company certainly have no love for the returned soldier hopgrowers of Tasmania; on the contrary they are trying to force them out of existence. I do not suppose that many of these Tasmanian Joneses represented Australia at the late war, although they cultivate jingoistic attitudes when asking the Government to protect their interests. I am not concerned about conserving the interests of Jones and Company, who have made millions of pounds out of sweated nigger labour in the Malaya tin fields. I dp not take advantage of my parliamentary privileges to make that statement. I am prepared to repeat it on the hustings. If this bill is rejected, 126 hop-growers and 700 small land-owners will be detrimentally affected. Mr. Gunn continues -

Production in Tasmania.- Tasmanian hops are grown principally in the Derwent Valley, which forms part of the New Norfolk district, situated in the southern part of the island.

Tasmanian growers produce two distinctive types, viz.: - the English varieties (known as straight hops), and a Californian variety (known as Golden Cluster). The straight hop is in greater demand by brewers because it lends itself to the production of a milder beer than can be obtained from the Golden Cluster.

I- see from this report that the brewers are importing hops from Bavaria ! What have honorable senators opposite to say about that? Are they going to countenance that action, and refuse to assist the returned soldier growers in the Derwent Valley? I speak feelingly on that point. At page 4 of his report Mr. Gunn says -

There has always been a quantity of hops imported into Australia. The imports have been obtained mainly from New Zealand, Bavaria, Czecho-Slovakia, and the United States of America.

I remind honorable senators that when our ships are trading to America, and they have Australian fruit aboard for consumption by their passengers, they are compelled to jettison that fruit immediately they enter American waters. Yet here we are importing hops from the United States of America. Reverting to Mr. Gunn's report, I find that -

In Tasmania at present there are approximately 150 growers, many of whom carry on the production of hops in a very small way.

Mr. Gunngoes on to say

The Australian High Commissioner's office in London has advised that over-production of hops is prevalent now both on the Continent and iu Great Britain, and quoted the following prices: Belgium, 14s. per cwt. or lid per lb.; Polish, 16s. per cwt. or lid. per lb. (f.o.b.).

Because there is over-production of hops in Belgium and Poland are we to buy our hops from those countries and place the hop-growers in the Derwent Valley on rations? I hope not. Mr. Gunn goes on to say -

The freight charges from England or the Continent to Australia would not be more than 2d. per lb., so that imported hops could apparently be landed in Australia, duty paid, at prices ranging from below ls. up to not more than ls. 4d. per lb. At the present time Australian brewers are paying 2s. per lb.

Because the growers can import hops at a price not exceeding ls. 4d., apparently the positions of the returned soldiers who, with their families, are engaged in growing hops, are to be jeopardized. The financial columns of our newspapers show us that the wealthy shareholders of Australian brewing companies draw handsome dividends. According to Mr. Gunn, our breweries are supposed to require imported hops to blend with their milder beers, but, also, according to Mr. Gunn, a variety of Australian hops, known as Golden Cluster, is quite suitable for blending for milder beers.

Senator E B Johnston - Why have honorable senators not been supplied with copies of Mr. Gunn's report?

Senator DUNN - Copies were made available to Senator Sampson, the Opposition Whip, for distribution to honorable senators of the Opposition. Mr. Gunn goes on to say -

Practically the whole of the quantity exported in 1928-29 went to the United Kingdom and to the Irish Free State. Messrs. Guinness brewers, of Dublin, have taken large quantities of the Australian surplus during the past few years, but they have recently advised that they are not interested in Australian hops this year.

A few moments ago the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) said that the Government had, no doubt, by its tariff proposals, curtailed the importation of Guinness' beers and stouts, implying that Messrs. Guinness, who are the largest brewers of their kind in the world, are retaliating by refusing to buy any more Australian hops. The bogy, however, is upset when we remember that in 1928-29 the Bruce-Page Government was in power. In regard to Victoria, Mr. Gunn reports -

Victorian marketingarrangements - Victorian hop-growers have not entered into any pooling arrangements, each man disposing of his hops by private contract with the brewers or agents. So far as can be ascertained, the Victorian brewers are satisfied with their existing methods of marketing and have no desire to form a pool.

Mr. Gunnalso states that the whole of the Victorian production can be utilized by the Victorian brewers. In conclusion, 1 appeal to my friends of the Opposition to allow this bill to get into the committee stage on three grounds - firstly, to respond to the confidence displayed in this chamber, inasmuch as we have been asked to deal with the measure first; secondly, to give the returned soldiers in the Derwent. Valley an opportunity to earn a living: and thirdly, because of the assurance given a few hours ago to the Prime Minister (Mr. Scullin) and Senator Daly by Mr. McPhee, the Premier of Tasmania. I feel sure that the Government has put up a case for the protection of the returned soldier hop-growers of the Derwent Valley.

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