1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to direct the attention of the Minister representing the Prime Minister to the following statement which appeared in the London Times of 2nd May -
Mr. Henniker Heaton has reason to believe from hisconversation with the Hon. J. G. Drake, Post master-General of Australia, in January last, that on the date of the King’s Coronation,Australia will adopt penny postage everywhere.
I desire to know whether there is any truth in the statement?
– The honorable and learned member’s professional experience will have taught him that what is a reason sufficient to induce some people to believe, is no reason for others. In this case there would be no reason for any such belief on the part of any one who knew the facts.
– I desire to direct the attention of the Minister representing the Prime Minister to the following statement, which appears in this morning’s Age, in the form of a telegram from Sydney-
It is very doubtful whether the Government will, after all, take any action with reference to the fodder duties.
I wish to know whether, in the event Of the New South Wales Government refusing to act, the Federal Government will be prepared to take any steps in the matter.
– I have no reason yet to assume that the Government of New South Wales will not take action, and must not be understood as implying so. The reason why the Commonwealth Governmenthavenot moved is because of constitutional difficulties quite apart from the position taken up by the
Government of New South Wales. Should that Government foil to take action, I fear that it would not be in our power to do anything.
– What are the constitutional difficulties?
– There are several. One is that whilst we have power to impose taxation, it is especially provided that there must be no discrimination between the States, or any parts of the States.
– That is not a constitutional difficulty.
Royal Assent reported.
– I wish to direct the attention of the Minister for Home Affairs to the fact that no public tenders were called for the supply of uniforms for the last contingent despatched to South Africa from South Australia. I desire to know whether the Minister will see that tenders are called in all cases where supplies are required by the Defence department ?
– The ordinary course was followed in this instance, and I cannot promise in all cases to call for tenders. I do not know the circumstances ; but it may be that there was not sufficient time to permit of tenders being called fora small supply of uniforms. Where it is possible to call for tenders that course is adopted.
– In cases where public tenders are not invited, does not the Minister think that it would be fair to ask the manufacturers of the goods required to submit prices ?
– As a rule, when tenders are not called, the contractors who have been supplying similar goods in previous cases are called upon, and I presume that was what was done in the present case. Although it is doubtless wise to call for tenders, or ask manufacturers to submit prices in most cases, that cannot always be done.
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice-
Whether he will expedite the presentation to the House of a return, ordered by the House on on 18th April, showing the cost of Federal printing ?
– The answer to the honorable and learned member’s question is as follows : -
A large part of the information necessary to the preparation of this return has already been obtained, but in the case of some of the States, the returns sent were incomplete. In the case of Melbourne and Hobart complete returns have been received. Incomplete returns have been received from Adelaide and Brisbane, and further requests, to which no reply has yet been received, have been sent. No return has yet been received from Perth. The requesthas been repeated. In the case of Sydney, the Government Printer reported that extra clerical assistance would be required. Thiswas granted, and he was requested to expedite the return. Instructions have been giventhatthepreparationofthereturnshould becompletedwiththeleastpossibledelay.
Debate resumed (from 11th June, vide page 13554), on motion by Mr. Kingston -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr. Watson had moved by way of amendment -
Thatall the words after the word “now” be omitted, and that the following words be inserted in place thereof, viz. : -“ referred toaselect committee to consider and report upon the advisability of establishing Commonwealth or State ironworks. That such committee consist of the Minister fur Trade and Customs, Mr. Batchelor, Mr.R. Edwards, Mr. Fuller, Mr. Hughes, Mr. Kirwan, Mr. Mauger, Mr. Thomson, and the mover.”
– After the speeches which have been delivered in connexion with this Bill, it must be apparent that we are all agreed that it would be of advantage to the Commonwealth if the iron industry were established here. There is, however, a considerable difference of opinion regarding the means that should be adopted for bringing it about. I have come to the conclusion that the information at present before the committee is not sufficient to enable us to arrive at a satisfactory decision. The Minister for Trade and Customs has been complimented by several honorable members upon the comprehensive character of his speech in introducing the Bill, and upon the vast amount of information furnished by him. Sofar as I can see, however, no information of any value was imparted to honorable members. The Minister pointed out that the Bill was introduced in order to complete the system of encouraging manufactures which was initiated in Division VIa. of the Tariff. That division still remains unsettled, and thus we are being asked to complete a system of encouragement which has not yet been determined upon. The Minister admits that it would be unwise to impose import duties at present for the protection of the iron industry, because such imposts would have the effect of increasing the price of goods to the consumers,and in order to overcome the difficulty he now proposes to encourage the establishment of the iron industry by means of bonuses. The money to provide for these bonuses is to come out of the national exchequer ; but who can say what is the condition of our finances ? We are told on the one hand that we have a surplus of £700,000, and on the other hand we are being pressed to pass a Loan Bill to enable the Treasurer to borrow £1,000,000. The revenue of the Commonwealth has gone down very considerably recently, owing to various reasons, and our finances are in a very unsettled condition. Yet we are asked to vote £324,000 to provide bonuses for the encouragement of the iron industry. We are told that if bonuses are provided for they will cease to operate after the expiration of five years ; but if we may judge from the experience gained in other parts of the world, we shall probably have demands made at the end of the five years for the extension of the bonus payments. If the bonuses are not continued we shall probably be asked to impose heavy protective duties. The Minister directed lis to the experience which had been gained in Canada. But the bonus system in that country has not been a success. In 1883 a Bill was passed by the Dominion Parliament authorizing the payment of bounties for the encouragement of the iron industry. Various Bills were passed subsequently, and in 1889 a measure was agreed to providing for the extension of the payment of bonuses up to the year 1907. Therefore, although the bounty sytem was initiated in 1883, it is still in existence. I do not wish to assume the role of a prophet, but I venture to think from the way in which matters have been proceeding in Canada that a further extension will probably be asked for at the end of the period now fixed.
– The honorable member knows that the bounties diminish.
-Yes, I am aware of that. If the payment of bonuses in Canada had resulted in the production of all the iron necessary for the requirements of that country there might have been some force in the remarks of the Minister. But what do we find ? In 1892, the value of dutiable iron and steel goods imported into Canada was 9,968,409 dollars, whilst goods were imported free of duty to the value of 2,673,033 dollars, the total being 12,641,442 dollars. In 1900 - the latest year’s statistics which I have been able to obtain - the quality of iron imported into Canada represented a value of 29,300,073 dollars, clearly showing that as far as the Dominion is concerned, although it had the advantage of the operation of the bonus system for a number of years, it was unable to supply the iron which was necessary to carry on the various businesses of the country. The Minister for Trade and Customs has pointed out that in Canada in 1 889 the total production of iron from foreign ore was 46,186 tons, whilst that from home ore was 32,000 tons. As we know, the foreign ore comes chiefly from Bell Island, in Newfoundland, and for all practical purposes, therefore, may be regarded as ore produced within the Dominion itself. But the total annual consumption of iron in Canada varies from 800,000 tons to 820,000 tons, and the Minister for Trade and Customs has pointed out that in 1900 her production from crude ore was only 103,000 tons, so that after the bonus system had been operative for a number of years she was able to produce only one-eighth of her total consumption. Has anything been said by the right honorable gentleman, or by the supporters of this Bill, to prove that a similar state of things will not exist in Australia if this Bill be passed? As far asI can judge, the experience of Canada, and the development of the iron industry in other parts of the world, shows that, with the strong competition which must be expected from big establishments in America and England, the probability is that the development winch has occurred in Canada would not take place in Australia. The Minister for Trade and Customs asked -
Shall we stand still now that a golden occasion is afforded for us to progress, and when companies are desirous of takingad vantage of any opportunities we may offer to come here and establish their industries ?
He tells us that in America men are looking with anxious eyes to the development of the iron industry in Australia, that there are individuals in our midst who are ready to embark in the enterprise, and that it is the duty of the Government to listen to the manufacturers who are so desirous of spending their money within the Commonwealth. His statement would almost lead one to believe that quite a horde of patriotic men within the Commonwealth were prepared to invest their capital to develop this important industry. But before they propose to spend their own money they ask this House to vote £300,000 to assist them in establishing the industry. The bonuses payable under this Bill are to cease at the end of five years, but I feel satisfied that at the expiration of that period we shall hear the same cry for a continuation of their payment that we have heard from all other industries which have enjoyed the advantage of bonuses. The same wail will be raised that men will be thrown out of employment if the payment of the bonuses is discontinued, and the argument relative to the pattering of bare feet upon the pathway will be heard in an attempt to make honorable members of this House sympathize with the proposal to continue the system. Some speakers have contended that the passage of this Bill means handing over the industry to a monopoly. It has been argued by some that the Government have power to nationalize the enterprize, whilst others are equally strong in the belief that any such action would be unconstitutional. The matter in dispute, I presume, will have to be settled by the High Court. If the industry should be carried on by private enterprise, I have no doubt that it will develop into a huge monopoly. That is what has happened in America under practically the same system. There the industry is in the hands of vast monopolies. Men have become millionaires owing to the opportunities offered to them to extort money from the people. I am willing to admit that in days gone by manufacturing enterprise could be more successfully controlled by private individuals than by the State or syndicates. But those times have passed away. We live in a day of syndicates, when the conduct of these concerns is in the hands of managers. I failto see any difference between a huge syndicate employing a manager to look after its affairs, and one of the States or the
Commonwealth engaging an individual to discharge a similar duty. The question whether any State should carry on this industry has been sufficiently discussed, and I do not propose to further debate it. But in regard to the question of the establishment of a monopoly I think that ail necessary inquiries should be instituted. In New South Wales some years ago a proposal was submitted by the late Mr. Joseph Mitchell to float a company to work the iron deposits of that State. That scheme failed for various reasons which it is unnecessary to touch upon at this stage. More recently still - in 1900 - when the present Minister for Home Affairs was Premier of New South Wales, a similar proposal was placed before the Government of that State. In referring to the matter, Coy/dan, in The Seven Colonies of Australasia, Says -
During the year .1900 the Government of New South Wales agreed to take 100,000 tons of steel mils, delivery to extend over ti period of four years, from a large company which purposed erecting steel and iron works in the vicinity pf Port Kembla, at a COst pf between £500,000 and :£7.”>0,000. The company has deposited £1.0,000 with the Treasury us a guarantee of good faith.
That company asked for no bonuses, and I do not think any information has been forthcoming to show that the iron industry cannot be started in Australia without any such artificial encouragement. One of the principal reasons why it was not established in New South Wales was that the markets of the other States were closed against it. But now that we have federation, the whole of the markets of the Commonwealth are open to any company who chooses to commence operations in our midst. I think that the Minister for Home Affairs might supply the committee with very valuable information in connexion with the proposed establishment of this industry in New South Wales, and I think that if he did do so it would be found that the syndicate or company which proposed to establish works at Port Kembla were prepared to do so without the aid of any bonus from the State. I entirely disagree with the proposal that this bonus should be paid only upon pig-iron which is made from ore which is native to the Commonwealth. Of course we should all like to see the ironore deposits of Australia developed, but at the same time there are many difficulties in the way of converting that ore into pig-iron. We know very well that Great Britain was not content to rely upon her own deposits, but imported very largely from Spain, Sweden, and other parts of the world. Similarly Canada imported a larger quantity of crude ore from the adjacent colony of Newfoundland than was raised within her own borders. It is well known that in New Caledonia there are very valuable deposits of iron ore. This Bill, however, excludes all who may use those ores for mixing purposes, and also the deposits to be found in New Zealand. It appears to me that in establishing this industry it would be just as well, from the point of view of the employment of labour, if we accorded the same treatment to iron manufactured from ore necessary for mixing purposes, which is native to New Caledonia or elsewhere, that we give to that produced from ore which is native to New South Wales or other portions of the Commonwealth. Of course those places in which the iron industry is established must be in close proximity to extensive coal-fields, such as exist at Newcastle, in the Illawarra district, and at Lithgow. At Dapto, in the south coast district, and also at Newcastle, large quantities of ore, which are imported from New Caledonia, are smelted. Why should our manufacturers not have an opportunity of getting that iron ore smelted at our furnaces, in close proximity to the large coalfields of Illawarra and Newcastle, just as they do other ores at present? Another argument which was advanced by the honorable member for New England had reference to the desirableness of preserving the home market to our own people. In dealing with that aspect of the question the Minister for Trade and Customs quoted from Sir Charles Tupper, who stated -
Two dollars per ton costs the country something. They all contribute, lt will bo taken out of the general Treasury.
Now, it is perfectly true that all classes of the community will contribute towards the payment of this bonus if it be sanctioned. It must come out of the Treasury chest of the Commonwealth. It was argued by the honorable member for New England that if this industry were established it would give employment to 4,000 men ; and with that object we are asked to vote over £300,000 at a time of national calamity in Australia. The farmers and pastoralists have been for years, and probably will be for many years to come, the backbone of the country ; and yet in their misfortune they are asked to contribute this large amount in order to realize what is to a large extent a chimerical idea. It is urged that the establishment of this industry will be followed by the starting of other industries, and that employment will be given to a vast number of people who will purchase the produce of the land. But if 400,000 people were employed in the iron industry to-morrow - and I should like very much to see them - they could only consume an infinitesimal portion of the total produce of the pastoral and dairy industries of Australia. In these great natural industries at the present time more is being produced than will be necessary to meet the requirements of the population for many years to come.
– In a number of lines we are not producing enough at present to meet requirements.
– In spite of the calamitous drought, dairyproduce is largely exported.
– Then why ask for a remission of duties ?
– In order to keep the stock alive, and because we have a paralytic Government who, while waiting for action by the New South Wales Government, say they are able to do nothing.
– Produce is being imported into New South Wales.
– Surely the honorable members for Gippsland and Laanecoorie must have some sympathy with the men who day after day have to stand by and see their flocks and herds decimated by the drought.
– That shows we are not producing all we can consume.
– In that particular we are not ; but dairy and pastoral produce is to-day largely exported, and it is in order to maintain that export trade which has been established with so much trouble and expense that we desire an opportunity to obtain the necessary fodder.
– The establishment of the industry would simply double the working population of New South Wales.
– If the working population were trebled, or even increased a hundredfold, they could not consume all the produce of Australia. If a bonus is to be given to the iron industry, then similar advantages should be offered to the farmers and others engaged in the export trade. The argument as to the home market does not for one moment commend itself to me. I happen to have an intimate knowledge of one industry, and those concerned are absolutely dependent on what their produce will bring in other parts of the world. The speech of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo is worth serious consideration. It was pointed out in that speech that a prospectus had been issued by the Blyth River Company, asking for three important guarantees. The company desired a duty of 15 per cent. against the outside world, together with a bonus and duties on the importations by State Governments. The State Governments are the largest consumers of iron material, and the fact that the question whether or not their importations can be subjected to duty is at the present time undecided, presents a serious stumbling block to this Bill. As to reapers and binders, it was well pointed out by the honorable member for South Sydney that, as their manufacture has already been established, the Bill would simply mean making a present to those interested.. I shall vote for having this matter referred to a select committee, so that we may know who are the men who desire to take advantage of the bonus, and whether they at the present time have a monopoly of the ironfields of Australia. There have been reports for a long time that these men have practically a monopoly of that description, and, if that be the case, to pass the Bill would be simply making a present of over £300,000 to a syndicate.
– That can be ascertained without a select committee.
– If the honorable gentleman can give us the information, it is his duty to do so.
– I can tell the honorable member that there is no such monopoly.
– I understand that some alteration is to be made in the amendment of the honorable member for Bland ; and for the reasons I have given, I shall vote against the Bill, and for the amendment. Full inquiry will give us the facts and circumstances of the case, and place us in a better position to form a judgment.
– I feel some difficulty as to the manner in which I should record my vote on the motion for the second reading of this Bill and on the contingent amendment. When addressing my constituents prior to the election, I said I was more favorable to direct bonuses for the encouragement of natural industries than to the indirect and somewhat dangerous system of imposing heavy protective duties. But on the first occasion when an attempt is made by the Government to deal with the question of rendering assistance in this way to what may be termed a national industry we are faced with all sorts of difficulties. The proposal in the Bill, although involving an expenditure of over £300,000, can benefit only one, or at the outside, two of the States of the Commonwealth. Although there are large iron deposits in South Australia, there are two factors which prevent thatState obtaining any benefit from a Bill of this nature. The iron ore which has hitherto been discovered there in large quantities, is not suitable for smelting, owing to the presence in it of various substances, such as sulphur and antimony ; and the bulk of the deposits are inaccessible for economical carriage. In addition South Australia has, so far, not developed any coal-field suitable for the treatment of ore on the spot. We find ourselves, therefore, faced with the position that the State of New South Wales, where both iron and coal are produced in large quantities of excellent quality, is in a much more favorable position than any of the other States. It has been pointed out that some portions of Tasmania, of easy access from the seaboard, produce iron ore suitable for smelting and for manufactures such as are contemplated by the Bill; and so it would appear that Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria will be called on to contribute their proportion per capita of the sum of £300,000 odd for the encouragement of the iron industry in two States only.
– That is a nice federal spirit !
– I know that my remarks are not exactly on lines which favour the federal ideas of the Minister for Home Affairs. No doubt the idea of the honorable gentleman is that everything should be done for Australia, but he takes the same view as did the late Sir Henry Parkes, namely, that Australia means New South Wales.
– That is very unfair.
– Although we may desire to be extremely federal in our ideas, we have to consider the very large question of finance. It is all very well to talk about showing a federal spirit, but if the federal spirit means, as it would, that onetenth of £300,000, or £30,000 must be paid by South Australia, then every representative of that State must have something to say. The members for South Australia were returned pledged - as, no doubt, were representatives of New South Wales - to do everything possible to uphold the solvency of their State - to do everything to prevent expenditure beyond the means of the State. South Australia has already been called upon to pay a very large sum for becoming a member of the federal union, and at the present juncture, with bad seasons such as we have had during the past few years - with our mining, agricultural and pastoral pursuits at low-water mark - will have the greatest difficulty in making both ends meet. It is a very common thing for the members representing South Australia to hear, on their weekly visits to their State, expressions of regret that the people of that State were induced to enter the federation.
– Surely that feeling is not very deep-seated ?
– It is very deepseated, and very widely expressed.
– It is expressed mostly by those who howled for federation at any price.
– The people who were opposed to federation at any price express the same feeling, and there is a tone of “ I told you so “ in their voices.
– Why is the feeling so prevalent ?
– Because the expenditure of the Federal Parliament is placing upon the numerically weaker States a financial burden which they are ill able to bear. The feeling expressed in South Australia is echoed in New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania, and is due chiefly to the financial strain which is being put upon the States by the expenditure of the Federal Government, which is going up by leaps and bounds. In my opinion, the consideration of this measure might well have been deferred for a time, because of the financial position of the States, and of the difficulties of our pastoralists, miners, and farmers, which are felt again in turn by the mercantile community, and then again by the working classes, until they affect the whole population, from those on the lowest rung of thesocial ladder to those on the topmost rung. Like a great deal of the legislation which has been forced upon us this session, it might well have been left over for a while. Surely a thirteen months’ session should be long enough for any Government.
– What measures does the honorable member condemn as unnecessary ?
Mr.V. L. SOLOMON.- Many Bills were hastily passed in this House which might well have been postponed. The Pacific Island Labourers Bill, and the Immigration Restriction Bill are two in point. The Government, too, might well have postponed the taking over of some of the departments, such as the Post and Telegraph department. Furthermore, the question of giving bonuses for the establishment of the iron industry is connected with the Tariff which we have passed, and which is now under consideration in the other branch of the Legislature. In that Tariff we have provided that upon the establishment of the iron industry, protective duties ranging from 10 to 15 per cent. should be imposed. You have ruled, Mr. Speaker, and your ruling is in accordance with the Standing Orders, that we may not refer to the Tariff because it is now under considerationby the other House ; but that ruling very much restricts our powers of dealing with the Bill now before us. In addition to the duties I have mentioned, we are now asked to give direct bonuses. When addressing myself to my constituents, I expressed myself as more favorable to the granting of bonuses for the encouragement of national industries than to protective duties, the revenue from which very often goes into the pockets of the wrong people, and is lost to the coffers of the Commonwealth. That being so, I am in a difficulty now in having to refuse to vote for this Bill. But I cannot vote for it while the imposition of the protective duties to which I have alluded is, so to speak, sub judice. The proper time for the introduction of the Bill will be when the Tariff has been returned by the Senate, finally agreed to by both branches of the Legislature, and assented to by His Majesty’s representative. Until then it is premature and unfair to ask us to consider the matter. For those reasons, I shall vote against the second reading, and for reasons which I am about to give, I shall oppose the amendment of the honorable member for Bland. In the first place I cannot see how an amendment worded as it is can be moved upon the motion for the second reading of the Bill. Standing Orders 162,163, and 164 provide that amendments to the question “ that this Bill be now read a second time,” may be moved by omitting “now,” and adding “ this day six months,” or by moving the previous question ; but no other amendment may be moved - except in the form of a resolution strictly relevant to the Bill.
– I have already given notice that it is intended to alter the wording of the amendment.
– I can deal only with the amendment as it appears upon the notice-paper. On the 30th April last, Message No. 40 was received from His Excellency the Governor-General, in these terms -
In accordance with the requirements of Section 56 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia, the Governor-General recommends to the House of Representatives that an appropriation of revenue or moneys be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act relating to Bonuses for the Encouragement of Manufactures.
Then, on the 1st May, a committee consisting of the Minister of Trade and Customs and the Attorney-General prepared and brought in a Bill for “ An Act relating to Bonuses for the Encouragement of Manufactures.” The short title, “ Manufactures Encouragement Act,” has really nothing whatever to do with the case. The Bill is for an Act relating to bonuses for the encouragement of manufactures, and the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Bland is that the Bill should be referred to a Select Committee to consider and report upon the advisability of establishing Commonwealth or State ironworks. I believe the question was put to Mr. Speaker yesterday, and I now ask whether a reference to a Select Committee to consider the advisability of establishing a Commonwealth or State ironworks has anything whatever to do with a Bill for an Act relating to the encouragement of manufactures?
– I would ask, Mr. Speaker, whether the honorable member is in order in debating your ruling?
– I was listening attentively to the honorable member with a view to ascertain whether he intended to ask my ruling, upon any new point. It certainly is not in order for the honorable member to discuss at this stage the ruling which I gave yesterday ; nor could I permit him to discuss the matter with the object of asking me whether I still held the that view I expressed yesterday. I was asked by the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, whether the amendment was relevant to the Bill, and I ruled that it was, for reasons which I then gave. The honorable member would not be in order in now discussing my ruling.
– With all deference to you, Mr. Speaker, there was no point of order raised yesterday. The honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, during his speech casually asked you, without any notice, whether the amendment was relevant.
– In order to prevent any misapprehension I may say at once that the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, intimated to me before he commenced his speech that he intended to raise a point of order, and, therefore, my ruling was given distinctly upon the point of order raised by the honorable and learned member.
– May I ask if any honorable member is debarred from disagreeing with your ruling ?
– The time at which dissent from a ruling may be expressed is immediately after it is given. No objection can be taken on the next day.
– There was no point of order raised yesterday.
– I have just said that there was.
– My recollection of the speech of the honorable and learned member for South Australia is that there was no point of order raised. If I had understood the honorable and learned member to be raising a point of order, I should have challenged your ruling. As, however, there was merely a conversational appeal made by the honorable and learned member in the course of his speech I did not care to interrupt him.
– What is the distinction between a conversational appeal and a point of order 1
– There is a very wide distinction. On a point of order the ruling of Mr. Speaker can be questioned ; but in this case no opportunity was afforded of challenging the decision.
– I cannot permit the honorable member to continue this discussion. The ruling given by me yesterday was delivered after the speech of the honorable and learned member for South Australia had been concluded, and ample opportunities were presented for honorable members to challenge my decision there and then, without interfering with any one. I would ask the honorable member, therefore, to proceed with his speech.
– Of course, Mr. Speaker, I shall bow to your ruling, as I always do. The proposed amendment suggests something entirely foreign to the object of the Bill, something which in my opinion, and in the opinion of several honorable and learned members, is totally beyond the limits of our constitutional ‘ rights.
– Cannot Ave make an inquiry ?
– There is nothing to prevent us from holding an inquiry whether there is a man in the moon or whether the moon is made of green cheese, but surely the House will not sanction an inquiry which will involve an expenditure of hundreds or thousands of pounds in regard to a question with which we have no constitutional right to deal. I have studied the Constitution very carefully, and I find nothing in it that would for one moment justify us in establishing Commonwealth iron works. Section 51 of the Constitution gives a great many powers to Parliament. Sub-section 3 provides that the Parliament shall have power to make laws with respect to -
Bounties on the production or export of. goods, but so that such bounties shall be uniform throughout the Commonwealth.
That provision is capable of being read in more than one way. It may mean that if bounties are offered by the Commonwealth, they shall be uniform throughout the Commonwealth. Our legal friends may contend that it means that if any one State is given the right to grant bounties, then every State shall have the right to grant bounties for the production of iron or anything else, or that it may mean that the Commonwealth shall have the right to grant bounties, giving each State the right to compete for such bounties. Both interpretations are perfectly within reason; but from other provisions in the
Constitution, it appears that that sub-section was designed to prevent the granting of bounties by any one State, except with the consent of both Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament. Section 90 provides that - 0” the imposition of uniform duties of customs the laws of the several States imposing duties of customs or of excise, or offering bounties on the production or export of goods, shall cease to have effect.
But section 91 varies that provision by enacting that any State may grant a bounty with the consent of both Houses of the Parliament of the Commonwealth expressed by resolution. On a general reading of the Constitution, I think the intention is, not that the Commonwealth itself should grant bounties, but that the States should be permitted to give bounties for the production or export of goods, but so that no one State should be able to obtain that privilege without a similar advantage being conferred upon every State of the union. .
– That is rather inconsistent with the first part of section 90.
– It is true that it is provided that on the imposition of uniform duties of customs the power of Parliament to impose duties of customs and of excise, and to grant bounties on the production or export of goods, shall become exclusive. But section 91 shows that, whilst it is intended to take away from the States the powers they have hitherto possessed to grant bounties as they chose, they still may be empowered by resolution of both Houses of the Commonwealth Parliament to grant bounties for the encouragement of industries. The idea was that such rights should not be granted to any State so as to give a preference or advantage to that particular State over any other. That appears to express the true meaning of sub-section (3) of section 51 relating to the payment of bounties. Have any of the States applied to us for permission to grant these bounties ? Judging by what I have heard from honorable members upon this side of the Chamber, and also from many honorable members opposite, New South Wales is the most favoured State of the Union so far as the possibility of developing the iron industry is concerned. Possessed of magnificent coal measures and splendid deposits of iron ore, she should long ago have been in a position to establish this enterprise. Only this afternoon we were told by the honorable and learned member for Illawarra that the difficulty in the past has been, not that New South Wales lacked abundant deposits of iron ore, or that her coal was unsuitable, but that the market open to her manufacturers was restricted to her own borders. Now, however, that the market of the Commonwealth is available, that State should be able to establish the iron industry without any artificial aid. Thestatement has also been repeatedly dinned into our ears that New South Wales is one of the wealthiest of the States, that she does not require an enormous revenue from customs duties, and that even under- the Tariff which the Government have introduced she will receive hundreds of thousands of pounds which she positively will not know what to do with. In the face of” such assertions, can we imagine that New South Wales is waiting for a vote of £200,000 or £300,000 to enable her to develop her native deposits of iron ore ? It seems to me that that argument abolishes the contention that the senior State requires this bonus to encourage the development of the industry. I am sure everyone will recognise that the honorable and learned member for Illawarra, who represents a district in which iron and coal deposits occur, is a competent authority, and he tells us that the failure of New South Wales to establish this industry ha* been due to the restricted market available. I feel sure that, with the extended market offered by the Commonwealth, New South Wales, without any assistance in. the shape of bonuses, will be able to place the iron industry upon a firm and businesslike footing. We have it upon very good authority that in Tasmania large deposits of suitable ore are to be found near to the coast. So long as the native ores of that State are suitable for smelting, and therates of freight to convey them to the placewhere coal exists are reasonable, it matters little to Tasmania whether the industry isdeveloped by private enterprize, or by means of the payment of bonuses. Personally I do not think that this Bill will accomplish the object desired. Even if it were passed to-morrow I do not think it would exercise the slightest influence upon those people in the older countries who have a plethora of capital waiting for investment in anything which promises to be a paying concern. There will be no difficulty in obtaining £300,000 or £3,000,000 from the English money market if it can be shown that both suitable coal and iron ore exist in any of the States, and that Australia is to some extent protected - as it has been by this House - under Division VI. a of the Tariff. I do not wish to occupy unreasonable time in discussing this matter. I have already pointed out that under the Constitution the amendment of the honorable member for Bland would be useless. “Where is the utility of obtaining reports upon the advisableness of the Commonwealth establishing an iron industry when, as the Minister for Trade and Customs will admit, there is nothing in the Constitution to permit of such a course of action being taken? I trust that the second reading of this Bill will be defeated if the Minister for Trade and Customs does not agree to withdraw it. I advise him in the most friendly spirit to adopt the course suggested, or to permit of an adjournment of the debate until the Tariff has been dealt with. There is nothing undignified in such a procedure. The argument that matters are pending which materially affect the fate of this measure has a good deal to recommend it. Therefore, I suggest that the right honorable gentleman should withdraw the Bill till next session, or postpone its consideration till we have dealt with the Electoral Bill, which is an important measure, the consideration of which will occupy some time. We do not desire to be debating these subjects for more than eighteen months. The adoption of the course which I have indicated will conduce to the interests of the Commonwealth and to the comfort of honorable members generally.
– I have listened with a great deal of attention to the debates upon the second reading of this Bill. Whilst I am emphatically in favour of nationalizing this or any other industry that it is possible to nationalize, I am convinced, after having given close attention to the various speeches which have been made, that the object of the honorable member for Bland will not be achieved by the adoption of the amendment. I am satisfied that my honorable friends opposite, who are supporting that amendment, are not actuated by a desire to grant bonuses for the production of iron or to nationalize the industry. They merely wish to delay and ultimately to defeat the measure. To me the initial means by which the enterprise is established is a matter of indifference, so long as the Commonwealth or the States reap the benefit. Honorable members opposite, however, have not concealed the fact that they are absolutely opposed to the principle involved in this measure, and that they intend voting for the amendment in order to defeat it. In this connexion I wish to say that the party with which I am associated is pledged to the principle of granting bonuses to encourage the development of the iron industry. Not only did we thus pledge ourselves upon the hustings, but at a conference in which leading members of the labour party took part. I hold in my hand a resolution to which the signatures of such representative members of that party as Senator McGregor, Senator Higgs, and Mr. Beazley, of Victoria, are attached.
– Not as representative labour men.
– They were present in that capacity.
– As representative protectionists.
– Is it possible to separate the two things? Surely the honorable member would not infer that when they participated in that conference they dissociated themselves from the party to which they belong, and agreed to a resolution which was adverse to its best interests ?
– They may have inadvertently agreed to something which was very wrong.
– It cannot be urged that they inadvertently attached their signatures to a motion which was debated at considerable length.
– But the conference did not represent the party.
– It shows that the leading members of the party at the time of the federal elections, or just before, were in favour of a proposal of the kind.
– Did they discuss the question of nationalizing the industry?
– They discussed the question of the payment of bonuses, and supported the following resolution passed at the united conference of protectionists held in Sydney last year : -
That in view of the enormous benefits which may reasonably be expected to accrue to the Australian Commonwealth from the establishment of the iron and steel industry within its borders, this conference recommends that such industry be encouraged by bonuses from the Federal Government, for a stated period to be fixed thereby, of 12s.6d. per ton for every ton of pigiron or steel ingots, and bars, rods and sheets (whether of iron or steel, produced from native ores and fluxes).
– What did they say about the nationalization of the industry? Surely that is part of the labour policy.
– It was part of the policy of the labour representatives at the conference.
– The two senators mentioned are certainly in favour of my amendment now.
– That may be, but those two senators at the conference pledged themselves to that resolution, and if then, and afterwards on the hustings, I promised to support the principle, surely I am only keeping that promise now in voting for the second reading of this Bill. If I were assured that the amendment would achieve the object the honorable member for Bland has in view, I should support it ; and I wish it to be clearly understood that I am in favour of nationalizing the industry.
– Have we to wait until the industry is nationalized ?
– I would make a start at once ; and I invite the honorable member for Bland to submit his proposal on its merits, irrespective of the Bill.
– Knock out the Bill first.
– That interjection goes to strengthen my contention that the amendment is being used to defeat the Bill. If the amendment be proposed on its merits, not only for the purpose of inquiring into the desirability of establishing this industry, but for fixing a date on which this Bill shall become law after due investigation, I shall support it.
– That is what the amendment means.
– The amendment seeks first to defeat the Bill, and then to commence de novo an inquiry into the advisability of, at some future date, adopting the measure. It is of the greatest importance that there should be no delay in establishing this industry, and the Bill is the best instrument I can see at the present time for developing the resources which lie at our door. I would have the measure fenced in with regulations as to wages and dividends, and provide that the people who avail themselves of the bonus shall at any time be compelled to sell their property to the State which desires to acquire it. It is because I am anxious to develop our resources and find employment, especially at this critical juncture of our national affairs, that I support the Bill. We must look out for every possible avenue of employment all over the Commonwealth if we are to retain our population. The facilities and opportunities afforded in South Africa are of such a character that, unless neutralizing influences are exercised, the consequences will be serious. Men are clamouring for work, and are our natural resources to lie dormant, while we import to meet our requirements ? I support the Government proposal, even if only as a tentative measure, and for the purpose of making a commencement. As I said, if the honorable member for Bland will submit his proposal on its merits - not for the purpose of defeating the Bill, but for the purpose of carrying out his idea of nationalization, he will have no more ardent supporter than myself.
– But that would be when the vested interests have been created, and there would be no possibility of carrying my proposal.
– Does the honorable member think that vested interests will be established in twelve months?
– The honorable member must hope so, or what is the use of carrying the Bill?
– I do not suppose that the Bill can become operative in a day. When in committee I intend to propose a clause which will read somewhat as follows : -
And also make regulations requiring any person who has received the bonus under this Act to enter into a bond for the sale of the undertaking to the State in which the undertaking is carrying on, and also for prescribing for all matters incidental to such sale.
– Does the honorable member expect any one to take up an extraordinary offer like that?
– I certainly do. If a bonus were given on the manufacture of agricultural machinery with such conditions attached, there are American capitalists in Melbourne to-day who would be glad to start the industry. I make this statement authoritatively.
– Agricultural implements are made here now.
– But not nearly to the extent to which they are used ; and it is a notorious fact that agricultural implements are being manufactured to a less degree as the duty is lowered. Unless some such step is taken as I have suggested, agricultural implement making will ultimately become an extinguished industry.
– But a bonus is proposed on the top of protection.
– The proposal in the Bill is first a bonus, and afterwards protection.
– I am speaking of agricultural implement making.
– If no one took up the industry on the conditions I have indicated, the object of the honorable member for Bland would be carried out, because then the Bonus Bill would be rendered inoperative. On the other hand, if the industry were started, no one would be injured and there would be developed a valuable industry which the State would have a right to acquire. I have consulted the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, and both he and myself are just as anxious as any other honorable member can be to see this industry established and nationalized; but we are also anxious that no such amendment as that proposed shall be used for the purpose of defeating the objects we have in view. Surely that is a logical position to assume.
– What is the meaning of the amendment which the honorable member has said he will submit in committee?
– It means that in giving this bonus to any company, the State will retain the right at any time to acquire the business on the conditions set out in the regulations.
– If the company make the industry pay, the State will take it, but if it is not paying, the company will be allowed to go on?
– Surely that is the point of view of the honorable member for Barrier - namely, that the State ought not to take over an unsuccessful business ?
– Then it will have to be startedby philanthropists.
– If so, I claim that honorable members of the Opposition, who want to defeat the Bill, should support my amendment, seeing that it carries out the very idea they have in view. I quite recognise that a Bill of this kind should be safeguarded in a number of ways. It should be safeguarded in respect to the wages paid and the conditions of labour. I find that the representatives of Tasmania are supporting the Bill, but if the industry is to be developed in that State under a bonus, we must strenuously safeguard the interests of the workers. I know of no more conservative place within the Commonwealth, in regard to work and wages, than the “ tight little island.” I would go so far as to insist that the amount paid in dividends should be restricted, that after a fair return has been given on the capital invested the Government should be repaid the bonus. A similar proposal is being seriously conconsidered in America in connexion with the incorporated trusts, and not only are wages and hours being fixed, but maximum profits are prescribed.
– That is stifling enterprize.
– If the honorable member means stifling aggrandizement of wealth he is right. I am pledged and prepared to support such a proposal as is incorporated in this Bill; but I would safeguard it in every possible way. I am not prepared to support any amendment which has for its object, or at any rate, will have the effect, of shelving a question of the utmost importance to the highest and best interests of the Commonwealth.
– The speech of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports was most remarkable, and certainly characteristic. He commenced by impressing upon the House how much he was in favour of the nationalization of the iron industry ; but he followed that with the rather contradictory statement that he could not see his way to support the proposal of the honorable member for Bland - that a select committee be appointed to inquire if this nationalizationcan be carried out. Then he told us that he intended to move an amendment which would provide that any works which might be established under the Bill might, within a certain period, be resumed by the Government of the State in which they were situated. If such an amendment were agreed to, neither the proposals of the Government nor that of the honorable member for Bland would be effective, and the time we have spent in discussing this measure would be absolutely wasted, because the resumption of the property of any private company established under the Bill would require a huge expenditure. Furthermore, the honorable member spoke of the amendment of the honorable member for Bland as having for its effect the shelving of this question indefinitely. He did not, however, bi;ing forward any argument to support that statement. He did not show that the committee would not inquire thoroughly into the matter,
Or that the honorable members of whom it is proposed it shall consist would not carry Out their duties to the best of their ability, or that they are not sincere. If the Bill is passed as it stands, the £324,000 which it proposes to give away in bonuses will probably find its way into the pockets of some sharp company promoter. What will probably happen, if the Bill is passed, will be that some small syndicate here will see in it a splendid opportunity to float a huge commercial speculation in London. They will send a representative Home, and he will at once issue prospectuses, pointing out that these bonuses have been promised by the Government. People will, no doubt, subscribe to shares, chiefly upon that inducement, and the industry may be established to an extent sufficient to secure these bonuses. But the original promoters of the company, having obtained their profit, will, no doubt, step out, and at the end of a few years the shareholders will find it necessary to come to the Government again and say - “ Unless you continue to give us bonuses, we must close our works.” When that happens, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports will tell us- “We have spent £324,000 in establishing this industry, and we must continue the expenditure, so that the good done with the money already spent may not be entirely lost.”
– The experience of other countries has always been that bonuses are continually being raised rather than reduced.
– Yes. The people of Victoria had a similar experience under the protective policy which was so much favoured by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. If the Bill were passed in its present form, it would do harm rather than achieve the good which the Minister has in view. But I think there can be no reasonable objection to the appointment of a select committee to inquire into the whole matter. Although some may have doubts as to the advisability of nationalizing the iron industry, there is no reason why we should not obtain full information upon the subject. While there might be some justification for the payment of bonuses for the establishment of an entirely new industry, we know in connexion with the iron industry that pig-iron has been already manufactured in New South Wales, and that both wire netting and galvanized iron are manufactured within the Commonwealth. Galvanized iron was made in New South Wales under free-trade.
– Not from native ore.
– That does not matter. Pig-iron at any rate has been manufactured in New South Wales from native ore. Galvanized iron was manufactured there under free-trade. When federation came, the manufacturers whose market was formerly limited to the State of New South Wales had opened to them the markets of the Commonwealth, and in addition to that advantage this Parliament has imposed upon galvanized iron an import duty of 15s. per ton. to keep out the goods of the foreign manufacturer. Now the Government come along and propose to subsidize the industry by a bonus of 10 per cent, upon the total value of the galvanized iron produced. That seems to me an utterly absurd proposal. Why should this one industry be singled out for special consideration 1 Why indeed should £324,000 be distributed amongst a few individuals engaged in* the iron industry? People do not embark in these undertakings from motives of patriotism ; they are purely commercial speculations. The iron industry is, of course, a very valuable one to any country, and worthy of encouragement and support, but the industries which provide the community with food, clothing, tools, and other requisites are equally worthy of support. Why should the iron industry alone be supported by public contributions ? I shall vote against the Bill, but in favour of the amendment of the honorable member for Bland.
– I agree with the honorable member for Kalgoorlie as to the importance of the iron industry, but. I do not agree with him that the industries which supply us with food and clothing equally require support. In one sense they may be even more important than the iron industry, but they require much less capital for their development. It is because of the immense capital required for the development of the iron industry that the Government have brought forward these proposals. There are before the House at the present time practically four propositions. We have first the proposals of the Government ; thenwe have those proposals plus the suggestion of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports ; thirdly, we have the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Bland for the appointment of a select committee; and, lastly, we have the proposition of the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, that the Bill be amended to allow the States or any one of them to engage in the iron industry and receive bonuses from the Commonwealth.
– They can do that now.
– It was at first my intention to support the honorable member for Bland, but, having since heard the speech of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, and having consulted with other legal men upon whom I can place reliance, I am persuaded that it would be utterly unconstitutional for the Commonwealth to engage in any manufacturing business. That being so, it would be useless to appoint a Select Committee to inquire into the subject.
– But lawyers differ on the question.
– I think that the honorable member for Bland himself admitted that he has grave doubt as to whether the Commonwealth can engage in manufacturing. I believe that he went so far as to say that the Constitution may have to be altered to enable the Commonwealth to establish the iron industry as a national undertaking.
– The Select Committee will be able to determine those questions.
– All that the committee could do would be to recommend an alteration of the Constitution. I should like to support the proposal of the honorable member for Bland, but it would be idle to agree to something which would have no practical effect. The Government propose to expend £324,000 in developing the iron industry. I think it would be better to spend the money in establishing works of our own than in providing profit for capitalists, who may conduct their operations in a way of which we would not approve, or who, after receiving the promised bonuses, might throw up the sponge and not go any further. It would be better for the Government to establish their own works, but, unfortunately, that appears to be impossible.
– It would not be possible for us to subsidize the States.
– Provision might be made in the Bill whereby the States, as States, could establish ironworks.
– They can do that now, and they can draw the bonus.
– My purpose would be accomplished if the States were to take up this industry. If a large amount of Government money is to be expended, it should, if possible, be invested in State workshops. If we could give effect to the proposal of the honorable member for Bland, I should vote for his amendment ; but I am satisfied that we cannot do as he desires. I shall, therefore, vote for the Bill on the understanding that provision will be made for the States to take up the industry.
– No, permission is necessary.
– I do not say that the States require any permission, but I wish them to derive benefit from the bonus.
– Are the States so poor that they need assistance?
– I do not suppose they are ; but the industry is so important that it might be greatly to the advantage of the Commonwealth to assist any State in establishing it. I do not know that the State of Tasmania, for instance, would be very well able to establish the iron industry, and develop her large iron deposits, and it might be greatly to the advantage of the Commonwealth if the industry were established there.
– Surely New South Wales would be able to start ironworks of her own ?
– That is no reason why other States which are not in so fortunate a position should be debarred from receiving assistance.
– We should not refuse to the States the encouragement we are willing to give to an individual.
– Quite so. I hope the result of passing the Bill will be that ironworks will be started as a State enterprise, because it is apparent that the Commonwealth itself cannot enter upon such an undertaking.
– This question is, perhaps, of more immediate importance to me than to any other honorable member in this Chamber. If the Government proposal is carried, my electorate will be the first to benefit by it. Lithgow would be the scene of the first operations connected with the production of pig-iron. Therefore I am about to speak in opposition to a proposal which would immediately benefit my electorate. That is not a matter for joy or pleasure to me, but, on the other hand, I feel some regret at the position in which I find myself. Some of my best political friends have urged me to give my vote in favour of this proposal ; but, looking at the matter from the standpoint of the Commonwealth as a whole, I feel that my political principles will not allow me to do what I might personally like. The main purpose of the Bill is to encourage the production of pig-iron. Other kinds of iron can and will be made under the encouragement of the duties which are now imposed, and which may be varied from time to time. A great deal has been said regarding the importance of this industry, and as to the intimate relation which it bears to other industrial occupations throughout the Commonwealth. Iron is the basis of nearly every kind of manufacturing handicraft. The finished article of the industry immediately under discussion is the raw material and the basis of a hundred other occupations, and here we are at once brought face to face with one of the anomalies of the protective system. It is often difficult to know where the raw material of industry begins and ends. In this case the finished article, which passes through two stages of manufacture, immediately becomes the raw material used in a hundred other handicrafts. The Minister for Trade- and Customs told us that this was his reason for proposing to encourage the production of pig iron by means of a bonus, rather than by imposing a duty. No country has ever attained any eminence among the nations, without developing the iron industry in its midst, and making it the basis of its manufacturing enterprises. The question now arises, whether Australia’ is suited by nature and by the aptitude of her people for the production of iron ? This question may be answered at once by a recital of some simple facts in the history of New South Wales. It is in that State that the bonuses would first operate if the House agreed to offer them. The Blyth River Company’s scheme may be developed later on. We know that in New South Wales the iron industry is already organized, and tests have been made which prove conclusively that iron of commercial value can be produced in that State. As far back as 1874 a blast furnace was in operation at Lithgow, and I believe that about 30,000 tons of pig iron have been produced in New South Wales from native ores. Works were established at Mittagong and at Lithgow, but in both instances they failed. I do not wish to go into the reasons for these failures, but after having investigated the matter, I am satisfied that the failures were in no way to be attributed to fiscal conditions. Pig iron has been shipped from New South Wales to San Francisco, and a report satisfactory in the extreme has been received regarding it. A letter from Messrs. McCondray and Co., of San Francisco, reads as follows : -
The parcels of your pig iron received here have given great satisfaction! We can safely say that we can dispose of 200 to 300 tons per month, and that it would command from 2 to 4 dollars per ton more than any other iron imported into California.
That was in 1S68, and the iron came from the Fitzroy mine. Afterwards the industry was developed in Lithgow. The honorable and learned member for Illawarra stated that there were large deposits of iron in many parts of New South Wales awaiting development. The report of Mr. Jacquet sets that matter at rest at once. I. was impelled to despatch this gentleman to make a thorough investigation of the iron deposits of New South Wales, because statements were constantly being made about mountains of iron in different parts of that State. The result of his investigation has been to show that in many cases where mountains of iron were alleged to exist, the deposits were merely pockets of ore. Where iron ores did exist in large quantities, the3’ contained some deleterious substance which prevented them from being worked commercially. That remark is applicable to the large deposits which exist at Port Macquarie, to the North of Newcastle.
– And at Mittagong and Lithgow.
– I beg the honorable member’s pardon. I will read what Mr. Jacquet says in reference to Lithgow iron. That gentleman states -
The oxidized ore is of excellent quality, and on account of the low percentage of phosphorus could be used for steel manufacture in the cheaper acid processes. The unoxidized ore contains objectionable quantities of both sulphur and copper. The presence of these elements will certainly depreciate the ore in value, but need not necessarily preclude it from being used in the manufacture of steel, more particularly if it be smelted with ores from Carcoar and other localities.
– How much ore is avail able?
– At Cadia alone, near Canobolas, there are 36,000,000 tons in sight, whilst at the Iron Duke mine there are 3,000,000 tons. According to Mr. Jacquet, the treatment of this ore presents no chemical difficulties, and good, serviceable iron can be manufactured from it. Concerning the economic value of the Mittagong deposits, about which much has been said, the same officer reports -
I regret being obliged to comment unfavorably upon them. Much of the ore is of excellent quality, but in no place does it occur in sufficient quantity to warrant the erection of a modern ironworks. Even in the aggregate, I do not estimate the deposits as containing more than 1,500,000 tons.
Speaking of the Northern deposit, he says -
The ores, upon the whole, do not contain a very high percentage of iron, the silica and phosphorus contents are excessive, and the cost of exploiting such narrow erratic beds would be, relatively speaking, high. So, apart altogether from any other consideration, I am unable to speak favorably of the deposits.
From this report it is clear that the only payable deposits known to exist in New South Wales occur in the Western district, in the vicinity of Orange, where I humbly hope the Federal capital will be ultimately located. Of course it is well known that, throughout Australia, there are deposits of exceedingly good quality. Speaking of the Cloncurry district in Queensland, Mr. Jack, the late Government Geologist of that State, than whom there is no better authority, says -
The most striking features of the country are mountains of pure specular and magnetic iron ore. One of those - Mount Leviathan - is about 200 feet high, and a quarter of a mile in diameter at its base. It is singular to reflect that these deposits, which, if they were located in England, would be colossal fortunes for their owners, are at present absolutely valueless, owing to their geographical position.
Concerning Western Australia, Mr. Hardman says -
In the Weld Range, at the head of the Roderick River, is the celebrated “ Wilgie Myah,” said to be probably one of the richest iron lodes in the world. The deposit consists almost entirely of haematite. This lode has been extensively worked for raddle by the aborigines.
Mr. Johnstone speaks of the Tasmanian ores, and by this time I think there is. no question as to their extent or quality. Indeed there can be no room for doubt that the raw material for the manufacture of iron is fairly well distributed over the whole of this continent. Who can say that in future other deposits equal to those with which we are acquainted will not be discovered? They may lie hidden beneath the surface and may be revealed at any moment. In Australia we have all the materials to hand for the successful manufacture of iron. The honorable member for New England asks how it is that with all these deposits available the iron industry has not been developed? The answer is a very easy one, and is furnished by Coghlam., who shows that the quantity of manufactured iron imported into the Commonwealth represents a value of £6,000,000, or £7,000,000 annually. Of course that amount relates to every kind of manufacture into which iron enters. Under the headings of pig, bar, puddled, galvanized, hoop, plate, and sheet iron, and rails, may be classed all the iron which is affected by this Bill, the total importations of which into Australia for 1899 aggregated only 182,000 tons. Clearly, therefore, until the artificial barriers which formerly existed between the States had been removed, there was no market to attract the necessary capital and equipment for the production of this metal within the Commonwealth. That is the reason why the virgin deposits in the various States have remained unworked and untouched. There has not been the attraction of a large market to justify the expenditure necessary to obtain the requisite plant. Now, however, that these barriers have been removed, we find capitalists nibbling at the bait which the Government propose. Undoubtedly these ironworks will be established irrespective of whether or not a bonus is granted, because there is now a sufficient market available to attract the capital necessary for the purchase of an uptodate plant. We are told that one company proposes to spend £1,000,000 in laying down machinery which will produce 150,000 tons of iron annually. That is the answer to the question put by the honorable member for New England. If one modern plant will manufacture enough iron to satisfy the requirements of the whole of Australia, where was the commercial motive to erect machinery in any State to supply the requirements of that State only ? That is why the establishment of this industry has been deferred year after year pending the accomplishment of federation. That is the reason why capitalists have now gone to work and have these enterprises well in hand. We all know that Mr. Sandford, of the Lithgow Iron Works, who went to England some time ago, has succeeded in floating his venture into a company, possessing a capital of £750,000, and which proposes to erect a couple of up-to-date blast furnaces in the vicinity of Lithgow for the purpose of working the ores which Mr. Jacquet has shown to exist there in payable quantities. The question is - “Can this be accomplished without the assistance proposed by the Minister for Trade and Customs? Can it be achieved apart altogether from Governmental interference?”
– They are risking £750,000 upon it.
– Yes ; upon the faith of these proposals.
-How does the Minister know that ?
– I know it by cable from Mr. Sandford.
– Has the right honorable gentleman received a cable that the flotation of the company is dependent upon the passage of this Bill ?
– No; I shall read the cable presently.
– New South Wales possesses a population of 1,250,000, whereas the Commonwealth has a population of between 3,000,000 and 4,000,000. Surely people who argue that industries ought to exist within the Commonwealth upon the same scale as those of America cannot know anything about the history of the latter country ! We have heard a great deal during this debate concerning the giant strides made in the production of pig iron in America. It is quite true that such strides have been made in that connexion. But is that the result of the Tariff? Only last night the honorable member for New England quoted certain figures, andsaid in a cock-a-hoop style, “ This is what has been done in America,” assuming that the progress made was the result of the operation of the Tariff. Now it is well known that during the whole of the last century duties ranging in some instances from 50 per cent. to 75 per cent. were operative upon iron in America, and yet in 1865, after having enjoyed 65years of protection, America, with a population of 35,000,000, as large a population as that of Great Britain at the present time, produced only 905,000 tons of pig-iron. That is the test of what protection will do for the production of pig-iron.
– I suppose that the protection afforded was not effective. America has only enjoyed protection for about 40 years.
– That statement is utter nonsense, and the honorable member must be ignorant of the history of America. If the honorable member knows anything of history he must know that in the early part of the century there was very heavy protection, and the result, with a population nearly equal to that of England to-day, was the production of only 900,000 tons of pig-iron in 1865.
– I suppose that would be worth over £15,000,000 at that time?
– The honorable member is quite wrong. I am not speaking of finished iron, but of pig-iron, which is worth about £2 or £3 a ton.
– But we are speaking of 40 years ago.
– No doubt iron was dearer at that time, but it would not be worth anything like the amount mentioned by the honorable member for Echuca. The figures clearly prove that the production of iron does not depend on protective duties as such. Why is it that the production of American iron has increased so largely in recent years? It is not because of the greater stimulus given by protective duties, but because of the application of science to industrial enterprise. In Belgium there have been protective duties all down the century, and we in this House constantly hear of Belgian competition : but notwithstanding measures to stimulate iron production, the result in that country is only a little over 1,000,000 tons per annum. Prance has magnificent coal-fields and deposits of iron ore, and yet the total production there, after centuries of protection, is only about 2,000,000 tons per annum. If protection is the cause of the flourishing industries in America, why does it not stimulate the production of iron in various other countries ? We are told that America is likely to knock England right out of the market ; but the figures certainly do not give any indication of the kind. According to the Canadian Year Book, the production of pig-iron in the British Isles in 1899 was 10,000,000 tons, and in America 15,000,000 tons. America with 100 per cent, more population produced 50 per cent, more pig-iron, and yet that is quoted as a magnificent triumph for protection over free-trade. It is claimed by the Minister for Trade and Customs that Canada affords a striking illustration of the success of the bonus principle. The singular fact is that in Canada, in 1S84, before bonuses were even talked of, the industry was thoroughly well established, and was producing 36 per cent, of the total consumption. Stimulating the industry for a period of 16 years has increased the proportion from only 36 per cent, to 50 per cent.
– It is a little more than 50 per cent.
– In the meantime I suppose there has been an increasing population which affords a set-off against the increased production. There would have been an increase of production in any case. At the present time Canada imports 65,000 tons of pig-iron per annum, although the bonuses have been increased twice.
– What does the honorable member think is the increase in population in Canada since the bonus principle was introduced ?
– I should say about 25 per cent. - from 4,000,000 odd to 5,000,000 odd.
– It is not half that ; it is from 4,700,000 to 5,300,000.
– The Minister is quite wrong. The increase is over a million. I obtained my figures from the Canadian Year Book. In Canada, no more iron is being made from the native ores than was made when the bonus system was first applied. The system may possibly have led to the making of more iron in Canada ; at any rate, more is being produced. I do not say that duties do not, to some extent, stimulate industries. I am prepared . to admit that any industry. can be stimu-j lated, whether or not it be native to the soil and adapted to the climate and conditions of the country. It is entirely a question of cost. The effect in Canada has been that while more iron has been manufactured in the shape of pig-iron, the imports of iron have also increased. Canada to-day is importing 40 per cent, of her requirements, although there has been stimulation by means of bonuses and duties for the last sixteen years. Taken altogether this is a . poor result ; and a singular fact has to be noticed. In 1S84 all the iron ore used in the industry was, so far as we know, mined in Canada, but the operation of the bonus has enabled those engaged in the industry to import ores from outside. The result is that to-day no more iron ore is min d in Canada than there was at the time of the application of the bonus system. On the other hand, we find that whereas in 1893 there were 125,000 tons of iron ore mined, only 74,000 tons were mined in 1899. Further, while Canada at one time exported 50,000 tons of iron ore per annum, all such exportation has now practically ceased. When the bonus was first put on they mined 36 per cent, of the whole amount used. Now they only mine 20 per cent, of their total requirements. Afew more iron-workers have been employed, but there has been a corresponding diminution in the number of miners ; there has been a displacement of labour, rather than any augmentation of the total. The example of Canada, I submit, does not prove the value of a bonus. On the other hand, we see that the bonus has not helped the industry forward so far as was expected by its advocates. The bonus was increased twice, but there has been no increase in the number of those engaged in mining iron ore in Canada. The miner has gone to Newfoundland and elsewhere to find work. It may be said that Newfoundland is practically within the Dominion : but it would be poor consolation for us in Australia to know that our miners had been, compelled to go, for instance, to New Zealand. I think the facts I have cited dispose of the idea that duties or bonuses will lead to any great stimulus of the iron industry. The question which has to be faced is- - can we compete with other countries of the world in making pig-iron 1 On that point I desire to quote the report of Mr. Jacquet, who inquired as to the possibility of working our iron ore deposits on a commercial basis. The total cost of producing a ton of pig-iron at Pittsburg, reports Mr. Jacquet, is £1 12s. 5½d. As honorable members will observe, this is a low price, but although that is somewhat against my argument, I quote it. Mr. Jacquet, proceeding with the comparison, tells us that the cost at Middlesborough, in England, would be £2 12s. 2d., and at Lithgow £2 7s. 7d. ; in other words it is5s. lower at Lithgow than at Middlesborough. We have been told that we require protection in the iron industry, because of the sweated labor of the continent ; we hear that in every speech which the Minister makes. But the fact is that where labor is paid at the highest rate of all, namely, America, there is cheapest production, the result of the application of science to production.
– Are the wages highest in protectionist countries ?
– So it is said on the other side. On this point I take the statements of honorable members on the other side, though in many other industries in America the wages are so low that it is said we require protection against them. In any case, we have the singular result that although wages are higher in America, the total cost of production is very low. The ore cost in Pittsburg, America, is £1 1s. per ton; in Middlesborough, England, £1 9s. 7d. per ton ; and in Lithgow, 18s. 7d. per ton. The cost of obtaining the coke required to manufacture a ton of pig iron is estimated at 5s. 7d. in Pittsburg, and at 15s. 10½d. in Middlesborough. Honorable members opposite have spoken of England’s immense natural advantages for the manufacture of iron ; but, as a matter of fact, she is struggling against more natural and artificial disadvantages than any other country in the world, and, in my opinion, if she did not keep her ports open for the raw materials of other places, she could not continue to exist. The labour cost of making a ton of pig iron is estimated at 2s. in America, at 3s. in England, and at 6s. in Australia. Remembering what we have heard about the labour conditions in America, it is rather singular that the labour cost in America should be only onethird of the labour cost in Australia. Finally,1s. per ton is set down for repairs, and another1s. per ton for sundries in both America and England, but 2s. a ton is allowed for repairs, and 2s. a ton for sundries in Australia. In the final result, however, it is shown that at Lithgow we can produceiron for 5s. per ton less than is paid in Middlesborough, England. Honorable members may say that that is not cheap enough to meet the American competition. My reply to that is that they are doing very well in America to produce pig iron for £1 1 2s. 5½d. per ton ; and England to-day was never busier in this industry. Despite the American competition she is producing 10,000,000 tons of pig iron yearly, and surely we, with our greater advantages, could produce 150,000 tons a year. I do not agree with all the figures in the report which I have read. The cost of getting coal, and of making coke is a thing that I know a little about. Mr. Jacquet sets down the cost of a ton of coke at Lithgow at 15s.; but I know that the Broken Hill Company are making coke atIllawarra for 9s. a ton, although they have to pay a high price for their coal, and in Lithgow coke could be made still more cheaply. For that reason I would reduce Mr.Jacquet’s estimate by at least 7s. 7d. The figures I have read prove incontestably that there is no natural bar to the commercial production of iron in Australia, at good rates of wages for the men employed, and with a good profit upon the capital invested. It may be objected by honorable members opposite that without protection the manufacturersof other countries will swamp our markets with their iron, in order to ruin our local enterprise before it gets thoroughly established. In dealing with that objection, I come to speak to the amendment of the honorable member for Bland . The whole question to my mind is - should we, to prevent our manufacturers from being ruined by ordinary trade competition,pay them hard cash in the shape of bonuses and protect them by import duties ; or should we establish this industry under the control and direction of the Government? In my opinion, it would be better for us to make the industry of making pig iron a national one. I do not say that I am in favour of the nationalization of all industries, but I see no objection whatever to the Commonwealth undertaking the work of manufacturing pig iron, and supplying it to the people of Australia. If we must provide money out of the public exchequer for the establishment of this industry, it is better that we should employ our own labour, and reap the profits of the enterprise, than allow private capitalists to come in. I see nothing incongruous in the nationalization of the industry, though, in my opinion, it would be wrong to pay £324,000 to private individuals to help them to compete against foreign capitalistic combinations. Much as I regret having to record my vote in opposition to the wishes of some of my constituents, I feel that I should take the larger view in this matter, as I have consistently taken that view in regard oto other industrial enterprises. I therefore propose to vote for the the amendment, so that an inquiry may be made as to the advisability of establishing national pig-ironworks. What would happen if the Bill were carried as it stands 1 We are told that the Blyth River Company intend to lay down a sufficiently large plant to produce enough pig-iron to meet the requirements of the Commonwealth, and I know that Mr. Sandford, at Lithgow, is getting to work in an enterprising manner, for which he deserves all credit. If we buttress these firms with bonuses and protective duties, it seems to me that at a very early date they will combine to secure the control of the market of Australia, at profitable prices. It would be a question between competition or combination, and no doubt they would combine. The constitutional objection is also worthy of inquiry. Legal members opposite have argued that the establishment of national ironworks would be unconstitutional ; but the zest with which they argued it suggests that there is some doubt upon the point. The research and arguments of the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs would not have been necessary if the point were obvious, and I think, therefore, that inquiries should be made so that we may ascertain the opinions of other legal minds. Personally I do not believe that there is any constitutional difficulty. I prefer that national pig-iron works should be inaugurated. During my political life I have always moved in the direction of trying to bring about the establishment of this industry. The report which I have read shows the location and the commercial value of our iron ores, and proves that we can make iron as well and as cheaply as it can be made anywhere else in the world, even America, if we take the cost of freight into account. As other nations whom it costs more to produce pig-iron than it costs America can withstand the competition of that country, we may do so also.
Therefore I am in favour of the Commonwealth taking this industry under its control, in preference to paying cash to privateindividuals, and I shall vote in the first instance for the investigation necessary toensure that being done upon a sound and certain basis.
– The honorable member for Parramatta has made a very interesting speech, and has supplied information which has dispelled any lingeringdoubts I might have had with reference tothe desirableness of supporting the measure. I thought that the Minister for Trade and Customs had not given us sufficient information regarding our iron resources ; but the honorable member for Parramatta has. shown us that there are practically illimitable supplies of iron ore available in New South Wales, .Tasmania, and Western Australia. The honorable member has asked why the iron works hitherto established have not been successful 1 The answeris to be found in the fact that we werenot a united people. One of the strongest arguments urged in favour of federation wasthat as a united people we should have betteropportunities presented to us for the development of our natural resources. It hasbeen argued that the Commonwealth would risk an enormous amount of money if thepresent proposal were adopted, but honorable members seem to have forgotten that the payment of the bonuses will depend entirely upon the success achieved by themanufacturers. The Government will takeno risk whatever, as no outlay on their part will be involved unless the works are successful. The risk will be taken by thosewho embark in the enterprise, while the Statewill derive a large share of any benefit that may flow from success. If the companieswhich establish iron works have to invest an enormous amount of capital, we may fairly agree to pay them a small bonus upon their products. I hope more information will bepresented to us, and that the regulationsunder which the bonuses are to be paid will be submitted before the Bill is considered in committee. I am not in favour of the Stateundertaking the establishment of iron works, as my experience is entirely opposed to any such an idea. The Government cannot carry on such works so cheaply or so well as can private individuals, because of the political influence and other conditions to which they are subject. I shall vote for the second, reading of the Bill.
– (In reply). - I should like to thank the honorable member for Parramatta for his very interesting contribution to the debate. The facts which the honorable member has brought forward show conclusively the importance and necessity of affording some encouragement to the iron industry, if our manufacturers are to successfully compete with those in foreign countries. I did not exhaust Mr. Jacquet’s report, but when the Tariff was under discussion I directed the attention of honorable members to several valuable passages in it.. The honorable member for Parramatta has quoted from the report in a connexion which is of the utmost importance, and has shown that our manufacturers cannot compete without assistance against countries which produce iron at much less cost. The cost of making one ton of iron in America is given as £1 12s. 5½d., against £2 7s. 7d. in Australia.
– I say about £2 is the cost of production in Australia.
– There is a difference, according to Mr. Jacquet, between 32s. and 47s. The cost of producing iron in Australia is, therefore, nearly 50 per cent. greater than in America.
– I hope that is not true ; if it is, it will kill the proposal.
– It is not true.
– Does the honorable member say that we are not to credit Mr. Jacquet’s report? Mr. Jacquet comes before us as a gentleman who was specially authorized by the honorable member for Parramattato report upon the iron resources of Australia ? He was armed with authority to go abroad and examine the geological deposits, and to collect all the information he possibly could upon the subject. Mr. Jacquet, if he had no particular knowledge upon the question of cost, must have felt it his clear duty to explore all possible sources of information. He would never have dreamt of putting his name to a report of this description unless he had collected all the available information. When he tells us of the difference in the cost of production in America and Australia, he communicates a most important fact, and, even though his figures may properly be discounted, honorable members cannot contend that our producers could possibly compete without assistance against America, the greatest of iron-producing countries at this time. Therefore it is abundantly proved that we should do something to help our local producers.
– What will be the use of a 10 per cent. duty?
– However much the figures quoted by Mr. Jacquet may be discounted, honorable members cannot but realize that there is a great difference in the cost of production in America and in Australia, and that our producers cannot compete without reasonable assistance.
– The Minister cannot ask for 50 per cent. bonuses.
– We are not asking for 50 per cent. or for anything that is unreasonable.
– The Minister is not asking for enough, according to his own argument.
– We desire to have the iron industry established here, and if we can produce iron at a less cost than is estimated by Mr. Jacquet it will be so much the better for us. It is amusing to hear honorable members quoting Mr. Jacquet as an authority at one time, and discounting his statements at another. His report is a very valuable one, especially with regard to the geological features of our mineral deposits. Perhaps it does not possess the same value with regard to matters upon which Mr. Jacquet does not speak with authority, but from research amongst authorities. The report, however, is that of a man of high intelligence, who has exercised due care in the collection of his information, and has reported the results as they appeared to him. Some honorable members seem to object to the scantiness of the Bill, but its appearance does not convey any idea of the amount of trouble involved in its preparation. We have proceeded to a very great extent on Canadian lines, and the Canadian Act of 1894 - of course, there have been others - is a very short and simple document. The Canadian regulations also are very simple. They provide for certain proof of compliance with the provisions of the Act with regard to the earning of the bonuses. Honorable members will not desire unnecessary provisions to be introduced into the Bill, but we shall be happy to afford the fullest opportunities for bringing forward any suggestions, and will cheerfully adopt any alterations which will have the effect of improving the measure. With regard to the suggestion of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne that the regulations should prescribe the hours of labour and the wages of the workmen employed in the proposed iron works, we know that there is already some provision on the subject. We hope that conciliation and arbitration boards may do a great deal in that direction. We believe that manufactures should not be conducted in the interests of the manufacturers only, but that they should confer benefits upon the vast number of workers engaged in them. We shall discuss the suggestion of the . honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne from that stand-point, and if we cannot conceive of any better way of dealing with the matter, we shall adopt it. Honorable members will find that, as regards the form of the Bill and the nature of the regulations, we shall be disposed to meet their wishes as fully as possible. Now, what has been established by this debate? It has been shown beyond the shadow of a doubt that it is highly desirable that iron works should be established within the Commonwealth, and that, equally in view of the figures I have quoted as to the cost of production, it is necessary to afford encouragement and assistance to them. The iron industry is valuable, not only in itself, but on account of its relation to other industries, and its establishment would be a good thing for the manufacturers and their employes, and also the manufacturers and employes in various other incidental industries, and the Commonwealth generally. There is no room for doubt that in Australia we have abundant deposits of iron and flux of the necessary quality, so that if we can overcome the difficulty presented by outside competition, there is a fair promise of the enterprise being successfully established. It has been urged that we do not possess very much information upon this subject. I venture to consider that we have all the information which it is possible to gather in connexion with such a matter. There are two ways, I take it, in which the iron industry can be assisted, namely, by the imposition of a protective duty, or by the payment of a bonus. We do not propose to levy a protective duty at the present moment, because we think that, owing to the production of iron in Australia being short of Commonwealth requirements such a course would result in its price being unduly raised to chose who have occasion to use it. Our idea is that at the outset no duty should be imposed, but that we should simply hold out a promise of reward upon the successful establishment of the industry, limiting the amount, and also the time during which such reward is to operate. Moreover, power is given to both Houses to call into existence a protective duty of 10 percent, for the maintenance of the enterprise when, in their opinion, it shall have been successfully established. The very smallness of the duty, and the fact of it being imposed only after the industry has become established, should banish the fear of results which might otherwise attend the initial stages if we attempted encouragement by imposing a duty before there was a sufficient local production. In this connexion we can only point to the teachings of history. I do not intend to deal with the various instances ‘which have been stated by honorable members at different times. Much of what I might have ha’d to say upon certain figures for the purpose of removing any misconception has been rendered unnecessary by the explanation of the honorable and learned member for Illawarra. Of course, a difference between dollars and tons or pounds is of very grave consequence, although the mistake into which the honorable and learned member fell is very excusable. It is not necessary for me to analyze his figures, which made it appear that the Canadian local production was a very small matter compared with the total consumption of that country. That is not the case, but entirely the reverse. The simple facts are that between 18S3, when no bonus was operative, and 1900 the manufacture of iron from Canadian ore increased from 29,000 tons to 34,000 tons. Of almost equal importance was the increase of iron manufactured in Canada from ore brought from Newfoundland. In 1883 there was no iron manufactured from Newfoundland ore, but in 1900 the quantity so produced represented 67,000 tons. There has been a total increase from 1SS3 to 1900 of about 72,000 tons annually in the iron manufactured in Canada. I ask honorable members what an increase of that sort means? Let us look at the matter from the point of view of whether Canada has become more self-supporting in regard to her total iron manufactures. What are the figures?
In 1884 she produced only 36 per cent, of what she required, whereas in 1900 her production had risen to 60 per cent. - almost 61 percent. - an increase of 50 per cent, as compared with the 36 per cent, which she originally produced. In other words, out of her total consumption of 167,000 tons, Canada is now producing 102,000 tons. These are very satisfactory figures, and if we could only quote them today in respect of Australia, we should have every reason to be glad. I would remind honorable members that Canada put her hand to this work at a time when her population was not much greater than that of Australia to-day. Shall Australia lag behind in an industry which is admitted to be most important, which is the foundation of all other industries and manufactures, and which gives more employment than any other which can possibly be named ? Various means have been adopted to defeat this Bill. There are members who are sincerely desirous of obtaining further information upon this matter, but who, at the same time, have a warm sympathy with the establishment of the iron industry. If they had to choose between indefinite delay and abandoning the cry for further inquiry they would be only too glad to adopt the latter course, profiting by what we know of history and the record of British people in the sister federation of Canada. There are others who entertain no such idea, who do not believe in the principle of bonuses, and who are entirely opposed to Government interference with industrial concerns, either by the imposition of protective duties or by the granting of bonuses. They say - “ Let each take its chance, and if an industry cannot survive competition it must wait till it can.” They urge that no protection or encouragement should be given to industries in the first instance. I realize that there are some honorable members who desire to see the iron industry established in our midst - and I know that many of them may be found voting against me to-day - who would not dream of making the cry for delay a pretext for refusing aid at a time when it is most urgently needed - namely, in the initiation of our federal industrial history, when eyes generally are turned towards us, and people outside recognise the possibilities of Australian trade. I say to them - “Be careful what you do upon an occasion such as this. Remember those with whom you are found voting. If you see that you are leagued with those who have no sympathy with industrial encouragement, beware of the result of any such joint action. Recollectthat if you carry the amendment of the honorable member for Bland you negative the second reading of this Bill, and there is no certainty that you will be able to carry anything else in its place.”
– There is very little certainty in this world.
– There is only death and taxes. I represent the taxes at this time, with ‘the result that many anathemas are showered upon my head. I ask those who desire to see this industry established, whether, if they join with others who refuse to give it Government aid, they are not likely to sacrifice present possibilities for a “ mess of pottage.”
– We want to know something about the probable success of this Bill.
– Then vote for it. That is the only way in which its success, or otherwise, can be absolutely proved. I intend to practically demonstrate that the enactment of this legislation cannot fail to be a success so far as the community is concerned. Now as to the demand for further inquiry? What is to be the nature of that inquiry ? I tell honorable members that we shall never get a final decision upon the question of law which has been raised until the High Court of Australia is established, and the sooner that takes place the better. Upon various occasions, in construing different sections of the Constitution, I have experienced so much trouble that I should have welcomed the existence of the High Court, so that the point in doubt might have been decided without unnecessary delay. Any law is preferable to a condition of uncertainty, and until we have a High Court in our midst which is readily accessible, swift to judgment, and which can decide any point submitted to it, the working of the Constitution will be subject to doubts and difficulties which very much embarrass Ministers, as doubtless they do honorable members. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne put it that there is no power in the Constitution which permits of ‘the Commonwealth embarking upon any manufacturing industry.
– Agreement is the difficulty in a case of this sort.
– I am sure the honorable member does not mean what he says. Party man as I undoubtedly am, on a question of law, or of fact, I have no right to express anything but my honest opinion, for which I hope honorable members give me credit. I do not wish to commit the Attorney-General to my particular view, and no doubt, if necessary, he will express his own opinion in due course. But I think I am not expressing an opinion from which he dissents when I say that as regards those industries which are essential or incidental to the execution of our powers, we can undoubtedly undertake them. For instance, we might very well establish an arsenal for the manufacture of the munitions of war, and if we possessed the railways, we might build our own steam-engines and make our own rails. But I do not think we have any right to go to the extent of indulging in general manufacture - to enter into the trade of buying and. selling. That is a much larger power than was intended to be given in the Commonwealth.
– What was intended is not the criterion.
– I can assure the honorable member that it is the intention to which we must look. The rule in the interpretation of Acts of Parliament is to consider what can we gather may have been the intention of Parliament? Applying that rule to a question of this sort, I think we may give a full and right construction to every line and letter in the Constitution when we hold that we may do what is reasonable and necessary, and that which is properly and fairly incidental to our powers, but that we cannot go to the extent of entering on general trade or manufacture. In establishing federation Australia never intended to create a body which could compete with private or State enterprise in every branch of trade, irrespective of whether such a course was necessary or incidental to anyof the powers specified in the Constitution.
– That does not extend to supplying the needs of the States.
– I venture to think it would be difficult to sustain the proposition that we have power to supply the requirements of the various States Governments, for whom we are under no obligation to do anything of the sort, to the extent of competing with and probably beating out of the market private individuals.
– There are no private individuals in this industry.
– There are or there will be; but I do not desire to labour the point. My view is that the Commonwealth, in order to make this industry pay, would have to indulge in general manufacture. We could not profitably limit our operations to those manufactures which we require ourselves, or even to those which the States might be willing to buy. I do not believe that this power was, or was ever intended to be, conferred on the Commonwealth . No question of the kind ever came up at any of the conventions, and it would be a surprise, almost a shock, to the people of Australia to find that they had created a monster trading machine in the shape of the Commonwealth Government.
– Remember the powers read into the American Constitution by the courts.
– No doubt very large powers have been read, and properly read into the American Constitution by the courts. I trust that in due course we shall have a court of our own capable of reading powers into the Australian Constitution, so that development shall not be unduly harassed. At the same time, I hope that there will never be assumed by the Federal Parliament, even on judicial decisions, powers never intended, and the exercise of which might be bitterly resented. We cannot ascertain the law by means of a select committee. One way, in which there is no unnecessary expense, is to call in the aid of the law officers of the Crown ; indeed, the whole legal profession of Australia is open to us, if we desire an opinion. We might even go elsewhere, though I hope we shall never haveoccasion to go out of Australia for an opinion on Australian law. But we could not drag lawyers before a select committee, and crossexamine them on such a subject.
– Could not one of the State Supreme Courts be vested with federal jurisdiction ?
– Without in the slightest degree reflecting on the high judicial ability and impartiality of the State courts, I am inclined to think, in view of the relations between the States and the Commonwealth, that it would be just as well to have a tribunal of our own of the highest character, not attached to any particular State, but a High Court of Australia, which would be the guardian of the interests of the States and of the Commonwealth. It would be a pity to delay constituting that court, because, as soon as possible, we require interpretations which are fair and full, turning neither to the right nor to the left, and such as can be expected only from a court able to give its whole time and attention to the consideration of federal laws. As to our position with regard to taking up the business of Government iron manufacturers, honorable members will agree with me that we cannot expect to obtain much information from a committee. If honorable members will only give a hint as to what further information they require, and it is possible to obtain it, I shall be only be too glad to comply with their request ; but we cannot get the definition we desire until we have a competent court constituted. If it is proposed to inquire as to the effect of the Bill on the States, there is not a shadow of doubt that every provision is made for the enjoyment by any State of the full benefit of the bonus ; there is nothing to prevent the bonus going to any State which undertakes the industry. The bonus is payable on production, just as under the Customs Act duties are payable on importation. So long as there is no exemption in favour of the States in the Customs Act or the Tariff, so long can we collect duties on goods imported by the States. And with regard to a Bonus Bill, so long as there is no exclusion of the States from its benefits, so long are the States equally entitled with the general public. There is no doubt whatever that some exemption is required to place the States on any other basis than that applicable to the community generally. It has been suggested that the word “ person “ in the clause which declares that there shall be a return laid on the table of the House every year showing the number of persons who havereceived a bonus, shows that the States were not intended to be included. That is not so, seeing that the word “ person “ is used in the sense given in the Interpretation Act, section 22 of which provides - “Person” and “party “shall include a body politic or corporate as well as an individual.
I know of no words which more properly include a State as a State than “ body politic.” It seems to me that we cannot undertake this industry ourselves, and I see no good in making any inquiries so far as the powers of the Commonwealth in this connexion are concerned. I go further, and ask - What is the good of inquiring whether or not, as a matter of policy, the States should undertake the industry ? Do honorable members not think that this is a matter into which the States could themselves inquire? Do honorable members not think that to enter upon such an inquiry would render us liable to be told to mind our own business ? If there is one matter more than another as to which we should be careful it is that there shall be no intrusion by the Commonwealth into matters which are not properly within our jurisdiction. Fancy the position of the committee which proceeded to make inquiries throughout the States. We know what sort of answer we got lately when, at the very proper instigation of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, we asked the States to relegate to us a certain power, which we all agreed could be more effectively exercised by us, namely, the power of enacting factory legislation. We were then practically told to mind our own business ; and would that not be a very natural retort if we proceeded to make such an inquiry as is now suggested? The States would tell us that they had not lost the power of appointing their own committees, and that if the Commonwealth had no power to embark in manufactures of the kind, they had no power to send out a committee to make inquiries on behalf of the States. We should be exposed at the very least to a good-natured rebuff, which it would be just as well to avoid.
– That is not all the committee would do; the object would be to inquire into the probable effects of the Bill.
– I am not speaking as one who has no sympathy with State enterprise. The very reverse. My old West Adelaide colleague, the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor, reminds me that in the past I have not hesitated to strike out upon new lines in order to favour State enterprise, and my experience in South Australia of the benefits to be derived from it was of a character to encourage further advance on the same path. I would sooner see the iron industry established by the Government than by any company or individual. Honorable members know that I am not making these statements simply to tickle their ears. My past record shows what my opinions are. I hold these opinions because I believe that the State, by saving the profits of the middlemen, can carry on an enterprise of this kind better and more cheaply than can a private company, and because the benefits arising from State enterprise are shared by the whole of the people. I should be only too delighted to see a greater distribution of wealth than obtains under present conditions. But let those who rail, as people are sometimes inclined to rail, against big companies, and who speak about collectivism, remember that in a company comprising many shareholders there is a nearer approach to collectivism than in many instances of individual effort.
– But the big companies hit the community pretty hard at times.
– I am not going to be drawn into a general discussion of the subject. I have allowed honorable members to know my personal sentiments in this matter, and I am sure that the Government generally would rejoice to see the benefits of any industry shared amongst the whole people rather than monopolized by a few. It is very seldom that my name is mentioned in connexion with monopolies, and I shall never object to it being mentioned in the good-humoured way in which it was mentioned by the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor. But the iron monopoly would be founded upon a very frail basis if, at the expiration of a short period, it found that its only barrier against the competition of the outside world was import duties of 10 per cent., and that the continuance of those duties depended upon the will of Parliament.
– They would ask for more assistance, and would get it.
– It may be that wisdom will die with us ; but, personally, I am prepared to attribute to succeeding generations of parliamentarians as much intelligence as we possess. I say -“ Do not attempt to unnecessarily tie the hands of future Parliaments. Give them credit for good sense in this matter.” Is it not rather a pity that we should attempt at this moment to lay down lines to be followed through all time? With a barrier of only 10 percent. against the competition of the outside world any local iron monopoly could have no opportunity to exact extortionate prices. It remains for us to consider what is left for the proposed select committee to investigate. As regards the legal aspect there is nothing, or, at any rate, there is an easier way of determining the question ; and in regard to the facts of the case, so far as the States are concerned, that is a matter for them to inquire into, and one which a federal committee could not investigate. We propose, by guaranteeing on certain terms a reasonable return upon their production, to provide inducements for either the States or private individuals to embark upon the iron industry. Assuming that pig-iron is worth £3 5s. or £3 10s. per ton, a bonus of 12s. 6d. per ton is equivalent to less, than 20 per cent. upon its value. What is suggested in lieu of the Government proposal ? A committee, a conference ; postponement, delay ! Practically nothing! Our proposals have been met with many objections. Some say that a bonus of less than 20 per cent. is too little, others that it is too much, and others again that assistance should be given in another way. To this last objection I wish honorable members to devote special consideration. It was said by one honorable member that it would be better to proceed upon the lines’ upon which the Maffra beet-sugar experiment proceeded, or to advance the necessary money. But what might be the result of that? We might advance a huge sum to be expended upon buildings, machinery, and plant, and get nothing in return, because the industry had proved a failure. But if what we propose is adopted, what will follow ? We know that the. works required for the production of iron are very expensive. The cost has been variously stated. One company puts it at £1,000,000, and another at £750,000. I am prepared to discount those figures, and to take the probable cost as £500,000. Whoever undertakes the establishment of the iron industry must spend £500,000 upon the construction of works before they can draw a penny by way of bonus. But they will have to do still more. They will have to make the industry a success before they can receive a bonus. Two hundred and fifty thousand pounds is a large amount, but it is only 12s. 6d. a ton, and 400,000 tons of pig-iron must be produced before any company can claim that amount.
– It will not be necessary to produce 400,000 tons of iron, because the bonus will be paid on the production of steel as well as of bar-iron.
– 400,000 tons of iron, assuming pig-iron to be worth £3 5s. per ton, would be worth £1,300,000, whereas 400,000 tons of steel, assuming steel to be worth about £6 per ton, would be worth from £2,000,000 to £2,500,000. Therefore, before this bonus of £250,000 could be claimed, £500,000 would have to be expended upon buildings and plant, and a finished and marketable product, worth if iron £1,300, 000, or, if steel, from £2,000,000 to £2,500,000, would have to be manufactured. £250,000 is only one-eighth, or 12£ per cent., of £2,000,000. What we propose is, to reward by bonuses amounting to £250,000, manufacturers who have laid out upon buildings and plant £500,000 in good hard cash, and have produced, say about £2,000,000 worth of iron and steel from the native ore. It has been said - “ There is no hurry. Leave the ore in the ground. We can dig it out at any time.” But that ore is of no use to us so long as it remains in the bowels of the earth. Not only will those who embark in this industry have to dig out and smelt the iron ore; they will have to procure fluxes, such as limestone, and mine for coal, and make coke. I put it to honorable members which is better : To at the earliest moment take the risk of loss, and advance money that we may never see again ; or to enter into an arrangement, such as I have described, whereby we hold out a hope of a reward after ten times its price has been expended in giving wages to Australian workmen, and in manufacturing an article of value to the whole community, subject to the condition that the enterprise is successfully established? If we could bring about that expenditure at once, would we not willingly and gladly pay down the £250,000 to do so ? But we shall not have to expend .one penny until we see what the position really is. Is it possible for honorable members to halt between two opinions as to the better course to pursue 1 No. I think that they will unhesitatingly decide in favour of reasonable and proper encouragement being given from the general exchequer for the secure and successful establishment of this industry in our midst. It has been urged by the honorable member for North Sydney that this Bill differs from the Canadian Act in that it offers no bonus for iron manufactured from foreign ores. It has been pointed out that in Canada the necessity arose for some such provision, because Newfoundland, which for all practical purposes is a part of the Dominion, contained very valuable ores which were required for blending purposes.
– That necessity existselsewhere.
– Perhaps so. There is not a very large difference between the areas of Canada and Australia respectively, though the advantage lies with Canada. It may be that excellent ores are to be found in New Caledonia and other places, but it is natural that we should prefer to spend our money in encouraging our own industries. If in addition to stimulating the manufacture of iron we are able to encourage Australian mining, we shall of course confer all the more substantial advantage. As far as I am informed there is no doubt that within the bounds of the Commonwealth we should find ores of all kinds in sufficient quantity for our own purposes.
– Is our ore as fine as that to be found in New Caledonia?
– I arn not prepared to enter into any comparisons, but I contend that it will be much better, anyway in the first instance, to limit the operation of the bounty to iron made from Australian ore, and, from all I hear, I am very sanguine that there will be no occasion for us to go outside. Tasmania may be considered as occupying the same geographical relation to the Australian continent that Newfoundland occupies in regard to the Canadian federation, and inquiries made by competent men establish the fact that in Tasmania there are magnificent deposits of ore of the very best quality. Therefore, I think it would be a great mistake for us to provide for the introduction of foreign ores, to the possible discouragement of Tasmanian mining operations. Let us try, in the first instance, to avoid the in? traduction of foreign ores. From all I have heard regarding the Blyth River iron deposits, they are possibly unequalled for quality and quantity in any other part of the world. A question has been raised as to whether we should have the power to impose duties upon imports belonging to States Governments. I do not propose to dwell upon that point. I believe that we have the power, and I am supported in this belief by the provisions of the Canadian Constitution. Section 1 25 of the Canadian Act provides that no land or property belonging to the Dominion Government or to the government of any province shall be liable to taxation. This almost corresponds with the provision in our own Constitution, which declares that the States shall not impose taxation upon property of any kind belonging to the Commonwealth, and that the Commonwealth shall not impose taxation upon property of any kind belonging to the States. It is held that the provision in the Canadian Constitution does not prevent the imposition of duties on imports, and the wording of the Dominion Constitution is so very similar to our own that a corresponding interpretation would be probably given in our case. However, this is one of the questions which can be determined only by the High Court. It is only fair to point out in this connexion that, duty or no duty, so long as the bookkeeping system prevails it will not matter very much to any State Government whether or not it pays duty upon its imports. It might be important so far as departmental bookkeeping is concerned, but not as it affects the final result in hard cash, because every penny of duty collected is paid back to the States after deducting a lump sum to defray expenses which are properly debited to the States. The matter will become of more importance after the bookkeeping period has elapsed, but until then it will make very little difference whether we refrain from collecting duties on State goods, or collect them and pay them back to the States. Some people have, said that the encouragement which we propose to give is too small. My answer to that objection is that it is better for us to be on the safe side as regards the cost of our little venture, rather than that we should be too lavish. It cannot be seriously contended that our proposal is too lavish, particularly after the figures quoted to-night in regard to the expenses of production. I am not disposed to attach very much importance to the estimate given by Mr. Jacquet as the result of the best information he could obtain, but there is no room for doubt that we cannot produce iron so cheaply as they do in America.
Mr.Fowler. - The Minister is going to tax all the States on that account.
– No I am not. We are proposing to pay out of the national exchequer for a certain time a fixed sum, which can be drawn only if the industry is established. An outlay of from £2,000,000 to £2,500,000 willbe required to successfully establish the industry, and to entitle those engaged in the enterprise to receive the full amount of £250,000.
– Then the duties follow.
– Only when the industry has been successfully established ; that has been stated in good set terms. No honorable member, whether he be free-trader or protectionist, would hesitate to impose a 10 per cent. duty upon the lines of Division VIa. of the Tariff to provide for the maintenance of the industry after it had once been successfully established. The honorable member for North Sydney would not hesitate to grant such support.
– The industry should not need it.
– The honorable member might call it a revenue duty which would be incidentally protective, but I do not think any honorable member who views the matter from a stand-point devoid of party considerations would hesitate to impose a 10 per cent. duty. Comparing all the schemes suggested, the advantage is in favour of that put forward by the Government. We shall avoid all the initial risk. We shall not embark in a hazardous trade. We shall pay, but only on the success of the undertaking. We shall pay a certain sum when the ore is raised, the work done, and the machinery and establishments provided. Our payments cannot represent more than 20 per cent. upon the value of the actual iron or steel produced. This will be the merest fraction compared with the total advantage conferred on the Commonwealth by the establishment of the industry, and the value which will be given to products now lying in the bowels of the earth, and which are not worth any thing until brought to the surface and manufactured into the goods which we hope to produce. No other scheme can compare with that proposed by the Government in affording protection to the Commonwealth and to the manufacturer, without at the same time embarrassing in the slightest degree the consumers of the manufactured article. There might be much more weight in the objection that we are proposingto give insufficient remuneration for the work to be clone. But we have a right to make the best bargain we can on behalf of the whole community. If we can find business men, who are better judges of the possibilities of success than we are, ready to embark upon this enterprise, we ought not to pay them one penny more than they are willing to take, and we ought to impose such reasonable conditions as are necessary to protect the interests of the Commonwealth. Are there men who will accept our offer ? I believe there are.
– If you give them the trade they will do without the bonus.
Mr.KINGSTON.- In view of the magnitude of the iron and steel enterprises elsewhere they would be running a considerable risk if they set to work without a bonus, and the assurance of a duty afterwards. I was only recently looking at Bradstreet’s Journal, which is recognised as a high authority, and I found it there stated that the net earnings of the American steel trust amount to 111,000,000 dollars per annum. The trust declared in dividends 55,000,000 dollars, equal to £11,000,000, and carried 24,000,000 dollars to reserve account. If we can find in Australia any persons who are willing to compete against such gigantic concerns as the American Steel Trust we should encourage them in every fair way. The terms we offer are in no way exorbitant as against the Commonwealth. I know that, to some extent, our position has already occupied the attention of the Americans. In a matter of this sort I have deemed it right and proper to endeavour to ascertain the probabilities of the successful establishment of the industry, and of course those who are interested in the project have not concealed their light under a bushel. We all know that there are two companies likely to engage in the enterprise - one, the Blyth River Company, of which Mr. Jamieson - who is well known to every one as a man of responsibility, being connected with the Broken Hill mines - is the chairman ; and the Lithgow or Eskbank Company, with which Mr. Sandford is associated. Of course, every word that I have said in reference to Mr. Jamieson will apply equally to Mr. Sandford. These gentlemen inform me that, with the encouragement which the Government propose, they believe they can carry on operations. I have not hesitated to question them plainly upon the subject. I have deemed it my duty to do so. I have their assurance that with the encouragement which this Bill proposes to give, an attempt will be made to establish the iron industry. In this connexion I hold in my hand a letter from Mr. Jamieson, dated 11th June, in which he says -
Referring to some of the speeches made last night in the House of Representatives, doubt seemed to be cast upon the likelihood or possibility of the large sum required to successfully create extensive iron works being found by any company. On behalf of the Blythe River Iron Mines Limited, I can confidentially state that should the proposed Bonus Bill and duties as already passed be made law, a company will be at once formed with sufficient cash capital to erect large works of the most modern character, and that this company is willing to prove its bonafides in any way you may deem most desirable. At the same time I may also state that unless the above-mentioned Bill and Tariff become law, there is no likelihood of any company being formed, as the risk would be too great without such an inducement.
I think that is a simple business letter, which, coming from the source that it does, will carry due weight. Honorable members must also recollect that Mr. Jamieson was connected with proposals which were submitted to the New South Wales Government, and was able, without the slightest difficulty, to give proof of his stability and responsibility by cash deposit, which left no room for doubt upon the subject. I received a similar letter upon the 27th May from Messrs. Sandford and Co. Limited as follows . -
We beg to confirm the following telegrams that passed between us yesterday : - Received - “Have you any further information to convey re bonus on iron.” Replied - “Re your telegram; presume new company formed, as per cable, on understanding that proposed Bonus Bill and iron duties pass into law.” We have no doubt whatever that the new company has been formed on the strength of the proposed Bonus Bill and iron duties ;but, pending the full details, we are unable to give any more information. Mr. Sandford will arrive in Sydney in about three weeks’ time, when the fullest particulars will be available.”
These are business letters from business men who have given considerable attention to this matter, and who have already exhibited a keen interest in, and a practical knowledge of, the industry. The success of this industry depends upon what is our attitude with reference to the enterprises for its establishment. That is a point of the greatest importance at any time, and of supreme importance at this time. What shall we do? Shall we sit idly by and refuse to do anything? Let us look at the golden opportunities of to-day - the opening, as it were, of our federal industrial life. History teaches us that the iron industry - the most important of all industries which can possibly be established - has never been established in any country without the fostering care and interest of the Government, exhibited by fiscal aid. In the very nature of things it is impossible that it should be otherwise. Let honorable members consider the large outlay and the risk that is involved in the undertaking. Here we stand to-day. Shall we do nothing? Can we afford to let an opportunity of this sort slip ? There are but two alternatives, one the imposition of a protective duty, the other the payment of a bonus, so often advocated by free-traders, but when attempted to be put into practical use for the benefit of the community, so frequently sought to be set at naught, sneered at and derided by its previous advocates. We cannot adopt a protective duty at the present moment. It would be too big a price to pay in the early stages of our history. Our product is so small that our local wants would be bound to be dependent to some extent on importation, and when importation is necessary, there is the risk- nay, under existing conditions, the certainty - of an addition to the price. Under the circumstances, there is one course only which is open to us, namely, that which we propose. The Government take no risk. Let private enterprise do that. All. that the manufacturers ask for is encouragement, such as few would have the hardihood to refuse if they appreciated the position as keenly as we do, and recognised the necessities of the case. It is a question of granting a bonus for the production of iron or of doing nothing whatever, and, believing that it is of supreme importance that we should do what we can to encourage and establish an industry which will be of permanent benefit to the community, we ask honorable members not to be led away by any specious plea for further inquiry, but to vote for the Bill, and thus place on record their determination to do what theycan for the welfare of the Commonwealth.
Question - That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the question. - put. The House divided -
Ayes … … … 20
Noes … … … 20
– As there will be an immediate opportunity for taking another vote, I vote with the “ Ayes.”
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the Bill be now read a second time - put. The House divided -
Ayes … … … 24
Noes … … … 18
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1. - This Act may be cited as the “Manufacturers Encouragement Act 1902.”
– I should like to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether, after the virtual defeat we have witnessed, as shown by the fact that the Government were not able to carry the measure by their votes, he still intends to proceed with it ? To impose such an important financial policy on the country, in the face of the equal vote which has been recorded, will not tend to the credit of the Ministry. When we have claiming our attention measures which should be passed at the earliest possible date, and seeing that the measure which has been saved only by the “ skin of its teeth “ has no such necessity for haste, I think that if the Minister does determine to proceed, and does try to shackle the country with a policy which has not received the indorsement of this Chamber, he should at least agree to a postponement. This would allow other measures, in regard to whichthere will be found much greater unity of opinion in the Chamber, and in regard to which there is more occasion for legislation, to be proceeded with. It would tend to facilitate business m regard to other measures, and would not injure the progress of this Bill if it were not be proceeded with this evening.
– I think the acting leader of the Opposition is inclined to be a little hasty.
– The Minister is inclined to be very hasty.
– A further discussion of the details of this measure in committee would tend to alleviate any warmth which honorable members may feel. The honorable member has referred to what he calls the “ virtual defeat” of the measure ; but a majority of six is the strangest “virtual defeat” I have heard of for a long time.
– Was the measure not carried on the casting vote of the Speaker?
– It is true that there was a little difference of opinion as to whether or not we ought to have more information. The circumstances were such that the House did not decide in that direction, and then the question arose, naturally enough, as to whether or not the Bill should be read a second time. If there had been a majority against the Bill, honorable members would have so voted.
– The first division was on the Bill.
– No, it was not; and that is the whole mischief. There was a combination against which I have warned honorable members. I told honorable members earlier in the night that there were those who would vote for an inquiry, but who would not vote against the second reading of the Bill.
– Not many ; only two.
– I do not see how the honorable member can reduce a majority of six to two. The Opposition have worked very cleverly and have smoothed out their differences of principle. The Opposition, who are against the Bill “ lock, stock, and barrel,” affected to be animated by a sincere desire for further information which might remove their doubts and enable them to vote for the Bill.
– That is what we are asking for now.
– There was a quiet attempt to wreck the Bill at the earliest possible opportunity; but it was not successful, and the Government have a majority of six. If honorable members of the Opposition were in a similar position to that which I now occupy, what would they do ? They would go on with the committee stage of the Bill.
– No self-respecting Government would. The Bill was saved by the Speaker.
– I enter my protest against the Government proceeding with the Bill, and it is the business of the Government to receive that protest as they like. The Minister for Trade and Customs is indulging in nothing but a quibble when he talks about the second reading of the Bill having been carried by a majority of six.
– Was it not so carried?
– The real vote was on the amendment moved by the honorable member for Bland.
Mr.Kingston. - No it was not.
– Then why did honorable members vote for it?
– I must ask honorable members to confine themselves to the clause.
– If that is the view taken by the Chairman, after the speeches we have heard, I shall have to move that he leave the chair. The Minister for Trade and Customs, and the acting leader of the Opposition have had their say, and I do not see why I should not have mine. Under the circumstances, I move -
That the Chairman do now leave the chair.
The amendment was defeated by the casting vote of the Speaker, and the Minister for Trade and Customs in his heart knows that if he were the leader of the Government he would not proceed with the Bill.
– I should not be “ worth my salt “ if I did not.
– The Minister, had he been leading the Government, would have resigned, but I admit there are circumstances which prevent such a course being taken. With all due respect to the Minister, I think that the Bill should be withdrawn. It is certain that the Bill will be so amended in committee as to render it practically valueless, and this will force the Government to abandon it. Why keep us here, after a session of thirteen months, to discuss a Bill which we know can never become law, or which, if it does become law, will be a dead letter. The Minister will be compelled, before the Bill gets through committee, either to abandon it, or to accept amendments which will make it useless. He told us this afternoon that it would be unconstitutional for the Commonwealth to establish the iron industry as a State enterprise; but when the Ministry wanted to increase the salary of the Governor-General, they did not hesitate to stretch the provisions of the Constitution. Under the circumstances it is only right that we should make a protest against the Government going on with the Bill after the vote which hasbeentaken.
– Whatever views we may take about the merits of the Bill itself, I think it is hardly fair to say that it was carried only by the casting vote of Mr. Speaker. I ask if all who voted for the omission of all the words after the word “ now “ would have voted for the insertion of the words proposed to be inserted?
– All except three. Would not the second reading have been lost but for the casting vote of Mr. Speaker ?
– Seeing that the motion for the second reading was carried by a majority of six, I do not consider that question a pertinent one.
– It is a nice quibble.
– It is a quibble to say that the Bill was carried upon the casting vote of Mr. Speaker. There were honorable members who wished to see the iron industry established, either as a State or Commonwealth monopoly, or by the bonus system provided for in the Bill, and upon the first division they gave, as it were, a preferential vote for the nationalization of the industry, and a “ No. 2 “ vote for the Government proposals. But, when they found that the amendment could not be carried, they availed themselves of the opportunity to vote for the Government proposals. The fact that we have been now thirteen months in session is no reason why we should not proceed without delay with the business before the Chair. I do not think the Government sought the line of least resistance in introducing the Bill at this period of the session. It is conceivable that other Ministries, or indeed another Minister, would not have pushed on with it under the circumstances. But the Government, so long as they continue in office, and have a majority, are entitled to determine what the course of business should be. Even assuming that the Ministry should not have introduced the Bill at this stage of the session, will matters be bettered by a motion of the kind now before the Chair, which has been moved solely for stonewalling purposes?
– I draw attention to the remark of the honorable and learned member.
– I withdraw the expression. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh ; “ but, for the moment, I forgot that the word is unparliamentary. At any rate, we gain nothing by discussing a useless motion which cannot advance business.
– If we must discuss the means by which the Bill has been brought into committee, and we on this side are to be twitted with the statement that two or three of the members who voted for the omission of all the words after the word “ now “ would not have voted for the insertion of the words proposed to be inserted, I would call attention to the fact that a number of those who voted for the second reading and against my amendment, were most unwilling supporters of the Government proposals. The honorable member for Gippsland, for instance, told the House that, despite all the information furnished by the Minister, a great deal more was needed before decisive action should be taken in this matter - a virtual admission that the proposed inquiry by a select committee was the proper course to adopt. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo also stated that he considered the Bill an unwise one under the circumstances, but he was constrained by his respect and admiration for the Ministry, and particularly for the Minister, to vote for the second reading. He, however, indicated that he wished to see the Bill considerably amended in committee before he would agree to go further with it. The honorable members for Melbourne Ports and Bourke both spoke in favour of national ironworks, but as they are always anxious not to carry through what they are in favour of, they voted with the Government. The Minister told us a short time ago that there was no need for further inquiry, and that he, and presumably the House, had exhausted all known means of obtaining information upon the subject. But, although he told us that iron could be produced in other countries . for 50 per cent, less than it would cost to produce it in Australia, he proposes to offer as an inducement to manufacturers to embark upon the enterprise here, a bonus of only 20 per cent., which would leave them, upon his own admission, with a dead loss of 30 per cent, upon their operations.
– I did not adopt Mr. Jacquet’s figures. ,
– The whole trend of the right honorable gentleman’s argument was that the honorable member for Parramatta was not justified in criticising those figures as he did, and that they showed a need for a bonus. If his figures are correct, and he offered a bonus of 50 per cent., he might get some one to take the matter up ; but, with a certain loss of 30 per cent, on every ton of iron put upon the market,
I do not see that that is possible. We may be able to amend the Bill so as to make it fairly satisfactory, but I am rather doubtful upon that point, and the measure should not be proceeded with for the present.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).I think the Government will see the reasonableness of acceding to the- proposal of the honorable member for North Sydney. The Minister has succeeded in carrying the second reading of the Bill upon the casting vote of the Speaker, and he should be satisfied with what he has achieved until some decision is arrived at regarding the provisions of Division VIa. in the Tariff. If those provisions are not agreed to, we may find that we have been wasting time in considering this matter. We might more profitably devote our attention to considering the financial necessities of the Commonwealth, or in discussing the Electoral Bill. In view of the opinions which have been expressed by a majority of honorable members, I do not think the Minister is treating the committee fairly in insisting upon proceeding with the Bill further at present. I am sure that the position of the Ministry ^ will not be strengthened either in- this Chamber, or in the eyes of the community, if they remain obdurate. There is no reason why we should consider this Bill in opposition to the wishes of a majority of honorable members simply because it happens that a syndicate is ready to start operations upon terms’ such as those now proposed.
– The remarks of the last speaker must make a powerful appeal to the Minister for Trade and Customs, because he has been a consistent supporter of the Government. The Bill has been saved by the casting vote of Mr. Speaker, and in view of its importance, and the serious consequences which will ensue to the people of the Commonwealth if it is passed in its present form, I hope the Minister will not persist in his present attempt to have it further dealt with. The honorable and learned member for Corinella apparently possesses the power of psychometry, because he professes to know that some honorable members have cast their vote against the Bill for certain specific reasons which they themselves have not disclosed. The honorable member has relied upon his own inner consciousness for the light which he professes to be able to throw upon the subject. There is no desire on the part of the Opposition to unduty prolong this debate, and I trust that the Minister for Trade and Customs will remember that he has on this occasion received the assistance of four members of the Opposition, and that he will be content with that which he has already achieved. He has snatched a victory, and, in view of the important interests involved, and the desire expressed by many of his supporters that the further consideration of the Bill should be deferred, I hope that he will consent to its postponement. Personally, I desire to give the whole question the very closest attention, but I shall have no opportunity of doing this until Parliament goes into recess. It is just possible that I may come back after the recess prepared to give the Minister more support than I have hitherto done, and other honorable members are doubtless in a similar position.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney).- It is not the intention of any honorable members on this side of the Chamber to cause delay by discussing the present motion. The honorable and learned member for Corinella has given us a good example of ingenious special pleading. The motion that was before the House was - “ That this Bill be now read a second time. “ The object of the amendment was to strike out the words “ read a second time.” Could any honorable member who was opposed to the second reading of the measure fail to support that amendment, and was not the failure of the Government to secure a majority tantamount to the defeat of the Bill? Why then should we proceed further with its discussion ? To-morrow we must deal with the question of supply, and next week we ought to consider certain measures which must be passed before we can expect to obtain relief from this long session. Yet we are asked to occupy, in dealing with this Bill, time which might be more profitably devoted to the consideration of the other measures. The Minister must know that if he proceeds further with this Bill we cannot hope for its conclusion this evening, whilst if it is continued next week honorable members will have no chance of obtaining that respite from their labours which they deserve, and which could be secured during the debate upon the Tariff in another place. I therefore ask the Ministry in their own interests to postpone the further discussion of this measure.
– The difficulty which has confronted me in considering this question and in following the whole course of the debate has reference to the cost of producing iron. Even if the Minister for Trade and Customs repudiates the view taken by the honorable member for Bland he must admit that there is a good deal of indefiniteness in regard to the likelihood of pig iron being produced within the Commonwealth at anything like a commercial rate. To my mind the whole question whether the industry can be successfully conducted, either as a national monopoly or under the control of a syndicate, hinges entirely upon this consideration. It is, therefore, absolutely necessary that we should know whether the enterprise is likely to be established upon a commercial basis. 1 go so far as to say that if an inquiry is undertaken, and it can be shown that it is impossible for the Commonwealth or any of the States to deal with this matter, I shall be prepared to- accept the proposals of the Government, believing, as I do, that the industry is one which deserves our best consideration. If there be no other method open than that suggested by the Minister for Trade and Customs the House should not hesitate to adopt it.
– I have no wish to occupy the position of a candid friend, but I have a very earnest desire to see tin’s Bill become law. Of course, I have no right to tender advice to the present administration, as I am not a supporter of theirs.
– The honorable memberdoes, support them.
– I have supported them upon the present occasion, and shall do so again when their measures are in accord with my views.
– The honorable member has often supported them.
– I shall continue to do so whenever I consider that they are right. I think that the advice which has been tendered to the Minister for Trade and Customs »is worthy of acceptance, because in my humble judgment, any measure that will not stand the test of time and thorough criticism ought not to become law. My own conviction is that the longer this Bill is discussed, the more favorable will be the opinion which is entertained of it, both by the outside public and by honorable members. I believe that if the Minister adopts the suggestion which has been offered, and withdraws the Bill until the House reassembles after the prospective adjournment, the present oppositionto it will disappear.
– I think that the Minister for Trade and Customs should pay a great deal of attention to the remarks of the last speaker, who has voted cordially with the Government upon the present and many other occasions.
– Why should he not do so ?
– Certainly ; there is nothing inconsistent in a man who was returned triumphantly as a free-trader voting with a protectionist Government, but it is passing strange to find the freetrade representatives of Tasmania voting en bloc with the Government.
– Because we think that the Government are right and that the honorable member is wrong.
– To-night we have witnessed the spectacle of the Government proceeding with a proposal which was carried only by the casting vote of Mr. Speaker, and which had the effect of destroying the preference that honorable members entertained, and compelling them to vote for the second reading of the Bill or for nothing. No self-respecting Government would persevere with a proposal involving the expenditure of £1,000,000 of the taxpayers’ money when that proposal was carried only by the casting vote of Mr. Speaker. The present Ministry, however, appear to be content to sneak through their measures in any fashion. This is not the first time that they have suffered a humiliating defeat of this kind, because, morally, it is a defeat, inasmuch as they failed to cany their proposal as against the amendment of the honorable member for Bland.
– The honorable member for Parramatta has thought fit to make some allusion to the reasons which have influenced certain representatives of Tasmania, and, as one of those representatives, I distinctly repudiate the reflections of the honorable member. It seems to me very bad taste for one honorable member to reflect upon the vote of another. Every one of us should be given credit for doing his duty according to the best of his ability, and, for my part, I have always endeavoured to do my best, not only for Tasmania, but for the Commonwealth as a whole. In the two recent divisions I supported the Government, believing that had the amendment been carried it would have inflicted an injury on an industry which is likely to be of great service to the community. I have, therefore, some claim on the Minister for Customs, and I ask him to consider whether it would not be advisable to withdraw the Bill for a time. I repudiate the idea of being a free - trader ; I have always called myself a revenue-tariffist. I explained last night that I did not regard the Bill as protective, but the Minister must see that, in the present temper of the House, the whole of the evening is likely to be wasted if there is anattempt to proceed with the measure.
– I thoroughly appreciate the request which has been made by the two representatives of Tasmania, seeing that they have been supporters of the Bill ; and I am sorry that they have been subject to very unfair criticism, aimed at them by those with whom it is their pleasure very often to co-operate. They have, I believe, given this matter the consideration which its importance deserves, and their votesare indicative of the policy which ought to be pursued. The Government are attempting to carry out a policy which has long been declared ; and there is no reason for heat or ill-temper on either side of the Chamber. Members of the Opposition have been trying to effect the destruction of the Bill.
– Name one.
– The acting leader of the Opposition is against the measure, and would throw it out this evening if he could.
– I would defeat the introduction of the bonus system, if I could.
– The Government had a majority of six on the real question - whether or not the Bill should be read a second time, and it is amusing to be told that we have been defeated. The Opposition certainly do not seem to be very jubilantover their “victory.” If they have scored a great victory, why is it necessary to ask the defeated for anything? I am sure that the acting leader of the Opposition, if he were in my position, would not withdraw the measure.
– The Minister knows there is a majority in favour of a postponement.
– I know nothing of the sort. A number of honorable members will now be able to vote according to their unfettered will, and the sooner we get to work on the Bill the better. Let us try with all despatch to make up the time we have lost during the last hour or so. I do not think there is any disposition to stonewall or adopt any practices which we all deplore ; and I invite honorable members to give their attention to the Bill, with which I believe we shall make good progress. It has been suggested that the fact that another place is dealing with part of our policy is a reason for a postponement. But I should say that the reverse is the proper view, namely, that it is only fair to let the other Chamber havethe whole of the policy before them at the earliest opportunity. I almost owe an apology to the other place for not having had this Bill sent up before, but we shall do our best to repair the omission.
– I ask any reasonable man how much progress we can expect to make with this Bill to-night? Presumably, if we get on well now, we shall have another “go” to-morrow morning; and, if we do not get on well, the Bill will be thrown under the table.
– No, no.
– We have to deal with Supply to-morrow.
– Then it appears that if we get on well to-night, we may deal with Supply to-morrow, and then resume the consideration of this Bill. It is not fair to make such a request to an Opposition which would have been where the Government now are had it not been for an unkind stroke from a non-combatant - from one of the ambulance corps, so to speak. The Government ought to help honorable members and the country by getting on with the Electoral Bill, and allow us to go home. It is unreasonable, in the absence of 35 members, to ask honorable members to deal with a Bill of this nature, especially as we know very well that when it reaches another place, there will be found against it a majority which will send it flying. In the whole history of bonus Bills, nothing more extraordinary has been introduced, and to allow it to leave this Chamber in its present form would be a reflection on the intelligence of honorable members.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney).- According to Division VIa. in the Tariff Bill, a proclamation is to issue when it is certified by the Minister that the manufacture has been sufficiently established in the Commonwealth “ according to the provisions of any law relating to bonuses.” I should say that that means the insertion in the Bill of some provisions to indicate what will be considered a sufficient establishment of the industry. I should like an expression of opinion from the Minister as to whether he deems the Bill as it stands sufficient to meet the conditions laid down in Division VIa. of the Tariff.
– I think the provisions in the Bill are quite sufficient ; in fact, I do not entertain any doubt on the point. If necessary, any further provisions could be inserted in the regulations, or in some portion of the Bill.
Mr. FOWLER (Perth).- I suggest to the Government that a more correct title would be the “Manufactures Discouragement Act,” in view of the fact that if the price of iron is to be anything like that which the Minister anticipates, the measure will prove one of the greatest discouragements imaginable to the manufacturers who have to use the raw material.
Mr. HUGHES (West Sydney).- I regard “Manufactures Encouragement Act” as a very inappropriate short title. The Bill is ill-adapted to encourage manufactures, though well adapted for the encouragement of monopolies. The Bill is certainly not calculated to encourage manufactures, and I intend to test the opinion of the committee upon the question whether it should not be labelled with its true title, as a Bill to encourage a direct monopoly. We on this side wish to establish the iron industry as a monopoly under the control of either the States or the Commonwealth ; and, although the Minister told us that he had in South Australia supported State enterprise, and found it good, we must judge him, not by what he says, but by what he does. We find that he has on this occasion deliberately turned his back upon the establishment of the iron industry as a State or Commonwealth monopoly. And a monopoly it must be in any case. It is practically impossible unless they can get completecontrol of the Australian market to get any body of men to embark as much money in this enterprise as will lead to the production of a sufficiently large quantity of iron or steel to entitle them to receive the promised bonus. There is not room in. Australia for two enterprises of the kind. We must always have a large volume of imports, and as the keen competition of older countries is continually increasing the productivity of their machinery and work-shops, those imports will be cheaper than our own productions. Thus, even without a competitor in Australia, any company starting here will have all it can do to stand against foreign manufacturers. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports must support my proposal, because he wishes to give the Commonwealth power to resume these works if they pay. But I have shown that they can pay only under one set of circumstances - if they are a monopoly. Therefore, with that native consistency which marks all the representatives of this State, he will have to cast his vote with those on this side of the Chamber. It will be a change for him, but it will teach the Government the frailty of human support. If lam asked by my constituents - “Did you vote against a Bill for the encouragement of manufactures VI wish to be able to answer - “ No ; but I voted against a Bill to encourage monopolies.” Therefore, that the true title of the Bill may be set out on its face, so that all may read it, I move -
That the word “ manufactures “ be omitted, with a view to the insertion of the word “ monopolies.”
– I cannot accept the amendment, because both the GovernorGeneral’s message and the order of leave provide for the introduction of a Bill relating to bonuses -for the encouragement of manufactures, and contain no mention of monopolies.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).No doubt the ruling of the Chairman is the right one; but I suggest - with no intention of stone- walling - that, in order that honorable members may not have cast upon them the obloquy of voting against a Bill to give encouragement to manufactures, we should adopt a title which will set forth its real effect. It is not a measure to encourage manufactures generally ; it is a Bill having for its object the offering of inducements for the establishment of a certain industry. To some extent it isa Bill to discourage manufactures, inasmuch as it holds out to investors the inducement to hang back until they can obtain from the Government bonuses for the establishment of their enterprises. I therefore move -
That the word “encouragement” be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ bonus.” 3S t 2
Mr. WILKS (Dalley).- I am actuated by motives similar to those which actuated the last speaker. Now that the Minister has determined to proceed with the Bill, I desire to assist him. It is a remarkable thing, however, that the two last speakers, who are well known and trusted representatives of labour, both consider the Bill, not a measure for the encouragement of manufactures, but a measure for the encouragement of monopolies. In point of fact it cannot becalled a “ Manufactures EncouragementBill,” because its effect will undoubtedly be to cause all intending manufacturers to hang back until they can obtain bonuses. Noticehas already been given of amendments forapplying the provisions of the Bill to otherindustries besides the iron industry. For the Minister to expect to establish the iron industry by the offer of a bonus of £250,000, which is to be doled out over a period of five years, is absurd. Do honorable gentlemen know the extent of the iron industry in America ? According to Bothwell, the total production of pig-iron there in 1900 was 14,000,000 tons, and of steel 10,250,000 tons; while the capital invested in the industry amounts to £2,000,000,000. The Age, in an issue of the 11th June, 1891, speaking upon the bonus system, says -
The object of protection is to protect the native producer in the home market, and not to give him an advantage abroad. All attempts to give him this advantage have failed, because it is found that in practice the bonus is appropriated, by the exporter or his agent, and never reaches the actual producer at all. This is, perhaps, why the bonus system is so much approved by the foreign trade party, and disliked by protectionists.
I shall support the amendment, because I consider that the Bill is wrongly named, and that it is really a measure to make a free gift on behalf of the Commonwealth to mere speculators.
Mr. HUGHES (West Sydney).- I am sorry that I did not quite catch the Chairman’s ruling that my amendment was out of order. The best thing I can do now is to support the amendment proposed by the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor. I wish to explain why his, amendment is not only in order, but is admirably descriptive of the object of the measure. This is a Bill to give bonuses to manufacturers. If it is not intended to give bonuses to manufacturers, to whom are the bonuses to be paid? If A were a manufacturer, it would not be proposed under this Bill to pay a bonus to B because he happened to be a half-brother, or uncle, or some other relative of A’s. Myamendmentexpressed ina few blunt words what I thought to be the objectof themeasure, and although theChairman was doubtless right within the narrow limits of parliamentary practice, the truth will prevail outside, and the world will know what the real object of the Bill is. I do not see why the Government should oppose the amendment of the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor, which is a very proper one.
Mr. McDONALD (Kennedy ).- The exact object of this measure should be expressed in its title. The title which now appears in the Bill was framed in order to lead people outside to believe that the Government were making every effort to encourage various forms of industry, but if an industry does not prove successful, it will receive no encouragement whatever under the provisions of the Bill. I think the amendment proposed by the honorable member for South Australia is a good one. If the Bill is passed in its present form it must create a monopoly. We are told that one large company has been formed, with a capital of £700,000, to carry on the iron industry, and it cannot be seriously contended that any other company is likely to enter the field. It would be better for the whole community if any profits derived from carrying on the industry were appropriated for the benefit of the community as a whole, instead of being passed into the pockets of a few individuals. Does the Minister for Trade and Customs expect that a bonus of £250,000 will afford local manufacturers sufficient protection against the huge steel trust in America, which has a capital of £260,000,000? The competition of such a combination is not to be “ snuffed out “ by means of a paltry £250,000. The only way in which we can successfully maintain the iron industry within the Commonwealth is by making it a State monopoly.
– How would the honorable member overcome outside competition ?
– If the iron industry werea State monopoly, I should be prepared to support measures which would have the effect of excluding all iron manufactures from foreign countries, which would come into competition with our own products. I should be sufficiently a protectionist , to adopt that course. The amendment, should be agreed to, so that people outside may have a proper idea of the scope and purpose of the Bill. It is undesirable that we should proceed with a detailed discussion of the provisions of the measure at present. Several honorable members desire to propose amendments, and these should be printed and circulated, so that we may have an opportunity of considering them.
Mr. FOWLER (Perth).- The present title of the Bill is far too general to indicate exactly what is intended. If this measure should prove successful, I have no doubt that the Government will propose to offer bonuses for the encouragement of other industries, and in that event, they will have some difficulty in fixing upon a title for any new measure. Would they call it - “ Manufactures Encouragement Bill, No. 21” The title of the Bill should specifically state the form of encouragement that is to be given and the industries to which it is to be extended - iron and zinc. Other manufacturers will then know exactly where they are, and may possibly be encouraged to apply to the Government for a proportionate share of the taxation imposed upon this unfortunate community.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).Does the Minister agree to change the title of the measure to that of “ The Manufactures Bonus Act “ ‘?
– I do not think so.
– I do not wish to have such a bumptious title as the present one, which suggests a sort of spreadeagleism to which the Minister is not usually addicted. The existing title is absurd and inaccurate. It would be very much better to call the measure “The Manufactures Bonus Act.”
Question - That the word “Encouragement “ proposed to be omitted stand part of the clause - put. The committee divided
Ayes … … … 22
Majority .. …. … 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 2 -
This Act shall commence on the1stday of July, one thousand nine hundred and two.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).I move -
That the word ‘ ‘ two “ be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ four.”
I hold that there is no urgency in connexion with this Bill. Certainly it cannot become operative on 1st J uly of the present year, because the other branch of the Legislature will, not have a chance of dealing with it until after that date. One advantage to be derived from deferring the date upon which the measure shall come into force is that an opportunity will thus be given to the people to express their opinions upon it at the next general elections. But there is another reasonwhy the period prescribed in the clause should be extended. The Minister for Trade and Customs has assured us that it is intended that the States shall have an opportunity of participating in the benefits conferred by this Bill if they choose to undertake the nationalization of the iron industry. But honorable members will recognise that it is quite impossible for any State to be prepared to embark upon such an enterprise by the 1st July next. Obviously if the Bill is to come into operation immediately, the syndicate which has a capital of £750,000 ready to plank down will be able to commence operations immediately. None of the States will be in that happy position, and if they subsequently desire to engage in the industry they will be compelled to purchase, at the public expense, works which have been built up with the money of the taxpayers. I am desirous of giving the States a chance to engage in this work.
– What about the Iron Knob? Is not that in South Australia?
-Yes ; and that State could do very well just now with an expenditure of £250,000. If South Australia possesses suitable iron deposits in sufficient quantity to warrant her in embarking upon an enterprise towards the development of which the Federal Government is prepared to spend £250,000, its State Parliament might seriously consider whether it is not good enough to attempt to establish a national industry there. I do not think it is particularly likely South Australia would enter upon this manufacture as a State industry; but, although the capital required has been variously estimated at from £500,000 to £750,000, and we may place it safely at £600,000, the offer of £250,000 in the shapeof a bonus spread over five years might form a strong inducement. [Committee counted.] I contend that there is no urgency for this Bill. Why should we be in a hurry to hand over a quarter of a million of Commonwealth funds at a time when money is badly needed by the States ? As to South Australia, I know that that State cannot afford £5,000 a year for five years just now. If the whole people of one of the States, or the whole people of the Commonwealth were to benefit, all would gladly pay their share ; but this bonus will go to some syndicate or company, and as, in the usual course, the shares get into one or two hands, we may create an Australian Carnegie.
– I hope he will spend his money as liberally as the present Carnegie.
– Notwithstanding the undoubted liberality of Andrew Carnegie, it would have been a great deal better if the working men who created his wealth had participated to a much larger extent in its benefits.
Mr.Watson. - Andrew Carnegie did not become liberal until after the great Pittsburg strike against sweating wages.
– The strike at Pittsburg is said to have been one of the most heartrending on record. Armed men were lying on opposite banks of the river prepared to shoot each other, so bitter did they feel in regard to the introduction of men from all parts of the world in order to reduce the rate of wages. [Committee counted.] I am very much afraid the bonus proposed may lead to a condition of things similar to that which exists in America, seeing that we are going to give a monopoly which will soon be absorbed by a very small number of individuals. There is a strong desire, which is shared by the Minister, that this iron industry should be a State enterprise, and, if that be so, it is necessary that the States should have the opportunity which would be afforded by an extended time.
– We desire the Bill to come into operation as soon as possible, but at the same time there is no desire to play into the hands of any particular persons. A number of honorable members are strongly in favour of the States having some opportunity to earn the bonus, and we should be delighted if that could be brought about. On the other hand, there must be a limit, and as different terms would be applicable to different cases, the best plan would be to add to the schedule a column showing when the bonus in regard to each particular class shall commence and terminate. I am willing to provide that the provisions of the Bill generally shall come into operation on the 30th September next, and to amend the schedule in the way I have suggested, which will enable us to deal with each class of manufactures in the most effective way.
– The Minister has hardly met the point. The right honorable gentleman professes sympathy with States who desire to enter upon this industry, but he suggests that the time at which the measure shall commence to operate shall be extended only to 30th September.
– No; I propose that as regards the general provisions of the Bill the date shall be the 30th September, but that there shall be a special column in the schedule showing when the bonus commences in each industry.
– A few weeks ago, when we were discussing the Tariff, the Minister for Trade and Customs and the Treasurer made most pathetic appeals on behalf of the smaller States. The Minister told us then that every effort must be made to help South Australia by imposing a duty upon tea, and by increasing the taxation in other ways. Now, however, he wants us to increase the expenditure of the States, and thus make it stillmore difficult for some of them to meet their engagements. If the amendment were adopted, it would be of advantage to the smaller States in postponing the time when they will be called upon to make this contribution. Furthermore, if the States are to undertake the enterprise, the matter must be considered, first by the various State Cabinets, and then by the States Parliaments, and if any of the States finally decide to undertake the work, still further time will be occupied in making preparations for the carrying on of the industry. Therefore, it is unlikely that any of the States Governments can enter upon this enterprise before 1904, and it is important that they should not in the meantime be forestalled by companies which have pre-empted two or three of the most likely lodes of iron ore within the Commonwealth. If the figures . given by the Minister in regard to the cost of producing iron are correct, it seems to me that those whom the Bill will most benefit will simply use it to obtain profits by floating a large company. In view of all these circumstances, I do not think the Bill should come into operation earlier than the date suggested by the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor.
– I wish to add to the reasons already given in favour of the amendment, the fact that no reference was made to the Bill, either in the enunciation of the policy of the Government at Maitland, or in the Governor-General’s speech. It is only fair, therefore, that before it is carried into law the people should have an opportunity to express their opinion upon it, and they will have an opportunity to do so at the next general election if its provisions do not come into force in 1902. Furthermore, by that time we may well expect the drought to be over, though I do not know that our circumstances will really be any better, because I hear upon all sides that the operation of the Tariff is making things worse and worse.
Motion (by Mr. Kingston) proposed -
That the Chairman do now leave the chair, report progress, and ask leave to sit again.
– In view of the small amount of progress which we have made to-night, I think it would be just as well to make 1904 the date upon which the Bill is to come into operation. We have had this evening a repetition of the scenes which occurred during the all-night sittings. Honorable members have had to witness tonight a most disgraceful and outrageous exhibition of stonewalling by some of the Opposition members.
– The honorable and learned member must withdraw that expression.
-I withdraw it. When next certain members from Sydney ask the House to convenience them, I should like them to remember how shockingly time has been wasted to-nightt hree hours have been spent over mere trifles.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).As I have moved the only amendments which have been dealt with to-night, I take the honorable and learned member’s remarks as a reflection upon my conduct. I am not in the habit of wasting time, and I shall not permit any one to accuse me of doing so without replying to the accusation. I am opposed to this measure, and I intend to bring its provisions as nearly into conformity with my views as I can. For the honorable and - politically speaking, at any rate - somewhat youthful member for Corio to characterize my action, and that of other honorable members, as a deliberate waste of time is impertinent.
– I would have the honorable member called to order if I thought his remarksworthy of notice.
– I am sure that my constituents will indorse my action to-night in trying to make the provisions of the Bill harmonize with what I believe to be the opinions of the public.
– I was astonished to hear the honorable and learned member for Corio speak in the manner he did. I do not take up much of the time of the committee, but I shall endeavour to follow the admirable precept laid down by the honorable member for South Australia, and exercise the inalienable right which every honorable member possesses to mould a particular measure, so that it may as far as possible accord with his own views. The party to which I belong can never be accused of departing from its principles. We believe in a certain line of policy, and we shall as far as may be practicable, carry it into effect in connexion with this and other measures.
Mr. WILKS (Dalley). - If the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Corio are intended to convey to the public that our proceedings are not quite what they should be, let me remind him that if it had not been for the members of the Opposition, the Bill would have been lost. The disgraceful and foolish conduct to which he has referred has practically saved the Bill, because if it had not been for the presence of honorable members on this side of the Chamber, the committee would have been counted out.
– The remarks mode by the honorable and learned member for Corio come with very bad grace from him, and I desire to enter my protest against them. If honorable members on this side of the Chamber had desired to do so, they could have counted out the committee. The Bill has been practically saved by honorable members who are most constant in their attendance here, and particularly by those who have fallen under the accusation made by the honorable and learned member. No doubt, he is very anxious to have the Bill passed, because I understand that there are one or two enterprises in his electorate that are likely to be benefited by its provisions. At the same time, the honorable and learned member cannot claim that he has assisted the committee in any way.
– In view of the fact that the supporters and opponents of the Bill were so evenly balanced, it was the clear duty of the Government to keep a strong House in order to help them to carry the measure through. If it had not been, however, for forbearance on the part of the Opposition, the Government would not have been able to maintain a quorum. Therefore, the honorable and learned member for Corio had no right to cast any aspersions upon honorable members on this side of the Chamber.
– No one can complain of the way in which the acting leader of the Opposition has conducted the business, but there have been episodes suggestive of a little restiveness on the part of his party, of which I am sure he would have difficulty in approving. We may now, however, very well allow the matter to pass, and go to our homes.
Motion agreed to ; progress reported.
House adjourned at 10.38 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 June 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020612_reps_1_10/>.