2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Onthe9th June last, the honorable and learned member for Angas asked a question in regard to the rates charged for the carriage of coal on the Victorian railways. It appears that1d. per ton is charged for the carriage of New South Wales coal, and¾d. per ton for the carriage of Victorian coal. Will the Prime Minister be good enough to inquire into this matter, and see whether the arrangement is not a breach of the Constitution?
Mr.REID - I was not aware, until a few moments ago, that the question was to be asked, and therefore, I am not prepared with the requisite information. I shall, however, cause inquiries to be made on the subject. I suggest that if the people of New South Wales have a grievance, the Government of that State would interest itself in the matter.
– But it comes within the trade and commerce provisions of the Constitution.
– It is quite within the province of the Federal Government; but if any wrong is being done to New South Wales citizens, I have no doubt that the Government of that State will take up their cause.
– I did not clearly catch thequestion which was asked by the honorable member for Newcastle, but as far as I could gather from what I did hear, he desired to know whether the attention of the Prime Minister had been directed to statements which have appeared in the public press in reference to the imposition of differential rates upon the carriage of coal over the railways of Victoria. I understood the right honorable gentleman to reply that the matter would no doubt be dealt with by the Government of New South Wales.I wish to ask him whether, under the Constitution, the Commonwealth Government is not empowered to deal with that or any other matter which involves a derogation of trade, or a preference to any one State over another? If that be so, I desire to ascertain what action the Government intend to take with a view to preventing a continuance of the practice of charging differential rates, and of entering into different arrangements in respect of the carriage of various commodities as between State and State?
– The honorable member must know that I cannot remember one-half of his question.
-I wish to know whether there is not a provision in the Constitution empowering the Commonwealth Government to deal with matters such as that which was referred to by the honorable member for Newcastle, or with questions arising out of the extension of a preference to any State ?
– I should like any question involving a point of law to be put to some legal authority other than myself ; but I do not think that we require any legal education to know that the Constitution provides remedies for abuses of the principle of equal ‘ trade throughout the Commonwealth. The honorable member certainly was correct in saying that he did not hear my reply. I did not at all question the powerof the Commonwealth to intervene in matters of the character referred to. I merely said that I had no information whatever upon the subject, and therefore felt under a serious disability in replying to the question. I did refer to the Government of New South Wales as a power, which, I suppose, would be specially interested in any infraction of the provisions of the Constitution affecting its ownparticular industries, but in no sense did I question the right of the Commonwealth to take the proper course.
– Following upon my previous question, I desire to ask the Prime Minister, who admits that the Commonwealth is empowered under the provisions of the Constitution, to deal with matters similar to that which was raised in the question of the honorable member for Newcastle, whether he will take action in connexion with certain cases which have engendered a great deal of irritation, not only in New South Wales and Victoria, but in Tasmania and every other State? If he is not prepared to do so, will he take steps to bring about the establishment of the Inter-State Commission which should have been created long ago, to see that the present practice is discontinued, and that the provisions of the Constitution are respected ?
– In reply to the honorable member, I wish to say that, of course, -we shall be only too happy to do everything we can to prevent any of these inequalities continuing. I do not know whether any other Prime Minister has taken any such action, but it is certainly my duty to do so. I do not know that it is necessary to appoint an Inter-State Commission just yet. I think that I shall shrink from the multiplication of billets in the Commonwealth, so far as I can, but I shall certainly endeavour to remedy existing anomalies without recourse to the expensive proceeding to which reference has been made by the honorable member. At the same time I quite agree that it is the duty of the Government to take notice of any infraction of the provisions of the Constitution, and to do its utmost to prevent it. I shall place myself in a position to have all the papers in the Departments bearing on such complaints brought under my notice.
– I wish to know from the Postmaster-General what steps have been taken to arrange that in future each post town in the Commonwealth shall bear a distinct name. At present a great deal of confusion exists by reason of the fact that several towns have the same name. I any aware that the matter has already been looked into, and I shall be glad if the honorable gentleman will inform the House what action he is taking in regard to it.
– I admit that a good deal of confusion has arisen owing to the fact that there are in the various States several post towns of the same name, and as far as possible the Department is trying to rectify matters. I have the matter in hand, and I hope before long to make arrangements which will remove the difficulty.
– There are two conflicting statements in the press to-day in regard to the consecration of the banners presented to the Australian Light Horse, one being that the Minister of Defence has refused to allow them to be consecrated in any cathedral, and the other that they are to be consecrated at Albert Park on the King’s Birthday. What is the intention of the honorable and learned gentleman ?
– It was stated in one of the newspapers that it had been arranged to consecrate the banners in rhe Melbourne Anglican Cathedral, but that statement was incorrect. No such proposal has been made to me. I am endeavouring to have the banners consecrated at a parade, by chaplains of the Commonwealth Forces. The consecration is a religious ceremony, which is invariably followed in the British Army, and is provided for in the King’s Regulations.
– Does not the honorable and learned gentleman think that it is time that we did away with such a ceremony ?
– The King’s Regulations provide a form of prayer, which is to be read in connexion with the presentation of colours of any kind to a regiment, and I see no reason for not following the practice of the British Army on a similar occasion in Australia.
– I should like to ask the Minister of Defence another question concerning the consecration of regimental banners. There being no State church in Australia, as there is in England, will the Minister state what denominations he proposes shall be represented or take part in the consceration of the banners?
– Yes, I will. There are a number of chaplains attached to the Commonwealth Forces in Australia. Thev represent various denominations, though not every denomination. There is not a representative of every denomination mentioned in the census returns. But I am arranging that a chaplain of each denomination which has. chaplains upon the list of the forces in Victoria - I am not getting them from the whole of Australia, because I could not bring them from very long distances - shall be invited to take part, and the leading part in the ceremony will be taken by the senior chaplain in Australia.
– I am sorry to trouble the Minister again, but this matter is one of some importance to me. The Minister has stated that the senior chaplain of the Defence Forces is to take the principal part in the consecration of the colours. I should like to ask if the senior chaplain is a Protestant, and, if so, whether the representatives of other denominations will join with him. I would also ask, as the senior chaplain, if a Protestant, belongs to a Christian denomination, whether the Minister will permit representatives of nonChristian denominations, who are citizens and taxpayers of the Commonwealth, to be represented and take part in the ceremony ?
– The honorable and learned member’s zeal is a little puzzling to me. When I saw the paragraph in the newspapers a few days ago with regard to the proposed consecration of the colours in the Anglican Cathedral, I bore in mind the fact that we have no State church in Australia. I sent to the Barracks for information as to whether the statement was correct, and drew attention to the fact that there was no State church in Australia, and that, therefore, I did not think it desirable to have the ceremonyperformed in the church of any particulardenomination, whether the Church of England or otherwise. I believe that it is the proper thing for us to follow the practice that has been pursued in Great Britain for centuries. The ceremony of consecrating the colours is not an elaborate one, but consists practically of a prayer,
– Do they pray for peace, or what else?
– Ours is a Defence Force, and I think that it is a very proper thing to ask for a blessing upon the colours of such an organization.
– - An attempt was made in connexion with the Defence Bill to make the force an aggressive one.
– I am speaking of facts, and not of unknown intentions.
– They were declared intentions.
– I am not dealing with the allegations of the honorable member as to the intentions of other honorable members. Arrangements are being made - they have not been completed- for the ceremony to be performed by chaplains belonging to the Commonwealth Forces. The senior chaplain is a resident of Sydney, and I assume that he belongs to a Christian denomination. I further assume that he is a Protestant.I believe that he belongs to the Church of England. I have asked the General to arrange that the chaplains from each denomination which has chaplains in the Forces shall be asked to join in the service. I have no reason to suppose that there will be any refusal. It will be remembered that when the Commonwealth was inaugurated the Church of England, the Presbyterian Church, the Methodist Church, the Roman Catholic and other Churches were represented and joined in a religious service. I know that in Victoria-
– I rise to order. The Minister is now making comments. He is not answering my question.
– The honorable and learned member has asked me a number of questions, and he will not permit me to answer one.
– On a point of order, I . asked for an answer to my question, and I submit that the Minister is now making comments.
– The honorable and learned member had a perfect right to ask a question of the Minister, who has a perfect right, if he pleases, to answer it. I hope that honorable members will not interject further questions which maw possibly prevent the Minister, in some cases, from giving the replies he desires. If honorable members desire supplementary information they can seek it by asking further questions after the Minister has resumed his seat.
– As I was about to say, there are, in the Victorian Forces, chaplains representing the Church of England, the Presbyterian Church, the Methodist Church, and the Roman Catholic Church. There may be others, but I do not know of them. Probably there is also a representative of the Congregational Church.
– No, there is not. Dr. Bevan was retired some time ago.
– At any rate, such churches as have chaplains in the Forces are to be invited to send representatives to take part in the ceremony. I think I have taken every reasonable precaution that could be observed to insure that no procedure shall be followed that could give rise to any just criticism on the ground of preference or injury to any one church.
– I desire to say that it was in no spirit of levity that I just now asked the Minister a question by interjection. It was with the full recognition of the value of prayer that I submitted the question, and I again ask it, because it seems to me improper to talk of consecration under such circumstances. I again ask, has such a ceremony as that proposed ever been performed in Australia?
– Yes; 1 have seen it performed.
– I do not know, but I should say almost certainly “Yes.” The regiments with which I am most familiar have not. since I have been connected with the Forces, been fortunate enough to possess colours. The colours that are to be consecrated are practically King’s colours. I feel quite sure that similar ceremonies have taken place before, but even if they had not, there is no reason why the colours which have now been presented to the Defence Forces should not be consecrated.
– I asked the Minister a question, to which he has not replied. Of course, if he refuses to reply, I have no remedy.
– I did not intentionally fail to give an answer.
– I asked whether the Minister had any objection to allow any denomination which is not represented by a chaplain, or any denomination which, representing taxpayers, is non-Christian, to be present at the consecration of these banners ?
– I do not propose to invite any denomination to be officially represented at the consecrationof the banners, except those which have chaplains in the Forces.
– Is the Prime Minister correctly reported in the following paragraph, which has appeared in the Melbourne Age -
I made inquiries recently in connexion with the rolls in relation to a Federal election, and I found that - especially with regard to the rolls of New South Wales and Victoria - there were an enormous number of changes necessary. It is estimated that there are in the two Stales 300,000 to 400,000 alterations necessary, owing to removals and other causes. This means that there are 300,000 or 400,000 persons who, if an election was held now, would be off the rolls, or in a place which is equivalent to being off the rolls. When members clamour to the Government to dissolve in consequence of the narrow division of parties, Ministers have to remember their responsibility to the people.
– The report is a correct one, but I was careful to understate, rather than to overstate, the figures furnished to me by the officers of the Electoral Department. It is only fair to say that the present state of the rolls is due to the incessant changing of residence. on the part of a large portion of the population. It has been esti mated by a competent authority that 30 per cent, of the electors on the rolls change their place of residence during the course of a year.
– But very often they do not move out of the division for which they are enrolled, and, therefore, would not be disfranchised.
– That, no doubt, is true to a certain extent ; but it was impossible for me . to go into details. Of course, if a man merely moves from one part of a division to another, his right to vote is not affected, because his name remains upon the roll for that division. The statement in the Age, read by the honorable ‘member for Kennedy, understates the information supplied to me.
– Are not the New South Wales rolls practically up to date? The house-to-house collection of names by the police was begun last July, and was completed before the last Government left office. Of course, the insertion of the names thus collected in -the rolls will take some little time; but is not the work nearly, if not quite, finished now?
– In answer to the honorable member I may say that the collection of the New South Wales rolls has only been completed within the last week or two. The work was largely completed previously, but not absolutely. The present rolls are the old rolls with all their errors and defects, and if they are to be altered Revision Courts must be held.
– Why should they not be altered?
– That is the intention, but Revision Courts must be held, and the alterations must be made by those Courts after due notice has been given. As things stand at present the imperfect rolls would be used with supplementary rolls, correcting as far as possible the errors in the original rolls. Steps are being taken to have collections made as quickly as possible, but my honorable friend will recognise that in this matter a delay in one State keeps back the work in other States. That is to say, while we may make progress in one State we cannot have the whole of the rolls for the Commonwealth put right until the collection in all the States is completed.
– Has the Minister of Home Affairs any information with respect to the condition of the Victorian rolls?
– The position in Victoria is very much the same as in New South Wales. The collection is about complete, and the lists have been coming in rapidly. They are being dealt with by the Department for the purpose of making preparations for the holding of Revision Courts, and issuing the new rolls.
– I should like to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether he can afford the House any information as to the time which will be necessary to make the electoral rolls anything like complete? I understand that the work was commenced some time ago. I know that the honorable member for Boothby, while he was Minister of Home Affairs, set it going. That was several months ago. If the Department is not ready to bring matters to an issue by having the rolls revised, it seems to me that that fact is a serious reflection upon it.
– I can only say that there has been no slackness whatever in dealing with the matter since I have been in the position lately occupied by the honorable member for Boothby.. But although before the honorable member left office initial steps were being taken, the collection had not been arranged for in some of the States, owing to difficulties which had arisen in those States. My attention has been given to- the matter, and every effort has been made to complete the collection preparatory to the revision of the rolls, with the object of creating new and correct ones. The time that will be occupied, after the collection has been made, in producing the revised rolls will be, roughlyspeaking, about three months. After the collection is complete,Revision Courts have to be held, after legal notice, throughout each State. Then the rolls have to be revised for printing purposes. Then the printing has to take place. Those processes cannot occupy less than three months. They may even occupy four months.
– Can the Minister tell us anything about the state of the rolls in Western Australia ? If he has any information I should be glad to hear it.
– I think that honorable members ought to give notice of such a catechism as has been launched upon me; but I can tell the right honorable member for Swan that one of the States in which the collection had not been arranged for was Western Australia.
– Why was that?
– The difficulty with that State has only recently been overcome, and the work is proceeding.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether he is aware that when the right honorable member for Swan retired from the office of Minister of Home Affairs, there were no rolls, either old or new, available for Western Australia, and that, as a matter of fact, no election could have been held.
– That is absurd.
– It is true.
– It is not true.
– I would ask the honorable member for Swan to withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw the remark, but I must say that the honorable member has made a most rash and inaccurate statement.
– I shall prove it.
– I have had no occasion to inquire into the matter referred to, and I can give no expression of opinion as to the correctness of the honorable member’s statement.
– I wish to ask the Treasurer a question, but in his absence I will put it to the Minister of Defence. I see on page 31 of the Budget papers laid on the table on Tuesday the statement is made that a 6-inch gun has been transferred, or is about to be transferred, from South Australia to Arthur Head, Fremantle. I wish to know whether South Australia has been credited with the cost of that gun? I ask the question because I do not see from the Budget papers that Western Australia has been debited with the amount.
– The gun has not yet been transferred. It is to be transferred in connexion with the erection of fortifications at Fremantle,
– Will the Minister have it consecrated ?
– I do not see that the invocation of the Divine blessing on regimental flags is detrimental to the Commonwealth of Australia.
– It is not viewed seriously by thoughtful men nowadays.
– However, that has nothing to do with this question. As I was saying, this gun is to be transferred to Fremantle if Parliament decides that the fortifications are to be proceeded with. In that event South Australia will be credited with the value of the gun. “ The debit will probably be distributed amongst the States on a population basis.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Defence whether the gun which it is proposed to transfer from South Australia to Fremantle is one of two which, for some years, have been lying in the sand at Glenelg, and which the authorities of that State would be glad to dispose of upon almost any terms?
– The gun was in its present position before I came into office. I hope that it will not be there when I quit office. The gun, which is to be transferred from Adelaide to Fremantle, is, I think, the latest mark, that is, the latest pattern 6-inch gun.
– Why is it to be transferred to Western Australia?
– Because it is not required at Adelaide. If it is not fit for service, it will not be transferred to Western Australia to be put into a new fort.
– I wish to direct the attention of the Postmaster-General to the fact that some time ago I brought under the notice of the House the question of the subletting of mail contracts. A decision was arrived at, and I understood that as a result it was arranged that certain contracts which had been sublet were to be transferred to the sub-contractors. I wish to ask whether the Minister can inform the House how far that understanding has been carried out, and whether all the subcontracts have been transferred? If not, how many have been transferred? I also wish to know whether it is his intention to insist on their being transferred?
– In reply to my honorable friend. I have to state that I believe that, with one or two exceptions, the whole of the contracts have been transferred. I gave direct instructions that the decision arrived at was to be carried out forthwith as to those which had not been transferred. I asked for a return as to the reason why steps had not been taken by the contractors to transfer practically in accorddance with their own proposals; and I told them that I would have no departure from the decision arrived at.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster- General whether, in the contracts now being entered into for the carriage of mails, there is any provision for the payment of a minimum wage by the contractors. My reason for asking is that I know of a number of cases in which the employes of the mail contractors have been to a large extent sweated. I understand that honorable members have expressed the opinion that provision should be made for the payment of a minimum wage. If there is no such provision, will the Minister see that a clause is inserted in the contracts?
– As the honorable member knows, tenders were invited prior to my acceptance of office. I shall look into the matter, with a view to obtaining the information the honorable member desires. In some of the contracts provision is made that the ordinary rate of wage shall be paid, but I am not in a position to say definitely whether that forms a part of all the contracts.
– The Minister has not disturbed anything that was done by his immediate predecessor.
– I have not disturbed the practice that has been followed for years.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
If it is the intention of the Government to introduce, during the present session, legislation to deal with the subject of hills of lading, as brought under his notice by representatives of the recently held Fruit-growers’ Conference?
– It is.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The following replies have been supplied bv the Public Service Commissioner : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Age, between 15 and 17.
Height, 5ft. 2in. to 5ft. 3’in.
Chest measurement, 32m. to 32½in.
I may add that these enrolments are made, under the terms of the Naval Agreement, by the officers of the Imperial Squadron in Australasian waters, and are not in any way under the control of the Department of Defence.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Is it the custom of his Department to grant annual leave to telephone attendants?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
Annual leave to telephone attendants, and to all other officers of the Department, is granted by the chief officers in accordance with the provisions of the Public Service Regulation 76.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
If, in his efforts to assist the fruit-growers to obtain improved facilities in shipping and in mercantile conditions, as promised by him to a deputation last Friday, he will also endeavour to obtain better conditions and cheaper freight charges for exporters of compressed fodder, hay, and other primary produce?
– The answer to the honorablemember’s question is as follows : -
The Government will do everything in its power- in the direction advocated, and other directions, to promote the export of Australian produce of all kinds.
– I move -
That, in the opinion of this House, a Royal Commission should be at once appointed to inquire into and report upon -
I have, at the outset, to express my thanks to the honorable member for Southern Melbourne, who kindly consented to the postponement of the notice of motion standing in his name, in order that this matter might take precedence. If honorable members turn to the notice-paper, they will find that Order of the Day No. 6 provides for the “ Consideration, in Committee of the Whole, of the Senate’s message No. 3.” That message relates to a motion carried in the Senate in reference to the tobacco monopoly, and providing in effect that in order to provide the necessary money for the payment of oldage pensions, and for other purposes, the Commonwealth Government should undertake the manufacture and sale of tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes, and that a Select Committee, consisting of six members of the Senate, with power to confer with a similar number of members of the House of Representatives, should be appointed to inquire into and report on the best method of carrying the resolution into effect. It would be to some extent inconvenient for me to move a motion in those terms, because honorable members would necessarily be debarred at this stage from discussing the nationalization of tobacco. All that I ask the House to do is to agree to the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into and report upon the present position of the tobacco trade, and to consider whether it is desirable for the Government to . take over the business, or to deal with it in some other way. It may be asked why I shouTd move this motion, instead of waiting until the message of the Senate is reachedin the ordinary wav. My chief reason for adopting this course is that I desire that something shall be done this session, and that I do not think for one moment, that this House would be likely to pass aresolution providing for tha nationalization of the tobr.cco industry, in the absence of some kind of preliminary inquiry. I also think thai it is now too late for a Select Committee to make any proper inquiry. The appointment of a Royal Commission must necessarily be made if any inquiry worthy of the name is to take place. I should prefer to see the Royal Commission appointed . while the House is in session, instead of the matter being left over tor the Government to deal with after we have gone into recess. The tobacco trust is the first: of any importance that has been formed to deal with a business of any large volume in Australia, and it is desirable that the Parliament of the Commonwealth should now indicate what view it takes of the creation of such monopolies. It would certainly be interesting to ascertain how honorable members are disposed to regard anything in the shape of a monopoly in this direction. I ask- whether it would not be wise, at the very earliest moment - before the monopolistic octopus can fasten its tentacles on the industries of Australia - -for the Parliament to determine whether some better method of conducting the business cannot be adopted. I intend to confine my remarks not to the advocacy of the nationalization of the tobacco trade, but to the desirableness of a Commission being appointed to inquire first of all as to the existence of a monopoly, and its effects, so far as they can be ascertained, and then, as to what shape any legislation, if necessary, should take, in order to deal effectively with the matter. On the 14th March, 1903, the Age announced that, with a view to fight the American Tobacco Company, which had extensive ramifications all over the world, and intended to compete for the control of the Australian trade, the two largest tobacco manufacturing companies in Australia - Dixson’s and Camerons’ - had amalgamated, and about the same period they issued a circular, stating that the object of the amalgamation was to fight the American Tobacco Company. A few days afterwards it was announced that the amalgamated company, which was called the British-Australian Tobacco Manufacturing Company, had acquired the Australian business of T. C. Williams, of Richmond, Virginia, an American tobacco manufacturer who had perhaps the largest sale of aromatic imported tobacco in Australia - that is, that they had acquired the sole right of distributing their tobacco. A little later the company also acquired the business of David Dunlop, who manufactured chiefly the “Derby” brand of tobacco, for a term of 100 years. Then it was stated in the newspapers that Kronheimer and Company, of Melbourne, distributers and importers of tobacco, and W. D. and H. 0. Wills and Company, English manufacturers, had amalgamated their Australian businesses under the name of Kronheimer Limited. This firm then absorbed the business of the National Cigarette Company, and closed its factory; and shortly afterwards was appointed the sole distributer in Australia of the goods of the American Tobacco Company which the British-Australian Tobacco Manufacturing Company had been formed to fight. About the same time, Kronheimer Limited was appointed sole distributer of the States Tobacco Company, and, on the retirement of Alfred Gross and Company fi om. the Australian trade, took over that business too. Last of all, the British- Australian Tobacco Manufacturing Company, which had been formed to fight the foreign companies, appointed Kronheimer Limited sole distributer of their manufactures in Australia. That is briefly the history of the monopoly. I do not know if the articles of association of Kronheimer Limited are available in Melbourne, but I have inspected the articles of association and the list of shareholders . of the British Australian Tobacco Manufacturing Company, filed in April last, and I have been surprised to see how great an interest is Held in it by persons who are not residents of Australia. The two largest shareholders in the company are David and William Cameron, one of whom lives in Virginia, and the other in Pennsylvania, United States of America. They hold 17,040 shares each. Then Kronheimer, of Germany, holds 7,000 shares; another Kronheimer, in the same country, holds 1 .000 shares ; and a Kronheimer in Australia holds 7,000 shares. The largest shareholders resident in Australia are the Dixsons, two of whom hold 14,000 shares each. All but one or two small manufacturers’ have been absorbed in the BritishAustralian Tobacco Manufacturing Company, but over one-third of the entire capital of the company is held outside Australia. It includes the businesses of Dixson, Cameron, Jacobs Hart, and other manufacturers, and, as I have shown, has appointed Kronheimer Limited as its sole distributer in Australia.
– I know a better way of destroying this monopoly than that which the honorable member supports - to cease from smoking.
– No doubt that would be effective. The monopoly controls not only the manufacture and distribution of tobacco, but the sale of all tobacconists’ supplies.
– How old is the trust ?
– The original amalgamation was announced on the 14th March, 1903, and is therefore about eighteen months old. Kronheimer Limited is a still newer amalgamation.
– Do I understand that there is more than one Trust?
– There are really two combinations - one a manufacturing company, being an amalgamation of all the manufacturing firms, except one or two small ones, which can be left out of consideration for the ‘ moment ; and the other a combination of importers and foreign firms doing business in Australia; and who formerly came into competition with the local companies. These importing firms have all combined under the name of Kronheimer Limited. The local manufacturing amalgamation has also appointed Kronheimer Limited as their sole distributing agents. So that practically the whole of the distributing business in Australia is entirely in the hands of one company. The manufacturing business is, of course, done by the British-Australian Company, in which Kronheimers hold a considerable interest, and by a number of other foreign firms.
– That ought to result in a great saving.
– It should. I am not objecting to the amalgamation in itself. Previously, of course, all the firms were in competition one with the other. . We are told that competition is the soul of business, and the life-blood of industry. Such competition existed for a considerable number of years. The companies advertised very largely. Their travellers competed for business one against the other. The companies competed for the leaf grown by the Australian tobacco farmer. The retailers had their choice of brands and of firms to deal with. But all these things are now changed. The whole of the business has gone into the hands of one controlling firm, and1 there is absolutely no competition. So that if there is anything in the contention that competition is the soul of business, the tobacco business has no soul, because there is no competition in it. We have no competition even between the local manufacturers and the foreign manufacturers. They’ are amalgamated. There is one price fixed for the different brands, from which there can be no departure ; and no retailer is allowed to sell at any but the price fixed by the corporation. He cannot sell at what price he likes. There are no competing travellers. There is no competition amongst the manufacturing firms for the leaf grown in Australia. The advertising has been lessened very largely. There is now no possibility of the tobacco-grower being able to place his goods in the best market, because there is but one market. Whatever may be the price fixed by the corporation, that price the grower has to take. There is no competition between the manufacturers in the matter of quality.
– Are they charging a lower price than was charged before?
– I will come to that question directly. The one object of the combine is, of course, to get the greatest amount of profit by controlling the industry. I am not saying that they are blameable in that respect, but such is the natural outcome Of the combination. The honorable and learned member for Werriwa has asked me whether the combine has lowered the price of tobacco.
– In some cases they have increased the price.
– I do not intend to make any assertions as to what they have or have not done in that respect, although it has been stated to me that the price has been raised to the retailer.
– The honorable member knows thai the price has not been raised.
– I do not know anything of the kind. If I knew that the price had not been raised. 1 should certainly say so.
– I know “that it has been raised.
– I believe that the price of tobacco has not been raised to the public, but it has’ been raised to the retailer. That is one_of the reasons why I wish to have a Royal Commission appointed. I wish to ascertain to what extent prices have been affected. If the honorable member for Hunter knows that prices have not been raised, he will be able to give evidence to that effect before the Commission. The principal point is that all the retailers, and the growers, and the employes of the companies are now servants of the combine. They are not free agents any longer. They depend entirely upon the combine for their living, and must accept the conditions imposed upon them, or go entirely out of the business. They have no alternative.
– Some of us said that this would happen if we made so big a margin between trie excise and the duty on tobacco.
– -That has nothing more to do with the case than has the war between Russia and Japan.
– We pointed out that the price would be raiser! ; Une Honorable member says it has risen ; yet, he says we were wrong in pointing out that such would be the case.
– The honorable and learned member overlooks the fact that there is a combine which works in a similar manner in America, and another one in Great Britain, where there is no difference between the excise and the import duty. , Exactly the same state of affairs has happened in a free-trade country. Similar combinations are doing exactly the same all over the world, wherever they have an opportunity.
It is of no use for honorable members opposite to endeavour to raise side issues. In reference to the growers of tobacco being in the hands of the combine, I should like to point out that the Wangaratta and King River Growers’ Associations, and some other associations, have appealed to this Parliament, and have passed resolutions asking that the tobacco industry shall be nationalized. They recognise that the present situation is a source of danger.
– Who would fix the price then ?
– Does the honorable member raise that as an objection ? Who fixes the price for travelling on .the trams in Sydney, and on the railways of the States?
– That is quite a different thing.
– The honorable member will find that there is really no distinction. The operations of the Tobacco Trust in New Zealand are interesting. According to a report which appears in a Canterbury newspaper, Mr. Seddon, speaking with regard to the American Tobacco Trust, said -
At the present time there is not a tobacconist in the colony who dares to call his soul his own.
One tobacconist said -
We know that the evil exists, as well as feel its influence every day of our lives ; and we are dominated by it to such an extent that we dare not take action. We are afraid to take steps publicly, or even to approach the Premier, in case the fact might come to the knowledge of the trust. In these circumstances, we are delighted to learn that the Premier has taken the matter in hand, and we sincerely hope that he will do something to stop the operations of the trust, which extend throughout the colony. Up to the present, it has only begun to move here. ‘ Yet, it moves so rapidly, and delivers its blows with such skill and strength, that it has already become a terrible tyrant. It has dragged into its clutches immense factories in America, Germany, and other countries, and it is endeavouring to extend its ramifications almost daily. .We are afraid that its next step, if we are not careful, will be the establishment of retail shops in our midst, to run in opposition to us, on the approved plan of all trust organizations in America. It controls the business in not only tobaccos, but also cigars and cigarettes. lt has many different lines, and if a tobacconist that deals with it attempts to sell a new line, he is peremptorily told not to do so. He has the option of sticking to the trust, with its many lines, or to the single line, and, of course, he must select the former. If we took, action openly, our lives, from a business point of view, would not be worth twopence. Bound hand and foot, we can do absolutely nothing, and that is why we welcome the Premier’s’ remarks in the hope that they will lead to something practical being done to help us.
There is a good deal more of a similar nature set forth in the report. A wholesale merchant, who has been one of the victims of the trust, said -
It was, he thought, one of the worst features of the American Invasion. He thought that steps should be taken without delay to stop the invasion. It represented low wages and sweating in the very worst form.
Then, a Mr. Eslick also made a statement as to the position of the wholesale and retail tobacconists since the trust had began its operations. His statement is as follows: -
It was a fact that not a tobacconist could call his soul his own, for the trust controlled the business from top to bottom. “ The American Tobacco Company,” he said, “ controls almost all the tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes that go through our hands. We have only one line of Havanna cigars, and one of two lines of cigarettes, that the trust has not got within its grasp. Even these can only be secured by direct importation by the retailer. The merchants are dependent on the trust, and are forbidden by it to handle the few small lines it does not control. If they refuse to obey the mandates of the trust it threatens to cut off their supplies, and they have no option but to obey. They may lose practically the whole of their trade if they prove refractory. The retailers in turn are dependent on the merchants, and in most cases they cannot afford to fight the trust. By dealing from the mei chants they can secure a certain amount of credit, and they need it, because their returns come in very slowly. Moreover, there is so small a profit on any of the lines controlled by the trust that a .large outlay could hardly be recouped. We are almost powerless, and if we have, to raise the price of tobaccos, and there seems little doubt that we shall, it will not be our fault. Seven of the best-known plug tobaccos, Diadem, Welcome Nugget, Victory, Ruby, Nosegay, Lucy Hinton, and Royal Colours (I quote these because every smoker knows them), have recently been raised by the trust, and both the merchants and the retailers are suffering. The profit, when spread out over a long period, as it must be in most cases, is practically nil. The tinned tobaccos are nearly all controlled by the trust, and our scanty profits on them are being taken from us. We used to get it in 51b. tins at 6s. 2d. per lb. The trust says that it has been selling its tobaccos at a loss, because it began selling cheap in order to secure the market, and now it wants to get some of the benefit. . . . What it wants is to get hold of some of the high-class tobaccos which compete against it too successfully, and run these out of the market. Then it can introduce cheaper lines at the same prices and pocket the extra profits. It is a very fine prospect for the company, but a poor one for the retailers and the public, and the sooner Mr. Seddon takes action against the existing monopoly, the better it will be for all of us.”
That is the position in New Zealand, as set out by a number of gentlemen connected with the trade there, and I think it is desirable that an inquiry should be held with a view to ascertaining whether similar conditions prevail here. I said, some time ago, that I did not intend to make any assertions with regard to the condition of affairs existing iri Australia, because, apart from referring to the fact that there is a combine, I do not think it is necessary to enter into the matter at this stage. If a Royal Commission is appointed, we shall have an opportunity to ascertain the whole of the facts, and to judge as to the extent to which the conditions which are said to exist in New Zealand prevail in Australia. I have been told that the prices charged to the retailers have been raised.
– I have been informed that they have been raised on two occasions.
– I do not know on how many occasions prices have been increased. My informant is a. retailer in an absolutely independent position.
– If the honorable member’s informant is in an absolutely independent position, all of the tobacconists cannot be under the control of the trust.
– I cannot mention names, except privately, but I can assure the honorable member that his interjection does not apply. I have also been told that the quality of the tobacco supplied is not so good as formerly. I am not aware that the wages of the men employed in the trade have, so far, been prejudicially affected ; but these are early days.
– There is a strong tendency to employ girls.
– Is not that the natural tendency in a protected industry ?
– No. The effect of the operations of the trust, so far as wages are concerned, would not be very apparent at the present time. It is natural, however, to suppose that, after raising the prices of their product as far as they can, consistently with the largest output and consequently a large profit, and after cheapening production in other directions, the trust will naturally desire to secure more and more profit, and will cut down the wages of their employes. It would be extremely interesting if we could ascertain the extent to which the cost of production of tobacco has been reduced by the operations of the combine. The probabilities are that the cost of production has been lessened, because the duplicating of machinery has been done away with, travellers have been dispensed with, and there is no longer any necessity to indulge in expensive advertising.
– All those facts constitute arguments in favour of the nationalization of the industry.
– First of all, they are arguments in favour of monopoly. They show the advantage of amalgamating businesses instead of having them competing one against the other. We are told that competition is the very soul of business. It is competition which brings up the quality of an article and keeps down its price. All the advantages which are said to accrue from private enterprise are entirely absent from the tobacco industrv. Hence there are no virtues in it from the stand-point of honorable members opposite, who are anxious to see unrestricted competition.
– The honorable member does not admit those advantages.
– In certain lines I da It is undeniable that the competition which is supposed to produce good results is conspicuously absent . when any industry is controlled by a combine.
– Who supposes it?
– I quite believe that the honorable member is willing to repudiate the opinions of a great number of those by whom he is immediately surrounded.
– Is the honorable member in favour of competition, or is he not?
-Does the honorable member wish me to enter into a philosophic or academic discussion as to whether competition or combination is necessary? There are three forms in which industry is conducted, namely, by competition, by cooperation, and by monopoly. Each of these forms possesses some advantages.
– There is one antiSocialist in the Labour Party at last.
– I think that the proposed Commission should inquire into the extent of the monopoly and into its effects, so far as they can be ascertained. I know that it is difficult even for a Royal Commission, which has power to take evidence upon oath, to get at the actual facts, because the whole of the persons engaged in the industry are servants of the combine, and are therefore not able to give evidence prejudicial to it. But whatever difficulties a Commission might experience in this connexion would be multiplied in the case of an individual. Then I wish the Commission to ascertain whether any legislation in regard to this industry is necessary or likely to be beneficial and, if so, what form it should take. Should it take the form of nationalization, or should we enact anti-trust legislation ?
– Or should we endeavour to create fresh competition?
– Anti-trust legislation would constitute an attempt to revert to the condition of things which existed prior- to the formation of the combine. It would resemble an effort to put back the hands of the clock, or an attempt to sweep back the incoming tide with a broom. Personally, I regard the formation of trusts as a natural evolution in industrial progress.
– I thought that the honorable member was deploring the absence of competition in the tobacco industry.
– The honorable and learned member is not going to lead me off the track, in that way. .
– I should like to know the honorable member’s position.
– The honorable member knows perfectly well where I stand.
– Does the honorable member wish this Commission to be appointed because of his apprehension of possible dangers, or because of dangers which actually exist?
– I desire the Commission to ascertain what is happening.
– Without possessing any knowledge that anything wrong is happening ?
– Surely the honorable member does not wish me to make assertions as to what is happening?
– The House has a right to expect the honorable member to cite some facts which will justify us in sanctioning, the appointment of a Commission, whose creation will involve expenditure.
– I have already pointed out -that a tobacco combine exists. The fact is generally admitted. That combination controls the entire industry, and necessarily controls the price at which goods can be sold. There is an entire absence of that competition which alone can protect the public. A condition of things exists, under which the public can have no protection whatever, all the persons engaged in the industry being servants of the combine.
– I regret the absence of competition.
– How can we overcome that difficulty?
– By abolishing the excise and import duties.
– The honorable and learned member should make interjections which are relevant to the issue.
– My last interjection is too relevant.
– It has nothing whatever to do with the question. It seems to me that we had better accept the tobacco monopoly as a natural evolution, and rob it of its power to enrich a few individuals, at the expense of the general community. Personally, I think that it would be wise to have the industry controlled by the community for the community. At the present time, I am not able to discuss the question of nationalization, and hence I am . somewhat at a disadvantage. I desire a Commission to inquire into this matter, with a view to ascertain whether the best way to overcome the evils of the combination is not by making the industry a Government monopoly. Another advantage to be derived from the appointment of the Commission is that the facts relating to the establishment of a State -monopoly of tobacco in France, Italy, and Roumania, can be ascertained. This information could be supplied by the respective consuls for those countries, and it would be very valuable. Some objection has been raised to this proposal, upon the ground that it whittles down the labour platform. I do not believe in nationalizing any industry in the morning before breakfast, and more especially an industry which employs a large number of persons, and contributes an annual revenue of . £1,330,304. Before any steps are taken to disturb such an ‘ enterprise, a preliminary inquiry should certainly be held. We ought not to make any variation in the existing conditions without allowing both parties to be heard, and, therefore, it would be much better to appoint a Royal Commission than for the House - even if it were ready to do so - to declare straight out for the nationalization of the industry.
– Is the honorable member in favour of tha appointment of a fair Royal Commission ?
– Why does no.t the honorable member ask me whether I am a fair-minded man ? What” answer does he expect to such a question ?
– I know that the honorable member is fair-minded, but all the members of a Select Committee which was recently appointed are in favour of a State monopoly.
– To what Select Committee does the honorable member refer?
– To the Select Committee appointed by another place.
– I am afraid that the honorable member does not recognise the distinction between my proposal and that agreed . to by another place. The latter provided for the appointment of a Select Committee to give effect to the resolution of the Senate that the industry should be nationalized. In view of this explanation, the honorable member should withdraw his remark as to the unfairness of the Committee.
– The honorable member cannot do so at this stage.
– Then I think that it would be a graceful act for the honorable member to withdraw his remark when he addresses Himself to the question. All that I desire is that a Commission shall be appointed to consider the advisableness of either nationalizing the industry, or of passing anti-trust legislation, or any other legislation that may be necessary. In order that there may be a fair inquiry, we must have a Commission fairly representative of both sides, and the honorable member for Wentworth will not find me offering any objection to anything which he may propose in that direction. I can hardly conceive that opposition is likely to be offered from any quarter of the House to my request for an inquiry. That a monopoly does exist is beyond question, and the fact that it places the whole industry in the hands of a few persons, whose interests may not always be in harmony’ with those of the public - and who may therefore find themselves in a position in which they would not carry on the trade to the best interests of the public - shows that it is at all events a matter that deserves to be investigated.
– I should like to know whether the ‘honorable member for Boothby is prepared to consent to the adjournment of the debate.
– Not yet.
– Then I shall offer only a few remarks. I presume, Mr. Speaker, that I have, by rising now, prejudiced my right to speak on this motion at a later stage ?
– I am afraid that the honorable member has begun his speech.
– In view of the fact that this motion has emanated from the honorable member for Boothby, we may be quite sure that it is the desire of those who support his request that the inquiry for which he asks shall be as fair and open as possible. We all know that the Prime Minister will be charged with the appointment of the Commission, and that both he and those honorable members who mainly wish to see an inquiry held, having put forward the honorable member for Boothby to move this motion, are actuated only by a keen desire to get at the facts. Honorable members opposite do not wish to nationalize the industry if any other means, more profitable to the people of Australia, can be devised. So much information was given by the honorable member for Boothby that I cannot at present deal with all the phases of his speech. I very much regret that “ I was engaged on another task during portion of the time occupied by him in placing his views before the House, and that consequently I was unable to follow him with that degree of attention necessary to enable me to do him anything like justice in replying1 to his arguments. I thought that the honorable member would perhaps have no objection to the adjournment of the debate; but I find that other honorable members are now prepared to carry on the discussion - a fact that certainly was not evident when I rose. I think, therefore, that I can safely leave the matter in their hands. They will be in quite as good a position as I am to carry on the debate. The question must, of course, be fully discussed before the House is asked to authorize the considerable expenditure involved in the appointment of a Royal Commission. I hope that other Honorable members will be prepared to take up the cudgels of economy, and to urge that a Royal Commission should be appointed only when good cause is shown. I sincerely hope that if the Commission be appointed it will be only after strong proof has been adduced that it is necessary that the State should incur this expense, and that it will be such an impartial body as I am sure the honorable member for Boothby would desire.
– There appears to be a tendency on the part of honorable members to ask for the appointment of Royal Commissions, and if this tendency is to go on increasing we had better consider the desirableness of abolishing Parliament, leaving Royal Commissions to deal with every question that a Legislature might otherwise be called upon to consider. I would suggest that the motion be amended so as to provide, in the interests of economy, for the appointment of a Select Committee rather than a Royal Commission.
– It is too late now to appoint a Select Committee.
– I do not question the statements which have been made bv the honorable member for Boothby, but it must not be forgotten that they are ex parte. No Government should be expected to appoint a Royal Commission simply because of lurid statements made by an honorable member. For a Ministry to adopt such a course- would be to involve the country in an incalculable degree of trouble, worry, and vexation.
– Every one knows that this combination exists.
– But there are many other combinations to protect the people.
– To exploit them.
– I use the word “ protect” in the sense that combinations in certain directions are supposed to be of a protective character. I am sure that the leader of the Opposition would not say that the mere statement that a combination exists in the tobacco trade constitutes a sufficient reason for the appointment of a Royal Commission.
– That is not the sole reason.
– If the honorable member were at the head of the Government, he would not grant a Royal Commission on such a ground. Whilst the honorable member for Boothby was speaking, the honorable member for Parramatta made one or two interjections, which suggested that he entertained some doubt as to the accuracy of certain statements ; but the mover of the motion replied that he believed that they were correct, from the information at his disposal. He admitted, however, that, so far, the consumer had not been injured by this alleged combination or monopoly.
– But the consumer has been injured.
– I shall not canvass that statement. A Select Committee might certainly be able to collect material that would warrant the Government in taking further action. This is a matter which lies within the province of the Minister of Trade and Customs, . and I trust that he will suggest to the House that it would be unwise to rush into the appointment of a Royal Commission. I believe that many of the statements made by the honorable member for Boothby are well founded. He put it that the producers receive no benefit from this trust ; and that the growers of tobacco had not received a higher price for the leaf, but were practically at the mercy of this powerful combination. If that statement be true, the Government should give consideration to the advisability, not of nationalizing the tobacco industry, but of introducing anti-trust legislation which will prevent the establishment of monopolies, not only in the tobacco, but also in other businesses. The honorable member for Boothby was not prepared to say that the consumers have yet been injured by the monopoly to which he has referred.
– I am prepared, from the evidence which has been brought before me, to say that the Victorian consumers have suffered.
– I am a votary of My Lady Nicotine; but I have not noticed that the quality of tobacco and cigars is worse now than it was before the trust was formed. I am aware, however, that the position of sellers of tobacco is a very serious one. The tobacconists are fast being placed in a position similar to that of publicans in tied houses. Those who sell tobacco and tobacconists’ goods, are practically at the mercy of the trust, which can demand what it likes for its goods while the retailers have to be satisfied with the minimum of profit, which is so small that they are not as well off as decently-paid employes would be. They have to pay their rent, and all the expenses of- their businesses, while nearly all the profit is obtained by the trust. The experience of other countries is not favorable to the nationalization of an industry such as this. In France-
– I ask the honorable member not to discuss the nationalization of the tobacco industry.
– The nationalization of the industry is referred to in paragraph 3 of the motion.
– For some months past there has been on the business-paper a notice of motion for the consideration of a message from the other branch of the Legislature, in relation to the Government manufacture and sale of tobacco. I informed the honorable member for Boothby, before he rose, that I should have to refuse him permission to discuss the subject of nationalization, which is referred to in that message. He made no reference .to it, and I cannot permit other honorable members to do what I would not allow him to do.
– I am very much indebted to you, sir, for the information that we are precluded from discussing the subject ; but I did not intend to do more than remark incidentally that the only apparent gain from the nationalization of the tobacco industry in France is that the deputies get free smokes.
– I am told that that is not so.
– I know, as a matter of fact, that it is so.
– At any rate, they manufacture verv bad smokes there.
– I do not know whether the deputies are’ supplied with the “Murias.” or “Flor de Naves,” of the upper classes, or the “Twofers,” of the sansculotte ; but I have been informed that they get free smokes. The honorable member for Boothby had to admit that he ‘is not armed with sufficient information to reply to the questions with which he was assailed, . and he is therefore now asking for a fishing inquiry.
– To what questions did he not reply?
– If the honorable member had been paying attention he would have heard them. I shall not set a bad example by repeating interjections, which, Mr. Speaker has told us, are at all times disorderly. I hope that the leader of the Opposition will not ask that a votebe taken in such a thin House as this. [Quorum formed.] The question is a very important one, and should be threshed out when there is a large attendance of honorable members. It is not desirable that the Government should be too ready to appoint Royal Commissions, because the expense of their investigations is considerable, and I think that no warrant has been given for the appointment of a Royal Commission in this case.
– The honorable member for Boothby is to be commended for having brought this important matter under the notice of the House ; but I am sure that he will agree with me that we should have more information before committing the country to the expense of a Royal Commission. I therefore ask him to allow the debate to be adjourned, to enable me to make further inquiries into the matter. It is probable that a good deal of information will be necessary to enable us to come to a proper conclusion, and that it will have to be got through the Department from other countries. The Government are with the honorable member in the view that monopolies should not be allowed to exist to the detriment of the public interest. Probably none suffer more than do the producers of raw material from the existence of monopolies, because the restriction of their market puts them at the mercy of the buyers in regard to price. The Government are quite prepared to take action to put down monopolies wherever they find them. Personally. I think that anti-trust legislation would meet the case more effectively than the nationalization of any industry; but in view of the seriousness of the proposal I ask time for further consideration, and move -
That the debate be now adjourned.
– The Minister may not move the adjournment of the debate, as he has spoken to the motion ; but I have no doubt that the House will grant him leave to continue his speech on a later day.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
– I move-
That it is desirable to remodel the Telephone regulations, with a view to providing improved facilities for communication between city, suburban, and rural districts.
At the present time, owing to the red tape formalities which have to be complied with, it is very difficult for populous centres to obtain telephonic communication with the metropolis. Moreover, the rates charged at present are in many cases prohibitive, and I think honorable members will agree that the system in vogue and the high rates charged are not conducive to the extension of the telephone service. It should be the object of the Department to provide as reasonable facilities as possible for the most extensive use of the telephone system by the community. In my electorate there are several places, such as Sutherland, Cronulla, Yowie Bay, and Miranda, situated between George’s River and Port Hacking, which are absolutely without telephone communication with the metropolis. Not only is there a very large resident population, but the district is also a place of public resort at holiday and other times. The National Park and the many other picturesque and delightful spots in this district are weekly resorted to by thousands of persons, and yet no telephonic communication is provided, although Sydneyis only fourteen or fifteen miles distant. In cases of emergency, such as those arising from accident or fire, there are no means of communicating with the police, the fire brigades, or the hospital authorities, and I think that every effort should be made by the Department to supply a deficiency of that kind.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Austin Chapman) agreed to-
That a Select Committee be appointed to investigate and report upon -
The working of the Old-age Pensions Acts of New South Wales and Victoria;
The probable cost of, and the best means to be adopted for, establishing old-age pensions for the Commonwealth.
That such Committee have power to send for persons, papers, and records ; to move from place to place; and to sit at any time.
That the Committee consist of Sir Langdon Bonython, Mr. Frazer, Mr. Lee, Mr. O’Malley, Mr. Page, Sir John Quick, Mr. Skene, Mr. Sydney Smith, and the mover; and that four be the quorum of such Committee.
Debate resumed from 7 th July (vide page 3063), on motion by Sir John Quick -
That, in the opinion of this House, in order to promote the primary industries of Australia, a Federal Department of Agriculture ought to be established at an early date.
– The honorable and learned member for Bendigo is to be congratulated upon having moved in the direction of establishing a Federal Department of Agriculture. The proposal is an eminently practical one, and if carried into effect, will, without doubt, prove exceedingly beneficial to the Commonwealth. The honorable and learned member is also to be felicitated upon having obtained from the Government an expression of their approval of his proposal. I do not know that the Minister of Trade and Customs has actually undertaken to establish a Department upon the lines indicated by the honorable and learned member, but his statement at least committed the Government to a promise to give the matter their favorable consideration:. The proposal has been criticized upon the ground that it would involve considerable expense. Every exercise of our power in the direction of establishing new Departments must involve further expenditure, and, to that extent, demands the critical attention of the Treasurer, and also the jealous scrutiny of the States Treasurers. Unfortunately, owing to the nature of our Constitution, whereby the Federal and States finances are so closely interwoven, it becomes almost impossible for us to extend the exercise of our powers without inviting hostile criticism. However, that is one of the defects of the Constitution which we have to face. In my opinion, if we find that by exercising a certain power vested in us, we can confer benefit upon the Australian people, we shall be justified in incurring the necessary outlay - even though the expenditure may involve, to a certain extent, the reduction of the amounts which are returned to the States. The argument against this proposal, which is based upon the cost, is not altogether a fair one, because a Department of Agriculture, if properly established, instead of being the means of increasing the expense of the Commonwealth, should, in the long run, effect a great saving to all those engaged in primary production and to our citizens generally. If a direct saving of expense be not effected we should at least be able to bring abo.ut a great increase in the production of material wealth. The experience of the United States Department of Agriculture has clearly demonstrated beyond all doubt that immense benefits are conferred upon the community by that institution. In one of the recent reports of the Department, the Honorable J. M. Rusk, who was formerly, Secretary to the Department, says -
In concluding the review of the work done under the several divisions of this Department since the date of my last annual report, it gives me pleasure to state, and I say this advisedly, that each one of more than a dozen divisions whose work I have reviewed, has returned in actual value to the country during the past year far more than the entire annual appropriation accorded to this Department.
The writer is very emphatic upon the point that each division of the Department has effected a saving or has resulted in a gain to the community equal to the whole annual appropriation for the entire Department. A saving of $2,000,000 was effected, so far as the Southern States were concerned, by the discovery by the Division of Forestry of the real value of pine-tree timber, after the trees had been boxed for turpentine. Further, it is shown that the supervision exercised over the export of animals has resulted in a saving of $2,100,000 annually in respect to insurances. In connexion with the Weather Bureau, evidence is given that owing to fruit-growers being able to anticipate severe frosts in consequence of the forecasts issued by the Bureau, enormous savings have been effected 7n the orchards. Further, in connexion with .the Department of Meteorology it is demonstrated clearly that by means of timely forecasts, great savings have Been effected in connexion with shipping and by residents upon areas subjected to heavy floods. We have had experience in Queensland of the advantage of timely warnings furnished by the Meteorological Department there. In many cases crops Have been saved, and stock- and property have been removed from areas subject to flood. Therefore, although a Department of Agriculture might involve the Commonwealth in a certain increased expenditure, it would, in the long run, effect a great saving. Quite recently the fruit-growers of Tasmania and other southern States incurred a loss of from ,£50,000 to £75,000 in connexion with the exportation of apples. If proper regulations had been in force with regard to the shipment of fruit, that loss would probably never have been experienced, and the reputation of our fruit-growers and our produce would not have suffered. We know that in the United States great savings have been effected by reason of the prompt treatment of diseases in plants and animals, and that the material wealth of the community has been considerably enhanced by the introduction under the advice of the Agricultural Department of better classes of fruit, timber, and cereals, and of various plants which have been found to thrive in hat country. In all these matters an Agricultural Department can work great changes for the better, and I am sure that it would not be long before we reaped the advantages of such an institution in the Commonwealth. It would become a great educational centre. We all know that with regard to agriculture, there is hardly a discovery in science, or an advance made in chemistry that has not some practical effect upon primary production. We know that every advance made by inventive genius tends to assist the producers to obtain better returns for their produce. From whatever stand-point we view the matter, it is exceedingly desirable that a Department of Agriculture should be established. During the course of this debate the honorable and learned member for Indi suggested that if the Government could not see their way to establish such a Department, even upon modest lines, they might at least .appoint a Standing Parliamentary Committee of Trade and Commerce. Personally, I am of opinion that the subject of immigration should also be included. I have taken the trouble to examine the Canadian system, and I find that it constitutes an exceedingly healthful adjunct to the Legislature of the Dominion. There, the Standing Parliamentary Committee, which meets from time to time, considers all matters put before it in respect of agriculture. It also inquires into the work performed by the High Commissioner in the old country, with a view to advancing the material interests of Canada, and securing a good stream of immigration to the Dominion. The advantage to be gained from the appointment of such a Committee is that it can be established at “the present time without involving the Commonwealth in any very heavy expenditure. It would have before it a lot .of work, the carrying out of which would render great assistance to this Parliament. Only the other day the fruit-growers met in conference, with a view to considering their position generally, and of approaching the Commonwealth Parliament with a request that it should place their industry upon a better footing. That conference dealt with the question of bills of lading under the provisions of the Navigation Bill, with the inspection of fruit between port and port, with the important question of oversea freights, with the handling of fruit between State and State, and with various other matters. In Canada i: would have been quite open to the members of that body to come personally before the Parliamentary Committee, and to supply it with definite information.’ It would then have been competent for the Committee to submit a report to Parliament, and practically to initiate legislation upon outside advice “of the very best description. I find, also, that in Canada this Committee is used for the purpose of disseminating information, which is supplied by the various branches of the Department of Agriculture there. For instance, I notice that in the course of one year, the Committee took evidence in regard to cereals and root crops from the Director of the Dominion Experimental Farms, and, in regard to insect and fungus diseases from the Government Entomologist and Botanist of Experimental Farms. It also examined witnesses upon the composition of manures, soils, &c, the selection of dairy cattle, and the care and growth of fruit for market. Those engaged in these industries were able to appear before the Committee in person. The officers of the Department speak very highly of the Canadian system. In discharging their various duties, in their own particular way, they did not previously come into contact with members of the Legislature. But, under the system at present in vogue, they are able to appear before the Standing Parliamentary Committee, and to supply information relating to the nature of the experiments which they have conducted during the previous year, to the diseases in plant and animal life which exist in the community, and to the expansion and growth of various products. As a result they become better acquainted with the need which exists for legislation in regard to any particular industry. Official reports are also supplied as to the growth and expansion, of various industries, and, acting under instructions from’ the Committee, these are widely circulated. The public are thus informed of the nature of the experiments which are being conducted under the auspices of the Department, and in many other ways those who are engaged in production are assisted. Equally important are the Committee’s reports upon the subject of immigration. It is able to acquaint Parliament with the causes which militate against immigration, and it thus places the Legislature in -a position to combat them. In Australia we have not a Federal Department of Agriculture upon which such a Committee could work. But I would point out that these Departments, in addition to agricultural colleges, exist in six of the States. If a standing Parliamentary Committee were appointed, there is not the slightest reason v:hy it should not call before it the experts of the various States, and thus afford them an opportunity of federalizing the results of their Departments. Bv that means we could accomplish much that is being done in Canada at the present time. We should be able to do this, without involving the Commonwealth in any great expenditure. At an early date I think that we should establish a Federal Department of Agriculture. Of course, there is no need to adopt the lines which have been followed in the United States. But there is great need for the creation of such a Department, in order that we may give effect to the legislative powers vested in the Commonwealth. A great many powers which were formerly exercised by the States have now passed to tt.e Commonwealth. For instance, the Post and Telegraph. Defence, Meteorological, and Statistical Departments, as well as the subjects of quarantine and ‘the payment of bounties, have been transferred to our hands. In the past the States have used these Departments to assist their primary producers. It seems to me, therefore, that by superseding certain services which already exist in six different States, we might make a beginning in the establishment of a Department of Agriculture. We already control the Post and Telegraph Department, and in connexion with it, we should establish our Meteorological Department. In the United States, it fulfils a most important function in connexion with the Department of Agriculture, though originally it was a branch of the Army Service Department. At the present time, we have in Australia several Meteorological Departments. These are practically duplicating their work; but their operations are restricted to a. certain area within their respective States. If the Common wealth established a Meteorological Department, it should be one worthy of the name, and one in which great reliance could be placed, because its sphere of operations would embrace the whole of Australia. By creating a central office, weather reports from all parts of the Continent could be received twice a day. We should thus obtain sounder forecasts than we at present receive. We could also secure information from outside our own shores which would greatly enhance the value of those forecasts. Indeed, a Department of Meteorology is one of such importance that I marvel we have not made more progress in that direction. In one year the saving to shipping alone would more than compensate for the cost of its establishment. As honorable members are aware, very great reliance used to be placed in the forecasts which were issued by Mr. Wragge before his department was abolished. It is admitted that they were of very material assistance to mariners and others. We know also that in certain parts of Australia, considerable injury is caused by early frosts. A reliable forecast in matters of this kind would effect a great saving to us. I recollect reading a letter from a Tasmanian farmer, in which he declared that by watching the forecasts which were formerly issued by Mr. Wragge in Queensland, he was able to reap his harvest at the proper time, and thus to save it. It is so obvious that substantial gain would result from the establishment of this department that it seems unnecessary for me to dwell further upon the point. I maintain that its creation would be the essence of true economy, because the work which is at present being carried1 out by the various States, would be more efficiently performed. For example, the services of the telegraph operators throughout Australia could be requisitioned to assist in making this institution exceedingly valuable. Another important branch which should be created in connexion with a Department of Agriculture is a statistical branch. In the United States a Statistical Bureau has been established to collect the figures 1 elating to its imports, and to agricultural production. At the present time we have six different Statistical Departments in Australia, and we know the difficulty that is experienced in obtaining reliable statistics, so far as the Com- monwealth is concerned. If we had a properly organized department, I claim that we could secure very much bet:er results. We should have uniformity of system, regularity, and, what is” above all things necessary, reliability. A statistical branch is absolutely essential to a Department of Agriculture. It would enable us .to see in what directions our production was weak or strong; it would reveal the nature of goods consumed in the community, and so enable the Department of Agriculture to direct the producers .to any leakage that might be taking place. In this way, the Department would be able to advise the producers as to the consumption in the markets of Australia, and such information would be absolutely invaluable. In Queensland we have no accurate knowledge at the present time of what is the consumption of goods in the southern States, and I dare say. that those engaged in the producing industry in Victoria are not generally familiar with the consumption in the northern State. A proper statistical branch’, issuing bulletins from time to time, would direct public attention to these matters, and the result would be a considerable gain to Australian production. Another matter that might well be undertaken by the Commonwealth - a matter which is at present dealt with bv the States - is the uniform supervision of exports. To give the House some idea of the importance of this question, 1 shall quote from a paragraph which appears at page 4 of the report of the Queensland Department of Agriculture for j.903-4, an extract from an article on trade with Natal, written by Mr. R. Farrell, and published in .the Sydney Mail, on 1st June. The writer says -
This is no exaggeration; and I greatly regret to state that Australia was not represented, except by the writer, and when asked the reason - “ Why, wc cannot depend on your meat (New South Wales). We like your Queensland beef in handy sizes, no waste ; but if some of the people knew it was Australian they would not have it. We do not want anything or anybody Australian.” The whole cause of this hatred is summed up in a very few words. These people have been swindled in business through the great quantity of fraudulent and not up-to-sample or quality of goods imposed upon them under glowing and flaring brands that had no right ever to be allowed out of the Colonies, but should have been condemned straight away. Tinned meats are to be seen in auction rooms for anything you dare to offer. In the wholesale and retail grocers’ windows you only see well-known American and English brands. Why? Because they are sold under the United States of America bureau cer- 9 s tificate, and are always sought after, and it is found that Australia has no such hall-mark to guarantee her products.
We have now accomplished Federation; in the eyes of the world Australia figures as one nation, and any deficiency in the exports of any State operates against the whole of the produce of Australia. This fact is clearly demonstrated by the quotation that I have just read. It is thereforenecessary that the Federal Parliament should deal at the very earliest date with the question of the preservation of a proper standard in the export of Australian goods. I have before me the views of an expert who has ‘been through the Department of Agriculture in the United States, and has also had experience in the Australian Departments. I wrote to him for an expression of opinion as to the value of a Department of Agriculture for the Commonwealth, having regard to the fact that each of the States had such a Department in existence at the, present time, and in his answer he wrote -
I shall leave it very largely for you and others to determine to what extent the conditions of Australia would justify the establishment of a Federal Department of Agriculture within the Australian Commonwealth, bearing relations to our State Departments of Agriculture in the way that obtains in the United States of America. This much, however, I will say, because it must already be evident to all, that a Department or Bureau, even if it is of a limited nature for the present, must be established in order to control the relations of primary production of the Australian Commonwealth wilh other countries. In the matter of markets, and of the supervision of vegetable and animal diseases, it appears that there must be one Central Bureau, which must have charge of these matters in the name of the Commonwealth. Other countries, since the consolidation of the Australian States, no longer in the same sense think of those States severally and individually as before. Great Britain, America, and the countries of the European Continent are now dealing with us, not as several units, but as a whole, that whole being known as Australia, and it is Commonwealth. It is already necessary, and will become increasingly so, that the Commonwealth shall also make ready to deal as an entity with those several countries, and this’ can only be done, I think, through a Federal Bureau, which may finally develop into a Federal Department of Agriculture.
Thus, taking the statement of a gentleman who has had experience in this matter, it seems fairly clear that the Australian Parliament will have to deal with this question, and deal with it thoroughly, at a very early date. Another branch which would not involve any very great expense would be an office in England under the High Commissioner. The Government are making a . mistake in delaying the appointment of a High Commissioner. I think that they would have acted wisely iti the interests of Australia as a whole if they had accepted our suggestion, passed the High Commissioner Bill this session, and have submitted to this Parliament the name of the gentleman proposed to be appointed. Such a representative is urgently required, and under him officers should be appointed to deal, in co-operation with the States, with matters relating to foreign markets, and also with the question of immigration. Under the supervision of the Federal Department of Agriculture, a small central bureau for the purpose of centralizing the experience gained at the various experimental farms should also be established. Such a branch should correspond with the bureau of experimental farms in the United States of America. All our experimental farms are at present carrying out experiments under varying conditions in the different States, and the information so obtained is embodied in a few official reports which have but a limited circulation. It is essential that the information so obtained should be disseminated amongst the. various experimental stations, and, above all, it is absolutely desirable, in the interests of the growers- and producers themselves, that it should be supplied to them in a handy and simple form. The Department of Agriculture in the United States does valuable work through the agency of the Bureau of experimental farms, by collecting information as to different experiments, and publishing it, together with various interesting comparisons, broadcast throughout the States. It also renders valuable assistance to the people through the agency of the post-office, which carries information of assistance to the producers issued by the Department absolutely free of charge. I think that the Commonwealth Postal and Telegraph Department might take a lesson in that direction. If we established a Federal Department of Agriculture, and a Department of Meteorology, all weather information should likewise be sent free to those who desire it. The carrying out of this proposal might lead to a little debit balance in the bookkeeping accounts, but that would be amply compensated for by the saving in production which the country would in that way secure. Another matter which the Department might take up without involving great expense to the Commonwealth is the investigation of the various diseases relating to plants and animals. Australia suffers from some very serious pests, some of which have come from across the sea, and each State has power to deal with them only within its own specific area. What is desired is that there shall be. a central administration to grapple with any local outbreak of disease in plants, or of any plague of insect pests, such as the- fruit-fly, in order that it may be prevented from spreading from’ State to State. These are a few matters which the Department might take up with advantage in a practical way without involving the Commonwealth in any serious expense. I trust that the Government will consider the proposal as favorably as they have promised, and that they will see their way clear next year to make a beginning by establishing a few of the branches to which I have referred. They would really result in a saving to the States. They would offer an inducement to the States to do away with their separate branches and to rely on one central administration. That would accord with the true object of Federation. There is no desire that the Commonwealth shall supersede the work of the States. This motion has not been submitted with a view to the work of the various States Departments being superseded. In the United States of America each State has its Department of Agriculture, its agricultural colleges, and its experimental farms and stations ; but the Federation co-operates with them according to the truly Federal idea. That is the- principle underlying this motion. There is no desire to take away from the States any of the powers they possess. There is no wish to reduce the efficiency of the States Departments or to interfere with the work ordinarily performed by them. All that is desired is to centralize, to federalize, this work - to enable the experience of one State Department to be used for the assistance of another State ; to allow the farmers in one State to learn what is being done with advantage in any other part of the Commonwealth. What we really desire to do is to nationalize the information obtained by these Departments, and to spread it broadcast throughout the Commonwealth. If this be done, I think “we shall realize that which is expected of us. We cannot escape from the fact that this Parliament, so far, has done very little for the primary producers of Australia, and that they are entitled to come to the door of ‘ this Legislature to ask for and to receive something.
If we can, by means of a Federal Department of Agriculture, assist them to secure better returns from their investments, to make their labour more productive, and their work more efficient - if we can assist them by inducing them to take up highly profitable branches of agriculture, in which they do not at present engage - we shall confer a national benefit. I believe that a great deal can be accomplished in these directions, and I trust that the Ministry will see their way to accept the proposal made by the honorable and learned member for Indi, as one step towards the realization of our ideal - the creation of . a Federal Department of Agriculture.
– The honorable and learned member for Darling Downs is to be congratulated upon having delivered an intensely practical and able address. I am afraid that I cannot pretend to a speech of the same kind, inasmuch as I have risen on the spur of the moment to take part in the debate. One rises with the greatest diffidence to speak off-hand on a question of this kind, but there are two or three matters to which reference was made by the honorable and learned member which I’ desire to elaborate, and I hope perhaps to be able to furnish one or two practical illustrations of the advantages of some of the measures that he has so earnestly advocated. The question of facilitating the process of agriculture, and of conserving our primary industries in general, is an intensely practical one. It may be fitly summed up by the expression used last night by the right honorable member for Swan, when dealing with another matter - it is indeed a question of making two blades of grass grow where only one grew before, of making two ears of corn spring up where but one appeared before. It vitally concerns the whole of the people of Australia. One has only to look at the statistics dealing with the subject, in order to realize its importance. We read in the newspapers that the wheat yield for the current year is expected to average only seven and a half bushels to the acre., and when we remember that in Canada and the mother land, for instance, the average yield is two or three times greater, we must recognise that we are called upon to face the question of intense production in a very earnest manner. We cannot afford to allow this matter to slip out of our grasp, inasmuch “as it means all that is contained in the words “ prosperity 9 s 2 for Australia.” We are here at the antipodes of the world, and our handicaps in the race for life are very much greater than are those of the people of other countries - in those countries which are nearer to the markets of the world. For example, we are handicapped in connexion with our wheat harvest, as compared with Canada, America, and Russia, by a freight of 6d. per bushel. As the average price of wheat in London is about 3s. per bushel, that handicap is .1 very serious one. But if Australia is to take that place among the world’s producers to which her climate, the extent of her virgin lands, and her other advantages entitle her, we must try to overcome that handicap. There are many ways in which it might be overcome, and the establishment of a Federal Department of Agriculture might assist us to discover them. In the first place, a way might be found to get a greater yield of wheat to the acre than is obtained now: What is suggested is to crystallize the action which is now taken by the States individually. Only last week - the matter has been referred to already in this Chamber - there was a conference of fruit-growers from all the States. Year by year the States Ministers of Agri-culture meet to discuss their common interests, and it is sought by the motion to recognise this community of interests by the establishment of a Federal bureau. In justification of the establishment of such a bureau, I might mention our backwardness in the way of agricultural mapping. In other countries the agricultural areas are clearly defined and mapped, and I read the other day that in Canada the extent of the wheat-producing land is known very definitely. It has been surveyed, and the soils have been tested, and the information thus obtained is available to intending immigrants. If we wish to attract immigrants to our shores in a steady stream, we must place authentic information of this kind before them. It is true that the Governments of the States have a hazy idea as to the area of land available for agriculture; but there lias been no systematic compilation of information in regard to it, such as would show to any degree of completeness the character of the soil in any locality, and its extent and possibilities. AH the States have been mapped geologically. In New South Wales, for instance, we know now where to look for copper, where gold is to be found, and where coal lies ; and similar information should be obtained for the benefit of agriculturists. As the inducement of immigration is a matter which concerns Australia as a whole, this subject could be best dealt with1 by a Federal Department. Such a department might also assist our farmers by showing them which is the best seed to sow in particular climates and localities. Some years ago, in New South Wales, the cultivation of the Steinwedel wheat was recommended. That wheat is an excellent bearer, yielding in some cases 40 bushels to the acre; but it will not carry its grain, except in a mild climate. If the crop is swept by a strong wind, it is impossible to reap it afterwards. Therefore, to advise people to sow that wheat indiscriminately is. in many cases, to ask them to court absolute failure. A Federal Department i,ould make it its business to ascertain what wheat suits certain climates, and to acclimatize wheals which are likely to be useful here. It might also set itself to produce a wheat which would be peculiarly adapted to our climate and soil. This problem has “been successfully dealt with in other countries, and particularly in Canada; and in New South Wales excellent men are engaged upon it. By placing information of the kind to which I refer in the hands of our primary producers, a central bureau would confer benefits upon .the community which would far exceed in value its cost. Then there are questions relating to the export trade which it might consider. Our distance from the markets of the world makes these questions of peculiar importance to us. It is a”” very easy matter to send the best fruit from Italy, and to land it in London in the pink of condition ; but it is very difficult to land our best fruit there in a satisfactory condition. Such fruit is more delicate than second quality fruit, and consequently does not carry so well. When a shipment of oranges was sent to London from New South Wales at the time that the Postmaster-General was administering the State Department of Agriculture, it was found that, while the second quality fruit arrived in good condition, and realized moderate prices, the best fruit arrived in an unsatisfactory condition. Our problem is, therefore, how to send our most delicate and luscious fruits to the markets of the world in a condition in which people will buy them. When I succeeded the honorable member in the administration of the Department, a conference of fruitgrowers was held to discuss with the shipping agents .the failure of the experiment.
Knowing a little about ventilation in connexion with mining, it did not take me long to see that the whole trouble was caused by the ineffective ventilation of the chambers in which the fruit was carried. Fruit in transit gives off carbonic acid gas, which, if not carried away by proper ventilation, destroys its condition. It may happen, as it sometimes happens in this chamber, that a.i immense volume of pure air is being pumped through a ship’s cool storage accommodation without completely ventilating the fruit which is packed there. I do not know that the matter has been remedied since the time I speak of ; but what is necessary is to provide, not only for the pumping of a sufficient quantity of cool air, but for the proper distribution of that air through the fruit, from top to bottom. Unless that is done, the fruit practically stews in its own juice, and becomes rotten. After that conference I had a consultation with the chemists of the Department, who are very capable men, and we agreed to try some experiments, with a view to extracting the juices and gases from the rind of the fruit by artificial drying before shipment. I therefore put £600 on the Estimates for the purpose of erecting a heating chamber, but, although the amount was voted, the money was not spent, so that the problem remains uninvestigated.
– The experiment was tried here, but with very little success.
– It is a matter which should be taken in hand in the interests of the fruitgrowers of the Continent, who are unable to help themselves in this respect. At very little expense, these matters could be set at rest, and the best method of treating our fruit for export could be communicated to those who are directly interested. Another matter of supreme importance to Australia has been mentioned by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs. I refer to the diseases which afflict our stock from time to time. For instance, there is the very serious question of the spread of the tick - that fell disease which has worked such havoc amongst the stock of Queensland. The question of the best method to be adopted to check the ravages of that disease could be investigated with advantage by a Department such as that contemplated. There ought to be a very clear and definite relationship between the Health Departments and the Agricultural Departments of the various States. For instance, in connexion with the investigation of the tick disease, it would first of all be necessary to secure the services of a medical expert, with a view to conduct investigations. This could best be done by a central bureau, which would possess greater prestige and greater authority than any State Department, and which could place itself in communication with the States Health Departments, and co-ordinate their work in the treatment of stock diseases. At present there are varying and conflicting opinions amongst the officers of these Departments, and a central bureau would be able to bring these gentlemen into touch, and from the conflict of opinion, evolve some common action against our common foes, which now work such havoc in our midst. There is no reason why there should be the slightest conflict between the Commonwealth and the States Departments. We might with advantage assist some of the work now carried out in the various States. For instance, the States Agricultural Departments possess elaborate scientific apparatus, and have adopted certain scientific curricula. Something might be done in the way of bringing about uniformity in regard to the scientific instruction given to our agriculturists. There should be no obstacle in the way of a Federal oversight being exercised in this matter. A common form of examination, and common scientific standards might be adopted, and in that way very much help might be given in the direction of perfecting our system of instruction. The great aim should be to dovetail the work which the central bureau would perform in with that now carried on by the States Departments. I believe that if a proper system were adopted enough money could be saved in connexion with the States Departments to more than cover the expenditure that would be entailed in maintaining a Federal bureau. Therefore I regard the proposal as not necessarily involving additional expenditure. There is no mistaking the fact that we are piling up our new expenditure to an extent that ought soon to give us pause. I do not wish to play the part of an alarmist, but, having regard to the straitened finances of the States, and to the effect of Federation on those finances, we ought to be very chary of incurring new expenditure. Therefore, a proposal of this kind should be very seriously considered from the economical stand-point, and with a view to enabling the States to make such savings as would more than defray the cost of maintaining the new Department. Although, in the absence of the mover, I hesitate to suggest any alteration in the form of the motion, I am not sure that we might not with advantage refer this matter to a Select Committee, which could formulate suggestions in the direction I have indicated. Some proposal might be made upon the same lines as that put forward in connexion with the appointment of a High Commissioner. I feel very strongly upon this point. If I thought that the proposed Department would grow into a costly concern, and that the expenditure entailed would be an addition to the cost of maintaining existing institutions in the States, I should hesitate to support the motion at the present time; but I believe that an investigation would show that the cost of setting up the proposed bureau could be more than saved by practising economies in the States. The question as to what Australia should do to promote the interests of her primary producers is a very serious one. I have spoken of the great handicaps to which we are now subjected, owing to our geographical position. In connexion with our wheat exports, we have to pay an extra 6d. per bushel for freight, and our fruit exporters are handicapped to the extent of from 2s. to 2s. 6d. per case.
– -The fruit often perishes.
– Yes ; but even supposing that it can be carried to the homemarket in good condition, there is still the handicap of the extra expense of carriage.
– The duty upon sugar has ruined any chances that our fruit-growers might have had of converting their fruit into pulp for export.
– All roads lead to Rome, and according to the honorable and learned member’s idea, all roads should point in the direction of the adoption of a free-trade policy. I am not. however, now dealing with that aspect of the question, but with . the desirability of affording our producers every facility for reaching the markets of the world. That Question is one which, more than any other, affects our prosperity as a people. We can put round Australia Tariff walls as high as we like, and we shall not achieve any good results unless our producers are enabled to find a profitable outlet for their produce. The first problem we should endeavour to solve is how we can most profitably dispose of the surplus produce that must be raised in a country where there are few people. and large areas of virgin land to cultivate. No amount of specialization of our secondary industries will bring us prosperity, so long as our primary industries are neglected. la those parts of the world which are nearest to the great centres of civilization, and to the markets which they afford, it is an easy matter to specialize secondary industries. For instance, it is easy for Great Britain, .situated as she is so near to Europe, to specialize her manufacturing processes ; but here we labour under a great handicap arising from our geographical position. In this proposal we have presented to us an opportunity to preserve some sort of harmonious and proportionate relationship between the primary and the secondary industries of Australia. But if we begin to specialize one branch of industry at the expense of another, we shall depart from the true lines o”f progress marked out for us bv nature. Our primary industries are of infinitely more importance than all our secondary industries can be for years to come.
– Nonsense !
– I know that it ls nonsense to the honorable member, and therefore I am addressing only sensible people. Coghlan points out the startling fact - one which should at least arrest our attention - that £7 worth of every £10 worth of our produce has to find a market abroad. ‘ Therefore, the question to which I have been referring is one vitally affecting our national existence, and whether we are free-traders or protectionists, the problem we have to face is how we can best reduce the natural handicaps to which our primary producers are now subjected. I hope that the Government will give their serious consideration to this proposal, and also to my suggestion that a Select Committee should be appointed. I prefer that the matter should be referred to a Select Committee rather than to a Royal Commission, because Select Committees cost nothing, whilst Royal Commissions, which seem to be multiplying exceedingly, are generally rather costly. I- believe that a Select Committee could do useful work, and make suggestions that would lead to the co-ordination of the work now done by the various States Departments. If we could take over some of the work now performed in the States, we could save more money than would be sufficient to defray the cost of maintaining a Federal bureau, and we could make the work now performed - ex cellent as some of- it is - of very much more importance, and of very much more value to those who are engaged, year in and year out, in building up what we hope will be the permanent prosperity of Australia.
– With the honorable member for Parramatta, I feel that the House is indebted to the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs for his able address upon this subject, and particularly because he has somewhat widened the original scope of the proposal under discussion by adopting the suggestion of the honorable and learned member for Indi. The honorable member for Parramatta has gone a step further - and I entirely agree with him - by proposing the appointment of a Select Committee, which, without taking a very great deal of evidence, might obtain a grasp of what is being done by the various States in connexion with agriculture, and subsequently make some recommendations to this Parliament. I am thoroughly in accord with that proposal, because I realize that education is the great feature which distinguishes all advance in modern times - education in a much wider sense than that in which it was formerly regarded. I need scarcely remind honorable members that at one time education was taken to cover only the three R’s; but to-day it is interpreted to mean the instruction of persons who are engaged in industry in the best means of utilizing the experience of those who have been most successful. The State disseminates information, so that every beginner has the advantage of knowing what has been done by others. We find that any nation which succeeds to-day does so chiefly because it has paid attention to technical instruction - because the boys and girls in its schools may acquire a knowledge of farming and many, other industries into which they enter in after years. The States have done something in this direction, though not so much as they ought to have done. But at any rate the foundation has been laid. We need to co-operate with the States so that all information relating to this important subject may be collected by a central bureau. It may be possible by arrangement with the States for the Commonwealth to take over some of the duties of national import which they are at present discharging. One of the objects of Federation was to centralize things as far as. possible. The honorable and learned member for Darling Downs has dealt with a number of matters, including the creation of a Meteorological Department - a suggestion which I desire strongly to support. I claim that we are neglecting an important branch, which, as was pointed out by Mr. Wragge some time ago, should be controlled toy the Commonwealth. We should then have a central authority, which would be able to make the necessary arrangements for the collection of information over the widest possible sphere. In most of the capitals, at the present time, weather forecasts are daily issued. The work of these departments is thus being duplicated. Surely we ought to adopt some means for centralizing the information relating to weather conditions, if only with a view to avoiding shipwrecks. Indeed, the study of these conditions in Australia is absolutely essential to the development of our country. We possess great areas of magnificent land, but unfortunately we have not a sufficient rainfall. I believe that we shall yet see the day when we shall be able to make rain fall, just as we obtain it from underground, and if so, Australia- so far as its central areas are concerned - will become one of the richest countries in the world. The people should be supplied with the latest information in regard to the weather. In my own electorate, I can assure honorable members, that if it had not been for warnings received by telegraph, immense losses would have been sustained by reason of floods. I have known of sheep being lost from one flock whose value would more than cover the cost of weather telegrams for a whole year. I repeat that, as far as possible, it is desirable that we should centralize our work. Those who feel sufficient interest in Australia to induce them to contemplate settling here cannot gain any information from a Commonwealth Department as to where settlement is advisable. There is no Department whose duty it is to collect data of that character, and to have it on tap. Consequently, we cannot expect any very great stream of immigration. A statistical branch might reasonably be established by the Commonwealth at a very early date. Fortunately, in New South Wales we have a very able statistician, who provides information, not only in regard to the Commonwealth, but also in regard to New Zealand. The Commonwealth should have a Statistical Department under its control. At the present time we secure statistical information for Australia only because of the enthusiasm of Mr. Coghlan. The various States have now fa’irly perfect machinery for the collection of statistics in regard to agriculture, stock, &c. They also employ officers of high standing and ability - specialists in their own particular line. As a member of the Western Lands Commission, I have a very vivid recollection of the examination of a practical botanist, who is connected with one of the Government departments in SydneyHe was able to lay upon the table certain essential oils and perfumes which had been made from plants which grow in unlimited quantities in the back country. The product of these plants, he asserted, would find a ready market. He discovered their composition by analyses, which were conducted in his- laboratory. But I would point out that there is no means by which those who might desire to embark upon an enterprise of that sort could have become acquainted with the facts, as I have stated them, unless they had been published in that very excellent journal, the Agricultural Gazette. In a centralized Department at the outset we should not need to engage a large staff. The officer to whom I have referred has never been given an opportunity of exploring the country for himself, but he has found that quite a number of plants which grow very plentifully in portions of Australia, possess a commercial %’alue. From some of our woods, too/ we can obtain valuable dyes. The tree from which one particular dye is obtained - a dye for particular shades of colour - grows very abundantly in New South Wales. We have millions of them. I saw samples of that dye which had been taken from the stringy bark tree, and which were admitted to be of the very best. It is generally acknowledged that this industry could be made payable. I claim that we should have some means of circulating information of that description. It is well known that in modern times our successes are chiefly due to technical training, and the diffusion of information. I remember the time when it was generally agreed that it was impossible to grow wheat beyond Dubbo. When a certain individual came there, ploughed his land, and commenced to sow wheat, the wiseacres declared that he was a fool. But what is the position to-day ? There are miles of farms beyond Narromine. Some of the farmers have more than 1,000 acres under wheat. Under the up-to-date method which has been adopted in America, no doubt would have been entertained of the possibility of growing wheat in that locality, because an analysis of the soil would have dispelled it. If a man who is not possessed of much capital takes up land, and his first crop is a failure, he is almost ruined. But if, on the other hand, he understood from the beginning whether the land was suitable for the purpose to which he intended to put it, if he knew the kind of crop that he ought to plant, and was familiar with the prevailing weather conditions, he would have some assurance of success. Although we have no control over the lands of the Commonwealth, we should take up the duty of supplying the producers with all the information calculated to be of assistance to them. In some of our highly socialistic States, a prospector, who discovers what he believes to be stone containing gold, or some other valuable mineral, may take it to the Mines Department, and have it assayed. That course is frequently followed, and often with highly successful results. Many fields have been opened up as the result of assays first made by the Mines Departments of the States, and, in the same way, I think that we should1 be able to do a vast amount of good by the creation of a Federal Department of Agriculture. I have no desire to traverse the wide field covered so ably by other speakers ; but shall content myself with saying that I strongly approve of several of the suggestions emphasized by the honorable member for Parramatta. If a Department of this kind were established, it might enable us to ascertain from the States Departments the direction which Federal legislation should take in order to cope with such matters as diseases in stock. Great difficulties were experienced some time ago in dealing with the tick pest-
– That matter is entirely under the control of the States.
– But the States Departments might obtain information bearing on such questions that would be of value to us.
– In the United States such matters are dealt with, by agreement with the States, by means of a Federal Executive regulation.
– At all events, information in reference to these and other matters of interest to our primary producers should be centralized, so that experiments which have proved successful in certain districts, but are not generally known, mav be brought within the knowledge of the people of all the States. Reference has been made by the honorable member for Parramatta to our export trade. As honorable members. are aware, by far the greater proportion of Great Britain’s food supplies are obtained from foreign countries, while only a small proportion comes from Australia. That is a remarkable state of affairs, considering that our territory is extensive enough to enable us to supply not only the requirements of Great Britain, but of half the world. A great part of the Commonwealth remains undeveloped, and we cannot expect it to be developed unless external markets are opened out. At the present time, we produce more than is sufficient to satisfy local requirements, and we must turn our attention to the work of opening up fresh markets for our primary producers, and enabling them to secure cheap and easy means of access to them. Freights are becoming lower every day, and it remains for the Commonwealth Government to look into the best means of conveying not only fruit, but other perishable products to the markets of the old world. That is one matter that should receive special attention. Produce that may be safely carried from the United States to Great Britain cannot be sent from Australia to the old land, and there is much room for improvement in this direction. Roughly speaking, the value of certain food-stuffs consumed in Great Britain is ,£18,000,000 per annum, and of that quantity at least £13,000,000 worth comes from countries outside the Empire. I have no desire to deal with the question of preferential^ trade ; but would point out that it is because Great Britain imports her food-stuffs so largely from foreign countries, that many of the people of the mother land fear that preferential trade would increase the cost of living. I merely mention this matter as showing how important it is that we should endeavour to secure this trade. We have a right to. it, and I believe that the people of Great Britain would prefer to give it to us. The question of How best to convey our produce to the markets of the world is one of great importance. It is necessary that we should obtain th<s fullest information in regard to developments in agricultural and pastoral pursuits in all parts of the world. I desire to emphasize the point, that whilst it is desirable that the bureau should collect information from all parts of the Commonwealth, it is doubly important that it should secure information relating to primary production in all parts of the world. In the wheat-growing areas in the central districts of the United States of America, mostly small farms are to be found.
The United States Consul, with whom I had a conversation not long ago, remarked that we did not fully realize what splendid lands were at our disposal, and that if we had been accustomed to the poor country which is being cultivated in America, we should more fully appreciate the rich territory with which nature has endowed us. He mentioned also that the cultivation of this inferior land in the United States had been made possible only by the application of brains to the work. Farming is carried on there upon scientific lines. Large technical schools exist in Philadelphia foi the dissemination of information in regard to all branches of industry. The farmers are instructed in regard to the best method of manuring land, and the varieties of seed best suited for particular areas, while in other ways they are also afforded information which enables them to make a success of their industry. We have good soil and other favourable conditions in Australia, but, unfortunately, our farming operations have been carried on largely according to the rule of thumb. When it is suggested that there should be more technical schools, we often hear the answer that what is wanted is more practice, and less theory. But we require both theory and practice. Experience must always count, and experience which is based on scientific train- ing is the best of all. We might well enter upon the establishment of the Department on modest lines, and a statistical branch should be one of the first to be created. A statistician has at hand many sources of information, If we turn to Mr. Coghlan’s Seven Colonies we find that it gives statistics bearing on the conditions of the Australian people in almost every phase of industry. Mr. Coghlan has. so to speak, the machinery already in operation to at once obtain the information that it would be within the province of such a Department as is here proposed to collect. If we started by establishing a Statistical Department, we should soon get into touch with other branches of work 1 elating to agricultural and pastoral matters, lt is above all things necessary that the officer placed in charge of, the Department shall be an enthusiast - that he shall be a# man with a love of his work, and possessing a wide knowledge of what is going on in the world. Such an officer should be at pains to place himself in communication with all sources of information ; he should be aggressive in his desire for knowledge, and one who will not need to be prompted to take action in any direction necessary to make his Department successful. The Victorian Railway Department at one time had a very useful bureau of information for the convenience of travellers. I have the pleasure of knowing one of the officers in charge of this bureau, and can say that he possesses a remarkable store of information. He was always ready to reply to any inquiry, not only in regard to the railway system of Victoria, but as to the lines of steamers and railways and leading hotels in all parts of the world. He went on the lines that if he were asked for information which he could not supply he should take care to be fully informed on the subject when next he was questioned in regard to it. I am sure that this motion will be carried, and I trust that the Government will inform the House that they are ready to give effect to it. There are many matters to be considered in connexion with the proposal, but it is certainly open to the Ministry to make a modest beginning. If we start with a statistical branch, the other branches will soon follow, and the Department will be found exceedingly useful. It may be desirable to adopt the suggestion that a small Select “Committee be appointed to collect information and make recommendations. That would not involve any great cost; but if the Government are prepared to take the matter in hand, and to delegate to a Minister the task of collecting information bearing on the subject, we mav be able to avoid the appointment of a Select Committee. I believe that the establishment of such a Department would be productive of much good, and I trust that the motion will be carried.
Debate (on motion bv Mr. Hume Cook) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 28th July (vide page 3689), on motion by Mr. Johnson -
That, in view of their strategical importance to the safety of British and Australian commerce in the Pacific, consequent on the projected opening of a canal through the Isthmus of Panama, the Commonwealth Government should afford every facility for Australian settlement in the New Hebrides Islands, and should represent to the British Government the importance of endeavouring to arrive at a more satisfactory agreement with the French Government respecting their control than that at present existing.
– The question involved bv this motion is one, not of domestic policy, but of external concern. As the honorable and learned member for
Corio is apparently not prepared to continue the debate, I shall speak a few words upon the motion myself, trusting that perhaps the honorable member for Hume, and other honorable members who take so much interest in the business of the House, will then favour us with their views in regard to it. It is stated in this afternoon’s Herald that, the Prime Minister has promised a subsidy of £6,000 for an improved mail service to the New Hebrides, and it is certainly of importance that the Commonwealth should afford every facility for the settlement of Australians there. The whole question was very thoroughly discussed by the honorable member for Lang when he moved this motion some weeks ago, and is so important that it deserves to be treated as a Government matter. . Dr. Paton, the celebrated missionary, has brought prominently before the people of Australia the unsatisfactory results which have followed what has been termed the co-dominion of these islands, and the French newspapers have drawn attention to what the French people consider the most illogical state of affairs which prevails there. The New Hebrides should be the warden of British interests in the Pacific. We should regard them as an outstanding citadel, because French, German, and American interests in the various groups are now so strong that the position of Australia might become a dangerous one if Great Britain were embroiled with one of the larger Powers, and did not hold a commanding influence in the Pacific. The honorable member for Lang showed the strategical importance of these islands, and he also dwelt upon the commercial advantages which would be obtained by increasing our influence there, by improving our trade relations with them. He also had a great deal to say as to the beauty of Havana Harbor. I understand that he is personally acquainted with its .soundings and formation, and is of opinion that it should be under British control. The present leader of the Opposition at the time regretted that he did not know more about the New Hebrides, and expressed the opinion that the late Minister of Home Affairs would be able to enlighten the House very considerably in regard to them ; but up to the present we have not had the advantage of his information. No doubt the Government will inquire into the matter very closely during the recess.
– Why not make a trip there?
– It was suggested, a year or two ago, that the members of the Federal Parliament should make a trip to New Guinea, and if such a journey were undertaken, it would, no doubt, be well to go on to the New Hebrides. In considering this question, we may with advantage bear in mind our experiences in connexion with New Guinea. It is generally recognised that Great Britain made a mistake when she failed to. acquire the whole of the island instead of only a portion of it. The occupation of New Guinea by three powers is likely to lead to complications in the near future, and we should endeavour, if possible, to avoid the establishment of similar conditions in the New Hebrides. The whole question should be well threshed out, and I should like the honorable member for Hume to give us the benefit of his opinion. I trust that he will have no further complaint to make with regard to important matters being hurriedly disposed of.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).No doubt this is a most important question’, and I had hoped that the honorable member for Dalley would have made some practical proposal in regard to it. With the permission of the House I should like to continue my remarks upon another occasion.
Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
Debate resumed from 19th October (vide page 5794), on motion by Sir William Lyne -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Before dealing with the objects of the Bill in detail, I should like to say a few words with regard to the manner in which it has been placed before us. I think a very strong protest should be entered against the action of the Government in placing in the hands of a private member a measure involving such a large expenditure as that contemplated by the Bill now before us. The Bill was introduced by a Minister belonging to a Government which took the full responsibility and acted as sponsor for it, and I think that all such measures should be introduced in that way. ‘ Now, the honorable member for Hume, who, as a Minister, was associated with the Bill, has been deposed from his position as the member in charge’ of it, in favour of the honorable member for EdenMonaro. It has been the practice for a Government, upon assuming office, to take up the public business at the stage at which it was left by its predecessors in office, and in view of the unwillingness of the Watson Government and of the present Government to take up the Bill, it might with perfect propriety have been allowed to remain in the hands of the honorable member for Hume. I am not attributing any blame to the honorable member now in charge of the Bill, but ‘ I desire to express my strong disapproval of thi action of the Government. The fact that the honorable member for Hume did not ask the Government to permit him to retain charge of the Bill affords no excuse for the change that has been brought about. An honorable member should not be expected to go to the Government cap in hand and ask for their favour in such a matter. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro stands in the peculiar position of having made a speech as if he were introducing the Bill for the first time, and of being prohibited from speaking in reply. I presume that that right is retained by the honorable member for Hume, who introduced the Bill.
– I hope he will exercise his right.
– It is not creditable to the Government that they should have adopted the course they have followed. They have set up certain high ideals, which they are not acting up to. No personal feeling should have been allowed to operate in a case of this kind. The right honorable member for Swan, when speaking last night, adopted what appeared to me to be an extraordinary line of . reasoning. He stated that we did not possess much power as a Parliament to pass legislation for the good of the people, and that, therefore, we ought to take advantage of the opportunity presented to us by this Bill to do something for their benefit. The same line of reasoning might be adopted to justify a proposal for voting a large sum of money to every citizen in the Commonwealth. The argument that because we are in a position to do a certain thing we should forthwith set about doing it. seems to me to be entirely beside the question. The right honorable gentleman also said that the iron industry would not necessarily become a monopoly, because the offer made under the Bill was of an open character, and twenty companies might compete for the bonus. But the merest glance at the report of the Commission will show that there is absolutely no room for competition in connexion with the industry. It has been pointed out that 30,000 or 40..000 tons of pig iron are sufficient to meet the annual requirements of the Commonwealth, and that this quantity could be turned out from one large American furnace. Therefore, notwithstanding the right honorable gentleman’s long experience as a public man, and the good work he has done as a Minister ‘in Western Australia,,he has spoken in this matter without due consideration of the facts of the case. What we have to discover is whether there is likely to be competition, and I think we have sufficient information toguide us to a right conclusion in that connexion. It seems to me that some honorable members have indulged in a great deal of exaggeration. I wish to approach this proposal with the utmost fairness. I do not object to the State according assistance to private enterprise. As a matter of fact, all over the Commonwealth we have endeavoured to assist our own people. The exaggeration to which I refer arises from the fact that honorable members have not looked too closely into the proposal which is under consideration. They urge that anything which will give increased employment to the community must of necessity be good. I contend that it is our duty before we pass a measure of this character, to be sure that the expenditure which is contemplated will produce the anticipated result. I claim that the passing of this Bill will not afford any appreciable increase of employment. On the contrary, it seems to me that the expenditure of £250,000 in connexion with- the iron industry would provide less employment for labour than would be provided by that expenditure upon any other industry. The Canadian experience clearly demonstrates that. There is no justification whatever for taxing the poor of the Commonwealth for the benefit of any company which may embark upon this enterprise. The total consumption of pig iron in Australia - as’ was stated by various witnesses who were examined by the Royal Commission which investigated this matter - is between30.000 tons and 40,000 tons per annum. Mr. Sandford declared that at Lithgow he has erected a plant which will consume 15,000 tons of pig iron annually, or more than onehalf of our total consumption. The passing of this Bill will not cause all our iron imports to be manufactured in Australia, although that is the assumption upon which the advocates of the Bill base the whole of their arguments. If that assumption were correct, there might be something to be urged in favour of the measure. But the experience of Canada induces me to conclude that there is a very great danger indeed that the experiment proposed will prove unsuccessful. The belief that if iron works were established in our midst Australia would supply all the iron manufactures which she now imports, is based upon an utter fallacy. The chairman of the Mort’s Dock Company stated before the Commission that in his opinion the quantity of iron likely to be consumed in Australia was 90,000 tons annually. Mr. Jamieson, the chairman of the Blythe River Company, set it down at 450,000 tons. That estimate is based upon the assumption to which I have already alluded* - an assumption which is altogether unwarranted. We could not possibly hope to manufacture all our requirements, especially within the period during which it is proposed that the bonus shall operate. It has been stated that this industry, if established, would employ 10,000 men. May I be permitted to remind honorable members that, according to the report of the Royal Commission which visited America, one branch of Carnegie’s works in America, where the furnaces are capable of turning out 640,000 tons of iron per annum, employs only 477 hands, inclusive of clerks.
– In one of the big establishments in Glasgow, about twenty men turn out 20,000 tons annually.
– One of the most remarkable features of modern times is the displacement of labour by machinery. If honorable members will compare the returns for the decades ending 1891. and 1901, they will see that in very many industries there has been a large reduction in the number of hands employed, notwithstanding that the capital invested has been considerably increased. I remember one or two instances in which the capital invested had been doubled during the period in question, but -in which the hands employed were less by 1,000. I claim that if we are to hold our own in the keen competition of the world, we must face the fact that before another decade a still further development will have taken place in machinery, with a consequent reduction in employment. The statement that the establishment of iron works in Australia would largely increase employment is altogether misleading to the working classes; and I, for one, will not be a party to deceiving them. Mr. Jamieson also stated that one American blast furnace will turn out 700 tons of pig iron per day. As a matter of fact, many of them are producing 500 tons and 600 tons daily. That is more than sufficient to supply the needs of the whole Commonwealth. I wish to impress upon honorable members the danger of instituting the system which obtains in Canada and America, of bolstering up, by means of bonuses, private capitalists. It is interesting to note the developments which have taken place in the legislation dealing with this subject in Canada, and I think that after I have dealt with it, honorable members will be able to form an idea ot the influence which must have been at work. In 1883, the Parliament of the Dominion passed an Act offering a bounty of $1.50 per ton for the production of pigiron. In 1889, that bounty was reduced to $1 per ton ; but in 18921 another Act was passed increasing the bounty to $2 per ton, and providing that it should terminate ir» 1897. The parties concerned, however, took good care to secure themselves before that time expired. In 1894 they secured! the passing of an Act providing for the payment of bounties of $2 per ton on pig-iron, $2 per ton on puddled’ bars, and $2 per ton on steel billets made from Canadian pig. This Act was to remain in operation for five years; but without waiting for that period’ to elapse, the Dominion Parliament, in 1897, repealed the Act, .increased the bounties to $3 per ton on steel ingots made of not less than 50 per cent. Canadian pig. and made other changes. From 1883 until 1897 bounties were given to encourage the manufacture of pig-iron from local ore, but the manufacturers found that it suited their purpose to use ore obtained from parts beyond the Dominion, and they were then successful in securing the passing of an Act providing for the payment of bounties of $3 per ton on steel ingots of not less than 50 per cent, of Canadian pig, $3 per ton on puddled bars, $3 per ton on pig-iron, and $2 per ton on the proportion made from foreign ore. In 1898 another Act was passed declaring that the provisions of this measure should be’ retrospective, and come into force as from 1897. These facts show that we are now being asked to take a step which may possibly give rise to a similar state of affairs in Australia. In 1899 an Act was passed by the Dominion Parliament, fixing a diminishing rate of bounties, the final payment to be a bounty of only 10 per cent. ; but in 1003 an amending Act was passed providing for additional bounties. It provided for. a bounty of $6 per ton on rolled’ wire rods, $3 per ton on other rolled shapes, and $3 per ton on rolled plates from steel, with 50 per cent, of Canadian pig. It was then decided that the bounties should be paid in the following proportions: - 90 per cent, in 1904; 75 per cent, in 1905; 55 per cent, in 1906; and 35 per cent, in 1907, when they are to cease. But, having regard to what has taken place in Canada, we may fairly assume that before the year 1907 is reached, fresh legislation will be passe i providing for further bounties. We have also to remember that the Parliament of the State of Ontario - which is the principal iron-producing State of the Dominion - passed an Act in 1894, setting apart $125,000 to be paid bv way of subsidy, at the rate of $1 per ton on pig-iron produced within the limits of the State. A limit was fixed, but up to the 31st October, 1903, a total of $109,741 had been paid on this account. In order that the House may gain some idea of what would be the effect of the payment of bonuses for the production of pig iron in Australia, as evidenced by the experience of Canada, I have secured a table showing the whole of the bounties paid on pig-iron by the Dominion Government from 1884 up to and inclusive of the year 1903. The figures are as follow: - 1884, 44,090 dols.; 1885, 38,655 dols.; 1:886, 39,270 dols. ; 1887, 59,576 dols. ; 1888, 33,314 dols.; 1889, 37,234 dols.; 1890, 25,697 dols.; 1891, 20,153 dols.; 1892, 30,294 dols.; 1893, 93,896 dols.; 1894, 125,044 dols; 1895, 63,384 dols.; 1896, 104,105 dols.; 1897, 66,509 dols.; 1898, 165,654 dols.; 1899, 187,954 dols.; 1900, 238,296 dols.; 1901, 351,259 dols.; 1902, 693,1.09 dols. ; 1903, 670,340 dols. Total, 3,087,833 dols. Honorable members should recollect when looking at these figures that the amount of the bounty has been trebled within the last few years ; and if we examine the returns showing the value of the material on which that bounty was paid, we must see that the industry has not been stimulated by this means to the extent that some honorable members would have us believe. Whilst the bounties have been increased from time to time, the companies engaged in the industry - and for the most part these bounties have gone to only eight companieshave not increased their output in the way that we have been led to believe. Taking the total sum paid by way of bounties on steel ingots, we find that the .result has been very much the same. We have also to remember in this connexion that the highest bounties were paid in 1903, under the Act recently passed, and that the figures show thai’ the increased production of steel ingots has nod been as great as has been suggested. In respect of puddled bars, bounties representing $87,992 were paid between 1896 and 1903, while on steel billets $89,906 were paid by way of bounty during the year or two in which this practice was in force. The bounties paid on steel ingots represent a total of $1,100,008. On turning to the totals, we find that $3,087,830 have been paid byway of bounties on pig-iron, $87,922 on puddled bars, and $89,906 on steel billets, in addition to which $109,741 have been paid by way of bounty by the State Government of Ontario. This makes a total of $4,475,410 subscribed by the people of Canada in order to bolster up private enterprize. The companies which have chiefly participated in these bounties are interested in many other works. They are interested, for example, in railway construction, and by means of these bounties, have been enabled to obtain cheap steel rails for use’ on their lines. The people of Canada have subscribed nearly $4,500,000 to help these capitalists to carry out their railway works at reduced cost, and in that way, to secure big profits from other ventures, such as coal mines, in which they are interested. These great capitalists do not confine their attention to one branch of industry. They may make a loss in one’ direction, but they reap a profit in another. I now wish to deal with another important phase of the experience of Canada. I refer to the imports and exports of iron and steel, and of iron and steel manufactures. The figures vary considerably. In 1883, the value of these exports went up to $138^.775, but in 1894, it dropped down to $9,026. In 1902 there was another change, the value of these exports increasing to $1,320,845, the highest point that has yet been reached. Last year they went back again to $736,013. Last year the total amount paid by way” of bounties on pig-iron produced from Canadian ore was $125,415, while the bounties paid on pig-iron produced from foreign ore, amounted to $494,534, or more than three times as much as was paid on pig-iron produced from local ore. Thus, instead of the bounties having led to the production of iron from local ore, they have had an opposite effect. Are we to have the same experience in Australia ? Are we to agree to this Bill under the supposition that by so doing we shall develop our own resources, of which we hear so much, only to find in the end that foreign ore is being used? There can be ho doubt that there are mountains of iron ore in Australia. But are we to start off, like Canada,, in the hope of developing these rich deposits by paying bounties on pig-iron made in the Commonwealth, and to conclude by being called upon to pay them on pig-iron made from foreign ore ? The total sum paid by way of bounties on pig-iron, steel ingots, and puddled bars, in 1903 was $1,401,805. Canada annually consumes from 800,000 to 820,000 tons of iron and steel. Last year there were fourteen furnaces in existence in the Dominion, and four were in course of construction, but seven were idle. The figures giving the importation of iron and steel manufactures into Canada supply an answer to the question, Why are there so many furnaces idle there? I will deal first, however, with the exportation of iron and steel goods from the Dominion, because it is, no doubt, to a large export trade that the advocates of bounties look for the success of an industry. In 1903 the value of the pig and scrap iron manufactured in Canada, and exported from the Dominion, was $335,958 ; the value of stoves, $8,913 ; of iron castings, $181,216; of hardware, $67,292 ; of manufactures of steel, $2,1 40,886 ; of sewing machines and machinery, $430.709 ; and of typewriters, $98,966 ; a total of $3,263,940. The year 1903 was the first in which Canada exported typewriters. In referring to these exports, I would remind honorable members that Australia cannot hope for a similar export trade. We are much further fr om the markets of the world than is Canada, and therefore cannot hope to compete with countries like America, England, Germany, and Canada in the production of goods manufactured from iron and steel. In 1902 the export of pig and scrap iron from Canada was abnormally high. It was, however; very low in 1903, when the value of goods manufactured from steel and iron was exceptionally high, being over $2,000,000. The total export in the various lines of production has increased steadily, the aggregate exportation in six years amounting to $9,895,338. Let us now look at the imports. For the five years, 1894 to 1898, both inclusive, the value of iron and steel, and goods manufactured from iron and steel imported into Canada, was $58,683,518, while in the five years, 1899 to 1903, both inclusive, it increased to $150,832,026, an increase of nearly $100,000,000. In spite of the fact that the Canadian Parliament has stood strongly by the bounty system, and has increased the bonuses to a sum more than equal to what is proposed in the Bill, taking the whole trade of the Dominion, we find a tremendous increase in her imports. In 1902, the value of dutiable goods imported was $24,072,141, and of free goods, $8,901,461, a total of $32,973,602; while in 1903, the value of dutiable goods imported was $30,813, 064, and of free goods $11,196,104, a total of $42,009,168, or an increase of over $10,000,000 in a year. These figures do not support the statement that the bounty system has been a good thing for Canada.
– It was announced by cable the other day that an American steel company was about to spend £2,000,000 in Canada.
– We are always hearing of what is to be done ; but I am taking the actual facts.
– Would not such an expenditure swell the importations of the Dominion?
– Perhaps so; but we are not informed that it has taken place. I wish to deal with the matter fairly, and in going through the evidence of the Commission, and reading other information in order to ascertain how many men would fmd employment in Australia if the industry were established here, I became the more convinced the further I went, that the proposed expenditure is unjustifiable. I wish honorable members to dismiss from their minds the statement that the giving of this bonus will provide employment for so many men.
– All plundering schemes are said to be for the benefit of the unemployed.
– Such schemes generally appear under the guise of philanthropy. It is, however, cruel to hold out to the men connected with the iron trade- who are walking the streets of Melbourne looking for work, the hope that the passing of this Bill will find them employment, because there is no ground for such a belief. The honorable member for Hume estimated that the establishment of the iron industry in Australia would provide work for 3,000 persons. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that that estimate is correct, it would be better to give 3,000 men £100 . apiece and put them on the land, so that they may have a good start and earn their living from the soil, than to spend the sum provided for in the Bill in the payment of a bounty for the encouragement of the iron industry. There are, in fact, scores of ways in which the money could be better spent. No doubt every industry must give some employment ; but there is hardly any way in which one could give less employment’ by the expenditure of money than in paying a bounty for the production of iron. We have been told that the erection of a smelting furnace would cost £125,000. No doubt that would give employment while the work was in progress, and so would the laying down of the plant generally ; but afterwards, in the operation of the industry, there would be very few men required. I have not been able to find in the report of the Commission an estimate of the number. We know how many men are employed at Lithgow, but it is difficult to ascertain how many would be employed in the manufacture of pig iron.
– Does the honorable member know the amount which Mr. Sandford has paid in wages from time to time?
– No doubt he has spent a large sum. I am speaking now, not of the employment afforded by existing industries, but of the likelihood of increasing employment by establishing new industries under the bounty system. It has been said that if we pass this Bill we shall give a great deal of work to men who are now unemployed ; but we have no right to use that as an argument in favour of the measure, because, in comparison with the money expended, the amount of additional employment which will be found will be very small. In running through the Canadian census returns for 1901, I find that their system is not so good as ours. It is stated there that 12,367 persons out of a population of over 5,300,000 are employed in foundries of every description, and as machine workers. The number of persons employed in making agricultural implements was 5,788 ; in bicycle manufactories, about 400; in mak ing boilers and engines, 3,713; in making cutlery . and edged tools, 1,239; in foundries and machine shops, 11,784; in iron and steel bridge building, 797 ; and in manufacturing iron and steel products, 4, 110. These figures, added together, would not vield an aggregate sufficiently high to justify the estimates made as to the many thousands of hands for whom employment would be found if the iron industry we’re established here. I find that there are 51,549 persons engaged in saw-mills in Canada, and 11,882 in cotton-mills, so that there are industries which compare more than favorably with the iron trade, so far as the employment afforded is concerned. The English Committee which was authorized to proceed to America to make inquiries into the iron industry, ascertained that works in which 477 men were employed had a capacity sufficient to enable them to supply raw iron requirements equal to those of the Commonwealth. The Duquesne works under the Carnegie Steel Company, have a capacity of 620,000 tons per annum, and employ only 477 men all told. Therefore, we should dismiss from our minds any idea of providing employment on a large scale. If we persist in repeating that many thousands of hands will find employment in the iron industry we shall doom the people of the Commonwealth to certain disappointment. We should not in any way seek to raise the hopes of the working man, only to dash them in the near future. If we are to establish the iron industry we must do so with other ends in view than that of providing a large amount of employment for our people. The proposal to grant a bonus for the production of spelter has been very effectively dealt with by the honorable member for Barrier. He knocked the bottom out of that suggestion, and I think that that item will have to be struck out of the schedule. As the matter stands, we should, by granting a bonus in the manner proposed, be making practically a free gift to a company that . is already paying big dividends. It will be found by reference to the reports of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company that they are already prepared to deal with the zinc problem, and that we are not called upon to encourage the production of that particular metal. A wealthy company is not likely to be deterred by the consideration of such a paltry sum as£20,000 from making use of its byproducts. We should be acting in a glaringly improper manner if we were to make a free gift of £20,000 to a dividend-paying company. Then it is proposed that a bonus should be granted for the manufacture of reapers and binders. I should like to know why that particular class of machine has been selected for special treatment. Could no: an equally good claim be made out for the encouragement of the manufacture of harvesters? We are already manufacturing that class of machine, and it is very largely taking the place of reapers and binders. Therefore, I do not see any reason why we should offer any special temptation to turn out reapers and binders. It would be far better if the Bill had dealt with tlie iron industry only. I am led to the conviction that if we grant a bonus for the production of iron we shall have to follow it up by imposing protective duties. The bonus may be sufficient to start the industry, but undoubtedly further assistance will be required at the expiration of the bonus period. Perhaps it would have been preferable to commence with duties. So far as I can see, only two parties will benefit from the proposed bonus, and they are prepared to form a company if a duty of 15 per cent, is imposed. Surely this new Protectionist Government would not hesitate to proceed that far. The Postmaster-General would no doubt be frightened if duties of from 40 per cent, to 80 per cent, were proposed, but he preserves an absolutely calm demeanour when I mention a 15 per cent. duty. I have no doubt the Prime Minister would be equally complaisant. I notice that a statement has been published in a protectionist organ that the Prime Minister has proclaimed himself to be practically a protectionist, and that he has stated that if any anomaly in the Tariff can be pointed out it would be remedied straight away. I must congratulate the better half of the Minister - who has succeeded as all better halves do - upon having won over the Prime Minister, “who has hitherto been the champion of free-trade, to their own side of the fiscal question. I should like to direct the special attention of the PostmasterGeneral to the fact that a 15 per cent, duty has been declared by those who are specially interested in the proposal, to be sufficient to protect the iron industry from outside competition. In view of the extensive iron deposits which exist in the electorate represented by the Minister, it would be well for him to consider whether it would not be better to impose a moderate protective duty, rather than to make a free gift of £250,000 to those who are prepared1 to invest their capital in establishing the iron industry. I am quite convinced that the imposition of a duty will be asked for sooner or later, and I venture, further, to prophesy that it will be granted. The private companies which have engaged in the industry in Canada have been able to exert sufficient influence to secure an alteratiton of the law year after year as required, and I am sure that our Government would not allow an industry to be wiped out for the sake of a slight increase in the protective duty. The majority of honorable members decided when the Tariff was under discussion that our industries, which had been established under protection, could not continue to live if the protective duties were abolished, and the iron industry certainly could not exist except behind a substantial Tariff wall. The iron-masters of Canada have not been able to carry on without the aid of protection, supplemented by bounties amounting to as much as $4 per ton. Even this assistance has not been sufficient to protect them altogether against outside competition. I would urge upon the Prime Minister the desirability of considering whether we should not impose a protective duty instead of granting a bonus, and I hope that the new Protectionist Government will declare their policy in this matter before we go much further. I have been making inquiries with regard to the extent to which the freights which have to be paid upon imported iron would afford protection to local manufacturers. In the first place, we have trading to Australia a number of magnificent steam-ships, which are highly subsidized by the German Government with the express object of encouraging them to dump down German goods upon our shores. These subsidies, to a great extent, reduce the natural protection afforded by freights in the ordinary course. It has been stated by Mr. Jamieson that the freight paid upon pig ‘iron varies considerably. Sometimes it is brought from Glasgow in timber ships at freights ranging as low as from 2s. to 3s. per ton. I would commend that fact to the attention of the honorable member who is in charge of this Bill. Practically it is equivalent to annihilating the distance between the two places. The freights by’ ordinary vessels are variously ros., 12s., and 13. 6d. per ton. The average is set down at 10s. per ton. The freight upon iron between Lithgow and Sydney is about equal to the average freight between the old country and Austra-
Iia. Consequently the Lithgow iron works occupy the same position in relation to Sydney as does England. For all practical purposes those works are as far removed from Sydney as is the mother country. That is a point which should not be allowed to escape our attention. Although the proposal of the Blythe River Company has been well thought out, I fail to see how that company can reasonably expect to compete with the powerful companies in Amenca, England, and Germany. One of the points which is almost invariably overlooked is that in Great Britain immense royalties are paid upon coal and iron. If these commodities could be obtained there free of royalty - as they can be in Australia - the English manufacturer would be able to compete against the world. As the cost of oversea carriage is so small, in order to insure the success of iron works in Australia, it would be necessary for us to bolster up our industries by the imposition of a heavy protective Tariff. Otherwise they could not hope to live at all. I would further remind honorable members that the’ cost of water carriage is decreasing every year. Should the new turbine steamers prove a success - as they appear to be doing - the distance between Australia and foreign countries will practically disappear. When we bear in mind our limited market, it seems to me that there is no need of an explanation as to why capitalists have not embarked upon the iron industry here. The fact is patent to all that the inducements offered are not sufficient, while the risks are very great. To my mind, there is at present nothing to indicate that success will attend the efforts of any company which chooses to take this matter up. I admit that two gentlemen have declared that they know where they can obtain the necessary capital to establish iron works in Australia if this Bill be passed. But when we look beneath the surface, what do we find? The fact that the works controlled bv Mr. Sandford are located ninety-six miles from the coast, shows that he cannot successfully compete with the world’s iron production. It is significant that all these great industries have found it necessary to have access to water frontage. The works at Lithgow will not pay unless they are removed to the coast, and I doubt whether they will pay even then. I have the utmost respect for Mr. Sandford personally. I think that the offer which he recently made to the New South Wales Government was a very liberal one, and certainly it deserves every consideration. I remember visiting the Eskbank iron works with a large party of trades unionists in 1885, and I recollect seeing splendid steel rails turned out there. But when Mr. Sandford started operations, he was able to purchase large quantities of scrap iron at a very cheap rate - some of it as low as 5s. per ton. After a time, however, the supplies began to shorten, and as a consequence he now finds it difficult to conduct his enterprise at a profit. Naturally he desires to make a change. He declares that capitalists are prepared to invest money in the establishment of iron works in the Commonwealth. If they did so, he would form a new company, and thus relieve himself of both the risk and the very heavy responsibility which he at present has to face. On the other hand, the Blythe River Company openly admit that if the Bill be passed, they will go into liquidation and form a new company. In both cases it is proposed to erect a furnace, at a cost of ,£125,000, whereas the Commonwealth is asked to grant a bonus of just double that amount. Both parties propose to secure the necessary capital from the same market. That means that we are to do a little more borrowing, because, if any dividends are earned by the proposed works, they will be swallowed up by capitalists in the old country. That is equivalent to borrowing more money and paying interest upon it. I am altogether opposed, upon the evidence before us, to granting this bonus to private persons, so that they maybe enabled to float new companies. Even if it could be shown that the proposed expenditure would result in the establishment of the iron industry, it is an absolute certainty, based upon the experience of Canada and America, that it would result in a. monopoly. One firm could supply all the wants of the Commonwealth, and if two started operations, they would soon amalgamate. Judging by the remarks of honorable members, we are all agreed that the formation of trusts is very undesirable. Proposals have been made that they should be dealt , with by legislation/ There is no doubt that they are a menace lo the well-being of the community. What is the difference between a trust and a company which is a monopoly? I for one can see no distinction. If we place the control of the industry in the hands of one man, he must exercise a monopoly. The mere calling of a trust a company does not alter the fact that it is a trust. We have, therefore, to face the fact that the company which enters upon this work will be ‘in thenature of a monopoly. If we encouraged British capitalists to take up this work, how should we be able to interfere, and to destroy their chance of securing what they deemed a reasonable return for their investment ? It would be difficult to Hamper their operations in any way. They would have absolute control of the industry, and would be able to close down the works at any moment. As soon as they did, there would be a great outcry, and appeals would be made to us to consider the position of the workers. Such companies are always prepared to make out a good case in support of their demands, and, as a rule, they are able to secure concessions from almost any Parliament. They alone know the details of their business, and members of Parliament have to accept the assurance that the statements made by them in support of any demand are correct. We might, by means of industrial legislation, secure reasonable wages and working conditions for the workers engaged in the industry ; but we should not be able to interfere with the profits of the company. The moment that we proposed to take action in regard to the price at which they sold their products, there would be a great outcry. More than half of the members of the present Government would have to materially change their political opinions before they could be expected to bring in a measure to restrict private enterprise in any way, and we have to face the situation that the company which took up this industry would practically be in the. position of a trust. I doubt whether the local market would be large enough to make the venture pay, even if the company had a monopoly of it, and these bonuses might therefore be a gift to help it to start works which, after all, might be of no lasting service. The Bill provides that the State may at any time acquire the works of any company taking up the industry ; but I do not attach any value to that provision. If the company Had a monopoly, and made exorbitant charges, there would doubtless be a cry for the State to take over the works. In that case we should have to resume them at a very high valuation. No allowance would be made for the ,£250,000 of public money which had been put into them. The valuation would be based on monopolistic conditions.
– There is no duty at present on pig iron, and the company would have to fight the importers.
– The honorable member knows that if the Bill be passed, a protective duty will be imposed as soon as the bonuses cease. The free-trade party is dead. There is no free-trade leader to raise the fiscal issue, because even the Prime Minister is becoming a protectionist. We must take it that he would be prepared to support the imposition of a duty to assist the industry, after the bonuses had ceased. There is no likelihood of any change of policy, because the free-trade leader in this Parliament admits that he was beaten at the last general election, and his “ better half” is winning him round to the protectionist policy.
– I was supposed to have swallowed my “ better half “ ; the honorable member cannot have it both ways.
– I am satisfied that if the industry be established, a case will be made out for the imposition of a duty on iron imports, unless the protectionist tariff is to be reduced in other directions. Those engaged in the industry will say that they have to compete with manufacturers who can ship their iron to Australia at a lower rate than is charged for the carriage of pig iron from Lithgow to Sydney, and they will demand protection. They would be unable to compete with the foreign manufacturer in the absence of a protective tariff, and unless there is a complete revision of the Tariff, we may rest assured that a majority will be found in this House ready to vote for a duty to protect the. industry. It might pay a State to give even a big price for the works, but what is the use of embodying such a provision Tn the Bill, unless we think it is likely to be acted upon? It seems to me that it is a confession on the part of those responsible for the measure that there is something in the Labour Party’s proposal that the undertaking should be handed over to one of the States. This is a matter of very great importance. I never realized the effects of the proposal until I studied the question closely. If we start by paying a private company £250,000 by way of bonuses, and then impose a protective Tariff to further assist the undertaking, with the result that the price of pig iron is increased, there will be an agitation for State resumption of the works. It may be said that they are never likely to call upon our manufacturers to pay ,too high a price for their iron, because there will always be competition from abroad, and I am inclined to think that we cannot shut out competition ; but, assuming that the industry be established by the expenditure of a quarter of a million of public money, the Commonwealth will find it absolutely necessary to raise the Tariff in order to keep out the foreign manufacturer. It will be said, “We have brought this industry into existence. We have induced capitalists to invest their money in it; and we must now stand by them.” The argument advanced by those who prefer the bonus system to the imposition of a duty is, that the latter increases the cost of goods to the consumer, so that after a duty had been imposed to protect the company engaged in the industry, we should probably have a demand for State resumption.
– The object of the bonus is to enable the company to sell pig iron at a cheaper rate than at present rules.
– The honorable member must remember that the bonuses will extend over only a limited period. It is proposed to give the company double what it would cost them to erect a plant.
– No ; it would cost them over £1,000,000 to establish works.
– I would refer the honorable member to the report of the Commission in support qf my assertion. It is proposed to hand “over a quarter of a million of public money to two syndicates in order to enable them to exploit the Commonwealth. It would be impossible for the Australian industry to compete with the great iron works of Canada- and the United States, in the absence of a protective duty. In the United States they have huge blast furnaces, and such wonderful labour-saving appliances, that the cost of production is reduced to the lowest point. In the Baldwin engineering works, a man has only to press a button, and a railway engine is at once raised by a crane to any point which he desires to lift It.
– I thought; that the honorable member promised that he would be brief.
– I am dealing with the subject as briefly as its importance demands. I started off with the conviction that a number of honorable members were not cognisant of many of the facts which I had collected, and I have put them before the
House. I am anxious that the whole question should be thoroughly understood. The attitude I take up is similar to that which I adopted when the Bill was before the last Parliament. I am in favour, however, of giving the proposed bonus to any State Government that’ may be willing to enter upon the industry, and I justify that action on these grounds : In the nature of things, the manufacture of iron and steel from the ore must be a monopoly. The Australian market is too small to allow more than one controlling interest to enter upon the enterprise. I ‘recognise, too, that it would be a good thing for the workers in iron and steel throughout the Commonwealth to be able to get their raw material at a very low price. Probably, if the price, of pig iron and bar iron were reduced, the local production of iron and steel goods would be increased. But it would not be fair to expect one State to go to the expense of establishing iron works for the production of iron for the benefit of the whole Commonwealth - because I think that in order to compete with iron founders elsewhere the locally-manufactured iron would have to be sold virtually at cost price. Therefore, the State which entered upon the industry might reasonably ask the Commonwealth to provide the money necessary to make a start. T-hen, if a good manager were obtained, and there were no political interference, it could produce iron and steel, providing merely for working expenses, at a price which would defy competition. The evidence of Mr. Sandford and others goes to show that iron could be produced in Australia very cheaply. In any case, the Commonwealth will get no direct benefit from the proposed expenditure. It makes a free gift of the bounty, and I think that the money, if given, should be given to a State. I am therefore prepared to vote for the second reading, but I intend, in Committee, to move for the amendment of the Bill in such a way as will make the bounty available only to a State. I would never vote for the payment of money to private individuals for the establishment of a monopoly, because my study of the trust fiend in America shows that there is no crime which its agents have not committed. I fail to see why we should take money from poor men to assist the establishment of what must be a trust. This bounty, if given to private individuals, will really benefit British capitalists. Although we have heard a great deal of eloquence in this Chamber as to the advisability of allowing capitalists to manage their own affairs, we do not find them so independent now, since they are asking the unfortunate taxpayers to find money for their enterprises. I would rather the country should remain as it is than start a monopoly “here. The bonus, if paid to private individuals, would go, in the first instance, to help two parties to successfully float a loan on the London market, and at least onefourth of it would be paid to the British money lender, who has already done well out of Australia, because he has had from us more money than we have ever borrowed from him, while we are as much in debt as ever. Before I sit down I should like to quote paragraph 12 of the majority report of the Commission, though I would point out that the members of the Commission were almost equally divided, and, in my opinion, it was the minority who came to the correct decision. Paragraph 12 of the majority report is as follows : -
The existence of powerful rival vested interests elsewhere, and the novelty of the enterprise, so far as Australia is concerned, induce some hesitation in investing on the part of capitalists.
That, I think, exactly recognises the position. Capitalists are interested in securing profitable returns for their investments, and the great iron masters of the world have sufficient to occupy their attention elsewhere without coming to Australia to build up an industry for us. To summarize my arguments, I am opposed to the granting of a bonus to private individuals, because I think that the investigation of the Commission does not justify it. The Canadian experience has shown that it is not likely to tempt capitalists to invest their money in the industry here. If it did, however, it would establish a monopoly which would bring in its train the notorious evils against which they are striving so hard in America. The Government has already promised to introduce legislation dealing with trusts and combines, and it would not be wise to establish under private enterprise an industry which must, in the very nature of things, be a monopoly. Furthermore, I think that the industry^ if established, would not give a great deal of employment. If it is to be established at all, I think that it should be taken up by a State under independent management. If the iron ana steel so produced were sold at cost price, it might be a good thing for the local manufacturers of iron and steel goods. Sooner or later, no doubt, that may come about, and I would rather wait for the increase of population and the ripening of public opinion which would justify it. It is only a question of securing an expert manager, in whose hands we could leave the whole and sole control of the work. The interference of Parliaments and Cabinets would not be called for. If we had a capital superintendent, we should have some guarantee of success. For these reasons I “intend to vote for the second reading of the Bill. Unless the industry is placed under State control, we shall spend the public money to no good purpose, and we shall mislead the workers, who will expect to find a large amount of employment. If we wish to employ the people, let us do so straight out. t do not believe in taking money from the poor taxpayers, and giving it to “British capitalists. It would be quite bad enough if we were to hand the money over to our own capitalists, who would probably. expend it amongst us, and become captains of industry. If we desire to assist the working classes, let us give them the money which we are prepared to grant them, in a straightforward way. I hope that the facts which I have (brought forward will be carefully considered by honorable members who honestly desire the Bill to be placed upon the statute-book, and who believe that it will achieve the object which they have in view.
– There is no doubt that the subject of this measure was submitted by the Deakin Government to the electors at the last election as a matter within their programme of public policy. Therefore, there can be no objection to this matter being dealt with by this Parliament. There can be no suggestion that it was not submitted as a matter of public policy by the then Government, or that the electors have had no opportunity of expressing their opinion upon it. The Deakin Government introduced (the measure when they met this new Parliament, and it became the property of the House. The Government went out of office, but an immaculate Ministry took their place - a Ministry that was incapable of ever doing wrong, and which therefore furnished the highest public standard for imperfect- humanity to follow. That Government, at the request of a private member, allowed him <to take charge of the Bill, and promised that time should be afforded for its consideration. The Government went out of office, as has been stated, by an act, to some extent, of political suicide, and another Government came in which has followed the excellent example of the immaculate Ministry, by allowing this Bill, which is the property of this House, to be dealt , with by it. I considered that the matter was fully within the rights of the House, and that as the Ministry were divided on the subject, it would be wrong for a member of this Government to take it up, and that the least objectionable course to adopt was that which has been pursued.
– The Bill was in the name of the honorable member for Hume.
– That is, I hope, a matter of profound consolation to the honorable member, but it is one of no importance to me.
– Except that it gives the right honorable gentleman’s case away.
– I hope that this most affectionate tenderness for the honorable member for Hume will not seriously affect the health of some honorable members in this House. I have often noticed that this affection of regard for honorable members is exhibited merely when they are being used as a screen for political hostility and manoeuvring. All this affectation of sympathy for the honorable member for Hume comes from about the hardest specimens of humanity in this House - from men who are the least capable of any feeling of humanity towards any living being but themselves, and whose political misfortunes of late have so upset their mental balance that they are now incapable of looking at any question in a calm and philosophical fashion. Passing from the somewhat insignificant topic to which I have been referring to the very important matter now before us, I have come to the conclusion ‘that although the second reading of this B,11 will be carried by an overwhelming majority, a very large number of those honorable members who will vote for the second reading have no sort of benevolent intentions towards it when it reaches the Committee stage. My attitude is a very simple one. I am utterly opposed to the Bill, and I intend to vote against the second reading and the third reading, T oppose it in every shape and form, and I think I have very serious reasons for taking that course. The honorable member who preceded me made one of the strongest speeches that could be made against the Bill, but in view of the statements he made, many of which I think are entitled to very great weight, I could not appreciate the conclusion at which he arrived to vote for the second reading of the measure. I was very much struck by one remark of the honorable member for Darling, and I heartily sympathize with it. If we are to be moved by feelings of consideration in reference to proposed enterprises on the part of private individuals, I agree with the honorable member that we should adopt as objects of our solicitude, not rich syndicates or speculators, but those struggling persons who are trying to make their way here in developing equally valuable industries throughout the length and breadth of our interior. If the principle of the Bill is a right and proper one, and public money is to be expended in large sums to promote private enterprises, I should infinitely prefer to devote; those large sums to assisting our struggling settlers of the bush, who are laying the foundations of the true nation under all sorts of difficulties. I would sooner help 10,000 of such persons than assist the rich syndicates who are ready to risk their money if the State will guarantee them to the extent of £200,000 or £300,000 - because that is the proposition now before us. Most people, whenever they enter upon an enterprise, however genuine it may be, and however much it is to be encouraged, have to fight their own way. Their enterprise is exposed to the risk of mistakes and misfortunes, and if they make mistakes, or misfortunes overtake them, they have to pay the penalty. Under the proposal embodied in the Bill, however, the country would have to bear the burden - in other words, the unfortunate struggling settler, who is endeavouring to lead a life of industry and enterprise. The principle of the Bill should not be made to apply specially to the production of iron, or spelter, or reapers and binders. If it be a proper one, it would be infinitely better to apply it to other industries. That is the view taken by my honorable friend, with which I heartily sympathize. No one wishes to - underrate the importance of the great iron industry, and any one would, I am sure, rejoice to see it well founded and flourishing. But can there be the slightest doubt that, in conferring a bonus, the State would give the benefits of profit to a syndicate, with a certainty that if there were no profit, the country would have to bear the burden to all eternity. We talk about granting a bonus of ^250,000. If that were to be the end of it, the amount involved would demand serious consideration at the present time, even if the object were a good one. But what this proposal means is that, after the bonus has been expended, a burden will be placed upon all the manufacturing and producing interests of Australia, in the way of duties of Customs, upon an article which is the basis of all industrial expansion. There are two aspects to this matter, and 1 think I might fairly - even if I were a protectionist - hesitate to handicap our great factories, our foundries, and our ironworks, by exposing them to the danger of greater difficulties than they already experience. What is the cry now?. For more protection and for higher duties, to save certain industries from ruination. Would it help our manufacturers if we limited their freedom in the choice of the raw materials, without which they could not run their factories? Would it help them to place Tariff restrictions upon the articles which they must buy in order to carry on their businesses? Is it not a fact that most of the manufacturers of Australia look upon this’’ Bill with great suspicion and uneasiness, because they know that, whilst it has as good an object as the encouragement of a new industry, it will inevitably in the future, so far as can be seen, place further difficulties in the way of establishing other industries on a sound foundation. If anything would make one hesitate in regard to a Bill of this kind, it is the singular fact that twelve most intelligent members of this House, as members of the Iron Bonus Committee, met, carefully considered this matter, heard a great deal of evidence, and as a result were equally divided. Six of them took a much more cautious view of this matter than when it was first broached, whilst the other six, including the present leader of the Opposition - who is a sincere protectionist - reported absolutely against the Bill, and absolutely against this bonus system. As for the six who had reported in favour of it, they expressed an opinion in favour of bonuses as a necessary encouragement, and in paragraph 15 of the report, took up an extraordinary position, which puzzles me. I have always understood that the object of a protective duty was to bridge over the time whilst an industry was being planted, and was struggling in the earliest phases of its existence. That has generally been the argument which has appealed most to the sympathies of the great mass of the people. “ Here is a valuable seed, which may grow up into a stately tree. In the moment of its germination, and in the moments of its first struggles for existence, whilst it is acquiring firmness of root in the soil - during those trying periods - we want to impose a duty in order to shelter, encourage, and protect it.” That has been said again and again. But the five protectionist members of the Commission, whilst they are in favour of granting a bonus for the encouragement of this great national enterprise, deliberately deprecate the establishment of a duty to assist it, until it has overtaken the requirements of the home market. What more strength does this plant of industry want than the strength of existence which has enabled it to overtake all the wants of the Australian market. What I wish to point out is, that the industry will have risen to that strength and vigorous life which will have enabled it to overtake the whole demands of Australia. That is not the time at which it should need a protective duty. It will have arrived at a period when it needs no protection and no shelter. But the protectionist, section of the Commission gravely made the following observation in paragraph 15: -
Your Commissioners do not lose sight of the fact that the bonus system in Canada was accompanied by a duty on imports.
As the other section of the Commission has pointed out, the Canadian experience, when closely examined, is not a very encouraging one. But let us assume that it was. The Canadian offer was one of a bonus and a duty, which is not the present proposal. Speaking of that question, the protectionist members of the Commission say -
Your Commissioners, however, do not recommend the immediate imposition of a Customs duty, as, pending a local supply sufficient for Australian requirements, the result might be to temporarily raise the price to the consumer, which should be avoided.
That is the free-trade talk I like to hear. These gentlemen shrink even from temporarily increasing the price to the consumer in the. early days of this industry. Do not the protectionists frankly tell us that in the struggling days of a protected industry there must be an increase in the price of the commodities which it produces, owing to the operation of the duty, if that duty is to accomplish any good whatever? But the effect of the evidence given before the Commission was to drive my protectionist friends from their chief position, and to compel them to take up the attitude - which, from their point of view, is an exceedingly weak one - that in the early and struggling days of the iron industry no duty must .be imposed, because its operation would temporarily increase the cost to the consumer. I think the reason for that expression of opinion is, after all, a very good and a very wise one, altogether apart from fiscal consistencies or inconsistencies. These honorable members realized what we all know - without going to the trouble of collecting evidence - that if we increase the cost of iron and steel in Australia, we are not encouraging native industries, but hurting them in their most sensitive and vital part. There is not an industry - irrespective of whether it be a primary or manufacturing industry - which is not concerned in obtaining a cheap and plentiful supply of these materials. Even, the protectionist members of the Commission realized that so keenly that they shrank from the task of further handicapping our producers even on behalf-of a grand industry like the iron industry. We know that that industry is one of the most difficult to establish. Honorable members talk about producing pig iron, bar iron, and steel as if we merely had to turn out some simple article of ordinary use. Why, in the finer manufactures in which steel and iron are employed the most scientific care has to be exercised as to the precise quality of the iron and steel used. One would think that we had only to tap an iron deposit, rush the ore into a furnace, and employ some of the methods of industrial change to turn out the very article which our manufacturers require in all their varied enterprises. The very reverse is the fact. A large number of our factories have to obtain the best material in the world. Some of the Victorian manufacturers declare that even the best American steel is not good enough for them. They have to import a special class of steel from a particular portion of the United Kingdom. Consequently this is one of the most critical enterprises in which any individual can embark, despite the advantages which we enjoy in possessing vast quantities of the raw material. Let me deal briefly with the question of freights. In the first place the project is that this industry shall be established in New South Wales. I must admit that that is a feature of it which puts a certain glimmer of satisfaction into the minds of representatives of that State. What 1 am about to say, however, makes the location of the works immaterial to my argument. As has been pointed out, the freight from London to any port in Australia is less than the freight from one port in Australia to another - -many times less.
– I wish that the Prime Minister would remember that fact when we are considering the Tariff.
– At any rate, I am remembering it upon the present occasion. If I had to remember everything about the honorable member I should lose my reason. The moment the proprietors of the projected great national iron works had to send their iron from Sydney to Melbourne, Fremantle, Adelaide, or Brisbane, they would have to struggle with the difficulty that they would be called upon to pay three times as much freight as is charged for conveying English iron from London to Adelaide. Is not that a big handicap to Australian iron ? It is a tremendous handicap, and it is destined to increase, because we are about to pass legislation which will make the navigation of the Australian coast dearer than ever. It is a remarkable thing that rich ship-owners, who have made large fortunes on the Australian coast out of the producers of the Commonwealth, should desire to see this poor, struggling industry nurtured by further public Bounties, whilst they offer one of the most serious obstacles to the development of Australia. All these things seem to bang together. Here we have an industry which is so inseparably intertwined with all the industries of Australia that if we increase the cost of its raw material, whilst we shall be doing a good thing in one direction, we shall be bringing into existence a multitude of difficulties in regard to all the other industries that we possess. The report of the protectionist members of the Commission - as I have said - puts forward one of the strongest reasons why we should hesitate to engage in this enterprise at the present time. The other half of the Commission, including my honorable friend the leader of the Opposition, were opposed to the passage of a Bill providing for the payment of bonuses to assist in the establishment of the iron industry. Half of the Commission were opposed to the Bill without any qualification. They say -
The “Bill provides for the payment of ,£324,000 of the people’s money to private individuals engaged in an enterprise for their private gain.
That may seem a harsh statement to make, but is it not exactly what every struggling man in Australia is doing to-day? The “private gain “ of our struggling producers is really the liberty to live and to maintain their families in decency, and some comfort upon some little selection, perhaps in the far bush.
– That report was drawn up by the honorable member for Bland.
– It is worthy of consideration. It continues -
There can be no guarantee that the bonuses proposed would permanently establish the industry, though it is probable ‘the inducements offered might be instrumental in forming speculative companies.
That is a serious statement, and one which is well founded, because if the difference between the Australian rate of wages and the English rate is so great - although happily the wages paid in England are much higher than those which obtain in Belgium - when this bonus is withdrawn, if the iron industry is not to become a miserable, struggling industry, in which the .employes will be paid upon a scale which is absolutely incommensurate with Australian conditions, we shall have to impose a stiff protective duty. When the stimulus of this bonus has disappeared, and the industry is compelled to face competition without any help, we shall have a number of honest, good artisans - probably amongst the best in Australia - whose position will be imperilled, and an appeal will then be made to us to save them from utter ruin, and to save from ruin also an industry upon which ,£300,000 has been expended. Is the House likely to allow that great undertaking to go down and perish? No, we shall have to keep it alive. If we plant this great enterprise it is a guarantee on the part of this Parliament that we will not allow it to perish, if only to prevent the waste of this public money. I cordially agree with those members of the Commission, including the honorable member for Bland. He is the only protectionist amongst the six members who signed the particular report to which I refer. The rest were freetraders. I cordially agree with him that if this syndicate is to be given different- terms from those which people have to endure all over Australia we shall not only be required to grant a bonus of £250,000, but to become an insurance against difficulties for all time to come. That is a big contract to enter into, considering the difficulties to which our people, who are not members of a syndicate, are exposed from day to day. The Commission point out -
The Canadian experience is not encouraging. The bonus system for iron production was first instituted there in 18S3. Subsequently a Bill was passed in 1897 further continuing the system.
That is fourteen years afterwards -
Another Bill was carried in 1899 -
That is sixteen years subsequently - providing for the diminution of the bounties by a sliding scale expiring in 1907. In July of this year the Dominion Government decided to postpone the operation of this sliding scale for one year, which practically means a further increase in the bounties paid.
So that in Canada, twenty years after this industry had been started, it was still in a precarious position. Then the Commissioners make another important observation. They say -
Nearly all the witnesses examined before the Commission agreed that the payment of bonuses would be useless unless followed by. a duty. Experience shows that if the payment of bonuses be commenced the liability of the Commonwealth will not be limited to The sum proposed under the Bill, but that ‘further Government aid will be sought.
WL see exactly what that means. We cannot place upon .the manufacturing industries of Australia further difficulties and burdens. I am sure that no one wishes to do that. As one of the witnesses said, “ We do not mind a duty upon iron if you will impose a higher duty upon the articles we produce, because we shall have to pay more for our raw material.” Consequently, this proposal amounts to the imposition of a burden in one direction, which will have to be equalized by levying a burden in another direction, and one which will handicap all the industries in Australia in which certain manufactured articles are used. This enterprise is a noble enterprise. The iron, industry is a grand industry. But we have other grand industries. Surely our natural industries come within that category - industries which were begun and which are being carried on by private enterprise without any bonus or State assistance whatever. Surely they are worthy of as much sympathy and help as are those gentlemen in a large way, who desire to indulge in a national speculation. I cannot understand this method of scattering £250,000 in the direction of one syndicate, when we might scatter it over 10,000 homes upon the lands of Australia.
– Do not say that it is only one syndicate.
– Even if two syndicates were formed that would not make much difference to my argument. Our settlers in the wilds of Australia cannot come to this Parliament and say, “ Give us a start by making us a grant of ,£100 or £200.” If we are to begin by granting bonuses to struggling industries and struggling settlers, let us start on a small scale, in connexion with the still more pressing problems of Australian industry - the industry of men who are already settled on the soil, who are already struggling to maintain themselves in decency and in comfort.
– I hope that we shall do that.
– Let us begin with them, and by the time that we are done we shall not have any money to hand over to a big syndicate. There will be a sufficient number of claims on us before we come to Mr. Jamieson, if we are going to follow that line of business. I do not for a moment deny the grandeur of this industry. I feel sure that it is one that we are bound to have; but, like many other industries, it is a question of time. It is the very essence of profitable enterprise that the right time and the right conditions shall be chosen; but in reference to this industry we are asked to disregard time and all conditions, and to put £250,000 at the disposal of some enterprising gentlemen, in order to solve all these troubles. But that would not be the end of it. If we passed this Bill we should take the responsibility of maintaining the syndicate for all time, or of taking over the works at a valuation when they had proved to be a failure. What a fine enterprise that would be for a State to engage in ! Evidence was given before the Commission by Mr. Jamieson, the gentleman to whom I have referred, and I shall refer briefly to a portion of it. Mr. Jamieson is a worthy and enterprising gentleman, but I simply regard him as I regard every other member of the community. The following 1; an extract from his examination : - .
Without any protection, do you consider that you would be subjected to severe competition? - There can be no doubt about that at all. The freightage rates are nothing in our favour. For example, if we establish ironworks at Sydney, those rates would benefit only that particular port. The freightage from Sydney to Queensland would be heavier than it” is from Condon to Sydney.
– That is nonsense !
– Mr. Jamieson ought to know something about the matter.
– The statement is quite true.
– There must be some truth in it. I do not know whether my honorable friend is an authority on this subject.
– There is abundance of evidence in the report to show that the average cost of importing pig iron is ,£1 per ton.
– It can be brought from America for 7 s. 6d. per ton.
– It would be a revelation to me to be told that the freights between, say, Melbourne and Fremantle are not more than those between London and Fremantle.
– That is right.
– Then I shall take that case as an example, in order to be on safe ground. There can be no dispute about that. Western Australia is one of the rising States of the Commonwealth.
– Does the right honorable member represent it?
– I think that I do on this occasion. I suppose that iron is one of the most indispensable commodities used by the people of Western Australia; but it would cost more to send Australian iron from Sydney to Fremantle than it would to carry iron from the United States or Great Britain to Western Australia.
– There are iron deposits in Western Australia.
– Are we going to establish any State iron works there? I do not know why we should not do so as well as in some of the other States, if this course is to be adopted.
– South Australia has an Iron Knob.
– If they could halve it between the two States,’ the difficulty might be solved.
– We have the iron and coal in Queensland.
– Let me quote the evidence of a gentleman who certainly ought to be a practical man. I refer to Mr. Middleton, the manager of the Phoenix Foundry, at Ballarat, which I believe is a great concern.
– He is a good freetrader in some respects, and a protectionist in others.
– I am sure that whether he be a free-trader or a protectionist, he said what was true when before the Commission.
Here is a question that was put to him, and the reply that he gave -
Have you considered what would be the effect of those proposals if put into operation? - The effect would certainly t>e to increase the cost of our manufactures. Bar-iron and steel are amongst our raw materials, and that is one of the reasons why they have always been admitted free of duty.
– Will the right honorable gentleman read the witness’s reply to a question as to whether he would be in favour of the removal of the duty on machinery ?
– I do not know anything about that matter, but I shall comment on the fact mentioned by “him, that even in this rabid protectionist State - and I admit that there was a sensible reason for it, because there are no local pig-iron works - the Legislature had the sense to realize the importance of the supply of iron to local manufacturers, and did not even impose a revenue duty on it. Iron was admitted free of duty.
– That remark does not apply to the Commonwealth.
– I am speaking of Victoria, and Mr. Middleton came before the Commission as the representative of a Victorian industry. The Government of Victoria did not even impose a revenue duty on pig iron. Why ?
– Because there was no local production.
– It is in such circumstances that revenue duties are put on. But the State Parliament did not even impose a revenue duty - a perfectly legitimate one in the opinion of all of us - on iron. The Victorian Legislature knew that if they were to do their best to assist their manufacturers in the State, the raw material should not be made unduly expensive by any action on their part. The passing of this Bill would create a condition of things quite the reverse of the policy of the Victorian protectionists in reference to this material. If the duty is to be eventually imposed - after the bonus has worked out - we know that it must tend to hamper to some extent all factories using iron as their raw material, and that they will require a higher duty upon their manufactured products, to put them in something like the same position that they occupied before. I believe that a bonus of £1 a yard was once offered in Victoria for the local manufacture of 5,000 yards of worsted. The 5,000 yards were made, and the bonus, amounting to £5,000, was paid, but not another yard of worsted was ever made in Victoria after the bonus was exhausted.
– In the same way-, a bonus of £5,000 was offered in Queensland for the establishment of the cotton industry.
– And something was done to earn the bonus?
– Yes; but as soon as the parties in question obtained the bonus, they did not make another yard.
– It is only fair to say that the rate of bonus proposed to be given under this Bill is such that it would secure the absolute establishment of these works. It is onlyfair to admit that with a bonus of 12s. per ton. it would be necessary for those engaging in the industry to have really good works in existence before they could secure much of the money proposed to be paid away in this manner. But once we start these works, practically under our guarantee’ we shall have to run them for all time. The suggestion that 10,000 men would find employment in the works to be established is the wildest rubbish in the world. Labour-saving appliances have been brought to such a high state of perfection that a man. visiting one of the great ironworks of the world can see a boy touch a burton, and in that way exercise a force equal to the strength of 100 men. Factories employing twenty men and boys are able to turn out 2,000 or 3,000 tons of steel rails every day. The machinery does all the handling, the transferring, and the lifting. Mr. Mephan Ferguson, who, I think, is regarded as an eminent engineer, told me that he went all over the great foundries in England, and he was the first to open my eyes to the absurdity of the suggestion that the manufacture of 10,000 or 20,000 tons of steel rails per annum would set a local factory going. He said that he visited works in Glasgow where a mere handful of men and boys, so to speak, were able, owing to the perfect machinery employed, to turn out immense quantities of steel rails. .
– One witness gave evidence before the Commission that a factory in Germany gave employment to 13,000 persons.
– That would be an enormous factory.
– He included, or course, those employed in contingent industries.
– He referred to iron-works in a great Empire comprising a population of 60,000,000, to say nothing of the foreign trade which it enjoys.
– Works at which guns are manufactured.
– Probably they make guns for the army and the navy in this factory.
– For the armies and navies of the world.
– Mr. Middleton was further examined as follows : -
Have you considered the possibility of successfully establishing the iron industry in Australia? - I have always looked upon the proposal as very nearly impracticable.
For what reason? - Because of the increased cost of production.
Arising from what? - From the difference between the rate of wages -
This is no moonshine. The facts are stated - and the hours of labour in Australia as compared with those which obtain in English factories. In Victoria and New South Wales the wages paid are practically double those which obtain in England for skilled labour.
We hope that that state of affairs will go on for all eternity.
– Nominally, but not actually.
– We should like it to actually exist. No one desires to reduce the rate of wages. When we are told that the rate of wages is an obstacle, we are inclined to say that we rather believe in those industries which pay a high rate of wages, and that we do not wish to create any that would give only a low rate of pay. Those are not the kind of manufactures that we desire to encourage. That has been my view of the matter from the first. I have always been careful about giving an artificial start to any industry, because the natural industries can support the Australian rate of wages, while artificial industries, for the very reason that they are artificial, cannot do so. The difference has to be made good by drawing on some fund or other, and always from the pockets of the people.
– But how much goes back to the people?
– Do not we derive more from the man who receives high wages than from the individual who is in receipt of a low rate of pay?
Mr.Webster. - But what if men are getting low wages ? What if they cannot find employment?
– I suppose that we cannot go on indefinitely creating industries in which the rates of wages are so low that it is necessary for the State to supplement them in order to bring them up to the required standard. We may do that to a certain extent. If we can get the money out of the rich, it may not be a matter of such great moment ; but this money would have to come from the poor, who have not much money to circulate.
– We propose to get the sum required by direct taxation.
– That seems an easy plan, and might be freely adopted, especially when we have no land. Now, this is what Mr. Middleton says with regard to the point that I have just mentioned. He was asked -
Do you think that if the industry were established by means of the payment of a bonus, it would be able to carry on successfully?
This is a matter of some importance. We are proposing to expend£250,000, and it is of interest to know whether the project would be a success. Mr. Middleton’s reply to the question was -
I am of opinion that it might be established, for afew years; but, if it subsequently had to come into competition with the imported article, it would not be able to stand.
That was the opinion expressed by the experienced representative of a great foundry.
– With a free-trade leaning.
– I hold that if we imposed a duty upon iron we should handicap the manufacturers of Australia, to whom iron is the very staff of life.
– Not if the works be created here and the money spent in the country.
– That is all right, but we cannot do that indefinitely. I admit that the honorable member’s answer constitutes one answer to my contention, but as a rule we do not give much encouragement to industries by increasing the cost of their raw materials. That is a piece of homely political economy, which is highly appreciated by persons when ‘buying for themselves.We add to the difficulties of a man of business if, in consequence of our actions, what he buys is made dearer. If he can make the difference out of some one else, his position is not so serious; but nevertheless there is a difference. The lower the price at which we can afford to sell the better is the chance of our doing business. I have spoken, I hope, with perfect frankness, because I wish to absolutely clear myself from any responsibility for this great experiment. I desire my position to be clearly understood. I believe that if we pass this Bill we shall have to take the factory established under it into our own hands for all time, either by taking it over as a State concern, or by increasing the duties on the raw material of all the industries of Australia in order to make it a profitable business.
– Shall we hear the opinion of the other half of the Government on this question ?
– When the leader of the Opposition is speaking, my honorable friend does not ask such an idiotic question about the honorable and learned member for Indi. I am beginning to understand him, however. I have long ago lost any personal feeling in regard to him, because I know that, although his manner is rather crude now, it will improve with time.
– I should like to hear the honorable member for Gippsland on this subject.
– Perhaps the honorable member will hear him. Having criticised the measure thoroughly and clearly, I hope, I wish to say that I have always made a distinction in favour of a bonus as against a protective duty. If I felt that the proposed bonus would be the end of the matter, that no protective duty would afterwards be asked for, I should not feel half the opposition to the Bill that I now feel, because if by the payment of a bonus we established a flourishing industry which would not require further help, we should have made what would notbe a bad investment.” But if in the future, there is to be a perpetual drain upon the people, in the shape of a duty, the matter will be much more serious than the proposed bonus. The distinction between a bonus and a protective duty has been drawn scores of times, and is as obvious to every honorable member as it is to me. The great thing to be said in favour of a bonus is that it is known, first, how much money is -to be paid ; and, secondly, where it is going. We cannot say, perhaps, where the proposed bonus will go, because it is uncertain who will take the matter up. If the Bill were passed, it would be a great consolation to me should a man like Mr. Sandford obtain the bonus. Worthy citizen as Mr. Jamieson may be, I draw a great distinction between the promoter of a syndicate and a gentleman like Mr. Sandford, who has been engaged for twenty or thirty years in developing the iron industry in the State of New South Wales. There is a third respect in which a bonus differs from a protective duty. If the establishment of an industry is a national concern, requiring national assistance, the expense should be paid for out of the . national pocket, and not out of the pockets of those who patronize the industry by using what it pro-: duces. My most serious objection to protective duties has been that they take toll of those who are encouraging the protected factories by buying their productions, whereas it is the nation which ouffht to bear the cost of the protection. If a man buys galvanized iron from a protected Victorian or New South Wales factory he should not be specially taxed ; the burden of protecting that factory should be borne by the nation. Therefore, in my opinion, if an industry is a national one, and requires national assistance, it is better to establish it by means of a bonus, which will be paid for by the Commonwealth, than by means of a protective duty. My strongest objection to the Bill, however, is that, although in form if is a bonus Bill, we shall find that after the bonus has been paid, we shall be committed to the imposition of a protective duty upon iron.
– Will the right honorable gentleman say how the money required to pay the proposed bonus is to be raised ?
Mr.RE ID. - I will leave that matter to the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– The Prime Minister has been at great pains to clear himself, as he has phrased it, with respect to this Bill; but his attitude in regard to it is, to my mind, an extraordinary one.
– That, according to the honorable member, has been my attitude ever since I came into office, and will be my attitude so long as I remain here.
– The right honorable gentleman condemned the proposal contained in the Bill, lock, stock, and barrel. He described it as a public robbery.
– I did not use that expression at all. The honorable member might have some regard for accuracy.
– If the right honorable gentleman did not use those exact words, his meaning was the same, because he said that it was a proposal to take £324,000 out of the pockets of the public to put it into the pockets of a syndicate.
– How can what is done with the sanction of an Act of” Parliament be a robbery ?
– The clear meaning of what the right honorable gentleman said was what I have stated. Yet, in spite of his strong condemnation , of this proposal, the carrying into effect of which he professes to regard as a public disaster, he has given up a week of the public time in order to facilitate its passing. Where is the right honorable gentleman’s consistency there? He has proclaimed in the loudest tones that he is here to protect the public purse, and yet he is giving up public time to facilitate the doing of that to which he professes to be so much opposed. His attitude in the matter is so extraordinary that I can come only to the conclusion to which a number of other’honorable members must have come, that this is a scheme to get rid of another week, and to bring the session nearer to a recess.
– A very good object, too.
– If the right honorable gentleman were honest as to his intentions, we might all be willing to help him. But when he poses as the saviour of the public, and yet opens up the way for the doing of that to which he asserts he is so much opposed, I cannot believe in his sincerity. He has referred to the fact that the members of the Royal Commission were practically evenly divided, and that what is called the majority report is not really a majority report. Let me remind him that one of those who, according to the honorable member for Parramatta, drew up the minority report - the late representative of Kalgoorlie- when he went before his constituents for re-election was not returned. They sent in a man who was in favour of the proposed bonuses, and who was a protectionist.
– They did not return him because he was a protectionist, but because he was a representative of labour.
– I know that Mr. Kirwan was a free-trader- of the freetraders, and sat as such.
– And he was an excellent man, too.
– I do not deny that, but the gentleman who opposed him was a protectionist, and he defeated the man who practically drew up this precious minority report. What does the Prime Minister mean by a natural industry ? I contend that there is none more natural to Australia than the iron industry. It forms the base and beginning of every manufacturing trade worthy of the name. We cannot make anything from a needle to a battle-ship without the use of iron or steel. Yet the Prime Minister says, in effect, that the iron industry is not natural to the Commonwealth. He does not enlighten us as to what he conceives to be a natural industry. He says that natural industries can stand the Australian rate of wage, but he does not tell us what that wage is. Does he consider shepherding a natural industry ?
– The honorable member has robbed the workers by imposing’ high protective duties.
– We have done more to help the workers than have those honorable members who are willing to permit the sweated products and prison-made goods of foreign countries to come in here free of duty.
– As if our workingmen had too many goods in their houses.
– That is not the question. The point is that if they have no money they cannot purchase what they require. Unless they can obtain employment . they cannot earn money. It is the aim of the Protectionist Party to provide them with employment. What does the Prime Minister mean by “ the more pressing problems of Australia “ ? Can there be any more pressing problem than the question how we can best establish the iron industry, which is the basis of all the great manufacturing enterprises of this country ? Every witness before the Bonus Commission admitted that iron was the basis of his manufacturing business. Even those who were opposed to the granting of the bonus conceded that. Yet. the Prime Minister glibly talks about ‘ establishingnatural industries which he is not prepared to indicate. I know of no industry which is , so important, or for which we might do so much, as that of the manufacture of iron. The Prime Minister has spoken about cheapness. We know that that is his god. We recollect that he has stated that we could not expect to establish large manufacturing, industries in Australia until the workers were reduced to such a condition that they would hare to accept the starvation and sweating wages paid in the old world. We do not forget his references to the “ crop of miser)’,” and the lower rate of wages necessary to compete with old world manufactures.
– The honorable member will repeat that statement so often that he will believe it.
– The statement is reported in Hansard, and the Prime Minister has not dared to deny it. He has made the statement more than once.
– I complain of the ugly twist which the honorable member gives to the statement.
– The Prime Minister proposes to establish industries in Australia when the wages are reduced down to the rates paid in India, where the natives live upon a handful of rice, and need only a mat by way of furniture.
– The Prime Minister did not refer to India, but to the Continent.
– We are perfectly aware of the conditions which prevail in protective countries on the continent, where there are no factory laws. We do not believe in that kind of ‘protection. We advocate a protective system which is complete from the Customs House onwards. The Prime Minister was pleased to quote a Mr. Middleton, who, in giving evidence before the Bonus Commission, pointed out that the iron industry could not possibly survive unless local manufacturers could turn out’ their products at the same prices at which similar goods could be imported. The right honorable gentleman forgot to quote from the evidence of other witnesses, who also had something to say upon the subject of cheapness. Mr. J. P. Franki, the managing director of Mort’s Dock and Engineering Company, ‘ Sydney, one of the greatest concerns in Australia, said that he looked upon the establishment of the manufacture of iron here as one of the things that would enable him to turn out his work at a cheaper rate. He arrived at that conclusion, because his company had now to import large quantities of iron, and keep it in stock, and to debit to their customers with the interest upon their outlay in that direction. He said, further, that if iron were locally produced it would not be necessary for them to keep large stocks, because they could buy material as they required it, and would therefore be able to supply their customers at a cheaper rate. Mr. Morison, of Messrs. Morison and Bearby, engineers, of Newcastle, also gave some very interesting evidence. At question 2231 he was asked bv Mr. Fuller-
How do you arrive at the conclusion that the advantages you have spoken of as likely to follow the establishment of local ironworks would make it worth your while to pay 5 per cent, more for imported iron ? - Ohe of the advantages we should get would be that we should not need to carry such heavy stocks. Where we now have to keep 100 tons of imported iron on hand, it would probably be necessary to keep not more than, say, 25 tons on hand. Therefore, there would be a saving of interest. We should not have so much capital lying idle.
A Mr. Rogers supplemented these remarks, by saying very much the same thing. Those of us who believe in bonuses contend that, the establishment of the iron industry hi Australia would eventually tend to cheapen the manufacture of goods required by local consumers. By bringing the locally-made goods into competition with the imported articles, the first reduction in price would be brought about. Then, as Mr. Franki has pointed out, if the manufacturers were able to avoid the large outlay necessitated by their having to keep large stocks of imported iron, they would be able .to reduce the price of their goods. These are matters of such interest that I wonder that the Prime Minister did not refer to them. He was ready enough to quote passages in the evidence that were calculated to bolster up his own case. I suppose that we are all inclined to assume the part of an advocate, but the Prime Minister occupies a position different from that of other honorable members, because he claims not only to be responsible for the conduct of business in this House, but to be the spokesman of the outside public, and to be charged with the duty of promoting the progress of the country as a whole. Therefore, he ought, in all fairness, to have represented the case as it was put before the Commission. He was pleased to make reference to an experiment made in Victoria some years ago in respect to the worsted industry. ‘ In that case, again, he did not state all the facts. In connexion with that business a bonus was offered. But instead of maintaining the industry as it should have been maintained, after the bonus had expired, by means of a reasonable duty, no duty whatever was imposed. The importers put their heads together - also their purses - and practically smashed the local manufacturer, just as they did some years previously in connexion with the iron industry in New South Wales. We have it upon sworn testimony that in that
State certain individuals were prepared to start operations under ‘similar conditions to those which exist to-day.. They did so. They believed that they could oust the imported article. Almost immediately “‘the importers formed a ring, brought flown the prices, and ruined the local manufacturers.
– Is that the only reason for its failure?
– That is quite a sufficient reason for its failure. In con- nexion with other bonuses, the very same practice is being followed to-day. Quite recently I read a letter from a firm of importers, who in the most brazen fashion possible were offering to sell goods below their cost price in order to ruin local manufacturers. Whilst I am in favour df granting a bonus to assist in the establishment of the iron industry. I also advocate the imposition of a reasonable duty, in order to maintain the industry when the bonus has expired, and to keep, up that competition which is necessary to assist the local consumers in the shape of iron founders and others. Jt is rather interesting to note what the American Steel Trust proposes to do in connexion with this matter. A recent cablegram sets out that -
The American Steel Trust proposes to establish mills in Canada at a cost of£2,400,000, in order to evade the Canadian Customs duty of 28s. per ton upon steel.
Does not that point the example which we should follow? If it will pay the American Steel Trust to spend more than £2,000.000 to establish their works in Canada in order to avoid the payment of Customs duty, it will probably pay capitalists to do the same thing here. That would mean that our own workmen would be employed instead of those of America. The cablegram which I have read shows what can be accomplished in the way of inducing the investment of capital in any industry when the right methods are adopted. Until we follow the example of Canada we shall not get the American trust, or any other trust, to establish the iron industry in Australia.
– Does the honorable member wish trusts to start operations here?
– No. At the same time, there are certain monopolies which, when wisely directed, will confer a greater benefit upon the community than does the unholy competition which takes place under other conditions. Free-traders Have asked why we should grant the proposed bonus. They say in effect, “ If the quality of the ore is proved, and if the market is a sound one, where is the necessity for granting a bonus?” I have endeavoured to supply answers to these questions, and I propose now to supplement those answers.
– Very briefly.
– I do not “think I can be accused of occupying much of the time of this House.
– Why stone-wall the Bill ? Let us come to a division.
– Under the circumstances, I ask leave to continue my remarks to-morrow.
– Last night-
– The Minister cannot speak at this stage. He can only object.
– Of course, if the honorable member for Kennedy refuses to allow me to make a statement, and insists upon a strict adherence to the forms of the House, I must submit. At the same time, I think that, when it is proposed to adjourn a debate at an earlier hour than is usual, it is customary to extend to a Minister the courtesy of addressing himself to the question.
– Will the Minister of Defence say what he desires to say.
– The honorable member for Bourke has asked for the adjournment of the debate. I desire to point out that we have not yet reached the ordinary hour of adjournment, and I ask him if he cannot conclude his remarks this evening. There are still twenty minutes available for that purpose.
– There are other honorable members who wish to speak.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the honorable member for Bourke be granted leave to continue his speech at a later date?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– In moving -
That the House do now adjourn,
I wish to express my regret that the friends of this Bill are apparently bent upon destroying it.
– I regret that the House has been asked to adjourn at this early hour. I desired to say a few words upon this Bill, but my remarks would not have occupied many minutes, because I am anxious to see the measure pass, and I do not intend to assist those who wish to block it. It is a Bill upon which honorable members have already made up their minds ; I therefore regret that the Government have allowed a curtailment of the time which could have been occupied in the discussion of this important matter. I trust that when we meet to-morrow, an effort will be made by the supporters of the Bill to secure its passage through this House by allowing those who are opposed to it to do all the talking.
– It seems to me that the Government, having abandoned the Bill, now wish to lecture those honorable members who desire that the same privilege shall be extended to them that has been extended to Ministerial followers.
– I lectured nobody.
– We have arrived at an hour when it is reasonable to adjourn the discussion. The honorable member for Laanecoorie states that he was ready to continue the debate, and was anxious that it should proceed. No one denies the accuracy of his statement, but the honorable member for Bourke was also ready to go on. It now appears that the Government desire to apply the gag.
– Seeing that I consented to the adjournment of the debate, how can the honorable member make such an assertion?
– There are some ‘kinds of concessions which deserve no thanks. I think that the request for the adjournment ot the debate was granted with a very ill grace.
– That is all right.
– If the right honorable member thinks that the Opposition is going to submit to a lecture at the hands of the Government majority he makes a mistake. I trust that the conduct of this important debate will be marked by that courtesy which has characterized the action of the Government in connexion with discussions of far less importance. As the Prime Minister has pointed out, the Bill involves enormous possibilities, and should receive the fullest consideration.
-The supporters of this measure have not had much opportunity to-day to give utterance to their veiws. The whole afternoon was devoted to the consideration of private members’ business.
– The honorable member himself wasted half-an-hour this afternoon.
– The honorable member refers to an incident which happened during the time devoted to private member’s business; but he should be the last to complain, for. a motion standing in his name had to be adjourned this afternoon.
– I did not waste any time over it.
– The honorable member should be the last one to attempt to dictate to the Ministry, in this matter, in view of the fact that he asked for the adjournment of the motion to which I have referred.
– That is not correct.
– I think the request for the adjournment of the debate was a fair one, and I see no reason for complaint.
– I think that it is the duty of the Government to see that a little more progress is made with the business of the country. It is quite refreshing to hear the honorable member for Wide Bay lecturing the Government for transferring so important a measure as the Manufactures Encouragement Bill to the charge of a private member of the House, when, as a matter of fact, the Ministry of which he was a member, laid down the precedent which is now being followed. Why did the leader of the late Government give the honorable member for Hume the right to deal with a measure of this importance ?
– The honorable member is wrong in saying that we created a precedent for this action; the Barton Government extended a similar privilege to the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne.
– The Manufactures Encouragement Bill was a plank in the platform of the Deakin Government, and it was only when the Watson Government assumed office that this measure was transferred to the charge of a private member.
– It was not transferred to the honorable member for Hume, but the promise was made that he should be allowed to take charge of it.
– And as honest men, the members of the late Ministry would have kept that promise. The honorable member for Wide Bay has lectured the Government for doing that which his own Ministry was prepared to do. I think that the Government ought to take a firm stand. If they are going to continue to allow the Opposition to conduct the business of the House the sooner they leave these benches .the better.
– What are they doing?
– We know that there is a great deal of work to be done, and the Government, having allowed a private member time to place the Manufactures Encouragement Bill before the House - a fact of which I do not complain - have permitted the Opposition to say .when the consideration of it shall cease. When the Bill was re-introduced to the House a few nights ago, by the honorable member for EdenMonaro, no one was prepared to continue the debate. Personally, I do not desire to speak on the motion for the second reading, because I realize that we had a second reading debate on a previous occasion. I am prepared to vote without speaking to the motion, and those who support the Bill are taking an unjustifiable risk in occupying so much time in discussing it at the present stage. If the Government are. going to allow the debate to be adjourned at this early hour, night after night, and to refrain from bringing forward other business, they will place their supporters in an unfair position. I made an appointment - the first I have ventured to make for a considerable time - for to-morrow, but I now find that, owing to the want of decision on .the part of the Government, I shall have to break it. Am I to be compelled to remain in this House, week after week, for twelve months in the year? When I sought the suffrages of the electors, no one contemplated that I should be compelled to sit here day after day all the year round, and that I should be debarred from- devoting any time to my private business. It may be all very well for those who have wealth and leisure to sit here day after day, but I have neither. It is the duty of the Government to insist on the reasonable despatch of public business. This is the second occasion on which I have entered my protest, and if the conditions to which I object are allowed to continue, I shall take the very first opportunity that presents itself to express by my vote a very decided opinion about the matter. * I have no hesitation in saying that if such an occasion again arises, the Government should not allow the Opposition to determine, so to speak, the hour at which the consideration of public business shall cease. With this clear and distinct statement of my position, I shall conclude by saying that I look upon the present method of conducting business in this House as an absolute waste of time. 9 t
– I regret that the honorable member for Moira should have assumed this tone on the present occasion.
– This is not the first time I have had to draw attention to the matter.
– I am perfectly aware of the slenderness’ of the majority that I possess, but I absolutely refuse to occupy the position I do if I am to be spoken to in that way. I would remind the honorable member that I have given over this week to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro for the express purpose of dealing with the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, and that a little while ago he asked me, in the interests of the measure, to consent to an adjournment of this debate. I am not in the position in which the leader of a Government generally is, when conducting Government business. My honorable friend forgets that. Either I have made a mistake in giving time for the consideration of the Bill, or I have not. But when I do give a week to an honorable member in charge of a Bill I recognise that I must study ‘ his wishes in connexion with the matter. It is not as if I were carrying on the Government business. My honorable friend has forgotten that.
– No, I have not forgotten that.
– I sympathize very much with the subject of my honorable friend’s complaint, but I think that the wrong moment has been chosen to speak in that way to me.
– I hold that some other business should be proceeded with, if honorable members are not ready to go on with the measure for which the right honorable gentleman has given them time.
– If the honorable member will look at what has been done he will find that, making allowance for the time which was occupied by the usual adjournment, and by the discussion of the recent no-confidence motion, ! have actually done more business in the short time I have had than has the leader of any other Government. T thought it my duty to give the honorable member for Eden-Monaro time for this Bill, and I understood that it was done with the approval of honorable members on both sides.
– I have no complaint to make about that.
– May I remind the honorable member that it is unusual to sit late here?
– The honorable memberfor Eden-Monaro asked me to consent to an adjournment.
– Before that the honorable member asked me to consent to an adjournment of the debate. If I could only get honorable members to sit here until 12 or 1 o’clock, I should be delighted to do so, and to get some business done. But the honorable member for Moira must recollect that a practice has been set up for three years of adjourning at about half-past 10 or a quarter to 11. I feel that I shall have soon to call upon honorable members to adopt a new rate of business or to sit later. But I could not do that on this occasion, when I have given the time which is being occupied to a private member. I feel that I could not at this time go on with Government business, without notice, unless I exposed myself to the imputation of taking absent members by surprise. I think I may take this opportunity of stating my intention, and then I shall know exactly what my duty is. I wish honorable members who are here, and those who are absent, to understand that I intend to go on with Government business whether they are prepared for it or not, and if anv accident occurs that brings on a Bill in an unexpected way they must not come to me and complain of my having gone on with a Bill as to which I did not give them notice.
– It is about time a start was made.
– I give full notice to that effect, but I wish the honorable member to know that when one is in the position of having such a narrow majority in’ the House one naturally feels sensitive at appearing to give way to this supporter and to that supporter. I am well aware that at present one honorable member who is supporting me has only to cross the floor of the House to reduce the Ministry to a position of impotence. I do not wish to hold my position for a moment if I am to be spoken to in any abrupt or peremptory way, or threatened with what an honorable member will do if something is not done. It puts me in a false position. It exposes me to the taunt of my enemies that I am holding on to office and enduring insults and dictation. I shall not hold office for a moment on such terms.
– The leader of the Government has taken the correct course. The House is in the most humiliating position- that any Assembly I know of in Australia has ever been in. The Prime Minister is compelled to get up and to speak in very straightforward terms to his supporters about the manner in which they are badgering him in the present situation. We are now in this unfortunate position, that one honorable member can get up and dictate to the Prime Minister just as he thinks proper. The right honorable gentleman has either to back down to that honorable member and take a humiliating course, or else he has to speak pretty straight to his critic, whoever he may be, and by that means possibly bring about an election. It was only last night that an honorable member rose and told the Government in pretty straight terms that if they did not take a very different course, he would adopt another method of chastising them.
– It seems that there is a difference in the methods of the parties after all.
– I am not talking about the methods of parties, but of the position of the Government.
– The honorable member is sympathizing with them, I suppose?
– To tell the honest truth, I do sympathize with the Government, and whether the right honorable member believes it or not, I feel very deeply in this matter. I do not care who the man is, if he fights us fairly and squarely, we are prepared to fight him on all occasions. I honour and respect that sort of man, but I despise a man who pretends to be our friend and immediately turns round and does something with a view to injure us. Quite recently an honorable member, standing at the end of the table,.sa id that he held the Government in the hollow of his hand, but that for the present he would vote with them. Whatever we may think about that statement, from a party stand-point, it is humiliating, to say the least of it.
– It was not in particularly good taste.
– I do not believe that the honorable member in his heart can defend a statement of that kind. I do not think that there is an honorable member who can defend the position we are in. We have something more than our individual or party interests to think of. We have to consider the interests of the people who sent us here, and we ought to try to be honest with them. We are in a very peculiar position with this Bill. Practically it has been abandoned by the Government. They have washed their hands of all responsibility.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member not to discuss the Bill.
– I do not intend to discuss the Bill.
– Any debate which would be in order on the motion for second reading would not be in order on this motion.
– I wish to discuss only the position in which we are in relation to the Bill.
– What the honorable member is going to say will be in order on the motion for the second reading.
– The honorable member does not know exactly what I am going to say. I desire to refer to a question of procedure, and not to the merits of the Bill. We are in an unfortunate position as regards the Bill with which we have been supposed to be dealing to-night. When the Government came into office, they had the right to take or leave whatever measures they pleased. They abandoned this Bill, and then we witnessed the extraordinary spectacle of the Prime Minister getting up and handing it over to an honorable member who is not in a position to make a reply to the debate. The honorable member who moved the second reading of the Bill is the one who is in charge of it.
– Surely, if honorable members are friends of the measure, they will not quarrel about that.
-It appears to me that the person who introduces a Bill, and moves the second reading, is the person who ought to reply to the debate; and that is a clear proof that the honorable member for Hume ought to be in charge. The Prime Minister had no more right to hand the Bill to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro than I should have had to hand it to the honorable member for Lang.
– I would not have anything to do with it.
– We shall probably come to that position before this is all over. The honorable member for Hume moved the second reading, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro is in charge, and it is the Minister of Defence who objects to the adjournment of the debate. The Bill seems a sort of bone thrown into ‘ the arena for . the whole of us to worry. I regret much that the Government should be in a position to be practically dictated to by any honorable member who sits behind it.
Mr. JOSEPHCOOK (Parramatta).I am sure the Prune Minister will appreciate very much this intense sympathy of the honorable member for Kennedy, and his party, in view of their expressed intention, which they appear to be carrying out pretty persistently.
– The Prime Minister has had a good deal of support from us.
– I am speaking of the honorable member for Kennedy, who, I presume, represents the views of his party, including the honorable member for Wide Bay.
– I am speaking entirely for myself.
– All the trouble has arisen owing to the urgent demand by the honorable member for Bourke, who professes a burning desire to pass this Bill, seconded by an ex-Minister, who complains that the Government are trying to “ gag “ the Opposition in connexion with this measure. That is nice language from an ex-Minister, when a Minister is asking that an urgent measure which cannot occupy, our time much longer shall be proceeded with. While taking up our time, with their tongue in their cheeks, we are told that . they are concocting another surprise for the Government on Tuesday. I suppose it is part of the “ little game “ for the honorable member for Bourke to talk this measure over to-morrow, and on Tuesday to give the Government their coup de grace, so that the Opposition may be in possession of the measure once again. If that be their idea, it isjust as well the public should know. This is the first time we have had an Opposition claiming that the House should adjourn at half-past ten o’clock when an important measure, which they wish decided, is under consideration. The request was made in a spirit of pettiness, the honorable member being annoyed for the moment at an interjection. The request was not made with a genuine desire to promote fair discussion, but in order to exhibit the little petty power the Opposition have. If this continues, it will remain for the Government to assert their position, and see that business is carried through. The honorable member for Wide Bay was always treated courteously and fairly when in office.
– Oh !
– Can the honorable member say aught to the contrary ? No honorable member complained to the honorable member for Wide Bay as Minister, as he has complained to the Minister to-night, that he was gagging the House. If the honorable member is anxious to pass a measure, which it is alleged will form the basis of many prospering industries, he is going the right way not to do it. The Bill has been before us many times, and is ready for decision, one way or the other, and for that reason I have refrained from speaking.
– Which is very unusual with the honorable member.
– Such is my sense .of the necessity for dealing with the measure one way or the other that I have refrained from speaking, and, so far as I know. I do not intend to speak on the second reading. I understood we were to have a division to-night ; indeed, we were told that we were to have a division last night.
– So we should, if the Prime Minister had not spoken.
– Then the honorable member for Bourke is speaking purely for the purpose of an oratorical revenge on the Prime Minister?
– 1 shall tell the hon- orable member why T am speaking.
– No doubt the honorable member will tell us a lot, but he cannot get away from the fact that he has deliberately wasted half-an-hour. There was a possibility of the division being taken, had we sat for the usual time. It is not correct that the usual time for adjournment is half-past .ten o’clock, when measures of first-rate importance are before us. The usual time is eleven o’clock, except on Tuesdays, and the Prime Minister intimated that we should adjourn at that hour. I admit that the late Government, in its easy complaisant way, did adjourn much earlier than previous Governments. The honorable member for Bourke has made an unreasonable demand in an unreasonable spirit! I hope the Government will see that they have a sufficient number of supporters to prevent a repetition of what has occurred to-night ; because we ought not to allow this gloating on the part of the Opposition, who are already clamouring indecently for the seats from which they were so lately deposed.
– I am rather surprised at the turn taken by the debate on the motion for adjournment. I must express my admiration at the stand made by the Prime Minister in regard to the remarks of .the honorable member for Moira. We appreciate in public men, as in private citizens in high positions, a readiness to take responsibility, and to resign their posts if they cannot continue to hold them with honour and dignity. For that reason I admired the manner in which the right honorable gentleman replied to the threat of the honorable member for Moira. I think that no leader of a Government who was worthy pf his position would tolerate any dictation of that kind. There is nothing unreasonable in asking for the adjournment of the debate at twenty minutes to eleven o’clock. If the honorable member for Moira has private business to attend to, and it clashes with the business of the country, he ought to make a choice between the two. Some of us, who represent distant States, are prepared to attend at all hours to do the duty for which we were elected. I think that the trouble has been largely brought about by the constant interjections of the honorable member for Parramatta. It is very irritating to have the honorable member continually throwing insinuations across the chamber. Apparently he seems to think that he alone has a right to dictate to the head of the Government as to how business should be transacted- Only the other night he said that the Government were not exercising that firmness which he would like to see. I should advise him to have a consultation with the disconcerted gentlemen in his own party in order to see if he cannot relieve his leader from the indignity to which he has been subjected. But I am glad that the Prime Minister himself is not willing to be dictated to by any honorable member.
– This is only a storm in a tea-cup; but I hold myself responsible to some extent for the misunderstanding that appears to have occurred. I had hoped that the debate would terminate to-night, but after consultation with the honorable member for Hume, I ascertained that he did not desire to speak this evening. I also found that the honorable member for Kooyong, and several other honorable members, wished to speak to-morrow. As there was no possibility of closing the debate when the hon- orable member for Bourke asked leave to continue his speech to-morrow, and as the Prime Minister ‘told me that he left the matter to my own discretion, I said that I would not object to the adjournment. I think that an injustice has been done to the honorable member for Moira by the Prime Minister. . I listened to his speech, and I do not think that he made any threat.
– There was a distinct threat made to me, which no man of spirit would accept quietly.
– I may be mistaken, but I took it that the honorable member for Moira simply said that he would have to show by his vote what he felt with regard to business. There is no doubt that a number of honorable members desire to bring the business of the session to a conclusion. While we have kept good hours hitherto, there is no reason why we should not sit late at least one night a week in order to expedite business. We ought to make an earnest effort to terminate the session ; and I hope that the Government will accept that expression of opinion as an indication of the feeling of honorable members generally.
– The next complaint will be about overwork, not underwork.
– Those of us who come from different States feel the need for getting on with business, and if we wish to talk, we must pay the penalty by sitting a little later.
Sir WILLIAM LYNE (Hume).The Prime Minister has stated that in future he intends to go on with the business on the notice-paper, whether honorable members are in their places or not. The right honorable gentleman was not very often in his place during the early part of the session, and would not have taken part in many debates if that rule had been carried into effect by previous Governments. I think it should be understood beforehand, as nearly as possible, what business is to be proceeded with each day.
– Hear, hear. That is reasonable.
– The House should not be kept in the dark as to what business is likely to be taken, but if the Minister states as nearly as possible when certain business is likely to come on, I think that no honorable member can complain. I hope that the Minister of Defence, in replying, will say on behalf of the Government whether it is their intention to proceed with the Manufactures Encouragement Bill next week. I am sorry that the second reading was not carried tonight; but I do not think that we shall do much more than get into Committee tomorrow, and the consideration, of the measure in Committee will, I am afraid, occupy considerable time, because honorable members feel strongly upon several of its clauses.
– It is for the honorable member to say whether the Government will proceed with the Bill next week.
– As the Bill was prepared and introduced by me, I shall do nothing to block it.
– Has not the honorable member read the report in to-night’s Herald, that .the Opposition are going to attack the Government next week?
– They have- a perfect right to do so, if they think fit. The honorable member for Parramatta was very unfair when he stated that the honorable member for Bourke tried to block the Bill.
– I thought so at the time, and’ I still think so.
– 1 know that the honorable member for Bourke is very anxious that it should pass. I am satisfied that he would not have, spoken so long as he did had it not been for the speech of’ the Prime Minister, to which those who favour the Bill could scarcely listen without desiring to reply, seeing that he made so strong an attack upon it.
Mr. McCAY (Corinella - Minister of Defence). - In reply to the honorable member for Hume, I think that it will be better for the Prime Minister to make a general statement as to the course of business tomorrow morning, than for him to make a piece-meal statement through me. We shall, however, proceed with the Manufactures Encouragement Bill then. With regard to the adjournment of the debate on that Bill, I wish to explain that I at first objected to it because, as I mentioned last night, I think that the House could sit till at least eleven o’clock each evening. But as the honorable member for’ Eden-Monaro, who is in charge of the Bill, and the honorable member for Bourke, who is speaking in support of it, both asked for an adjournment of the debate, there was no other course open for me but to agree to it. The next business on the paper was the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill, and as the hour was then 20 minutes to 11, if I had asked the House to proceed with the measure it would have been 11 o’clock before I should have heard one-fourth of the reasons which would have been urged for not going on with it. Therefore, in spite of some of the hard things which were said-
– The Ministry have not heard any hard things said yet.’
– The honorable member for Wide Bay said a hard and very incorrect thing when he characterized our action as gagging.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 October 1904, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19041020_reps_2_22/>.