2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., andread prayers.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General whether, in view of the fact that the Peninsular and Oriental Company permit passengers to travel to England first class, and to occupy the very best of the cabins, and to carry 10 cwt. of luggage, for the sumof£77, and that the company will charge at poundage rates £201 for 10 cwt. of letters, he will make such arrangements that Members of Parliament may be franked by the Department to England on the. understanding that they take as personal luggage 10 cwt. of letters, thus enabling the Department to save £123 on every half-ton of letters sent to England, and at the same time to permit members to visit England, thus cementing the bonds of Empire.
– Are members tobe asked to carry registered letters?
– If members of the Opposition will only undertake to go to England after the recess, the Government will be only too glad to assist them to do so.
– The Postmaster-General might, in view of the great saving that would be effected, also arrange for honorable members to take their wives with them.
– According to the Journals of the Senate, the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Survey Bill is set down as the third Order of the Day for to-day.
– Order; the honorable member must not refer to the businesspaper of the other Chamber.
– I should like to know if it is the intention of the Government to refrain from closing the session until such time as the Senate has been afforded an opportunity to deal with the Bill.
– I shouldnot like to put the matter in that form, but I wish to say that the Government are thoroughly in earnest in their desire to see the matter settled this session.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he did not give a promise, or an implied promise, to the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs that he would place the Life Assurance Companies Bill first on the list of Orders of the Day for to-day.
– No. I am very anxious to help the honorable and learned member, who has charge of the Bill, or any other honorable member who may be in charge of it in his absence, but I did not, at any time, make a promise that I would take the Bill at the beginning of the sitting. I said that I would take it at the end of a sitting, if possible -I did not say to-day. I am very anxious to assist in the passing of the Bill, and if honorable members do not object we might deal with it at the end of our present sitting. It has been well discussed.
– I have to announce the receipt of the following message from the Senate : -
The Senate returns to the House of Representatives the Bill intituled “A Bill for an Act relating to Conciliation and Arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State,” and acquaints the House that the Senate does not insist upon its amendments Nos. 1, 2, and 3, disagreed to by the House of Representatives, and agrees to the amendment of the House of Representatives upon amendment No. 4 of the Senate.
asked the Prime Min ister, upon notice -
Whether, to enable Parliament to consider the advisability ‘of adopting a system of ‘obtaining the decision of the electors upon Bills in dispute between the two Houses, he would state the approximate cost of -
Supplying 2,000,000 “ Reply “ duplicate voting cards( similar to post cards)?
Addressing same to all enrolled adults?
Counting replies received ?
– I shall have great pleasure in making the necessary inquiries.
asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Motion (by Mr. Reid) agreed to -
That for the rest of the session, when necessary, the Standing Orders be suspended so as to allow the remaining stages of any Bills, after their second reading, to be taken without delay.
Debate resumed from 21st October (vide page 5969) on motion by Sir William Lyne -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I have listened to the debates upon the measure, and I utterly fail to see the force of the arguments which have been used by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro and others who are supporting it. I object to the measure, first, because, being associated with the Tariff, it is certain that it will practically fix the import duties upon iron, and because it is a declared part of the policy of the advocates of the Bill that the protection granted under the Tariff shall be continued after the bonus period has expired. The imposition of these duties will have the effect of increasing the price of raw iron to a very large extent, and will therefore hamper production, because, as has been admitted, iron enters very largely into the raw material of a great number of industries. Once it is granted, however, the bonus is certain to be continued. Upon that point I need do no more than refer to the fact that at the present time an agitation is being carried on with a view to give permanence to the sugar bonuses. If we can judge from the history of the iron industry in America, protection, either direct or indirect, leads to tremendous fluctuations in production. That has been the history of the iron industry in the United States for the last seventy or eighty years. Over-production is followed by periods of collapse, and then the pendulum again swings to the other extreme. That. I need hardly say, does not indicate ahealthy condition of affairs. If the bonuses are once granted there is certain to be a demand for their increase. Canada started in 1884 with a bonus of $2 per ton upon raw iron, This was increased in 1899 to $3 per ton. What has been the result ? According to a blue book published by order of the House of Commons during the last few months, Mr. Llewellyn Smith, a member of the Board of Trade, states -
But, although the bonus is on a higher scale in the case of pig iron made from native ores, the pig iron produced in Canada from Canadian ore is much less than that produced from imported ores, and the greater part of the Canadian ore is exported.
That indicates the failure of the bonus system, because the greater part of the iron manufactured in Canada is produced from other than native ores. The honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, although supporting the Bill, practically indicated the failure of the Canadian bonus system by the figures he quoted, which showed that Canada had produced 274,000 tons of pig iron, of which only 46,000 tons had been produced from native ores. Although the iron bonus has been in operation in Canada since,I think, 1884, it was first intended to cover a period of only seven or eight years. In other words, it was considered that the total demand in the home markets would be met within that period. The production of iron from local ores is, however, so small that no other conclusion can be arrived at than that the bonus system has entirely failed to accomplish its object. In Canada the local price of iron is actually higher than the export price. In fact, the iron-masters of the United Kingdom, rather than those of Canada, benefit from the Canadian bonus, because a great deal of the surplus not required for local purposes is dumped down in the United Kingdom at prices lower than those ruling in the Dominion. I forget the exact figures, but I think that close upon 125,000 tons of Canadian iron was dumped down in the United Kingdom during the year before last. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro also mentioned that of the completed furnaces in Canada upon the 31st December, 1902, seven only were in blast, five of them being idle. I need scarcely point out that that did not indicate that the industry was as flourishing as the supporters of the bonus expected that it would have been. According to the arguments of some honorable members, the policy of encouragement upon what it is now proposed to launch us is not required.
It has been stated by Mr. Sandford that iron can be locally produced from native ores at a cost of about 35s. per ton, which, I think, is about half the import price. That shows that the local manufacturer will have the benefit of substantial natural protection. If we have, all the natural advantages claimed by the supporters of the Bill, in the shape of large ore deposits, ample coal supplies, and other requisites, the industry should not require any special protection such as that now contemplated. It must be remembered that our local markets are particularly limited. I am not quite sure as to the quantity of iron consumed in the Commonwealth, but I understand that it amounts to about 35,000 tons per annum, one-third of which quantity is required by the States Governments. Therefore, if we gave a bonus for the manufacture of iron, we should enable those engaged in the industry to impose a stiff tax upon the States Governments as consumers. Then, again, I contend that our ore bodies are not sufficiently concentrated, and that in America, and, in fact, everywhere else, such conditions have been found to considerably discount the chances of success, lt has been shown that the amount of employment that will be afforded by the establishment of the industry will be comparatively small. In America, in connexion with the Duquesne blast furnaces, Pittsburg, less than 500 men are employed, although the output is about” 750,000 tons annually. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro referred to the tremendous development which has taken place in the iron production of America, and by inference alleged that this was due to the policy which had been adopted of protecting the industry. His comparative statistics, however, possess very little value, seeing that he starts with the year 1867, because we know that in America production was at a minimum from 1861 to 1865. But the moment that the war ended, industry received a tremendous impetus, in which, of course, the iron industry participated. From about 1865, the world’s demand for iron as a raw material has largely increased. This to a great extent accounts for the American development. The production of the world at the present time is about 50,000,000 tons annually.
– That fact argues that the demand will increase in Australia.
– It is an argument that we do not require to foster the industry by means of a bonus, because of the natural demand for the raw material. Without any change in the fiscal conditions in America, production has enormously increased within the past thirty or forty years. This fact has been due to the greatly increased demand for iron in various directions - for example, in the ship-building line. The ironclad and the steel-bound vessel have been substituted for the old “ wooden walls.” Then, again, the local demand for iron in America is greater than that in any other country. We all know that in that country iron enters very largely into house construction. It forms the skeleton frame of a g/eat many of the buildings there. Then, again, the bridges in the United States are mostly constructed of iron. I repeat that the local demand has developed sufficiently during the past thirty or forty years to account for the great increase in iron production in America. At the same time, we must recollect that as far back as 1826 the iron industry there enjoyed a protection of 100 per cent. This duty continued to operate for many years, but, despite its aid, the industry remained in its infancy until about 1865, thus indicating that it is not protection which is responsible for its great development. In .the United Kingdom, no protection has been afforded to the iron industry, which, however, has fairly well maintained its position. In i860, the production in the United States amounted to only 821,000 tons, whereas it is now nearly 18,000,000 tons. The German production in i860, was 519,000 tons, but the production in the United Kingdom in that year waft 3,800,000 tons. So that, comparative increases are no test of the efficacy of projection as against free-trade. But the production in the United Kingdom did not stop at 3,800,000 torts. It also took advantage of the increased demand, due to the causes which I have mentioned, so that we find that whilst the United States produced nearly 18,000,000 tons of iron in 1902-3, the United Kingdom produced 8.680.000 tons, thus indicating no decay of the industry in the mother country.
– The production of the United States is the greater.
– But we ^cannot compare the enormous deposits of the United States with those of the United Kingdom. The latter annually imports about 60,000 Jons of Swedish ore for special purposes. It also imports ductile iron from Canada, much to the benefit of the manufactures of the
United Kingdom, because the products of this iron are so much cheaper. The effect of .this dumping has been to enable the ironfounders of the United Kingdom to successfully compete against Germany for contracts in Copenhagen and several other places. The production in Germany is about 8,5:18,000 tons per annum. As a matter of fact, the production per bead in the United Kingdom is about equal to that of America, which, after all, is the true basis of comparison. In 1902-3, the production per head in the United States was C23, in the United Kingdom it was’0’21, in Germany - where the industry is stiffly protected - it was only o’i5, and in Russia - where it is also protected’ - it was o”02. I do not think that I need elaborate my argument any further. I have shown that under free-trade conditions, the iron industry has nourished. Consequently, if we possess tremendous deposits of iron and’ coal, the protection of coal against the imported article is sufficient to permit of the development of those deposits. If the industry has not been established, it is not because of the absence of a bonu’s. I claim that it would establish a bad principle to give such a tremendous bonus to private individuals. In the first place, the benefit thus conferred must to a large extent be monopolized by a few, and, in the second, the incidental benefits will be confined practically to one or two States, which possess the greatest deposits of ore, and in which the conditions for successful production are known to exist. I am firmly of opinion that unless .there is competition from outside, the local producers who receive the bonus will be able to mulct the State as an entity by charging increased prices. For these reasons, I shall vote against .the Bill.
– I intend to support the second reading of this measure, and my only regret is that it cannot be immediately passed through Committee, so that it might become law as soon as possible. I cannot understand the arguments of the honorable and learned member for Angas. He has affirmed that the establishment of the iron industry will not afford a very large amount of employment. I do not propose to quote any statistics in that connexion. I merely wish to view the matter from a broad stand-point. I would ask the honorable member if he _ is not aware that the importations of iron into the Commonwealth last year were valued at about £8,000,000?
– That amount includes the value of manufactured articles.
– Of course it does. When we reflect that last year about £8,000,000 were expended by the Commonwealth in the purchase of manufactured articles, of which iron and steel form the base, it is clear that the local production of iron would afford a very large measure of employment. The honorable and learned member also affirms that the industry requires no bonus to assist its establishment. Nature has endowed almost every State in Australia with large deposits of iron ore, and yet thousands of men are out of employment. The honorable and learned member for Angas has referred to New South Wales. Does he not know that several attempts to manufacture iron and steel from native ore have been made in that State ? What was the result ? The moment the attempt was made a combination of importers was established for the purpose of crushing the industry. In New South Wales, hundreds of thousands of pounds have been expended in an endeavour to develop the iron industry. The article produced there is acknowledged to be equal to any produced in the world. The honorable and learned member for Angas is opposed to the encouragement of this industry either by bonus, or by way of a fair protective duty. I would point out to him that the natural demand to which he referred has always been present. Yet year after year, we find that no successful attempt has been made to establish the industry, and to provide employment to a large number of artisans and mechanics. To my mind this Bill should not receive opposition even from the free-trade section of this House, seeing that it provides that no bonus shall be payable until a certain article has actually been produced. It will thus be seen that the money which it is proposed. to expend by way of bonus cannot be misapplied, as has been the case in some of the States. Those who embark upon the undertaking will have to incur an expenditure of hundreds of thousands of pounds before they can produce the necessary pig-iron to enable them to obtain the modest bonus of 12s. per ton. These bonuses are to extend over a period of only five years, and the total amount to be paid in any one year is no? to exceed £50,000.
Mp. Poynton. - All bonus systems are started in the same way.
– We cannot expect to make a start with the manufacture of iron and steel unless we offer some encouragement to capitalists to invest their money in the industry. The sooner we do so the better.
– The difficulty is to see where it will end.
– That is a matter with which we have no concern ; it will be for a future Parliament to say where the system shall end. All we have to consider at present is whether it is desirable to establish the industry.
– I thought the honorable member was a Chamber]ainitte. Mr. Chamberlain does not approve of this system.
– What does it matter, so far as this question is concerned, whether I am a Chamberlainite or not?
– Are not these bonuses to be paid to secure the establishment of a new industry ?
– I may agree with the honorable member for Robertson on some questions, and disagree with him on others. I do not know what opinion Mr. Chamberlain holds in regard to this matter. That is a matter of no concern to me ; I am concerned only with the opinions which honorable members may entertain with regard to it. We ‘have the power to say whether the production of iron and steel in Australia shall be encouraged, but Mr. Chamberlain has not. We have to determine the question for ourselves, and it is from that point of view that I approach its consideration. It is an undeniable fact that nature has richly endowed most, if not all, of the States, with the raw materials necessary for this industry. She has distributed them very bountifully in New South Wales, and with a still more liberal hand in Tasmania, whilst good supplies are also to be obtained in Victoria and Queensland. All this wealth is lying dormant in the earth, and surely we can devise some means to give it a commercial value. If honorable members opposite object to the imposition of duties to encourage the industry, we can adopt some other system. Are not bonuses really given for the encouragement of other industries? We are continually assisting the development of the agricultural, pastoral, and other industries of . Australia by votes of 1 various kinds, which, although known by different names, are really bonuses. The equities of the Bill are so manifest that : i they should appeal to every free-trader in the Parliament. It cannot be said that it is proposed to impose duties before the industry is established. If that course were followed, the price of these articles to the consumer would be increased pending the competition which would come into play with the establishment of the industry, and which would rapidly level prices. But all that it is proposed to do is to grant bonuses during a period of five years in order that the industry may be given a fair opportunity to become thoroughly established. When that has been accomplished we shall have a competition prevailing between the importers and the local manufacturers which will bring down prices to a fair level, and be to the advantage of the consumer. We have to bear in mind that the establishment of the industry would lead to the employment of a vast number of persons, anc? to the creation of great wealth. The honorable and learned member for Angas, has quoted certain statistics with which it is not my intention, to deal. But is it not a fact that every nation which has thoroughly developed its industries by direct legislative encouragement ‘has reaped the full benefit of such a system - that it has opened up new avenues of employment in this way, and materially enhanced its prosperity ? The honorable and learned member for Angas has referred to the teeming millions of the- old world and the system that prevails there, but how could we expect capitalists to invest their money in this industry in Australia unless we offered them some assistance in meeting the attacks of a ring of monopolistic importers who would do their utmost to crush them? We simply propose to assist the industry in its infant days, so that it may become a strong and healthy one. Capitalists have told us, in petitions addressed to the House and by other means, that, if they were given an opportunity to invest in the industry with a reasonable guarantee that they would obtain some fair return for their outlay, they would be prepared to avail themselvesof it, but that they must decline to enter upon the undertaking without any State aid against the competition of a strong monopolistic combination. It is well known that during the life of the last Parliament a company purchased something like twenty acres of land near Sydney, in the hope that this Bill would be passed, and that they intended to expend hundreds of thousands of pounds in the erection of the necessary machinery for the utilization of the native iron ores of New South Wales and Tasmania. In the Blue Mountains, where nature has also distributed the raw material with a lavish hand, a serious attempt was likewise made by a company to embark upon the industry on a very large scale. Capital was to be obtained in England, and nearly one million pounds was to be at once expended in laying down the foundations of the industry. These preliminaries, however, came to a sudden termination, because it was seen that there was a hesitancy on the part of a section of the Parliament to give those interested a guarantee that the money which they proposed to invest in this way would not ibe entirely lost. That its the position which we have to face today. The honorable and learned member for Angas quoted certain statistics, from which he endeavoured to show that the United Kingdom had held its own with other parts of the world in the manufacture of iron and steel. I am at a loss to know where he obtained’ his information. That which I have obtained is quite the reverse. The United Kingdom, instead of holding its own with other countries in the production of iron and steel, has fallen behind.
– I know that it has in the matter of comparative production, but not in the aggregate.
– I am speaking of the position of the industry in the United Kingdom, as compared with that of Germany and the United States of America.
– I admitted that the output in those countries had increased. I gave the figures relating to the production in the United Kingdom and the United States of
– In view of that admission, I need not pursue this line of argument further than to ask why the industry in Germany and the United States of America has made such wonderful progress as compared with that made by it in the United Kingdom? On the one hand, we find England under free-trade retrogressing, whilst, on the other, the United States of America and Germany, as the result of a protective policy, are rapidly forging ahead. I think it has been held by the greatest writers on the subject that the prosperity of a nation depends upon the utilization of its own native productions. It has been shown again and again that the iron and steel industry offers the widest field for employment. It involves not merely the extraction of the coal and iron from the soil, but numerous branches of manufacture which give employment to thousands of people, and are productive of much wealth. We have all the raw material in the Commonwealth, and it remains for us only to devise some means to give it a commercial value. Would any one have the temerity to say that if we could manufacture only one-half of the imports of iron, and steel into Australia - which would represent a value of between £3,000,000 and£4,000,000 per annum - it would not be advantageous to the capitalist, the worker, and the people generally ? Would it not result in the building up of kindred industries? The honorable and learned member for Angas has referred to the importation of iron for bridge building purposes. We all know that it is used in these and many other directions, and surely we ought to devise some means to encourage its local manufacture, if only for the benefit of our people. I am anxious that this Bill should be passed as soon as possible and therefore shall not detain the House any further. I believe that the Bill will be attended with the most beneficial results - that it will lead to the establishment of an industry which will provide employment for hundreds of persons now seeking work in vain, and bear favorable comparison with the pastoral, agricultural, and other industries in the community as a producer of wealth and a means of employment. I am satisfied that once established, it would become, if not the leading, at all events one of the leading, industries of Australia.
– Although the session has extended over many months, I am sorry to say that nothing has been done by us to encourage the utilization of the native products of Australia, and to give direct employment to the many thousands of unemployed in the Commonwealth. In the closing days of the session we have now an opportunity to do something that will lead to the opening up of a wide field of employment. The honorable and learned member for Angas objects to the introduction of a bonus system in this way, because he says we do not know what it would lead to. He has referred to the fact that Canada, having granted a bonus for the encouragement of the iron and steel industry, was subsequently called upon to largely increase it. But because Canada, in increasing the bonus, has done something
Mr Hutchison pointed out that during war time an extraordinary impetus has been given to the iron industry of the United States, but that afterwards a reaction has set in which has caused the employe’s engaged in it to suffer. That must occur in connexion with every country affected by war. We, however, need not fear, either that our iron industry will receive an impetus from such a cause, or that there will be a consequent dismissal of employes during a subsequent period of depression.
– I desire to add to what has already been said the expression of my earnest hope that we shall be allowed to bring this matter to a conclusion. I feel that the Tariff which was passed by the last Parliament will not be anything like complete until a measure such as this has been enacted. Indeed, it was anticipated when division VIa. was agreed to that a measure of this kind would follow almost immediately. To my mind, the arguments which have been adduced against the granting of bonuses have not been altogether fair, because the worst results of the bonus system have been put before the House as though they were the ordinary and only results. In Victoria we have an object lesson in this matter of which the House might well take notice. There was a time in our history when we were in depths of depression such as we had never previously reached. But we were dragged out of them through the operation of a bonus. There is not the slightest doubt that the butter. bonus, which was instituted by the Hon. J. L. Dow, was the main factor in assisting Victoria to successfully combat the terrible financial difficulties which we had then to face. Some honorable ‘ members have referred to that bonus by way of reproach, because of certain revelations which have recently been made concerning the channels into which part of it flowed. But those revelations do not affect either the principle or the result ; they only show that had the bonus in all cases been paid to the right persons, the beneficial result would have been far greater. Notwithstanding the improper diversion of money which Parliament intended to benefit a particular class, that class and the community generally have benefited inestimably from the operation of the bonus.
– It established the butter industry.
– Undoubtedly it did, and I would remind those who have said that once a bonus is granted the Government must keep on spoon-feeding the industry, that in the case of the Victorian butter industry no bonus has been paid for many years past, but the industry is able to stand alone, notwithstanding the very improper proceedings of many connected with the butter export trade In discussing a matter of this kind Ave should not pick out particular cases of abuse, but should rely on proper administration for the right conduct of the system we adopt. I feel sure that we have no need to fear a repetition of unfortunate occurrences such as those which in Victoria have done so much to damage what I regard ‘as often a necessary policy for the establishment of a new industry. In common with those who have preceded me, I desire that we shall deal with the measure as rapidly as possible, and, although under other circumstances, I would speak at greater length, I feel that the interests which we have at heart will be best served by brevity. Canada has been cited as a country which has found it necessary to increase her bonuses, notwithstanding the fact that they were accompanied by a substantial import duty. The results of the Canadian bonus system, however, should give us the highest anticipations for the success of the iron industry in Australia. Although at first it was found necessary to increase the bonuses, they have been gradually decreasing, there having been recently a reduction of is. 3d., and, probably at no distant date, the granting of bonuses will entirely cease. The honorable member for Hindmarsh alluded to the fact that, although we have been in session for nine months continuously, and have worked assiduously and honestly, we have not been able to accomplish any legislation to give- the employment which is so much needed by our people, and I would urge upon, the House the fact that the passing of this measure will open up avenues of employment, which will give work to a large number of men who are at present without it. In addition to the iron industry itself, there will be a number of subsidiary industries ,which wi?l employ thousands of men. It has been anticipated that 3,000 men will find employment within two years and a half in connexion with the iron industry itself, but that is no criterion of the number which will find employment in connexion with other industries if we provide for the rapid, and, I think, cheaper, production of iron and steel in Australia. We have magnificent resources, and everything necessary for the success of the iron industry. All that is required is to start it, and to give it opportunities for development. We must recognise, however, that, because of our limited population, it is rather much to expect private enterprise to expend the enormous capital required for the inception of the industry, without a guarantee that it will have some prospect of avoiding loss. To my ; mind, no time should be wasted in bringing about a new era of prosperity, in which Australia will be independent of all other parts of the world. By securing an efficient and regular supply of iron, we shall be- retaining in their employment, the workers who are now here, and’ shall be finding employment for others, while, if a European war should arise, we shall be able to keep our industries going without intermission.
– When the Bill was before the last Parliament, I strenuously opposed it, and although I do not think it necessary to repeat now the arguments which I advanced then, my opinion as to the inadvisability of employing public funds to build up a monopoly in the iron industry has in no way changed. The honorable member for Laanecoorie spoke of the Victorian butter bonus as on ali fours with the proposed bonus for the production of iron, but there are many points of difference. In the first place, the butter bonuses granted in Victoria and South Australia were given, not for the production, but lor the export of butter, the requirements of the home market having been already complied with. Furthermore, the circumstances surrounding the butter industry were such as to preclude any possibility of a monopoly. The conditions of the iron industry, however, are such that the establishment of a monopoly is inevitable. It is not suggested that there could be any competition except from outside. There is not room in the Commonwealth for) more’ than one smelting works, and therefore those who establish the industry must exercise control over the whole iron production of Australia. I do not desire to aid in bringing about such a condition of affairs. I intend, however, to vote for the second reading of the measure in the hope that honorable members will agree to offer a bonus to any State that may be willing to undertake the establishment of the industry. Failing that, we must impose conditions which will enable a State, or the Commonwealth, at any time, to take over the industry. My attitude towards the Bill at a later stage will be determined by the shape which it assumes in Committee.
– Provision is now made in the Bill for the State taking over the industry.
– Yes, but that may not be retained in the measure. I do not think there is much chance of passing the Bill this session, but it is certainly due to those honorable members who have taken such a keen interest in it that the fullest opportunity should be presented for discussion.
– I intend, to vote for the second reading of the Bill, because I think that its principle is consistent with the policy we have adopted for the Commonwealth. The great American humourist, Mark Twain, has said that a hair-splitting nicety of creed is necessary for the salvation of some souls, and I think that we are rather inclined to hair-splitting when we discuss in the abstract such a question as that now before us. Whilst I call myself a free-trader, I believe with John Stuart Mill, that it may be well in a new country to encourage industry by the granting of bonuses or bounties.
– I suppose the honorable member knows that Cobden said that the expression of that idea had undone all the good that he had ever -been able to accomplish ?
– I have often heard it said that John Stuart Mill recanted to a certain extent, but I have not been able to find any record of his recantation. The honorable member for Coolgardie told me that the proof was to be found in a letter written to Sir Henry Parkes, contained in a volume in our Library.
– John Stuart Mill wrote a letter to Sir Henry Parkes to the effect that the way in which his doctrine had been applied in Australia had made him regret that he had ever published it.
– But that is not a recantation of his doctrine. I should agree with that myself. In private life we adopt the principle that is embodied in this Bill. I have done it myself, and my father before me. I refer to spending certain sums of money under such circumstances that thev will yield no direct return, but will probably confer indirect benefits upon us, which will more than compensate us for the outlay. It appears to me that the conditions surrounding the iron industry are compara- lively simple. Those who engage in farming occupations are largely dependent upon climatic and other conditions, which render their occupation very precarious, whereas if we have large iron deposits, and the necessary workmen to utilize them, we can calculate, with some degree of certainty, upon the result. Of course, capital must be invested in order to enable the workmen to operate upon the material. I am opposed to the State carrying on the industry. The capitalists who embarked in this enterprise, would have to invest such a large amount of money before they could claim one penny of the bonus that we should have a very substantial guarantee of their bona fides. I think we may rely upon a very large amount of employment being provided,. The honorable member for Angas took the contrary view; but I would point out that in Carnegie’s works in the United States, no less than 168,000 workmen are employed. That is, of course, a very large undertaking, and we should do well if we could find employment for one-tenth of that number.
– All those hands are not employed in the production of pig iron alone.
– That is the number of hands employed in what are called the principal and subsidiary works.
– Those men are engaged in the production of iron and iron goods, such as rails and other manufactured products.
– Yes, but a large number are engaged in the production of the raw material. I obtained my figures direct from the secretary of the company which is now conducting Carnegie’s works, and I think that they are sufficient to show that a large number of hands will find employment if the iron industry is established in our midst. The honorable member for Hindmarsh says that we could safeguard ourselves against the creation of an undesirable monopoly by empowering the State to take over the industry. There is a much easier method of protecting the interests of the public. If the competition among the producers of iron within the Commonwealth should prove to be insufficient to keep down prices, we might suspend the operation of, the protective duties, and thus bring the local manufacturers into direct competition with the outside world until they were disposed to act reasonably.
– Does the honorable member think that a duty should be imposed upon agricultural implements in the manner proposed by the Bill ?
– I shall consider that matter when the time comes. At present, we are dealing only with the bonuses. I shall be guided to a very large extent by the trend of events in the meantime. If the competition amongst those engaged in the manufacture of iron kept down prices, I should not object to the imposition of reasonable duties.
– Does the honorable member think it possible that more than one iron works will be established, when a single blast furnace could produce all the iron necessary to meet the requirements of Australia and India?
– I am told that there is a very large outlet for raw and manufactured iron. I could not imagine that any capitalists would be willing to invest, perhaps,£1,000,000, as has been stated in connexion with one company, in such an undertaking as that contemplated unless they were fully assured that they would find a profitable outlet for their products. Further, our remoteness from the centres of iron production and manufacture would place us at a great disadvantage in the event of our supplies from abroad being interrupted by the outbreak of war. We might not be able to procure sufficient iron for the manufacture of the munitions of war necessary for our defence. Therefore, I think that it is highly desirable that we should be self-sustaining in that regard. At present, I am in favour of granting bonuses, and I shall be prepared, afterwards, to consider how far protection should be extended to the industry by means of import duties. I am. strongly opposed to imposing protective duties for all time. I do not think an industry should be bolstered up when it has reached the stage of senile decay- Bonuses should be given and duties should be imposed purely for the purpose of giving an industry a start. I shall vote for the second reading of the Bill.
– The Government appear to me to present a most humiliating spectacle in connexionwith this measure. Their life depends upon a single vote, and they have found it necessary to placate certain honorable members by affording facilities for the discussion of a Bill by means of which it is proposed to tax the people of the Commonweath to the extentof£350,000.
– The last Government did the same thing.
– They had no chance to doso. If they had taken any such action, I should have condemned them in terms similar to those I am now employing. One wouldjudge from the debate that all the evidence collected was in favour of the proposal in the Bill. But what are the facts? The advocates of the measure have not dared to refer to the report of the Bonus Commission. Is there any evidence in that report that there was anything like unanimity on the part of those honorable members who were deputed to specially investigate this question? Twelve members were appointed to that Commission. They collected a considerable mass of evidence, which they carefully sifted, and they were equally divided upon the question of whether it was wise to offer this bonus. What is called the dissentient report states :
We, the undersigned members of the Commission, are against the passage through Parliament of the Bill for the payment of bonuses by the Federal Government for the establishment of the iron industry within the Commonwealth.
That report is signed by W. M. Hughes, Samuel Winter Cooke, J. W. Kirwan, Geo. W. Fuller, J. Chris. Watson, and Joseph Cook. It proceeds : -
We recognise that the Commonwealth possesses vast deposits of iron ore of high grade, coal, &c, for iron works. Ample evidence ‘has been given to satisfy us on that point. Furthermore, we believe it would be a considerable advantage to have the industry in operation in a flourishing condition, and on a proper basis. In our opinion, however, such a desirable result would not be best promoted by the Bill we have been asked to consider.
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. 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.
Among the most important paragraphs in the report are the following: -
One of the witnesses, Mr. Sandford, managing director of the Eskbank Iron Works, New South Wales, stated that he had made an agreement with an English syndicate to spend £250,000 in extending the Lithgow works if the Bill passed. In answer to another question, Mr. Sandford said that to make pig-iron he wanted a plant involving an expenditure of from £100,000 to£125,000. This estimate is less than half the sum proposed to be paid in bonuses.
The Canadian experience is not encouraging. The bonus system for iron production was first instituted there in 1883. Subsequently a Bill was passed, in 1897, further continuing the system. Another Bill was carried in 1899 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.
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.
The evidence failed to show that there was any commercial necessity for the bonuses proposed. Mr. Sandford said he could produce pig-iron at Lithgow under 35s. a ton. Allowing for freightto Sydney, Melbourne, and other parts of the Commonwealth, he could, on this showing, compete favorably with any imported pig-iron. Other witnesses, who, however, had less experience than Mr. Sandford, doubted the correctness of his estimate of cost. But, on the supposition of his having made an under estimate, he would still, even without a bonus, be in an excellent position as compared with the imported commodity.
No effort was made to bring forward witnesses against the Bill. Notwithstanding that fact, the evidence given failed to establish a case in its favour. Several witnesses thought the establishment of ironworks in the Commonwealth premature, and much of the evidence was strongly against any attempt by the Government to establish the iron industry by the payment of bonuses.
Yet in the face of a report of that character the House is asked, at the eleventh hour, to pass a measure which has been handed over to the control of a privatemember involving an initial expenditure of something like £350,000. Experience of the operation of the bonus system induces me to say that when once it has been initiated, we can never foresee where it will end. In Canada, for example, the original intention was to limit its operation to a few years. But it has been almost indefinitely extended. No doubt, if we perused the Canadian Hansard of twenty-one years ago, we should find that the arguments which were then adduced in support of the introduction of the bonus system, are identical with those which have been advanced in this House. The same reasons are constantly urged in regard to a protective policy. Yet Victoria, after thirty-five years’ experience of protection, cannot do without it.
– What about the duty upon salt?
– Those engaged in the salt industry did not ask to be assisted by the payment of a bonus. What has been the result of the bonus system in Canada?
In 1883, the Parliament of the Dominion passed an Act offering a bounty of $1.50 per ton for the production of pig-iron. In 1889, that bounty was reduced to $1 per ton; but in 1892 another Act was passed increasing the bounty to $2 per ton, and providing that it should terminate in 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 cant, 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. Yet, in the face of such evidence, we are asked to believe that the amounts set out in this Bill represent the whole expenditure which tha Commonwealth will be asked to sanction. Do honorable members believe that? If we pass legislation of this character, what will be the next step ? We shall be told that we have expended ,£324,000 to establish the iron industry, and that upon the strength of our action certain persons have been induced to invest their capital in that enterprise. We shall be assured that they cannot continue operations, and that unless they are granted further assistance the works will have to be closed, as a result of which hundreds ‘of men will be thrown out of employment. I venture to predict that that statement will be made in this House before many years have passed. To-day we are called upon to consider not merely the expenditure of £[250,000 upon pig-iron made from Austral ian ore, puddled ba.r iron made from Austraiian pig-iron, and steel made from
Australian pig-iron. We have to consider whether, having been parties to the establishment of this industry, we shall not be obliged to continue hand-feeding it to the extent that has been found necessary elsewhere. Judging by the indifference displayed by honorable members, one would think that this was a matter of no importance - that we were here not as the custodians of the public purse, but merely to vote large sums of money for the benefit of private individuals. A Commission, was appointed to deal with this question, and although we are told by them that they did not seek any evidence in opposition to the scheme, their inquiries resulted in the report I have quoted. It would be an absolute calamity to pass this Bill, and I think it is a matter for regret, that we should even be asked to deal with such a measure. Let me now refer briefly to some of the other articles, the local manufacture of which it is proposed to encourage by means of the bonus system. The Bill proposes that a bonus shall be paid for the local manufacture of wire-netting, and at a certain date a duty is also to be imposed to encourage the industry. A similar course is to be followed in regard to the articles mentioned in the other divisions of the Bill. What will this mean to our primary producers? I represent a large number of farmers, who find it necessary to protect their crops by the use of wire-netting. There are vast wheat-growing areas in South Australia, where, in the absence of wire-netting fences, it would be impossible to protect the crops from the ravages of rabbits and other vermin. Yet it is proposed to increase the duty on an article which is so largely used in this way. A similar proposition was made when the Tariff Bill was under consideration, and I was one of those who strenuously opposed it. Farmers and pastoralists are already put to an additional expenditure of at least 2d. per acre - in respect of the great bulk of the wheat areas of South Australia - by having to provide wirenetting for the protection of their crops, and I fail to see how any honorable member could support a proposal that must result in the price of the commodity being increased. Prior to the establishment of the Commonwealth, there was a duty of £2 10s. per ton on barbed wire and wirenetting imported into Victoria; but it did not result in the establishment of a sound local industry. In New South Wales, where there was no duty imposed on either of these articles, a wire-netting manufactory was satisfactorily established. The Commission, in a summary of the imported materials which would be affected by the passing of this Bill, show that ,£70,000 worth of wire-netting was, on the average, annually imported into the Commonwealth during the five years ending 31st December, 1902, whilst the value of barbed wire annually imported during the same period was ,£60,000. These are two of the articles, the local production of which is to be encouraged at a future date by means ‘of Customs duties. In the face of open competition, factories for the making of wirenetting were successfully established in New South Wales, whilst in Victoria, with a heavy import duty on barbed wire, it was only possible to establish a manufactory employing some twenty-nine hands, who received an average wage of 28s. 3d. per week. In order to achieve this magnificent result, those who use barbed wire in Victoria were called upon to bear the burden of a duty of £2 los. per ton. We are now asked to give men a bonus for manufacturing that which they have been able to produce in Australia without any protection whatever. It is idle for honorable members who support this measure to say that the imposition of a duty on any article does not increase its price to the consumer. That is a fallacy which I successfully exposed during the Tariff debate. I showed that, taking the figures for twelve months, the difference between the price of barbed wire and wirenetting in Victoria, where there was a duty of ,£2 ios. per ton, and in New South Wales, where the articles were on the free list, was within 5s. of the amount of .the duty. I showed also that the public were deceived in regard to the gauge of wire they were using; that a ton of imported wire, gauge 12, went one mile twenty-nine chains further than did a ton of the local article, which was also sold as gauge 12. In the face of all these facts we are asked to crown a profitless session by pledging the Commonwealth to an undertaking that at the outset would involve an expenditure of ,£350,000. Before we see the end of the system, we shall in all. probability have expended more like ,£3,500,000 than the £[350,000 which we are now asked to vote. How many honorable members would have the courage to refuse to vote for the continuation of the bonus, or to oppose a heavy duty to encourage the industry once it had been started? The present proposal is one of the results of the unsatisfactory state of parties in this House. It would have been a thousand times better if a dissolution had taken place long ago, and had resulted in the return of parties in such a way as to allow the Government of the day to have something like reasonable control over public business. I shall not say that it is a scandal, because it would be out of order to do so, but the fact that a measure involving an expenditure of .£350,000 has been handed over to a private member of this House reflects no credit on the Government. I do not say this with any desire to be discourteous to the honorable member for Hume, who, as the result of a mere accident, happens to be in charge of the Bill to-day. The Bill was handed over to a Government supporter, as one of those sops which are usually distributed when a Government depends for its existence on one vote. It goes very close to what would be in other places called something that I would be out of order in suggesting in this House. Let me now place before honorable members some figures, showing the amount distributed by way of bonuses for the manufacture of iron and steel in Canada. The figures are as follows : - 1884, $44,000; 1885, $38,000; 1886, $39,000; 1887, $59,000; 1888, $33,000; 1889, $37,000; 1890, $25,000; 1891, $20,000; 1892, $30,000; 1893, $93,000 - a. big increase; 1894, $125,000; 1895, $63,000; 1898, $165,000; 1899, $187,000; in 1900, $238,000; in 1901, $351,000; in 1902, $693,000; and in 1903,- $670,000, making a total of $3,087,833. I venture to say that we shall have the same experience in Australia if, in a weak moment, in order to pacify a section of the supporters of the Government, we allow this measure to pass without a further investigation of its consequences. No Parliament should be asked to deal wilh a measure like this under circumstances such as those which now surround us. Half of our members have gone away to various parts of the Continent, and the rest are preparing to go, and yet, in a thin House, we are asked to agree to a proposal which involves not only the expenditure provided for in the schedule, but a policy which, in the years to come, will be fraught with the most serious consequences to Australia. An attempt is now being made to introduce the thin end of the wedge. Once we agree to the proposals contained in the schedule, we shall be practically committed to an addi- tional expenditure of hundreds of thousands of pounds.
– Are we not to gain by the experience of other countries? Does not the honorable member know what has happened in Canada?
– If Canada has done wrong, that is not a reason why we should follow her example.
– If the Bill is agreed to, and the iron industry established on the basis of the proposals contained in it, and £350,000 are found insufficient, the honorable member will be one of those who will ask, ‘ ‘ Are we going to close the works, and turn men out of employment, for the sake of a few thousands more?” He will ask for another slice of the public loaf then. He knows that it is throwing dust in the eyes of the public to pretend that £350,000 will be the total expenditure on these bonuses. I may not see the time, but my words, which will stand in Hansard, will be realized when I say that the day will come when the expenditure will run into millions. The Prime Minister is supposed to hold the same views as I do, and has spoken strongly on this subject, and yet, at the eleventh hour, he is giving every facility for the bleeding of the country in this way, because the Government are practically dependent for existence on the vote of one man. It is calamitous for Australia to be in that position. Under ordinary circumstances the measure would not have the slightest chance of being passed. It is useless, however, to make a further protest. Some honorable members may say that I am wrong, but time will show that my forecast is a correct one. I cannot vote for the second reading of the Bill, and I regret that other men who hold the same opinions as I do have either been silent in connexion with this measure, or are allowing it to go by default.
– They have not all been silent. The honorable member will find a good many voting with him.
– I know that an endeavour is being made to have the measure passed without a division. I should like to know where those who hold the same view as I do are.
– I am one of them.
– What consideration have those who hope to obtain advantages from the passing of the Bill shown for the working classes ? The large protected manufacturers of Australia are all members of the councils of employers, and denounce representatives of labour all over the country.
– Is that the case with the South Australian salt makers?
– Undoubtedly. Before the Tariff was passed, they promised the South Australian protectionists - no promise was made to me, because I was against the duty - that if they obtained protection their workmen would benefit, but when the duty was imposed, they immediately took the side of the employers. I venture to say that there is not a large manufacturer in Victoria who is not amongst those who are always crying out against the Socialism of the Labour Party, and speaking of the ruin which that party is bringing upon the country. Now, however, they are trying to obtain the assistance of that party in extracting money from the people.
– The Labour Party are not committed to this proposal.
– A number of the members of the party will vote for it. The honorable member for Hindmarsh knows that, while the employers ask for bonuses and duties at the expense of the taxpayer, they are always opposed to the principles of the Labour Party. The other evening I heard a discussion by such men about the curse of Arbitration Acts and of Wages Boards. They are opposed to the advancement of the interests of labour and the protection of the workers, yet they come to us, cap in hand, asking for bonuses and duties. But when we demand of them a trifle for the improvement of the conditions of their employes, they say that our proposals are driving capital out of the country, and talk about socialistic legislation. I regret that, in spite of my protest, the Bill is likely to be carried; but if it is carried the people of this country will have great cause for regret. Every manufacturing industry in Australia which uses iron as its raw product will be injured by this proposal, and the country will be committed, if not to the payment of further bounties, to the imposition of protective duties. However, I have stated my opinions, and I feel sure that every word which I have uttered will be substantiated within the next fifteen or twenty years.
– If there is any man who has taken a greater interest in this question, and done more to advance it, than another, he is the right honorable member for Adelaide, who brought the measure before the last Parliament, and was Chairman of the Select Committee, subsequently made a Royal Commission, which investigated the subject. Whatever may be our opinions upon the proposal, we all regret his inability to be present on this occasion to take an active part in the work which he has initiated, and to which he has devoted so much talent and ability. Next to him, the honorable member for Hume, who brought the Bill before this Parliament, is entitled to praise, because he has shown a considerable amount of interest in the matter, and has endeavoured to obtain a conclusion in regard to it. I wish, however, lo enter my strong protest against the passing of the measure. I believe that it is in contravention of the best traditions of the British Constitution that a measure of this kind should be in the hands of a private member. It is generally recognised in British communities that measures of large importance, affecting the people generally, and especially those having to do with the raising and expenditure of public money, should be brought before Parliament by Ministers, with the concurrence of the Executive of the day. The fact that the Executive is not responsible for this measure is, to my mind, a strong reason why we should reject it. In support of that contention, I would instance what took place in New South Wales in regard to the Payment of Members Bill. When that measure was first introduced into the arena of politics, it was taken in hand by Mr. Traill, a private member, who did what may be termed the pioneering work in connexion with the movement. The Premier of the clay, however - that great constitutional authority, the late Sir Henry Parkes - refused to allow the subject to be dealt with by a private member. He was personally opposed to payment of members, but to get over the difficulty allowed a member of his Cabinet to introduce the Bill, and the then Postmaster-General brought it forward as a semi-Government measure. It was passed through the Legislative Assembly by a substantial majority. and rejected by the Council. Then Sir Henry Parkes said, “ Although I am opposed to the principles of the Bill, I recognise that it is the desire of the representatives of the people that it shall be passed.”
He immediately made the measure a Government Bill, and returned it to the Council, with the full ‘ weight of his sanction, and it was passed into law. -He laid down the constitutional principle that no measure imposing taxation or providing for expenditure should be. submitted to honorable members unless it hari the authority of the Executive behind it. I protest against the departure that has been made from those sound constitutional lines. The Bill proposes to take out of the pockets of the taxpayers of the Commonwealth £324,000 for the purpose of providing bonuses for certain private individuals. Under our financial conditions, which involve the necessity of handing over to the States Governments three-quarters of th’e revenue raised through the Customs, we shall be obliged to burden the taxpayers to an enormous extent, in order to enable us to provide the funds necessary to pay these bonuses. If we introduce a system under which any private individual can come to the House and ask for the expenditure of large sums of money, we shall expose the, community to the risk of great injury, and I therefore wish to enter my strongest protest against the manner in which the Bill has been brought before us. I have no personal feeling against the honorable member who is in charge of the Bill. When the Government refused to take it up he was quite within his rights in endeavouring to do his best to place it upon the Statutebook. On a former occasion I said that I was not averse to granting assistance to the iron industry, and I certainly prefer the more direct method of paying bonuses to that of affording protection by means of Customs duties. Bonuses involve the payment of a definite sum, and the benefits which they confer are readily ascertainable, whereas under a protective system it is difficult to ascertain the extent to which the public are deriving advantage. I admit that the iron industry deserves special consideration at the hands of this Parliament and of the States Parliaments. We use iron products perhaps to a greater extent than any other community in proportion to population. There is another important aspect of this question, which to my mind is worthy of consideration. The States Governments are consumers of iron to a very large degree. We have nationalized our railways ; all our highways are under Government control, and the States have to enter upon the construction of large and expensive bridges. The telegraph and tele- phone systems are also in the hands of the Government, and other public works in which large quantities of ironwork are used’, have to be undertaken. In most other countries these enterprizes are left to private individuals. The States Governments, as a matter of fact, absorb fully one-third of the iron imported into the Commonwealth, and I therefore contend that the proposed ironworks should be under direct State management. If the States Governments can manage such large under- ‘ takings as our railways, they may safely be trusted to carry on the manufacture of iron. Therefore, I am prepared to pass a measure of this kind, if provision is made for placing the industry under State control. It is necessary to provide the most effective safeguards when grants are made to private individuals in the manner contemplated by the Bill. I am led to this conclusion by the study of the bonus system in Canada. The Dominion has to a greater degree than any other country built up her industries by means of bonuses. The construction of railways and the opening up of means of communication by canals has been carried out by private enterprise, assisted by large subsidies from the Government. The Dominion Government have paid £[40,000,000, the Provincial Governments £[6,600,000, and the Municipal Governments £[360,000 to private companies in order to encourage the development of industries, and to provide means of communication. This money has been spent under direct Government control. The people of Canada, however, have not the same assets that we have to show for the expenditure of money upon public works. ‘ In addition to these money grants, the Government have handed over 50,000,000 acres of their territory to private companies in consideration of their carrying out large public works. One of the industries which the Canadian Government have endeavoured to encourage and place upon a sound basis is the iron industry. The first bonuses were granted in 1883. They were intended to operate only for a short period, but the system has been in existence for over twenty years, and there does not seem to be the slightest disposition to bring it to an end. In fact, the pressure brought to bear upon the Legislature is in the direction of extending and increasing it. In 1884, the first year during which the bonus was in operation, 44,000 dollars were paid by way of bonus for the production of iron. In 1891, owing to the depression which was then prevalent in the Dominion, the grant fell to 20,000 dollars, but in 1901 increased activity took place, and greater opposition was shown to the American companies, and bonuses amounting to 351,000 dollars were paid. Last year, when we were considering this question, we were informed by cable that a large syndicate had been formed to further develop the iron industry in Canada. That syndicate had a capital of £[3,600,000 and was to be subsidized by a grant of £[1,000,000 on behalf of the Canadian Government. These facts bear out the contention of the honorable and learned member for Angas, that in committing ourselves to a Bill of this character, we cannot possibly measure our future liabilitie’s. I have no desire to offer any factious opposition to this measure. I have already shown the extent to which Canadian industries have been assisted by the payment of bonuses. A writer in the Economist of 3rd May, 1902, deals with this aspect of the question. He says: -
It is scarcely necessary to say that a good deal of corruption in Dominion, provincial, arid municipal affairs is engendered by this system. ‘The subsidy is almost always “milked” by the politicians who grant it, whilst the contractor, whose profit comes from construction, and sometimes, too, by handling the bonds, takes care of those in and out of Parliament who may be disposed to question the wisdom of developing the country in this fashion. It is only right to add, however, that the best men on both sides of politics would like to see the whole business abandoned. Unfortunately, the promoters and contractors have made a great many people believe that subsidies are necessary to enable us to keep step in material advancement with the United States, an argument which every ,census shows to be fallacious, and which, at best, is merely saying that it is right to do evil that good may come.
I enter my protest against legislation of this character. In Committee, I shall endeavour to secure the allocation of this grant to the States Governments. Failing that, I reserve to myself the right to take a hostile stand towards the Bill at a later stage.’
– In introducing this measure on the 23rd March, I made rather a lengthy speech, and quoted many statistics. I intended upon this occasion to reply at length to many speeches which have since been made, and particularly to some which were delivered this morning. But, in view of the short period of time at our disposal, I think that I shall best be consulting the interests of the measure, if I condense my remarks as much as possible. I wish especially to refer to one or two matters which were touched upon by the honorable member for Grey, who denounced the bonus system as it has been applied to the industry in America and Canada, and particularly the latter country. But I should like honorable members to recollect that, even if a considerable sum of money has been expended in developing the production of iron in those countries, the result has been to establish a gigantic industry. The iron industry at Pittsburg is the largest in the world ; but it could never have attained its present proportions had it not been for the assistance rendered by the Government by way of bonus, and a protective duty. It is true that in Canada, during the last twelve or eighteen months, it has been found necessary to prevent the gradual reduction of the bonus; but it should be remembered that that country is still only supplying itself with the iron it requires for machinery and other purposes. The iron industry there has become a great industry, which is giving employment to a large number of artisans. In Australia, I venture to say that if the industry could be started, irrespective of whether it costs us little or much - the result would be to the advantage of the community, not only from the point of view of wealth, but from the stand-point of the employment which it would offer. I hold in my hand a return which I obtained from the Customs Department some time ago - and which should therefore be reliable - showing the value of the imports of iron into Australia since 1899. I am inclined to think that the figures which it contains will startle some honorable members. The return, which is a lengthy one, is complete in every respect. It reads -
Note. - The figures are given in as detailed a form as is possible, without incurring the risk of misunderstanding. The necessity for this arises from the States’ classifications varying in the amount of details given, e.g., New South Wales had one heading “Hardware and Ironmongery,” while in others of the States, in addition to this there were “ manufactures of metals,” and “galvanized iron manufactures”; again, in machinery such items as cream separators, typewriters, and weighing machines, were entered’ separately in some and not in other States ; under the circumstances, therefore, it has been deemed advisable to group such lines rather than attempt greater detail.
It should also be borne in mind that the term manufacture of metals necessarily includes items of metals other than iron and steel ; the proportion would be small, but it is impossible to state it, and further, that a reliable comparison as regards particular items between the years 1902 or 1903 (more especially the latter), and any previous year, is rendered practically impossible by reason of the Commonwealth Tariff and classifications differing so widely from those of the several States.
The totals are, approximately - in 1899, £6,000,000; in 1900, £8,000,000; in 1901, £8,400,000; in 1902, £8,100,000; and in 1903, £7,200,000.
– The figures contained in that return are not borne out by the evidence given before the Royal Commission which investigated this question.
– The figures were obtained from the highest possible authority, and I regard them as authentic. I shall not enter into a discussion of any details of the Bill ; but in Committee I shall probably be able to supply the information which I desired to give in reply to the speeches which have been delivered.
Question - That the Bill be now read a second time - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 21
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 -
This Act may be cited as the Manufactures Encouragement Act 1904.
– There is a misprint in the clause, for it seems to me that this measure should be cited as “The Manufacturers Encouragement Act.” I therefore move -
That after the letter “ e” in the word “ manufactures” the letter “r” be inserted.
I think there are good reasonsfor supporting this amendment. The object of the Bill is to give £250, 000, in round figures, to two or three men who are prepared to establish iron works. According to the report of the Commission, the capital required to set up an up-to-date furnace would be something like £125,000, so that it must be recognised that only a company or a very wealthy man could establish the necessary works. Can it be said, in these circumstances, that the Bill is for the encouragement of manufactures? Is it not rather designed to encourage manufacturers?
-The honorable member had better move that the word “ manufactures “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ manufacturers. “
– It is a singular measure, and we are justified in adopting singular methods of dealing with it.
– I submit that the amendment is out of order. This purports to be a “ Bill for an Act relating to bounties for the encouragement of manufactures,” and, therefore, any proposal to alter the phraseology in this way would be entirely out of order.
– We have not yet adopted the title to the Bill, and, therefore, it would be competent for the Honorable member to move an amendment on the lines proposed. Does the honorable and learned member persist in submitting the amend- merit in the form proposedby him ? Misprints need not be altered by motion in Committee.
-I certainly thinkthat we are entitled to amend a Bill in this way, but in view of your ruling I ask leaveto withdraw my amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Mr. CONROY(Werriwa). - I move-
That after the word “the” the word “Trust” be inserted.
When we see that it is proposed to pay this large sum of money to two or three individuals, surely we are entitled to take steps to put that fact clearly before the public. I do not know whether it is intended to persist in the proposal to grant a bonus of £20,000 for the manufacture of spelter, but in view of the speech made by the honorable member for Kooyong, I should imagine that it is not. There was some hostility at first displayed between Mr. Sandford, who is anxious for the Commonwealth to give a bonus for the manufacture of iron in Australia, and the chairman of directors of the Blythe River Company, but as they are now. agreed that the bonus should be granted, there is some reason for designating this Bill one for the encouragement of trust manufacturers. These are the only parties which have made any attempt to enter the industry, and it may be that the company which would be formed if this Bill were passed, would be known as the Lithgow and Blythe River Trust. At a later stage I shall propose that as these bonuses will be a direct contribution to capital, the necessary funds shall be raised from capital by means of direct taxation.
– I believe there is some good reason for this amendment, in view of certain threats that have been made by men whom I may describe as iron masters in Australia. These men have threatened to take steps to flood the Melbourne and suburban branches of various democratic organizations with members who favour their own particular set of views. I care not for their threats, but if this Bill is likely to play into the hands of the wouldbe iron kings of Australia, I think that we should take care that the Federal Government should be able at any time to resume the iron-works on fair terms. In view of the threats that have been made, I certainly see no objection to the amendment. This is the first opportunity I have had to enter my protest against the actions of men who rattle their money bags, and are disposed, either directly or indirectly, to threaten honorable members. We know what has taken place as the result of the trust system in America. As the result of their operations in the iron trade of that country there have been terrible struggles between capital and labour, which have resulted in loss of both life and property. The wages which the trusts pay to theirmen are among the lowest of which I know.
– As is well known, I am opposed to the Bill, lock, stock, and barrel, and therefore I am prepared to take any steps to secure its destruction. I shall support the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa; but as we were told that the Bill would be taken into Committee only pro forma, I shall be ready to go to the length of moving theChairman out of the chair, in order to secure the fulfilment of that promise.
– What a make-belief it would be if we did not go further with the Bill now !
– Not on my part. I consider the Bill a make-believe. I look upon it as a measure for the manufacture of trusts. We are going to allow wealthy men to thrust their arms up to the elbow in the pockets of the people.
– What is a trust?
– A combination to rob the people, and I shall oppose every attempt to do that. Those whom the Bill is introduced to benefit are so patriotic that they will sacrifice themselves on the altar of their country only to secure payment. Before discussing the measure, however, I wish to know why the promise that the Bill would not be taken further than into Committee has not been kept. That promise was used to get honorable members to consent to the second reading, and that stage having been passed, I think that we might now report progress, and get on with other business.
– It is perfectly true that a day or two ago I held out no prospect of the state of public business allowing this Bill to be taken further than into Committee; but since then the Arbitration and Appropriation Bills have been disposed of, and the Government find that they are able to give up the whole of to-day to its discussion. I hope, therefore, that honorable members will allow the Bill to be dealt with this afternoon. Personally, I am opposed to the principles embodied in it, but I think that a fair opportunity should be given for its consideration. I do not think any injustice will be done to honorable members if we go on, because there was a full and exhaustive discussion of the measure on the second reading.
– I take the point of order that the amendment goes beyond the order of leave, and is irrelevant. The Bill was introduced to encourage the manufacture of certain specified articles - iron, steel, and so forth, and to make it a Bill for the manufacture of trusts would be to entirely alter its character.
– It is competent for an honorable member to move any amendment to the short title of a Bill which is not contrary to the principle ‘affirmed by the House in agreeing to its second reading. I take it that the word “trust,” which may be used either as a substantive or an adjective, is here used as qualifying the word “ manufactures.”
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- The point raised by the honorable member suggests to me that the meaning of the Bill might be made clearer if the word “ manufactures “ were altered to “manufacturers’,” and the word “ trust “ inserted after it.
– The honorable and learned member has apparently been unmuzzled for the day.
– The honorable member seems to be unmuzzled and off the chain, because he certainly is not acting now as a watchdog of the people’s interests. With the permission of the Committee, I will withdraw the word “ trust,” with a view to make the amendments which I have indicated.
– I object, so that we may have a vote on this ridiculous amendment.
Mr. LONSDALE (New England).- Is the honorable member in order in styling the amendment a “ridiculous “ one. Since the Chairman has accepted it, his observation is a reflection on the Chair.
– I go further, and say that the honorable member is ridiculous.
– I ask that that statement be withdrawn.
– I withdraw it, because I do not think that the honorable member could be ridiculous.
– I am prepared to do all I can to prevent this measure from being passed into law, but I think that the withdrawal of the amendment should be allowed. Undoubtedly this is a Bill for the manufacture of trusts.
– I would point out to honorable members that what we are now discussing is only the short, or abbreviated title of the Bill, and that their object could best be attained by amending the full title, if necessary.
– I am in favour of any amendment which will indicate the true nature of the Bill. There is no doubt that the general public suffer through the operations of these trusts and combines, and surely it is within our power to alter the short title in order to bring it into accord with the true nature of the Bill. We say that the Bill will have the effect of creating trusts and combines, and will cause money to be paid out of the Treasury to certain gentlemen who are forming trusts. That might fairly be indicated in the short title. I am prepared to vote for any alteration which will have the effect of killing the Bill and saving the people from an improper appropriation of their funds. I do not believe in voting money which is to be paid to men who are seeking their own advantage,’ and whose patriotism takes the form of regard for their own pockets only. I shall support the amendment.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa). - I propose to amend the word “ manufactures “ by the insertion of the letter “ r “ before the letter “ s “
– I have already indicated that it is neither competent, nor advisable, for the Committee to commence to alter the spelling of words. If the honorable member desires to substitute the word “manufacturers “ for the word “manufactures,” the proper course for him to adopt is to move that the word “ manufactures “ be omitted, with a view to inserting the word “ manufacturers.”
– I want your ruling, Mr*. Chairman, upon that point. Do you rule that the amendment I have proposed is not in order?
– I say that it is not in order.
– Then I am sorry that I shall have to dissent from your ruling.
– Will the honorable and learned member put his objection in writing ?
– May I appeal to the honorable and learned member for Werriwa to withdraw from his present position. He knows that there is a real issue to be decided, namely, whether the iron bonus is to be granted only to a State Government, or to those engaged in private enterprise. That is the crucial matter to be settled by the Committee, and I think that we may occupy our time with more profit in dealing with that.
– The honorable and learned member for Werriwa expresses his dissent as follows : -
The Chairman is in error in refusing to allow the amendment of the word “manufactures,” by the insertion of the letter “r” so that the word shall read “ manufacturers.”
The question is that the ruling of the Chairman be dissented from.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- I think that every Bill should bear upon its face evidence of its object, and, that if we are prepared to vote large sums of money by way of bonuses, the agriculturists of the Commonwealth, whom we desire to encourage, should receive consideration. Therefore I move -
That the word “manufacturers” be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ agriculturists.”
It will be necessary, as we proceed, to make further alterations in the Bill, which will enable the money proposed to be spent to be devoted to the assistance of our farmers. I do not see why the money which is to be taken from them should not be given back to them.
– .1 cannot accept an amendment of that character. The principle of the Bill has been affirmed by the House, and it is not for the Committee to change the destination of the proposed bonuses.
– I submit that a farmer may, under some circumstances, be regarded as coming within the definition of “ manufacturer.”
– The honorable and learned member has asked me if the word “ manufacturers “ includes “ agriculturists,” and I have told him that, in my opinion, it does not. I cannot permit any further discussion upon that point.
– Then I move-
That the word “ manufactures “ be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ manufacturers.*’
Mr. LONSDALE (New England). - I second the amendment. I think that we should make the Bill cover all classes of manufacturers, and that we should not limit the encouragement to be given to one or two special industries.
– I rise to appeal to my honorable friends to discontinue the tactics which they are pursuing. If they are opposed to the Bill, let .them adopt proper means to defeat it. I submit that this measure does not come within the ordinary category at all. It has been before the House for at least two years, and it is time that its fate was decided.
– What about the interests which are to be defrauded by the expenditure of this -^”350,000?
– Those persons outside who are willing to embark upon the iron industry conditionally that they receive State assistance, should be kept in suspense no longer.
– They have no right to come here cringing and crawling.
– Everybody admits that if protective duties should be extended to any industry, they should be extended to the manufacture of iron. Yet, strange to say, that is the one industry which protectionists in Australia have entirely left out of consideration. If honorable members are opposed’ to the Bill, let them adopt proper measures .to insure its defeat, but at least they should allow those who are specially interested in this matter to know exactly what they may expect.
– I snail allow no Bill of this character ,to be pushed through the House at the fag-end of a session.
– The honorable member for Parramatta must recognise that from the first there has been no uncertainty regarding my attitude towards this Bill. I am really astonished at the speech which he has just delivered. I know of no measure which has approached so near lo political jobbery as has this Bill.
– I would remind the honorable member that we are now discussing whether the word “ manufactures “ should be omitted.
– I intend to exhaust every means in my power to block the passage of this Bill. It has been carried up to its present stage only by trickery and misrepresentation.
– The honorable member must withdraw that statement.
– I withdraw, and say that a statement was deliberately made upon the floor of the House that the Bill would not be pushed beyond its secondreading stage, and upon that understanding seme honorable members were induced’ to leave Melbourne. Everything possible has been done to successfully work this .political job, for it is nothing more nor less.
– Order ! I appeal to the honorable member, who is not by any means new to parliamentary procedure, to observe the rules that govern debate. I ask him to withdraw the expression “ political job,” which he has applied to a Bill which has passed its second reading.
– I withdraw, and I will say that it has all the appearance of a political job.
– The honorable member must not say that. . I ask him to withdraw the words unconditionally.
– I withdraw them. I say that a distinct breach of faith has been committed. Honorable members have left for their homes on a clear understanding that this Bill would be carried only to its second-reading stage. Now, in a thin House, with’ not more than half the members present, we are called upon to rob the public.
– The honorable member must withdraw that expression.
– Then I will say’ that we are called upon to vote ,£350,000 of public money to a private firm. The Bill has been introduced for political purposes
– I must ask the honorable member to recollect that the amendment before the Committee is to omit the word “ manufactures.” I must request him to debate that amendment.
– I am endeavouring to assign reasons why the Bill should be styled the “Manufacturers Encouragement Bill.” Its object is to put money into a monopolist’s pocket. Does any one imagine that under this Bill we shall have iron industries springing up all over the Commonwealth? Is it not true that the money which we are asked to vote will benefit one firm only ?
– I would remind the honorable member that whatever his private opinions may be, there are certain- rules which govern parliamentary debate, and he must conform to those rules.
– I shall exhaust all the powers at my command to prevent the Bill being pushed any further during the current session.
Mr. LONSDALE (New England).- The honorable member for Parramatta has lectured myself and others for the attitude which we have adopted towards this Bill. I claim that I am .justified in blocking its pas sage by every means in my power. I am responsible to the country, and not to any member of this House, for my action.
– The honorable member is a “ wrecker.”
– Yes, I am a “wrecker” so - far as this Bill is concerned. I intend to support the amendment, and later on will submit other amendments with a view to prevent the measure being passed into law this session. What right have we to confer any undue advantage upon a section of the community? I refuse to assist private individuals with State money. Why should we take money out of the pockets of the man. who is earning only 30s. a week for the purpose of enriching the capitalists?
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).The honorable member for New England has accused me of lecturing him. I delivered no lecture, so far as I am aware. I merely appealed to honorable members who are opposed to this Bill to evidence their opposition in a legitimate way. The honorable member for Grey has expressed astonishment at my action in connexion with this matter. I claim that my action upon it has been straightforward, and I defy anybody to challenge any vote which I cast upon the Tariff. I did not go wrong upon salt, or upon iron.
– What has salt to do with this Bill?
– It has nothing to do with the Bill, but it has something to do with the propriety of the honorable member for Grey taking exception to the action of another honorable member. All that I wish to say is that this Bill should be proceeded with so that finality may be reached. That at least is due to those who are interested in its fate outside this House. A very easy method of determining the matter is by voting upon the amendment which will shortly come under consideration. I appeal to honorable members to allow the fate of the measure to be definite] v decided.
Mr. LONSDALE (New England).- In reply to the honorable member for Parramatta, I wish to say that I desire equal treatment all round. I think that the men who will suffer by the imposition of this taxation should receive some consideration. If we can afford to give these manufacturers £350,000, I say that we can better expend that money by assisting the poorer classes of the community.
– Members of Parliament, for instance.
– No ; there are plenty of people who are worse off than we are. I am sick of all this talk about the salaries of Members of Parliament.
– I would remind the honorable member that his remarks are distinctly outside the scope of - the amendment.
– I wish to secure equal treatment for all. I have never yet seen any legislation enacted to assist those who are really suffering. The wealthy - the men with large capital - seem always to receive special consideration. Why should we give this money to manufacturers? If we are going to distribute it, let us divide it fairly among the poor and the rich.
– I must deprecate the condition into which the Committee has fallen. The amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Werriwa is certainly not an amendment of principle. All that he has said in support, of it was advanced by him on the motion for the second reading of the Bill, and I would remind him that there are other clauses on which he might reasonably take action to defeat the principle to which he is so strongly opposed. It seems to me to be a gross waste of time to be considering amendments of the short title of the Bill. It merely serves to show that in these the last hours of the session the Committee and the House generally is not in a proper frame of mind to deal with such important legislation. Those who complain that a promise was made that the Bill should not be taken beyond the second-reading stage would be fully justified in moving that progress be reported ; for undoubtedly the Prime Minister informed the House yesterday that it was intended only to secure the second reading of the Bill, and not to pass it through t’he Committee stage. If a motion to report progress were moved, I should support it, notwithstanding that I voted for the second reading of the Bill. I think that we have done as much as we can during this session, so far as the consideration of this measure is concerned, and that it is undesirable that the time of the Committee should be wasted in discussing amendments on which no question of principle is involved. I admire the outspokenness of the honorable member for New England, and the honorable and learned member for Werriwa; but, as they had a full opportunity during the second -reading debate to express the strong views which they ‘hold on this question, they have no right to block the consideration of the measure by means of dilatory motions. It is open to either of them to move that progress be reported, and why should we waste time, as we have been doing, when we might dispose of the business for this afternoon, and return to our homes ?
– I appeal to the honorable member for New England and the honorable member for Werriwa to refrain from moving inconsequential amendments, which serve only to make this House look ridiculous in the eyes of the people. There are other clauses dealing with important questions of principle, on which they might rightly take action, if they desired to do so; but they certainly ought noi to persist in their present line of conduct, which is calculated to make themselves the laughing stock of the whole community.
– I- move-
That the Chairman do now leave the Chair, report progress, and ask leave to sit again.
It would be idle to continue this debate, in view of the temper of the Committee. Many honorable members have returned to their homes, feeling that they might safely do so in view of the understanding arrived at yesterday that this Bill would not be taken beyond the second-reading stage, and I do not think any attempt should be made to pass it through the Committee.
– That is why I have objected.
– I thoroughly agree with those who take exception to the more or less frivolous amendments that have been moved. Notice has been given of certain amendments which should be moved, and would require very careful consideration. It is only fair that honorable members should not be taken by surprise in this way. There was a general understanding yesterday that the Bill would not be considered in Committee, and in these circumstances we have not had an opportunity to give its provisions the consideration, which their importance warrants. The Bill requires to be carefully discussed by a thoroughly representative Committee. Many honorable members who are absent would certainly desire to discuss the measure, and to see their names appearing in the division lists. In their interests, as well as in those of the country at large, I think that progress should be reported. I deprecate the attempt that is being made to rush the Bill through the Committee at the present time. When Bills of this character, involving sums of such magnitude, are handed over to the care of private members, a grave suspicion may be created in the public mind that all is not as it ought to be.
– That is a wholly unwarrantable reflection, and the honorable member knows it.
– Look at the lobbying that has taken place.
– I assert that the attempt to rush this Bill through such a sparsely attended Committee may give rise to an impression in the public mind that all is not as it should be, especially having regard to the fact that it is not a Government measure, but one that has been handed over to a private member of the House. As I have already said, I do not believe there is any ground for such a suspicion ; but we must pay due regard to public sentiment, and certainly it is our duty to conserve the rights of the public. We have in this Bill a proposal to vote an immense sum - for what purpose? For a national enterprise ? No. Simply to put money into the pockets of private individuals, for their own private gain. I think it is necessary that the eyes of the people should be opened to the true character of this measure. If we are to rush it through in this way, we shall be justified in hurriedly passing other measures to divert public funds into the pockets of private individuals. Where is this going to end ? The honorable member for Grey has said, with a good deal of justification, that this proposal may prove to be only the thin end of the wedge. Once we establish a precedent for legislation of this class - legislation to which I am absolutely opposed it is impossible to say what will be the outcome. It is impossible for us to deal with this measure this afternoon, as it ought to be dealt wit’h, in the public interests, and it is for that reason that I submit my motion.
– I hope that the honorable member for Hume, who is in charge of the Bill, will agree to the motion to report progress. If he opposes it, I shall vote with him; but I trust that he will see the wisdom of adopting the course proposed, in view of the fact that it will be an absolute waste of time to further consider the Bill this afternoon. Even if it were passed by the Committee to-day, it would be impossible for the Senate to deal with it during the present session, and under our standing orders, it would lapse. We should thus have to make a fresh start next session. In all the circumstances, I think it is highly desirable to report progress, for the further consideration of the Bill must result only in an absolute waste of time, and may engender bad feeling.
– I certainly think that the motion to report progress should be agreed to. This has been a week of arduous work for the Chairman, and we are making an undue demand upon his powers of endurance by calling upon him to remain any longer in the chair this afternoon. We all are tired, and the best thing we can do is to report progress, and leave for our homes.
– The honorable member may leave; others are prepared to remain and proceed with the consideration of the Bill.
– The honorable member has only been in attendance for about five minutes . during the whole week.
– That is not correct. My attendance during the session has been more regular than has that of the honorable member.
– The honorable member suddenly enters the Chamber, and makes interjections which are inaccurate and- impertinent. I hope, Mr. Chairman, that you will protect me.
– I am prepared to back my record against that of the honorable member.
– No one, not even the honorable member himself, knows what that record means. In the interests of the finances of the Commonwealth and of the States, I hope that this highly important proposal will be deferred until honorable members are in a more vigorous frame of mind to deal with it. It embodies a number of contentious principles, and there are several important amendments to be considered, not the least among which is that of which I have given notice.
– I have given notice of an amendment that the necessary funds shall be raised by means of direct taxation.
– I should like to have an opportunity to give that proposal earnest consideration : because I have fully made up my mind to vote against it. Then, the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has given notice of a most important amendment, which deserves great consideration. I protest against rushing this measure through the Committee with indecent haste. Such conduct should call for reprobation, not only in this Chamber, but in the press, and upon the public platform. Considering the condition of the finances of the States, we should not at the instance of a private member be asked to vote £350,000 in the manner proposed.
– I ask honorable members to allow the first two clauses, which are really only formal, to pass. If they do so, I promise not to go further with the Bill to-day.
– In that case, I am willing to withdraw my amendment.
Mr. POYNTON (Grey).- On the assurance of the honorable member for Hume that he will report progress when we have dealt with the first two clauses of the Bill, I withdraw my opposition, but I wish first to make a personal explanation in regard to a matter in which I have been gravely misrepresented. The vote which I gave on the salt duty has been referred to during this discussion in a manner which allowed the inference to be drawn that I voted for that duty without any qualification. As a matter of fact, I voted to reduce the duty on salt from 20s. to 10s., as a reference to the Hansard record will show, and, later, when it was necessary to arrive at a compromise between 10s. and 15s., I pledged my word to accept 12s. 6d., and voted accordingly. The honorable member for Parramatta, who was responsible for the innuendo, is not altogether without reproach in regard to what was done in connexionwith the Tariff, because he voted for a duty on eggs.
Mr. JOHNSON (Lang).- In view of the promise of the honorable member for Hume to report progress when the first two clauses of the Bill have been dealt with. I will, with the concurrence of the Committee, withdraw my motion.
– I object to the withdrawal. It is evident that a section of the Committee is determined that the Bill shall not be passed.
– Could itget through the Senate, even if we agreed to it?
– It cannot be passed, so long as the honorableand learned member obstructs its passage by moving all sorts of ridiculous amendments.
– Is that remark in order?
– Well, perhaps. considering the source of these amendments it is not necessary to characterize them as ridiculous ; that goes without saving. I, at any rate, can go back to my constituents, and tell them that, although I was exceedingly anxious that this measure should be passed, and believe that a large majority is in favour of doing something for the encouragement of our manufacturing industries, in order to provide employment for our people, nothing has been done, because of the obstruction of a small minority. Although this Bill has been before Parliament for two years, nothing has been done. We have given no consideration to the thousands who are walking the streets of our cities, looking for employment. When honorable members seek to do something for the unemployed, they are met with the unjustifiable charge that they are associating themselves with political trickery and jobbery. I repudiate that charge.
– The Labour Party as a body killed the Bill last time.
– The honorable member may not refer to expressions which have been withdrawn.
– When I go back to my constituency, and the unemployed come to me for bread and butter, to feed their starving wives and children, I shall tell them that a small section of honorable members prevented the passing of a Bill which would have given workto thousands.
Mr. LONSDALE (New England).- The honorable member for Hindmarsh has accused me and others of seeking to take the bread and butter from the mouths of the people, whereas our object is to do all we can in their interests. The difference between us concerns the method in which the people can best be benefited, and I repudiate such a charge as has just been made. My sympathies are with the working classes more than are those of the honorable member for Hindmarsh. I have always done everything that I could for them, whereas he comes here to help to take money out of the pockets ofthe people, and to give it to the rich. He, a pretended labour man, stands here to-day as one who will do all he can to help the wealthy against the poor.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).–It is with great surprise that I have heard the remarks of the honorable member for Hindmarsh. I ask him, how is the money which it is now proposed to give to certain manufacturers collected ? Is it not taken from the workers and the poor of the community? Great indeed must be the power of the name, when a labour man can advocate the taking of £300,000 from the poor of Australia to hand over to two manufacturers ! .
– That is not being done.
– It is what the honorable member proposes shall be done.
– Is the honorable and learned member for Werriwa in order in saying that I would take £300,000 from the poor, and give it to two manufacturers ? I have no intention of doing anything of the kind.
– The honorable and learned member may not ascribe to another intentions by which he says he is not governed.
– I am glad that the honorable member says that he does not intend to give this money to the gentlemen who have been mentioned, and I hope, therefore, that he will vote against the Bill. Parliament has no right to interfere with manufacturers in the conduct of their business, and manufacturers have no right to ask for subsidies of public money. If these gentlemen are in want, let them take advantage of the provisions of the Oldage Pensions Act. As I have said, I am willing, upon the assurance of the honorable member for Hume that he will not go beyond the first two clauses, to withdraw my amendment.
– I refuse to allow to pass unchallenged the statement that the intention of the Bill is to give £300,000 of the public money to two or three individuals.
– There are only two who will get it, as the honorable member knows.
– Such a statement of the objects of the Bill is an absolutely unfair one to place before the country.
– That is what is meant by it.
– If the honorable member thinks so, he does not understand the Bill. Every man in this country, whether he be a capitalist or merely an ordinary worker, will be advantaged by its provisions. Its intention is to encourage the investment of capital for the manufacture of iron and steel, in order to provide employment for the workers, and to increase the wealth and prosperity of the country. I cannot understand the opposition to the measure. If honorable members object to its principles, let them say so straightforwardly, and attempt by legitimate methods to secure what amendments are deemed necessary. They have no right to try to make the people believe that the objects of the Bill are other than I have stated them to be. Let the truth go forth to the public. Every one knows that I am in favour of this Bill, and I think that it should be allowed to pass, even at this late stage of the session. I am content to let the public judge my conduct, in contrast with that of honorable members who are using the forms of the House in order to prevent a great national industry from being established, and providing work for a large number of our people.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).- I should not have risen again but for the vigorous onslaught made upon me by the honorable member for Grey. I feel very keenly the attack upon my fiscal reputation. It is no joke when one has eggs thrown at him, and the honorable member has no right to pelt me politically with eggs at this time of the day. His conduct might have been appropriate at the time we were discussing the protection of our own laying hens against the layers of China. So far as I recollect, I voted with my party even upon that question, and that is more than the honorable member can say, so far as the salt duty was concerned.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 2 (Commencement).
– The clause, as it stands, provides that the Act shall commence on the 1st day of July, 1904. I move -
That the word “July” be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ January,” and that the word “ four “ be omitted, with a view to insert the word “five.”
In its amended form the clause will provide that the Act shall commence on 1st January, 1905.
Amendments agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. Owing to the division bell not ringing in that portion ofthe building in which my room is situated, I was not aware that a division was being taken this morning upon the motion for the second reading of the Manufactures Encouragement Bill. Had I been present I should have voted in favour of the motion.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill has been sent to us from the Senate,- where it was carefully considered. It is framed upon the lines of the Merchandise Marks Act which was passed by the Imperial Parliament in 1887. That Act has, on several occasions, formed the subject of inquiry by Committees of the House of Commons, but no important alterations have been recommended or made, with the exception that Customs entries have been included among trade descriptions. I might point out that legislation upon the lines of this Act has been adopted in almost every portion of the British Empire, including all the Australian States except Queensland. The administration in the States has not, however, been uniform, and the object of the Bill is to consolidate the legislation, and to bring it under a central administration for the whole Commonwealth. The Bill is of an eminently practical and useful character. It is very simple in terms, and, so far as I can see, it contains very little of a contentious nature. The measure does not make it imperative that every manufacturer or importer, or other person having goods to sell, shall’ mark his goods. Perfect liberty is given to sell goods without any distinctive trade mark or description of any kind, but the Bill requires that if goods are marked in any way they must be truthfully described. The marks must not be misleading with regard to the quality of the goods, the materials from which they are manufactured, their place of origin, or in any other respect. For instance, under this legislation, it would not be legal for any person to mark as “ woollen,” goods which in reality contain, as is often the case, 40 or 50 per cent, of cotton. Further, it would not be legal to mark reels of cotton as containing 100 yards, when in reality they contain only seventy or eighty yards. The same thing applies to the place of origin of goods. For instance, it would not be competent for any person to import goods having a brand upon them which would induce the public to believe that they were made in Sydney or Melbourne, even though they might have been made in a town bearing the same name in’ some other country. It is not sufficient that the marks shall be truthful in that respect, but they must not be misleading. If goods imported from abroad are marked with the name borne by some town in the Commonwealth they must also bear the name of the country in which the place of manufacture is situated. Clause 4 is very important, inasmuch as it contains definitions which considerably extend the application of the provisions of the Bill. Two kinds of trade marks are referred to. That is, any trade mark registered within any portion of the Commonwealth, or in the mother country, and also any trade mark that is used, but not registered. It is quite common for manufacturers to use distinctive marks which are not registered, but are well known. These are protected by the provisions of the Bill to the same extent as if they were registered. The Bill provides that persons making use of a false trade description shall’ be liable to a penalty. “ Trade description “ is defined as any description, statement, indication, or suggestion, direct or indirect, which is misleading or untrue in any respect in regard to the goods to which it is applied or made. Further, a Customs entry is also made a “trade description,” and an incorrect description of goods in such entry would render a person liable under the Bill. Clause 5 applies entirely to the forgery of registered trade marks, which, as explained before, mean marks which are legally registered under any Act. Clauses 6 and 7 relate to the manner in which a mark shall be deemed to be applied, and it may be remarked that, according to the decisions given under the English Act, a person who invoices goods under an incorrect designation, Or mark, is taken to have applied the same. Clause 8 apples to the false use of trade marks. The next clause is an important one, inasmuch as it makes it penal to use any trade mark in an improper way, or to apply any false description to any goods, and throws the burden of proving innocence upon the person who applies the mark or description. Clause 10 deals with persons who may not themselves have actually committed an offence under the preceding clause, but who may sell or expose for sale, or have in their possession for sale, or for the purpose of trade or manufacture, any goods to which a false description has been applied. Clause 1.1 relates to the importation of goods with false marks. Clause 12 is a new one, and applies the ‘ same cond 1 tions to exports as are applied under existing legislation to imports. That provision is intended to prevent any manufacturer or owner of goods from exporting goods under any false trade mark or misleading description as to their character or quality. In fact, it is exactly the same provision that is applicable under existing legislation to imports.
– Will it apply to butter which has a false brand upon the box?
– Certainly. It will apply to any false description of any commodity exported. The object of the clause is to protect the honest manufacturer, the honest trader, and also the consuming public, either here or abroad. It is hoped that its effect will be to establish a reputation for Australian products, and prevent the damage of Australian trade by unscrupulous persons.
– In other words, it is proposed to make it worth while to be honest ?
– Yes. Clause 13 renders any person, or any accessory, even when the act is committed outside Australia, liable to a penalty. Clause 14 is another of the most important provisions in the Bill. Its object is to prevent a person from using the name of a manufactory or producing place within the Commonwealth, or within the British Empire, with the object of misleading. It classes as prohibited goods all goods to which a false trade description has been applied, and goods bearing the name of a place situated in Australia without qualification, or foreign-made goods with a British name upon them, without similar qualification. Clause 15 further emphasizes this, by prohibiting the use of any name which is similar to the Australian name of a place unless there is complete evidence as to the country in which such place is situated. The next clause applies in the same way to places in the British Dominions. Clause 17 enables all the powers of the Customs officers and Customs Act to be applied to imported goods referred to in clause 14. Clause 18 enables the Customs, when there is no evidence that the importer has been in any way concerned in the illegality, to deliver up the goods imported, and clause 19 contains a similar provision in regard to goods exported. These provisions are intended to protect an innocent person from punishment for an unintentional error. Part IV. of the Bill refers to legal proceedings, and is in harmony with legislation which already prevails both in England and the different States. Consequently, it does not call for any special comment. Clause 35 is of importance, inasmuch as it provides that when goods are sold with a trade description, the vendor shall be deemed to give a warranty that the goods are as described, unless he voluntarily, and in writing at the time of the sale, expresses otherwise to the vendee. It is a most important provision. Clause 36 provides for making regulations for giving effect to the various provisions of the Bill. I do not think that there is much of a contentious nature in this measure ; it is a very useful and practical one, and I trust that the House will allow it to pass its second reading without undue delay.
– I do not think it is necessary for me tosay much in regard to this Bill, except that I am heartily in sympathy with its object. The only doubt which I entertain is, whether our powers under the Constitution are comprehensive enough to allow of efficient treatment of a subject of this character. There is an element of doubt as to whether we are empowered to legislate to the full extent in regard to false descriptions of goods as distinct from trade marks, as they are conventionally understood. Another question may arise as to how far we are justified in attempting to deal with false descriptions of goods manufactured in one State, which it is not attempted to export from that State. However, I am inclined to go as far as the Constitution will allow us to go in that direction. I think that the public throughout the Commonwealth are not only in favour of this kind of legislation, but that they would welcome any attempt to comprehensively deal with the subject in a measure which would minimize, if not to prevent absolutely, the troubles which have arisen in this connexion. There is no doubt that, in regard to imported - and in a lesser degree in regard to some classes of manufactured goods - a great deal of misrepresentation exists. Some of it has been of an innocent character, but some of it has exercised a very detrimental effect upon the purchaser. I feel sure that everybody will welcome this legislation, and I trust that the Bill will be placed upon the statute-book this session.
– I wish to express my pleasure that the Government, even at this late stage of the session, have given the House an opportunity to discuss this Bill. The measure has been hung up for several months, and I should have been glad if we had been afforded an earlier opportunity of dealing with it. I am aware that other business has had to take precedence of it; but I do not know that we have not wasted time in discussing measures which it was never intended should be passed - time which might fairly have been devoted to a consideration of this Bill. The remarks which were made yesterday concerning another measure might very reasonably be applied to this. It is another instance of the wisdom and necessity of the public conscience being applied in some way as an antidote to the commercial immorality of the present day. Anybody who has read - and I suppose most honorable members have done so - the .extent to which fraud has crept into the ordinary affairs of commercial life, must be surprised that the confiding public, which pays an honest price for what it conceives to be honest goods, has had foisted upon it from time to time goods which are not in any sense what they are described to be. In nearly all instances, it is the poorest class of the community who suffer most, because its members have to purchase the cheapest goods. The individual who can afford to pay top prices for everything generally escapes, although I am not sure that he is altogether free from this evil. But the poorer man, who has to carefully sstudy the expenditure of every penny, suffers considerably by such practices as this Bill is intended, in some degree at least, to cure. Some time ago I had the privilege of conversing with a gentleman who, during the past two years, has been engaged in commercial pursuits. Having entered upon a commercial occupation late in life, he expressed astonishment that in almost every department of the business in which he is engaged, he met with fraud and misrepresentation. He said, “ The commercial life of this city is hollow and rotten from top to bottom. I had no idea, when I entered this business, that I should find so much fraud and pretence.” Honorable members may, perhaps, ‘have observed in an English newspaper some statements bearing upon this subject, which I propose to read. I am quite prepared to discount a good deal of what is published in the English press concerning any class in Australia, because as a rule its reflections are cast upon the political party with which I am associated, and the particular section of the community to which’ I belong. But it occasionally happens that it is impartial in its condemnation. Hence I find the following passage in the Morning Post, which, as honorable members are aware, is a Conservative journal : -
Fraud and trickery of the meanest and most despicable kind permeate the -commercial life of the country, and this re-acts in turn upon those representatives in national and municipal institutions who are elected by the votes of these disreputable citizens.
That journal comes to the conclusion that where corruption exists in commercial life it must also exist in political life. I hope that that is not true. Indeed, I believe that the passing of this Bill will, at least, afford evidence that we are desirous1 of putting down these evil practices. The Pail Mail Gazette, in writing upon the same question, says : -
At one time in England we were accustomed to look for commercial brigandage and acts of dishonesty that would disgrace the scum of. Whitechapel among those Armenian merchants who carried on the Levant trade with England. Today, we are sorry to state, the Armenian is outstripped by the Melbourne British Customs thief. It is humiliating to think that Australia is peopled by the British race. Fortunately for society, the working classes and the farmers are taking a deeper interest in the political life .of the country. Although no party has lived through more abuse than the Labour Party, still it ‘contains and has for supporters in the country, the only sstable elements in society. Their ideals are purity of public and municipal life.
The Minister who has introduced this Bill is a farmer’s representative. The revelations which have recently been made, not through the fault of the farmers, but through the fault of those who have had dealings with them, show that our export trade - particularly the Victorian butter export trade - has suffered a good deal, and may suffer much more as the result of fraudulent practice. I am particularly pleased that this Bill is designed in some degree to prevent a continuation of that practice. Evidence has been forthcoming that even in the export of butter the practice of fraud has crept in to such an extent that after a farmer has supplied a first-class article to the agent, it has been taken out of the box, and an inferior article substituted. Honorable members scarcely need to be reminded that such practices must exercise a bad effect upon our trade, and they certainly should not be permitted to continue. There is another point to which I must briefly allude. I am pleased that the Bill contains provision not only against fraud on the part of manufacturers and im- porters, not only to encourage honesty in this class, but to give the public an opportunity to judge whether goods offered for sale have been manufactured or produced under favorable conditions of labour. In asking for protection for the manufacturer and the importer the Government cannot very well refuse to demand similar assistance to the wage earners engaged in producing their wares. The introduction of what is known as the trades union label is justifiable on every ground, and I trust that that part of the Bill which deals with the question, as well as the rest of the measure, will have the unqualified support not only of the Government but of the whole House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses 1 -and 2 agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Reid) proposed-
That the House do now adjourn.
– I think that the Prime Minister might well indicate what business he intends to take on Tuesday next. I suggest for his consideration that it might be possible to deal not only with the Fraudulent Trade Marks Bill, but with the Trade Marks Bill. The right honorable gentleman said that, if possible, he would deal with the measure if. there were no likelihood of a long debate.
– There is one very contentious provision in it.
– i admit that one part of the Trade Marks Bill is a. somewhat contentious one, but . it is quite possible that honorable members would agree to come to a vote upon it without any lengthy debate. I think it is very improbable - although I speak, of course, with some reservation upon the matter - that we shall be able to reap the full advantages of the international union with regard to patents laws generally until our trade marks legislation is put on’ the same footing with our general patent law. If that be so, it is highly desirable that a Trade Marks Bill, as complexmentary to the Commonwealth Patent Act, should be passed during the present session instead of its consideration being delayed until the second session of the Parliament. Until such a measure shall have been passed our inventors must be deprived of the advantage of the seven months’ protection which would accrue to them under the International Patent Union.
– Is the honorable member referring to the Fraudulent Trade Marks Bill or the other ?
– I am speaking of the Trade Marks Bill. The point I have just mentioned constitutes an additional reason why some effort should be made to pass that measure .before the session closes.
– But it contains one very contentious provision.
– Surely we can arrange to take a vote upon it without any lengthy debate.
– A number of honorable members might be absent, and I do not think the Bill should be dealt with unless the contentious provision referred to is dropped.
– I should like to ask the Prime Minister whether he will endeavour to set apart some time next week for the consideration of the motion relating to Old-age Pensions, and one or two other matters in the list of private members’ business ?
– In view of the state of business in another place, it is probable that this House may sit a little longer than is at present anticipated. In that event, I should like to know whether the Prime Minister would have any objection to bring the message from the Senate with reference to the tobacco monopoly under the heading of Government business, and to allow us to devote any spare hour that we mav have to its consideration.
– If the Prime Minister adopts the course proposed by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, I hope that he will give the House ample warning, because there are several honorable members who, like myself, are very anxious to express their views with regard to the Senate’s message. No. 3.
– I would indorse the remarks made by the leader of the Opposition with regard to the Trade Marks Bill. It is a matter of great importance to the commercial community. As we all know, there are many anomalies in relation to the use of trade marks in the various States.
– Those anomalies are being increased while the separate State Acts remain in force.
– They are. We know that trade marks which are possessed by commercial men in some States are not their property in others. There is a great diversity of trade mark rights in the various States of the union, and the sooner this state of affairs is cured, the better. This is one direction in which the Federation should. prove very advantageous, and if the Prime Minister can see his way clear to deal with the Trade Marks Bill - certainly the non-contentious portions of it - before the prorogation, it will be appreciated by the commercial community.
– I am filled with a desire to meet all the wishes of my honorable friends if I can do so, but I should like to devote as much time as possible to .the very . important question of Preferential Trade. I should also like to give some time to the further consideration of the Manufacturers Encouragement Bill in Committee, if there is any chance of out .doing useful work in that direction. A ‘certain Division has been included in the Trade Marks Bill, which is entirely foreign to an ordinary measure relating to trade marks.
– Oh, no. /
– That, at all. events, is the view of the Government. The Division to which I refer seems to me to constitute the only contentious part of the Bill, and I am informed that it would evoke very considerable discussion.
– -There will be a considerable discussion if it be not taken up.
– We desire to get a vote on .it.
– The honorable member asked, “If there be a strong feeling in regard to this part of the Bill, why not take a vote on it ?” I have “had that yearning for something like three months. It has been on the tip of my tongue to say over and over again, “ Let us take a vote.” But that is one thing to which honorable members are not prepared to consent, even in regard to matters on which they do not entertain strong convictions. Those who had a strong objection to the part of the Bill to which I have referred would, at this last stage of the session, when there is not a full opportunity to consider contentious matters, certainly decline to take a vote without discussion, and the consideration of the matter might, therefore,, lead to only a waste of time. That would seem, judging from to-day’s proceedings, to be the position with reference to the Manufactures
Encouragement Bill. The time to pass any measure is now so limited that it almost offers a premium to honorable members to throw difficulties in the way of the passing of measures to which they have very strong objection. I am anxious to make the best use of the time left at our disposal, and I should like to give prominence to the Preferential Trade debate. I wish to make some observations in reply to the speech of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. I should like to ask the House, so far as I can see at present, to deal on Tuesday with the Sea Carriage of Goods Bill, and also lo advance the debate on the motion relating to Preferential Trade another stage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.X2 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 December 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19041209_reps_2_24/>.