2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister if he has had time to consider what position he will take up in regard to the question which I raised last evening concerning the reimbursement of the the two members I then mentioned?
– The leader of the Opposition last night, after the adjournment of the House was moved, brought under the notice of the Government the cases of members concerned in elections . which had been voided owing to irregularities on the part of ‘Government officials. There was a general feeling amongst honorable members then present that the Government, because of the long delay which has occurred, and the approach of the recess, would be justified in recognising these claims in anticipation of the proper vote of Parliament
Honorable Members. - Hear,hear!
– I thought it well that I should have the question put to me again this morning as many honorable members were absent last night.
– Is the reimbursement to be made to all the candidates affected, or only to the sitting members?
– I consider the principle to bs one in regard to the application of which no differences can be made. I could not conceive of a case in which one candidate should be recouped his expenses while another was not. I take it that, although the names of the honorable members for Riverina and Melbourne have been specially mentioned, (here is no intention to exclude Mr. Blackwoodand Sir Malcolm McEacharn, or any other candidate wfoo has claim for consideration. In view of the feeling which has been expressed both last night and this- morning, I think I may say that the Government will take the responsibility of recognising these claims, though the amount to be paid is one which we must settle ourselves, and in regard to which we must take full responsibility. I understand the House to assent merely to the request that these claims shall be recognised in anticipation of parliamentary annroval. while the Government take full responsibility for the amounts paid. I do not feel prepared to go too far in recognising claims of this kind. For instance, I am informed by the honorable member for Riverina that, owing to the great size of his electorate, his expenses came to something like , £600 or £700.
– I thought that no honorable member was allowed to spend more than £100?
– I am referring to the honorable member ‘s personal expenses, and I may say at once that I anvnot prepared to reimburse so large a sum as that. I must act with prudence, and with a proper regard for the public interest ; but I think that the Government may take the responsibility of reimbursing those concerned to a reasonable extent, and I will do so.
– Of course, it is only in cases where loss has been inflicted upon candidates by the delinquencies of Commonwealth officials that reimbursement will be made.
– Yes. If a candidate were involved in any way in the irregularities be would not be entitled to consideration.
– The Government accepts responsibility for the acts of its officers?
– Whilst our action amounts fo a recognition of that principle, the Government strictly reserve to themselves the right to decide what is. a fair reimbursement. -
– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence the following questions, which have been on the notice-paper of the Senate for about a week: -
Retired List. “ Sir, - With reference to your letter of the 14th inst., I am desired by me General Officer Commanding to inquire whether you are prepared, in the event of being placed on the Unattached List as requested, to refund the gratuity awarded you on retirement. - I have the honour to be. Sir, your obedient servant, “j. C. Hoad, Colonel, “ D.A.G. and C.S.O.”
– I think that notice should be given of questions of this kind. It is unnecessary for me to ascertain whether the letter referred to was written by Colonel Hoad, because it is stated in the evidence given before the Select Committee of .the Senate, which inquired into the case of Major Carroll, that the letter was so written. The question whether it was written with the knowledge of the General Officer Commanding was also investigated by that Committee. If I recollect aright, the General Officer Commanding stated that he was not aware of the letter being sent. He has now left Australia, and I do not think it proper that matters of this kind should be brought up in his absence, because he has his rights as other people have theirs. To determine it would only mean fresh inquiries.-
– Then is Colonel Hoad’ to rest under the stigma of having made a misstatement?
– So far as the phrase “I am desired by the General Officer Commanding” is concerned, I might explain that those are merely formal words, from whose use it does not follow that the superior officer actually saw the letter.
– Still the general tenor of the letter would be either authorized or not authorized by the General Officer Commanding.
– If the question whether Major-General Hutton’s evidence was truthful or not is raised, I do not propose to investigate it until he has an opportunity, as well as those who question the accuracy of his statement, to give evidence on his own behalf.
– Can the Minister ascertain from Colonel Hoad what authorityhe had for sending the letter? If Colonel Hoad insists that the letter was sent by the authority of the General Officer Commanding, the matter should be referred to the latter for any remarks that he may have to make. The letter contains the clear statement that the authority of the General Officer Commanding was given for its despatch. The trouble seems to be that it is affecting the position of a man who some who have gone into the matter think has been treated rather badly, and until this question is cleared up it seems to be impossible to deal with the other issue.
– The question whether this letter was or was not written with the knowledge of the General Officer Com manding in no way affects, so far as I can jud’ge, the position of either Major Carroll or Colonel Hoad.
– Colonel Hoad was not able to give evidence before the Select Committee. That is the difficulty. If he had been here, there would probably have been a different assumption.
– With the concurrence of the House, I should like to move a motion such as is generally moved at this period of the session, in order to enable Government and private business to be taken up next session at the stage which it reached at the time of prorogation.
– Can that be done by resolution?
– Yes. The House has control of its own business to that extent. I desire to move -
That, until permanent Standing Orders are adopted, the following be temporary standing orders of this House : -
Lapsed Bills. 214A. If in any session the proceedings on any
Bill shall have been interrupted by the prorogation of Parliament, the House may, in the next succeeding session, by resolution, order such proceedings to be resumed at the stage to which the Bill had been advanced in the previous session, provided a periodical election for the House has not taken place between such two sessions. 214B. Any such Bill may be sent to the Senate as if it had been introduced and passed by the House in the second session.
– Could not the second resolution be dispensed with?
– I have provided for the usual procedure, which gives the House in the succeeding session control of its business for that session.
– Has the Prime Minister considered how this motion would affect the deadlock provisions of the Constitution?
– I do not think that it would interfere with the operation of those provisions, which bear upon questions of fact, involving the rejection of, or failure to pass or to return, certain measures. This motion would not override the Constitution.
– Is it not necessary to obtain the permission of Parliament as a whole to depart from the procedure laid down in the Constitution?
– There is none. ,
– This is done by an Act of Parliament in the States.
– In Victoria it is done by a standing order.
– It is also done by a resolution in the States, and, to the best of my recollection, by a standing order in New South Wales. I have known it to be done by resolution without a standing order.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the Prime Minister have leave to move this motion without notice?
– I object.
– In that case, I give notice of my intention to move the motion tomorrow.
– In asking, upon notice, the following question, I desire to say in explanation that I placed it upon the businesspaper because of a report, appearing in the Age newspaper of Friday last, stating that a Select Committee of the Chamber of Deputies had brought up a report recommending that the New Hebrides either be annexed or have a protectorate established over it by the French Government : -
Whether, in view of the recent reports of the expressed desires of members of the French Legislature regarding the ultimate destiny of the New Hebrides, he is in a position to re-assure those Australians who view the position with much anxiety ?
– There is a fixed definite understanding between the Governments of Great Britain and France that no such annexation is to take place on the part of either power, and that understanding has been the subject of earnest representations from time to time from the Commonwealth Government to the Imperial Government. The Home authorities are in no doubt as to the views we hold, or as to the earnestness with which we oppose any such step as that referred to. I can assure the honorable member that there is no possible doubt in the minds of the Imperial authorities as to the sentiments of Australia on this question.
Debate resumed from 13th December (vide page 8354) on motion by Mr. Deakin -
Inasmuch as every increase in trade between the mother country and the Colonies or any of them would be of mutual advantage commercially, while collectively, by multiplying their production, profitable employment, population, and exchanges, such increases must enhance the unity and power of the Empire, this House resolves that -
The encouragement of industry and commerce within the Empire is a high national aim of paramount importance to all its peoples.
The proposals of the Secretary of State for the Colonies at the Colonial Conference of 1902, as then approved and since tentatively defined in order to foster inter-Imperial trade, outline a patriotic and statesman-like policy of internal development and external influence, whose details should be discussed by a further Conference at the earliest opportunity.
The Prime Minister be requested to consider the existing openings for preferential trade relations between Australia and other colonies.
The Prime Minister be invited to obtain all data necessary for the preparation of a measure granting a preference to British imports into Australia which compete solely with imports from foreign countries.
The Prime Minister is hereby authorized for and on behalf of the Commonwealth to offer to the Government of the United Kingdom a preference upon its exports to Australia in return for a preference upon our exports to Great Britain and Ireland, such preference to be reciprocally adjusted according to Schedules sanctioned by Parliament.
– I regret that a policy so far-reaching in its possibilities for good or evil should be pressed upon the attention of a House wearied with the waste of ten months comparatively fruitless discussions. It can scarcely be hope that at this stage of the session either time or energy adequate to the importance of the issue raised remains, or that recent episodes in the play of parties have left us with that morale and disposition that would enable us to rise, above mere considerations of self, to the height of a great Imperial question. A matter of this kind should’ not be precipitated to a decision. Most great questions of politics are settled without serious consideration. . A few fetching platitudes often prove more effective than deductions drawn from the closest study and the widest experience. Each particular trader is tempted to frame the laws of production and exchange from the suggestions of selfinterest in his own particular line, and yet it is upon wisdom of this sort that the fate of Empires is made to depend.
When a man like Mr. Chamberlain comes into the field, so many allowances have to be made for selfinterest, ambition, the disinclination to test the worth of plausible theories, the facts that consideration of remote consequences seldom pays men who live longest and best from hand to mouth, and that the rest that tend’s to recoup a nation often spells death to the would-be leader - allowances have tobe made for so many sinister influences before the true weight of authority upon which an opinion rests can be tested - -that wisdom lies in taking nothing for granted, except that blundering has no limits. No man knows better than the honorable member for Birmingham the usefulness of being active in politics.
Preservance, dear, my Lord,
Keeps honour bright : to have done is to hang
Quite out of fashion, like a rusty mail
In monumental mockery.
As a matter of fact, it is a strange thing that the condition of the Empire, which, in the opinion of Mr. Chamberlain, and occasionally of Mr. Balfour, who takes his cue from Mr. Chamberlain, is so bad, was only recently discovered by the honorable member for Birmingham after his return from South Africa in 1902. One is, therefore, inclined to be a little suspicious as to his proposals at this stage. The Edinburgh Review, referring to the possible motives that may have been operating, said, in its issue of 5th July, 1903 -
Where, then, except in the position of the Imperial Government, lies the need for fiscal experiment’s, even if, as a remedy, their efficacy were undisputed. It is the case again of political hypocrisy, party and power being preferred to national nobility.
The honorable and learned member for Ballarat, in the course ofhis eloquent speech, acknowledged that preferential trade was advocated as a means to an end, the end being the political consolidation of the Empire. The substitution of a more
Or less rigid Federal arrangement, with its consequent diminution of local autonomy, is the ideal - from whatever motives it may be cherished - of Mr. Chamberlain, and the revival of the policy discarded about fifty years ago as pernicious is advocated as a condition of its realization.
– Is that so?
– I do not wish, having a due sense of the necessity of economizing time, to accumulate proofs ; but in view of the challenge of the honorable member, I will make one or two quotations. At Luton, on 4th October last, Mr. Chamberlain, again assuming that the initiative came from the Colonies, said -
They are calling upon you to evolve out of your present conditions some closer, more permanent union, that shall make us once for all a great and united nation. “ United” ! Here again, as in the case of so many great orations, the question is begged at almost every point from exordium to peroration. A little earlier, on 4th August, at Welbeck, Mr. Chamberlain said -
Let us unite the Empire, the great aspiration of the best and wisest of our statesmen.
He then acknowledged that preferential trade was being advocated merely as a means to an end, not - although he did not expressly say so - as an object in itself deserving of commendation. With that disregard for historical facts, which is occasionally very convenient, Mr. Chamberlain said that commercial unity had in every case preceded closer political federation. As a matter of fact, except in one case - that of the Zollverein - commercial unity had not preceded federation. In that case, Inter-State free-trade existed, and that is not the system which our preferential trade friends in Australia arenow advocating. A distinguished Austrian writer, Frederick List, in his National System of Political Economy, said that all the examples which history can show are those in which the political union has led the way, and that commercial union has grown out of it. Mr. Balfour, who occasionally gives indications of his preference to play the role of the philosophic observer of events rather than of the active worker, gives a hesitant acceptance, of the ideas of Mr. Chamberlain, although he differs from him as to the methods of achieving them. Speaking at Edinburgh in October last, he said they were aiming at the consolidation of the Empire; although, like a man forced by circumstances to express an opinion before he had formed one, he urged them to proceed with the wisest caution. I personally object, as a true Imperialist, to both the means and the end. , I believe that for an Empire like ours, the loose tie is the best. In 1774, the limitation of local autonomy led to the loss of half a continent to the Empire.
– The honorable member knows that that has no bearing upon the question whatever.
– Does the honorable member say that I would pretend that it had, if I knew that it had not ?
– I believe that the honorable and learned member is too well informed to entertain that view.
– My reading leads me to the conclusion that it has a bearing. Political consolidation involves a limitation without any compensating advantages in greater solidarity of either purpose or affection. There are two kinds of Imperialism. There is the Imperialism that would put the Empire in a strait-jacket, and the Imperialism which has been so long and so well advocated by the Spectator, the great English Liberal journal, and which is perfectly consistent with the maintenance of colonial nationalism. On the 1st October last, the Spectator said that true Imperialism is interwoven with colonial nationalism. As it well said : -
An Empire formed by this spirit will stand four square to all winds of Heaven, and no man need set bounds to the intensity and intimacy of the co-operation which time and growth of population which the rapidity of communications may in the end produce. Meantime, and even if its immediate evolution should be rather in the direction of ‘an autonomy greater than at present, we have all the essentials of strength and permanence in the union of free nations within a free Empire. Only one thing can shatter such a fabric - the introduction within it of a spirit of unrest and suspicion, and the curtailment of the freedom and elasticity of movement in the constituent parts.
These words are deserving of respect and consideration. What is the present need for any re-arrangement in the interests of Imperial solidarity? Our loyalty to a system under which, during the last half-century, constitutional freedom, with its accompanying industrial development, has progressed, is, if anything, stronger than before - the system of independent organic growth of free communities, united only by a common allegiance and an Imperial reserve of power, to be used at the request of those interested. That system gives us perfect local autonomy, adaptation from time to time to local conditions as necessities arise, the pride of organic life, that mutual co-operation which is all the more effective in that it is in its essence voluntary, and the absence of that’ friction which ever ac companies a system under which the seat of government is distant and the representative principle weakened. Canada is now regarded as, perhaps, holding the highest place in the affection of the motherland, and as being the colony most loyal to the present Imperial system.
– I do not know about that. Has the honorable and learned member ever been there?
– I say that Canada is at present so regarded. Now, let us compare the position of Canada, at present extolled for its loyalty to the Empire, with its position in 1839, when an attempt was made to introduce, by means somewhat too forcible, the principle of responsible government. Twelve men were sentenced to be transported to Tasmania, though when they arrived in England public opinion was too strong to permit of their continuing their voyage to this part of the world. The actual facts are a strong commentary upon the forecasts of even the most eminent statesmen, when we compare the present position with that predicted as the result of granting responsible government to Canada. Lord Stanley then said that the consequences of granting the Canadian demands would be the establishment of a Republic. I believe that political consolidation is unnecessary, dangerous, and inimical to the cohesion of the Empire. To be a success, it must be thoroughly representative, and to be adequate it must involve equality of burdens. Some eighteen or twenty years ago the advocacy of Imperial consoLidation upon the Federal principle was rather fashionable. I believe that even Lord Rosebery, who now dissents from any proposal in that direction, was President of an Imperial Federation League. Sir Frederick Pollock, who is a man of calm and carefully-formed judgment, in expressing, not his own opinion merely, but that of several with whom he had been in consultation, thus refers to the policy of Imperial Federation in the Times of 21st October, 1904: -
At one time there was a disposition to seek for a plan of Imperial Federation in the strict sense. The vision of a written Constitution for the British Empire, analagous to those of the United States, the Dominion of Canada, and the Commonwealth, which would embrace, not only self-governing communities, but Federated Unions of States as its members, is at first sight alluring by its magnificence. But the more it is considered the more chimerical does it appear.
He says that no reason has been shown for it, and -that it is practically certain the selfgoverning Colonies would have nothing to do with it. That is a prediction which I hope will be realized, at all events, so far as this House is concerned.
– There is no proposal of that character under consideration at the present time.
– But we must judge of policies by their tendencies. Mr. Chamberlain - as I have endeavoured to show - has frankly declared the end which he has in view. As regards Imperial Federation, I claim> that ‘ its establishment would involve an unwieldly central Legislature and diminished local autonomy. It would compel the representatives of the Colonies to’ remain silent upon about 99 per cent, of the questions which engage the attention of the British Parliament, or to meddle in matters in regard to which they should abstain from interference. Such a body would not be elected upon any common representative principle. It must necessarily be based upon a principle under which India would be denied representation, and colonial opinion, instead of being voiced as it is now’ by its Australian Parliaments, would then be represented by men who. year after year, would grow more and more out of touch with local sentiment, and who would therefore be misleading expositors of Australian opinion. In addition, there would be a depletion of efficient representatives in local bodies. Outside foreign policy and common defence, it is difficult to say what matters should fall within the competence of a central Imperial Parliament. It may be that such matters as merchant shipping, copyright, he admission> of aliens, marriage, &c. which have been mentioned by Sir Frederick Pollock - although not in this connexion - could be delegated to the competence of a central Legislature. But nobody will argue that we ourselves cannot deal more effectively with such matters from the standpoint of local interests. Between the goal of Mr. Chamberlain, which is Imperial Federation, and the present system of holding occasional Conferences of Premiers or other representative men as circumstances require them to sit, there seems to be no reasonable or possible mean. It has been suggested that a permanent advisory council should be established, armed, first of all, with executive, and afterwards with legislative functions. Even a man like Mr.
Haldane seems for the moment to forget that a Cabinet as such cannot exist, apart from a popular assembly - that is to say, that it is nothing more than a Committee chiefly of the popular House which initiates legislation that is approved of by the people at each election. But, to put it mildly, a Cabinet of the Empire, divorced from representation, is inconceivable. We have also seen Sir Frederick Pollock himself - driven almost in desperation to meet the anxiety to do something which appears to exist on the part of Mr. Chamberlain and others - suggesting that we might make use of the Privy Council for the purpose, by adding to its members, men from various parts of the Empire. He does not propose that these members should be elected. If they are not to be elected they must be nominees, and consequently they would not retire as opinion changed in that portion of the Empire of which they were supposed to be delegates. Members of the Privy Council, who are not Ministers of State, can speak with no authority.His suggestion, therefore, contains the weakness which is inherent in any scheme that is not based upon the true Cabinet principle of responsibility to the popular body. It has also been suggested that we should send home some of our superannuated local celebrities to pass the mellow years of their political lives in the somewhat composing atmosphere of the House of Lords. Still another suggestion is that we should be granted representation upon the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and that our representatives should sit in the House of Lords and voice the aspirations of the colonial democracy. I cannot see much to recommend any proposal to send home semi-obsolete politicians, because we know how soon a man becomes subdued by the atmosphere which he breathes, and how radical tendencies would be likely to be affected by such influences as would be brought to bear upon him within the sacred precincts of the House of Lords. Pursuing, then, the principle of examination and exhaustion, if we cannot accept the goal of Imperial consolidation based upon a Federal principle, we are of necessity driven to acknowledge the efficacy of the system which we have at present - the system of holding occasional Conferences. In their heart of hearts, I believe that Imperial statesmen regard this as the best scheme. Take, for instance, the present Colonial Secretary, the Hon. Alfred Lyttelton.
Speaking at the Canadian Club on the 18th of January, 1904, he stated that there were two great obstacles to a permanent Imperial Council - the difficulty of sparing leading statesmen to be members of it, and the fact that they would lose touch with the democratic communities they represented. He therefore gave his judgment in favour of the present system of holding occasional Conferences. So did Mr. Chamberlain a few years ago. The Federal system is, I believe, unsuited to the conditions of an Empire so vast as is ours, and composed, as it is, of units differing in their local development, modes of thought, industrial effectiveness, and in the general character of their institutions. Without amplifying reasons, I believe that to adopt Mr. Chamberlain’s proposals would be to introduce a principle of disintegration, and that, instead of making the Empire more stable, by substituting compulsion for affection, we should really introduce a dissolvent. We ought to recollect that the cause of the separation of the American Colonies, in 1775 - as was so well pointed out by Burke in his great speech upon conciliation, even after the declaration of independence - was the substitution for the principle of a voluntary grant by semiindependent units of compulsion through taxation.
– Where is the compulsion in this case?
– We should have the compulsion of a central body operating upous whenever a majority of that body determined that it was necessary to exercise such compulsion. Upon the occasion in question, Burke said -
My resolutions, therefore, mean to establish the equity and justice of a taxation of America, by grant and not by imposition. To mark the legal competency of the colony assemblies for the support of their government in peace, and for public aids in time of war. To acknowledge that this legal competency has had a dutiful and beneficial exercise ; and that experience has shown the benefit of their grants, and the futility of parliamentary taxation as a method of supply.
I propose now, having dealt with the end, to say something as to the means. The policy of preference, as has been pointed out by Mr. J. A. Spender, in the October number of the Fortnightly Review, page 588-
In the hands of a skilful exponent, has every element of superficial attractiveness. It is highly combative and anti-foreign ; it promises immediate material gain to large classes; it claims both to create employment, and to mitigate competition. On the other hand, the answer to these direct appeals to the pocket can only be conveyed in an argument, which, complete though it be, is necessarily elaborate and difficult, and which makes large demands on the reasoning faculties of the average elector. Here is certainly a severe test for democracy - a test to which neither the European nor the Colonial democracies have proved equal.
The honorable and learned member for Ballarat has submitted a motion, some of the paragraphs of which contain mere general declarations of principle. We do not need to be continually making general declarations of principle, which mav be affirmed by men differing widely as to means. It is superfluous to affirm that -
The encouragement of industry and commerce within the Empire is a high national aim of paramount importance to all its peoples.
The second proposition embodied in his motion declares that we ought to adopt the suggestions made by the Secretary of State for the Colonies at the Colonial Conference of Premiers, which was held in London in 1902. The method suggested by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat is one which is intended to foster Imperial trade. But what was the method suggested by Mr. Chamberlain upon the occasion to which I have referred? It was free-trade within the Empire. Is the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, or are those who sympathize with him, prepared to adopt that principle? Mr. Chamberlain, I would point out, was very explicit as to what he meant. He declared that there may be some necessity for Colonial taxation, but that it must be based upon purely revenue lines ; that instead of adopting the colonial principle of taxing articles which can be produced locally, we must tax only those articles which cannot be produced locallyHe said -
But in my mind, whenever Customs duties are balanced by Excise duties, or whenever they are levied on articles which cannot be produced at home, the enforcement of such duties is no deviation whatever from the principle of free-trade, as I understand it.
I think we ought to ask the honorable and learned member for Ballarat to say whether he really means what he says in the motion - that we ought to adopt Mr. Chamberlain’s then policy of LiterImperial free-trade. If he does not wish us to at once adopt it, is he advocating this scheme merely as a means towards that ultimate end ? If he is, I ask my honorable friends who advocate preference, whether they are prepared to follow him? Let us not deal merely with ambiguous propositions, but with what Mr. Chamberlain has actually stated. If the honorable and learned member for Ballarat wishes us to adopt Mr. Chamberlain’s declaration, I must ask honorable members to consider what that would mean. The honorable and learned member strengthens the inference to be drawn from paragraph 2 of the motion by his reference, apparently with a preference for it, to the German Zollverein. That ZoIIverein, as I have stated, is based on Inter-State free-trade. In referring to this matter, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat seemed at the same time to think that we might adopt a system of Inter-Imperial treaties. He appeared to throw out two suggestions, which cannot be reconciled. Without dwelling on the question of the efficacy of these treaties, I would point out that they have been tried in AustroHungary and have failed. Doctor Petritsch, an eminent Austrian economist, in an article cited by the Edinburgh Review of October, 1904, from the Economic Journal of, I think, July, 1904, writes that the Austrian system is closely analogous to one of the suggestions made by Mr. Chamberlain’s party -
It must be observed, too, that Mr. Chamberlain’s preferential scheme would entail as entangled network of treaties far more complicated than the negotiations of the Austro-Hungarian Zollund Handels-bundniss. There does not seem to exist the faintest ground for believing that the difficulties in conciliating so manifold divergent interests will be less.
Neither of the schemes suggested by Mr. Chamberlain will recommend themselves to the substantial parties in this House. I presume those in favour of preferential trade would not accept it on the basis of Mr. Chamberlain’s scheme in 1902, and I certainly do not think many would agree to that system of Inter-Imperial treaties which, in the case of the Austro-Hungarian Empire,has proved the opposite of beneficial. To come a little closer to the question of preferential trade itself, I cannot see how, with any sense of selfrespect, we could pass a resolution asking the British people for further concessions in respect of whatever we may do in this direction. It would be the height of meanness to call upon the people of the United Kingdom to do more for us in this matter than they have done. Their ports are absolutely open to our exports. We are interested jointly with the people of the rest of the Empire in about a fourth of the external trade of the United Kingdom. There is, in addition, a considerable trade of the British Empire which never touches the shores of the United Kingdom. The fleet which protects that trade is supported by taxation upon the slender earnings of the British working classes, which it is now proposed to tax to a still greater extent, in return for so-called concessions to be grantedby us. If our true contributions to the navy were based on any proper proportions, upon representation, or even upon our capacity to pay according to wealth or population.
I it would be measured not by hundreds of thousands, but by millions of pounds.
– It would be£4,000,000.
– Canada does not. at the present moment, pay a cent towards the cost of that fleet.
– And other parts of the British Empire do not.
– There are doubtless other reasons to be taken into account. I wish as well as I can to impress upon honorable members the great obligations we are under to the mother country in respect of her vast expenditure on naval defence. It is no wonder’, in these circumstances, that a prominent labour representative in the old country wrote to the honorable member for Bland stating that the supposed . benefits which Australia offered the people of Great Britain in return for preference were illusory, andadded -
Every representative gathering of organized labour, including two trades union congresses, and our own annual conference, speaking in the name of from one million to one million and a half wage-earners, have condemned the proposals with marked unanimity.
– Has not a powerful Labour Congress since approved of the proposal ?
– I have read exactly what took place, but I hold that the quotation which I have just read is a strong pronouncement coming, as it does, from a representative of organised labour in the United Kingdom. It is a derogation from our selfrespect to ask the people of Great Britain to do more for us than they are doing - in other words, to base our loyalty upon material considerations. If such be the basis of our loyalty, if with some of the Celtic strain in it the tone of British patriotism has sunk in these States so low, all I can say is that we had better import some of those eastern races whom, by ourlegislation, we profess todespise to inoculate our stock with a little of that temper that teaches men to live and die for an ideal. Canada is gradually awakening to common sense and decency in this matter. She acknowledges, if we may judge from some of her representative speakers, that whatever else is done must be a tribute of gratitude, and not a mean demand for more. The Toronto Globe resents, as I shall ask the House to do by passing the amendment which I have foreshadowed, the imputation upon their loyalty and self-respect in the following word s: -
Every self-respecting Canadian resents the argument used on scores of platforms in Britain, and published in scores of British newspapers, that Mr. Chamberlain’s protectionist policy, even though it may raise the cost of food to millions of wage-earners in Britain, should be adopted by the British people, because it would secure and retain the loyalty of the Colonies.
The Solicitor-General for Canada, Mr. Randolphe Lemieux, speaking at a garden party of the Harron Division of the Willesden Liberal Associations, said in effect that -
Canadians had given the mother country a preference, and intended to keep that preference ‘without asking for anything in return. The Canadians were not going to put their loyalty up for sale. He would apply to the present position the old dictum, “ Let well alone.” Speaking especially in the French Colony of Quebec, he declared that Canada is [loyal, happy, and satisfied to live under the British flag, but if we wished to tighten the tie we should break it.
In a little book published by Montagu and Herbert, two writers who went to Canada some months ago to make a special study of the question, I find it stated that at an electoral meeting attended by ninety accredited French and English delegates, from various parts of Canada, a speech was made on the question of preferential trade by one of the successful candidates. The following is the writers’ commentary upon it : -
The adopted candidate, in the course of a lengthy address on Canadian politics, referred to the suggested scheme of Mr. Chamberlain, and none of his remarks were more enthusiastically applauded than those in which, with considerable indignation, he repudiated the suggestion that farming in Canada required any artificial advantages in the British market.
When the proper time comes, I shall there fore move -
That the following paragraph be added : -
The continued loyalty to the Empire of the people of the Commonwealth to no extent depends upon the preferential fiscal treatment of their products on importation into the United Kingdom.
What do the working classes of England who, by bearing taxation, have done so much for the Colonies, request us to do? They simply ask us to leave them alone. They know that the Mr. Chamberlain of 1885 spoke . with far greater accuracy than did the Mr. Chamberlain, of 1902, when, referring to the policy of preference and retaliation - to join the Prime Minister of England with Mr. Chamberlain - under its then alias of fair-trade”, he said, it meant -
Taxing the food of the people of England in order to raise the rents of the landlords.
That was the statement of the Mr. Chamberlain of 1885, and it also represents the opinion of the Edinburgh Review, of October, 1904. It is somewhat reassuring to find that the great periodicals of the United Kingdom, which for so many years have been somewhat antipathetic to the best of democratic aspirations, are now taking up the cause of the people. The Edinburgh Review wrote as follows: -
The only real beneficiaries of this policy would be the agricultural landlords. A sum of money equal to the increase of prices, multiplied by the amount of home-grown agricultural produce would be transferred to them from the pockets of the consumers of the produce, This is the main direct result to be expected from the pro-, posed taxation.
I think that very few will be inclined, upon examination, to dispute the accuracy of that statement of the position. To cite a few of the objections to the preferential system, I would point out that, as the Prime Minister said last night, it has been tried, and has failed within the Empire itself. If is also being tried in respect of possessions of some countries of Europe at the present . time, but does it indicate that the colonial system of those countries is better’ than our own? At one time American fish and lumber were excluded from the British West Indies to give Canadians a monopoly of the trade. At the same time the West Indies declared, to quote from an article in the Contemporary Review for December, 1903, that: -
We (the Canadians) fleeced them ; we retorted that we were fleeced through having to buytheir sugar at a fancy price, when Brazil and Cuba were offering a cheaper article ; and there was nothing but bad blood between us and them. At last they took the matter into their own hands, and indefinance of Downing-street opened their markets to American competition.
How are we going to work this system ? It is impossible to pick out for general treatment a few articles in the way that Mr. Chamberlain has urged. An examination of British imports and colonial exports shows that it is impossible to have a preference upon a few special articles, inasmuch as none which are at once of general export from all Possessions and foreign countries can be found. A preference in respect of wheat would operate far more beneficially to Canada with its greater productiveness, its proximity to the United Kingdom, and better freights between the United States and Canada and the United Kingdom. The quantities exported differ also. The exports from Australia to England differ in quantity from those from New Zealand1 and from those from Canada. So that, unless you introduce the wretched principle of differentiation between Colony and Colony, you cannot, under any taxation of wheat, treat them all alike. Thus you will sow at once the seeds of subsequent discontent. The principle approved in the Colonies, so far as it has been affirmed in Australia by any great body of people - and the same may be said for the other places in which the question of preference has been discussed - is to impose greater taxation against the foreigner, but not to lower the existing taxation in favour of Great Britain. That is the policy of the New Zealand legislation and of the Canadian legislation, because, although Canada lowered her Tariff in favour of the mother country, she had previously raised it generally for the purpose. There were two acts. In South Africa the principle which has found favour is increased” protection against the foreigner. The Canadian Manufacturers’ Association said at one of their representative meetings that under all conditions the minimum Tariff should afford protection to Canadian producers,, and they recently passed a resolution affirming that -
While pleased that the Government has favorably considered the necessities of the woollen industry, the Association considers that the measure of protection afforded is insufficient, and does not approve the departure made by the Government in increasing protection by decreasing preference. Such action will probably be misinterpreted in England, whereas an increase in the regular duties would still maintain the principle of uniform preference for British goods.
The woollen manufacturers object to the continuance of preferences. They say that their industry has been threatened with ruin through the severe competition with Great Britain brought about by preference. As a matter of fact, a recent traveller in Canada has said that he found there that the man who advocated preferences generally wished to give them through some other fel 13 m 2 low’s products. Mr. Chamberlain, ten years ago, saw the weakness of iris system, and pointed out that the benefits which the United Kingdom would receive from it Vere illusory. He stated, as I have already mentioned, that about threefourths of the external trade of that country is with foreign countries, and’ that he did not believe that the working classes would consent to the making of a revolutionary change for what they would consider an infinitesimal gain. Yet, with the versatility of some politicians, he now advocates that a change should be made. The method of giving preference, as adopted by Canada, seems to be that advocated by preferentialists out ‘here, if I rightly understand the resolution passed at the Melbourne Town-hall, on the 17th November last, which declared that, while the meeting ‘ cordially approved of preferential trade relations between the mother country and Australia, due regard must at all times be paid to the industries of the Commonwealth. We know what that means. I do not propose to examine in detail the conditions of English trade, though, as I have said, only one-fourth of the external trade of that country is with British’ possessions. As the Spectator has put it, the colonists who are to be preferred as citizens number less than one-third of the population of The United Kingdom, less than one-tenth of the white men with whom the United Kingdom deals, and less than one-sixtieth of the world-wide population, which free-trade enables the United Kingdom to approach. Therefore, there is not much from the British point of view in the system of preferences. Then consider what the taxation of raw materials and food means. About 28 per cent, of the imports of raw material, food, and drink - nonalcoholicof the United Kingdom comes from British possessions, so that over 70 per cent, comes from outside the Empire. Seventy-seven per cent, of her wheat is imported from foreign countries, and so is about four-fifths of her dairy produce. As regards raw materials, £40,500,000 out of a little over ,£41,000,000 worth of cotton is imported from outside the Empire. We have been told by Mr. Chamberlain of a preference of 2s. a quarter in favour of colonial wheat. We know what a preference of that sort must lead to.. Are the farmers of the United Kingdom likely to be satisfied, if the principle is once introduced, with a duty of 2s. a quarter, seeing that the rate in France is over 12s., and in Germany, 8s. ? Mallock, writing on this question, has said that it would be futile to expect any results from duties of less than 14s. a quarter on foreign wheat, and 12s. a quarter on colonial wheat. That is the kind of preference which I think will not recommend itself to the farmers of Australia. Do not honorable members acknowledge that under these conditions of trade, there must be taxation of raw materials and food? Have they seriously considered the result in loss of employment, and in lower wages, to the masses of England, which must follow from the adoption of this policy? Do they know what a contraction of employment, or a diminution of pay, would mean to the masses of England, who, while their wages may perhaps be the highest in Europe, have to earn them amidst the din of manufacturing centres, and very often in the pestiferous surroundings of city slums? Do honorable members realize what it must mean to a man who, on wages of 25 s. a week, has to support a family of six, to meet the many little innocent importunities of his children with an eternal negative ; what it must mean to the sweated seamstress in her garret? And can they then say that a policy which means such an exploitation of the wages of the poor contains in it any source of healthy inspiration? I regret that our patriotism has been put before the Home people in such a way as to make it appear that we are asking the English masses to go back, as some have said, to the days of the corn laws, to the times described by Mr. Chamberlain in 1885, as times when protection starved the poor, and the country was brought to the brink of revolution. He said then that that was not a retrospect which would be favorable to any party or statesman who should have the audacity to propose that we should go back to those evil times. Still, he now seems to have arrived at that point of reprobation himself. The venerable George Jacob Holyoake, writing recently on this policy, says that the condition and dietary of the poor under protection seems incredible now, and will be to many of this generation. Let us look at the Australian trade. Why should we endeavour to hamper our growing trade with foreign countries? If we send our exports to Germany, does it not enable them to go further in realizing sums to pay interest than if they were sent direct to England? We send to Germany, because the purchase money paid there is greater, the demand being greater, than we would obtain elsewhere. The purchase money obtained at times by certain of our exports there1 is greater, and, consequently, we obtain greater power for the payment of interest. If England wished to give a bigger price, the export would go there. As a rule, an indication is given of where the greater price is paid by the direction in which the conditions of commerce send produce. It would be cutting down our power to pay interest to block the avenue of trade via foreign countries. We have a growing trade with foreign countries, and a profitable one, and it should not be imperilled. In 1901 our total exports and imports amounted to ^109,000,000. ^82,000,000 of that trade was done with British possessions, so that in respect of our trade the Empire cannot be in a bad way, as I think the honorable member for New England will show, when he speaks, by most carefully compiled statistics. The total volume of our foreign trade is ^28,000,000, but it is a growing trade. In 1883 almost, all European trade was clone with the United Kingdom. In the decade ending in 1891, the increase of trade with the United Kingdom was 27 per cent., and with foreign countries 120 per cent. In the decade ending in 1901, the increase with the United Kingdom was about 5 per cent., and with foreign countries about 74 per cent. Take the wool trade. While in 1881 we exported only £53,000 worth of wool to Germany, in 1902 the exportation reached ,£4,750,000. Our general exports to Germany in 1902 were over £6,000,000 worth, and it may comfort our protectionist friends to know that we imported from Germany only £2,250,000 worth. I do not wish to go into an analysis of that trade, but the figures which I have given indicate a sound and healthy condition, and show that it is profitable alike to Australia and to Germany. Mr. Chamberlain originally asked, as part of ‘his policy, that we should not start any new industries which might interfere with British exports. Are the preferentialists of Australia ready to accept that suggestion? Mr. Chamberlain is a man who sometimes speaks rather hastily. He made that suggestion in early speeches, but when he published those speeches, he cut out the paragraphs referring to the stopping of colonial “manufactures. Therefore I suppose his original policy may be regarded as receiving his own denunciation by the sinister method of omission. Hi? knows the reason why some
British imports have not kept up the old proportionate rate of increase. When some years ago he asked for an explanation, he was told by the Collector of Customs in New South Wales that -
The Colonies of Australasia are gradually increasing -their manufactures, and any falling off in the importation of British-manufactured goods is to be accounted for by the development of Colonial industries, and not by the importation of similar goods from foreign sources of supply.
Nevertheless, Mr. Chamberlain recently asked that we should stop initiating any new industries which might compete with British exports to us. Has England really shown such symptoms of decline as to necessitate this so-called stimulus to her commercial prosperity? Has she passed the meridian of her commercial greatness? I cannot see any indications of her coming decrepitude. In 1902 ‘her imports amounted to £528,000,000. Her exports, exclusive of ships, amounted to £227,552,000. Four-fifths of these exports were manufactured, or partly manufactured, articles, and I may mention in passing that England built more ships last year than France, Germany, and the United States combined. As it is pointed out by Mr. Spender in the article in the Fortnightly Review from which I have quoted, we were told years ago by Mr. W. R. Greg, in an article entitled the “ Warnings of Cassandra,” that twothirds of British industry and population must disappear, and that the vast proportion of British imports then paid for by millions of exports would have to be foregone or purchased by other fund’s. We see what the trade of Great Britain is now. It was stated by Sir John Lubbock, in a recent lecture, that in 1903 the trade of Great Britain was the largest that was ever transacted by any country in the world, and that in this year it showed a substantial advance. In 1902 Mr. Chamberlain himself, speaking at Birmingham before he went to South Africa, said - 1 see no signs of any imminent or pressing danger to the prosperity of this country. During the past five years we have been engaged in building up an unparalleled condition of trade, and although we cannot expect that this will last for ever, although there are some signs that trade is not so brisk as it was, still, to my mind, the prospects are extremely good, and I am not at all disposed to take a pessimistic view of the situation.
He went to South Africa, and he came back converted to the opposite opinion.
– He had become educated.
– I do not appreciate the education of a politician who has such a variety of moods as has Mr. Chamberlain. I prefer to think that some bias had been given to his judgment by the condition of affairs brought about by his policy in South Africa. I should like to again refer to the article from which I quoted at the beginning of my speech, published in the Spectator of October 1st, 1904. In speaking of the true basis of Imperialism, as one which should be in sympathy with colonial nationalism, the Spectator said -
Once teach the people of the mother land and of the daughter States the false, the sinister, the despicable lesson that the Empire is worthless unless the nations which form it can show, or think they can show, some definite percentage of gain, and the ruin of our Empire, like all the Empires of the past, is only a question of time. It is this sordid lesson that Mr. Chamberlain - blind, alas! to what he is doing - is striving with all his energy and all his splendid powers of’ eloquence to teach the people of the Empire. Heaven grant he may fail, and that the people of the Empire, alike here and over-sea, may learn that the only sure foundation of Empire is the spirit, not, of monopoly, but of freedom; not of grudging calculation and greedy materialism, but of that trustfulness and goodwill which in the affairs of nations, as well as of men, is always sure to prove the highest self-interest.
We must remember that this question is too complex for precipitation, too serious for party tactics, too closely associated with the destiny of a great Empire, to be degraded to the level of issues raised by those whose patriotism is mainly inspired by a self-regarding solicitude for the main chance. It was said of old that the spoken word could never be recalled. We cannot perhaps say that this step backwards in the development of Inter-Imperial relations can never be retraced, or that we are setting, without chance of retrieval, the rich main of Imperial integrity upon the i hazard of a doubtful policy ; but at least it ! becomes us, as politicians, with our infinite capacity for making mistakes, to approach this question with caution and humility ; with a due sense of the possibly fatal consequences of tampering with the delicate organization of a vast Empire, whose strength is due to the comparative freedom it has lately enjoyed from the meddling omniscience of statesmen. I beg to move the’ amendment of which I have given notice, namely -
That the following paragraph be added : - (6) The continued Royalty to the Empire of the people of the Commonwealth to no extent depends upon the preferential fiscal treatment of their products on importation into the United Kingdom.
– I recognise that at this particular stage of the session, after ten months of weary debating, honorable members are perhaps not in the most favorable frame of mind for the discussion of this important subject. I have listened with great interest to the Speeches which, have been delivered by honorable members, and, if I may be permitted to say so, the deliverance of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, eloquent as it was, appeared to me to be somewhat inconclusive. I think it is our duty to let the people of England know what we mean. In connexion with such an important question, we should not leave matters in a nebulous state, and I have therefore given notice of an amendment which will have the effect of directly indicating what is aimed at. I do not propose to enter upon details at this stage, but I shall be as brief as possible under the circumstances, because I recognise the desirability of having a vote taken. I have taken considerable interest in this matter for a long while, and, if time had permitted, I should have wished to speak at considerably greater length. I propose to refer to some of the more important points mentioned by the Prime Minister. I cannot conceive of this question being regarded as of a non-party character. If ever there was a question which must sooner or later - probably sooner - partake of an acute party character, it is this one. Even the Prime Minister recognised that the majority of honorable members were sent into this Chamber to support the proposal for preferential trade.
– Which proposal? We have had so many brands.
– Perhaps the proposal before us is not so distinct as it might be, but the Prime Minister acknowledged that the majority of electors had declared themselves in favour of entering into preferential trade relations with the Empire.
– What do the electors mean by preferential trade?
– I shall try to show what I mean, and what I believe the majority of the electors mean. In support of my contention that this cannot long remain a non-party question, I would point out that the majority of the freetraders in the House are opposed to preferential trade, and that, with one or two exceptions, the protectionists are in favour of it. Even the Sydney Daily Telegraph, which is a special organ of the party led by the Prime Minister, admits that this is distinctly a party question. In commenting upon an attack made upon me by the right honorable gentleman, who accused me of having lowered this question to the level of party politics, the Daily Telegraph took the view that it was monstrous to say that the preferential trade question was of a non - party character. It pointed out that it was one of the strongest party questions that could be conceived. The Prime Minister has announced that he is quite prepared for preferential trade upon the basis of a revenue Tariff, but that he is not willing to build a wall against the foreigners in favour of Great Britain. That is really the whole question at issue. The night honorable gentleman also quoted from Mr. Chamberlain’s speeches to show that underlying his ideal of preferential trade was the union of the Empire and the imposition of larger burdens upon the Colonies, in order to enable the Imperial authorities to meet the very heavy expenses nowincurred: in connexion with the defence of the Empire. To a certain extent, no doubt, the ideas referred to underlie Mr. Chamberlain’s proposal, but his main object is to draw the different parts of the Empire more closely together, and to counteract those influences which are now causing the trade of Great Britain to decline in comparison with that of other nations. In nearly every speech, Mr. Chamberlain has quoted unanswerable figures with regard to the declining trade of Great Britain. I do not for a moment mean to say that Great Britain hasgone back, but thestatistics show conclusively that she; has not kept pace with the other nations of the world. Mr. Chamberlain was convinced by what he saw in South Africa that Great Britain must’ look to herself, or her rivals would outstrip her. We all desire to knit together more closely the ties which bind us to the Empire.
– The honorable member wishes to get what he can out of the Empire.
– There are twostandpoints from which this matter may be viewed - the stand-point of sentiment and that of business.
– The honorable member views it entirely from a business standpoint.
– I regard it from both points of view. I claim that by lfering into a proper scheme of preferential trade with Great Britain, we shall improve our business relations and increase the attachment which exists between all parts of the Empire. I believe that to-day a stronger feeling exists in favour of the unity of the Empire* than has ever previously been entertained. That fact was evidenced very plainly by the action of the self-governing Colonies in connexion with the South African war. We have no reason to anticipate a weakening of those ties. In addressing himself to this subject last evening the Prime Minister went back 100 years in hi’story with a view to show the marked advance which Great Britain has made. The right honorable gentleman went back to the period when the ‘mother country was laying the foundations of her greatness - to the time when she had a protective policy. It was under protection that Great Britain built up the manufactures which have stood to her so well ever since. What we desire to do is to ascertain whether, under a scheme of preferential trade, we cannot secure a little more of the trade of Great Britain.
– No preference will ever give us that.
– I am speaking for Australia, but the Prime Minister seems to speak entirely from the stand-point of Great Britain. It is said that at the present time we do not supply more than 5 per cent, of the food stuffs imported by Great Britain, and I am sorry that that should be so.
– What prevents us from supplying more ?
– The competition of other nations.
– The honorable member wishes ,to shut other nations out of the English market. Surely there is plenty of room ?
– The honorable member is quite wrong. Up to 1892, tb< supply of produce imported by Great Britain from Australia was astonishingly small.
– Because of the droughts.
– No doubt the droughts constituted one reason for that, but they are not the only or the principal cause of the trouble. Up to 1892, the home crop supplied 20 per cent, of the food stuffs of Great Britain ; Canada, 13 per cent. ; other British Possessions, 10 per cent. ; the United States, 45 per cent. ; and European and Mediterranean countries, 8 per cent. Australia supplies barely 5 per cent, of the food consumption of Great Britain.
– Yet the honorable member would tax the other 95 per cent.
– The adoption of a scheme of preferential trade does not necessarily involve increased taxation to ,the people of Great Britain, but it does mean increased employment to our own population. In Australia, we have, within the rainfall area, 20,000,000 acres of the very finest agricultural land, which is capable of producing immense quantities of food stuffs for Great Britain. At present, not one-tenth of that land’ is under tillage. I repeat that 45 per cent, of the food stuffs of the mother country are being obtained from the United States. Why should not a large portion of that percentage employ our own people in Australia? Canada is doing all that she can to supply the needs or Great Britain, and I cannot see why it is not possible to increase production in Australia without subjecting our own farmers ,to keener competition, except in a few insignificant cases, by imposing a higher duty against the foreigner than exists at present. What was the origin of the action taken by Canada in this connexion? The trade between Great Britain and that country was declining in a very marked manner up to the period when a preference was granted to the former. Since then it has increased enormously. I wish to quote a few figures which will show what has been the effect of the adoption of a system of preferential trade. In 1890 the imports of apparel and haberdashery into Canada were valued at ,£623,135. In 1897, which was the year prior to the adoption of the preferential trade scheme, their value had declined to £396,228, but in 1902, under the Preferential Tariff of 33 per cent., it had jumped to £528,387. Upon cotton goods the increase is still more marked. In 1890 the cotton goods imported were valued at £644,765. In 1897 their value was £727,000, and in 1902, £1,309,000. Si- »milarly in 1890 the imports of metals were valued at £1,700,000; in 1897 they had declined to £624,000, but in 1902 they were worth nearly £2,000,000. -The same increase is noticeable in regard to silk manufactures, and woollens and worsteds of all kinds. The value of the imports of the last-named class of article increased from £1,200,000 in 1890, to £1,800,000 in 1902. I quote these few figures with a view to show the effect of the competition. of other countries upon English manufactures. As has been pointed out so ably by the present Treasurer of Canada, the system of granting a preference to Great Britain must be continued, and a reasonable Tariff retained, otherwise the dumping, which had been previously carried on for the purpose of wiping out local industries, would be continued to an extent which would -be positively alarming. I now propose to discuss the question of what we can do in’ connexion with any such scheme. We can increase existing duties against the foreigner. Under present conditions, we cannot, in any way, seriously reduce the present duties in favour of Great Britain, and at the same time protect native industries. I claim, however, that Great Britain would be benefited by the increase of production within her Colonies, as well as by drawing nearly all her supplies from those countries instead of from other nations. In return, the self-governing Colonies would take more from the mother country in the shape of manufactures. That is where an advantage would be conferred upon the English manufacturer. At the present time, we import an enormous quantity of machinery from the United States, and in exchange that country imports very little from us. Similarly we purchase a large quantity of machinery and other things from Germany, and in return that country takes but little from us with the exception of wool. If the English manufacturer supplied us with a great proportion of the manufactures which we at present obtain from the United States and from Germany, the mother country would reap a rich harvest. Even supposing that the preference which Mr. Chamberlain proposes to allow to our products did slightly increase for a time the price of food to the consumer, I am satisfied that manufacturers, labourers, and others, who would secure increased employment as the result of the diversion to Great Britain of trade which is now carried on by Germany and the United States, would be in a much better position than they are at present. I hold, however, that the carrying out of this scheme would not increase the price of food. No duties would be placed on Australian foodstuffs.
– Of what advantage would that be to Australia?
– We should have the advantage of enjoying a preference in the British market, and it would be our home market, which is the best of all markets.
– Does not the honorable member think that the five-sixths would regulate the one-sixth ?
– It might do so, but I am certain that we should gradually increase our output from one-sixth to, perhaps, one-half of the total requirements of the United Kingdom, and should then be able to exercise a dominating influence.
– In the meantime, however, the cost to the consumer would be increased.
– Not to any material extent. Even if the scheme resulted in a slight increase in the price of food in Great Britain, those employed in manufacturing would be able to bear it, because they would be able to obtain employment, which is not at present forthcoming. It is nonsense for the honorable member to argue that a great deal of the trade of Australia is not going to other countries. What do we see as we travel from place to place? As I journey to different parts of my constituency - which embraces an agricultural district - I see a great deal of American agricultural machinery in use. Scarcely any British agricultural machinery is being distributed.
– We see waggon-loads of Sunshine harvesters going to New South Wales.
– They are made in Victoria. I am speaking, not of COlO.niallymade machinery, but of machinery which comes from other parts of the world. In my opinion the machinery that we do not make for ourselves should be obtained from Great Britain.
– English manufacturers have never attempted to compete with manufacturers in other ‘parts of the world in the matter of agricultural machinery.
– Why should they not endeavour to do so? Surely they have sufficient intelligence, and most of the necessary raw material, to enable them to cope successfully with foreign manufacturers? Of course, I recognise that the distance of Australia from Great Britain is prejudicial to the efforts of British machinery manufacturers to secure our trade in this respect.
– The distance is not very much greater than is that separating Australia from the United States.
– It certainly is greater. Once we arouse a healthy sentiment as between the workers of Great Britain and Australia we shall quickly succeed. Our object is to obtain all that we cannot make for ourselves from the manufacturers of Great Britain, and so increase employment there, while in return Great Britain will give us a preference that will give our people increased opportunities to till the land, and so to supply the wants of the people of the old country to a far greater extent than at present. The Prime Minister asserted last night that there was really nothing in the question, “ Where will Great Britain obtain her food supplies in time of war?” I join issue with him, for in my opinion the point is one of the utmost importance. I do not think that there is any probability of a war between Great Britain and the United States, from which the mother country at present derives 45 per cent, of her food supplies ; but what would be the result of an outbreak of hostilities between the two countries, if Australia and the other parts of the Empire were not growing sufficient food to satisfy the demands of the United Kingdom? In that event, where would England obtain her supplies? In reply to an interjection, the Prime Minister asserted that other nations would furnish them. At the present time, however, both the Japanese and the Russian forces in the Far East are. experiencing great difficulty in obtaining the necessary food supplies, and it seems to me that England would find herself in a like position in time of war, unless she could satisfy her needs from within the Empire. It is highly desirable, therefore, that she should be able at all times to depend upon obtaining her food supplies from her Colonies. Advocates of preferential trade are frequently confronted with the argument that a large portion of this continent can never be devoted to agricultural purposes. I dp hot altogether agree with that contention. I am in a position to say that large areas of land have recently been put under the plough, the enhanced value of property requiring that a greater return shall be received from these lands than has hitherto been the case. But if we had a steady market in- Great Britain, where we should always be able to place our produce, would not our area of cultivated lands be enormously increased? It would be an incentive to the States to give special attention to water conservation. On the fringes of our rivers, where water could be conserved or pumped up for irrigation purposes, we should find the farmers placing larger areas under cultivation than they do at present. The want of a proper water supply during times of drought is the main obstacle in the way of our enlarging t’he extent of country under cultivation. Australia, as we all know, from time to time suffers from droughts of a very serious character, and at some future period we shall have to turn our attention to water conservation and distribution as being the only solution of the problem of how to keep our lands regularly tilled. Preferential trade, to my mind, will result in increased employment to our people. Mr. Chamberlain, in one of his speeches, points out that the increase of employment in Great Britain, consequent on the adoption of this system, would be of a remarkable character.
– Does the honorable member support the scheme because he wishes to help the mother country, or because he desires to help Australia?
– I believe that it will be mutually beneficial. 1 am sure the honorable member would not suggest that, in supporting this proposition, I am looking only to the interests of Australia. I certainly am not doing so, although I do not think we can afford to ignore the interests of the Commonwealth. We should not devote our attention solely to the interests of Great Britain, any more than we should confine our attention to the position of Australia. I believe that an agreement can be entered into which will be beneficial to the producers of Australia, and helpful to the manufacturers of the old country. We could enter into an agreement which would enable us to obtain from Great
Britain rather than from other parts of the world, all that we cannot produce for ourselves. Mr. Chamberlain said, in the speech to which I have referred -
The Board of Trade assumes that of all manufactured goods one-half the value is expended on labour. I think it is a great deal mere ; but take the Board of Trade figures - thirteen millions ‘a year of new employment. What does that mean to the Uni ted Kingdom? It means the employment of 166,000 men at 30s. a week. It means the subsistence, if you include their families, of 830,000 persons. And now, if you will only add to that our present exports to the British Possessions of 96 millions, you will find that that gives employment, at 30s. a week, to 615,000 people, and it finds subsistence for 3,075,000 persons. In other words, your Colonial -trade, as it stands at present, with the prospective advantage of a preference against the foreigner, means employment for three-quarters of a million of workmen, and subsistence for nearly four millions of our population.
The increase of employment in Australia which would result from the adoption of this, scheme would be proportionately greater than would the advance which Mr. Chamberlain says would be likely to take place in Great Britain. This is a gigantic proposal, which would be far-reaching in its effects. It would enable us to increase our output of natural products and manufactures, and also to secure an augmented population, such as could be achieved in no other way. I have heard the honorable and learned member for Ballarat dilate upon the desirableness of securing a larger population for Australia, and give strong reasons why we should endeavour to attract people to our shores. But we can never hope to secure an increased population unless we can offer the people something to do when they come here. Our avenues of employment can only be enlarged by extended cultivation of the soil and the development of our manufacturing industries, If we do anything to destroy one or the other we can never hope to see our population grow as it should do. Mr. Chamberlain points out that, as the result of this policy, a greater number of persons would be supported by the growth of British manufactures, while an increased population in Australia would be supported by the consequential expansion of our own manufactures and productivity. The speech delivered by Mr. Chamberlain, from which I have already quoted, is a most instructive one. The Prime Minister last night quoted certain figures regarding the growth of imports in the British Empire, but I think that the following statement by Mr. Chamberlain gives us the true position. I donot think that any one would accuse him of saying or doing anything, that would be detrimental to the welfare of the British Empire, or would suggest that he would knowingly tell an untruth regarding thedecline of British trade. He said -
During this period of thirty years, in which, our exports of manufactures to foreign countries have fallen 46 millions, what has happened with their exports to us? -
That is a very important question -
They have risen from 63 millions in 1872 to- 149 millions in 1902.
– Were not the operations of trade interfered with in 1872 owing to the Franco-German war?
- Mr. Chamberlain was speaking of the average for a number of years.
– Were not the years 1870 and 1872 boom periods in British trade ?
– British trade did not then increase to such an extent as> to seriously interfere with the average for a number of years. Mr. Chamberlain continues -
They have increased 86 millions. Well, that may be all right. I am not for the moment saying whether that is right or wrong; but when people say we ought to hold exactly the same opinion about things that our ancestors did, my reply is that I dare say we should do so if circumstances had remained the same.
That is a very forcible statement. The world is progressing in every direction. In manufactures, in production, in the output of a better class of machinery, and in science generally the world is going ahead by leaps and bounds, and if Great Britain does not move with other countries its exports will continue to decline. We shall have something in the nature of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. I sin- ‘cerely hope, however, that we shall never see anything of the kind so far as Great Britain is concerned. Two or three quotations have been made from speeches delivered by Mr. Chamberlain, with a view to show . what is the proposal that he makes to the Empire. It has been said that in one case he expressed a desire to stop further manufactures in Australia. Honorable members, however, should look at the correction which he made. When that statement appeared in cold type, he recognised that it was erroneous, and at once corrected it. He said in the course of one of his speeches -
We understand all that-
He was referring to the claim that there is still time to intervene - and, therefore, we will not propose to you anything that is unreasonable or contrary to this policy, which we know is deep in your hearts, but we will say to you, after all, there are many Tilings which you do not now make, many things for which we have a great capacity of production. Leave them to us, as you have left them hitherto. Do not increase your Tariff walls against us. Full them down where they are unnecessary to the success of this policy to which you are committed. Let us, in exchange with you, have your products in all those numberless industries which have not yet been created. Do that because we are kinsmen, without regard to your, immediate interests, because it is good for the Empire as a whole, and because we have taken the first step, and have set you an example. We offer you a preference, we rely on your patriotism, your affection, that we shall npt be the losers thereby.
That is the offer which Mr. Chamberlain makes. Then, on page 40, he says -
You Have heard it said that I propose to put a duty of five shillings or ten shillings a quai tei on wheat. I propose to put a low duty on foreign corn, no duty at all on the, corn coming from our British possessions. But I propose to put a low duty on foreign corn, not exceeding two shillings a quarter. I propose to put no tax whatever on maize, partly because maize is a food of some of the very poorest of the people.
– That is an acknowledgment that duties increase cost to the consumer.
– A duty might do so in that instance, but only to a very small degree. Mr. Chamberlain continues -
I propose that the corresponding tax which would have to be put on flour shall be a substantial preference to the miller.
Those are the main points to which he refers. One thing that I think we might expect from Great Britain is the reduction, if not the abolition, of the duties on Australian wines. Australia will be a great wine-producing country, and we should obtain an advantage by the reduction or abolition of the English duties on Australian wine, and their increase on foreign wine. In return, we could take off duties on raw material, which have been imposed for revenue purposes, so far as they affect English manufacturers. But it is absurd to speak of lowering our duties in the way that Canada has done, because, as is well known, the Canadian duties commence at rates between 20 and 30 per cent., and gradually increase, whereas ours commence in some instances at 5 per cent., with a maximum of 32 per cent., and an average of 15 or 16 per cent. Therefore, if we followed the example of Canada, and generally reduced our duties in favour of Great Britain, no protection would be left to our manufacturers. I do not think that it is necessary to make the duties on many of the things which Great Britain would send us higher than they are at the present time. That would be a matter for discreet revision of the Tariff. But we might impose very much higher duties against foreign imports, which would give to Great Britain an opportunity to supply us. I wish now to quote two or three extracts relating to the history of this question. At the Imperial Coronation Conference of 1902, the following resolutions relating to Preferential Trade were carried : -
That this Conference recognises that the principle of preferential trade between the United Kingdom and His Majesty’s dominions beyond the seas would stimulate and facilitate mutual commercial intercourse, and would, by promoting the development of the resources and industries of the several parts, strengthen the Empire.
The next resolution, which is in diametrical opposition to the statement made by the Prime Minister last night is this -
That the Prime Ministers of the Colonies respectfully urge on His Majesty’s Government the expediency of granting in the United Kingdom preferential treatment to the products and manufactures of the Colony either by exemption from or reduction of duties now or hereafter imposed.
Finally the Premiers undertook to - submit to their respective Governments, at the earliest opportunity, the principle of the resolution, and to request them to take such measures as may be necessary to give effect to it.
Yet in 1904 Australia has scarcely advanced a step towards the carrying out of this arrangement. That is one reason why we should not allow the settlement of the question to be longer delayed. We should make it a live and active question, and endeavour to ascertain whether the people are ready to carry into effect the proposals of the Conference. What we suggested in regard to New Zealand was that she should give a general preference of 10 per cent, an all round’ reduction of the present duties on British manufactured goods, or an equivalent in respect to lists of selected articles on the lines proposed by Canada, either by further reducing her duties in favour of the United Kingdom - and- New Zealand can do that, because she has higher duties than the Commonwealth - or by raising the duties against foreign imports, which is what we want to do, and by imposing duties on certain foreign imports now on the free list. Canada was to further reduce her duties in favour of the United Kingdom, and raise her duties against foreign imports, and by imposing duties on certain foreign imports now on the free list. That was to be over and above the existing 33 per cent, difference. I was surprised, and it is gratifying, to find that the first Australian to suggest the giving of preference to Great Britain was the present Chief Justice of the High Court. In May, 1,887, the voice of Australia was first heard in the councils of the Empire on the subject of Imperial reciprocity, and the honour rests with the first Chief Justice of Australia, Sir Samuel Griffith. At the Colonial Conference held in London on the occasion of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee, Sir Samuel Griffith, then” Premier of Queensland, proposed for discussion -
Whether -it should not be recognised as part of the duty of the governing bodies of the Empire to see that their own subjects have a preference over foreign subjects in matters of trade ; and that if any member of the Empire thinks fit, for any reason, to impose Customs charges upon goods imported from abroad, it should be recognised that goods coming from British Possessions should be subject to a lighter duty than those coming from foreign possessions.
In supporting this proposition, he said -
I contend that the same principles ought to be applied in dealing with foreign nations in matters of trade as are applied in -dealing with foreign nations from any other point of view. A man’s first dufy is to his family, and then to his country ; and by country I mean it in the larger sense - the whole .British Empire. The first duty of every one of us in every country in Ihe Empire is a duty to the Empire before our duty to any foreign country.
That statement calls to my mind a passage in the speech of the Prime Minister last night, in which he so eloquently described the hardship which Great Britain suffered through giving freedom to her Colonies to impose taxation designed to exclude her imports. The right honorable gentleman for- got, however, that the steps now proposed are to improve the position of the British people. We are considering whether mutual concessions shall not be made to increase the commerce between Great Britain and Australia. Although in the past we have enacted laws to prevent her manufactures from obtaining access to our markets, we are now attempting to do something to better her position. Therefore, the argument of the Prime Minister in that respect falls to the ground. In Ottawa the following resolution was passed in 1894, ten years ago: -
That this Conference records ils belief in the advisability of a Customs arrangement between Great Britain and her Colonies, by which trade within the Empire may be placed on a more favorable footing than that which is carried on with foreign countries.
We arrive here at the vital turning-point - the sign-post at the parting of the ways - one hand pointing to a broad, well-guarded avenue, “ To Imperial reciprocity,” the other to a descending stony path, “ To Separation.” I do not think that Australia wishes to’ separate from Great Britain.
– At that time the conditions were different.
– At that time the tie which binds the Colonies to Great Britain was’ weaker than it is at present.
– There was not much fear of separation in 1894.
– There was no agitation for separation then, but the tie between us w,as not so strong as it has since become. It was the Ottawa Conference which asked that the German and Belgian treaties of commerce of 1865 should be denounced. These treaties, by some oversight or folly which has never been explained, provided that no British Possession would be permitted to make any concession or afford any preferential trade advantages to the mother country, unless Germany and Belgium equally participated with Great Britain. In June, 1896, the Liberals won the elections in Canada, and the Hon. Wilfrid Laurier became Premier in the following month. Sir Wilfrid Laurier was a staunch free-trader, and gold medallist of the. Cobden Club, but, above all, though of French descent, he was a devoted son of the British Empire. Attempt has been made to discredit his actions as rather the result of the pressure of public opinion than that of patriotism. I do not think that that is so. I do not wish to quote every extract which I have here, but there are one or two. which I should like to place before honorable members. The honorable and learned member for Angas stated that the labourers of Great Britain are opposed to Mr. Chamberlain’s scheme. Perhaps a great many of them are, and that opposition may be shown at the next elections. But in one or two meetings which have been held lately, as well as in the signatures to a document signed by a large number of labour leaders, I see indications of the fact that they are beginning to modify their opinions on the subject, and I have no doubt that the able action of the leader of the Opposition has had something to do with that. They are beginning to see that it would be a good thing for them to be fed by their brothers in distant lands, instead of by foreigners.
– And get £2 a week instead of £3.
– The honorable member, as a free-trader, says that the consumer pays, but in most cases it is the foreign exporter who pays for the market which he gets.
– Why, then, does not Mr. Chamberlain go for a duty on raw material ?
– That is not a. parallel case at all. That particular point is referred to in some utterances of Prince Bismarck, who, in. 1875, found it necessary to awaken his countrymen to the danger of unrestricted imports, as Mr. Chamberlain is now doing. Let us see what he said. His opinions are full of interest and instruction since in many respects they were prophetic, and, unlike those of the freetrade seers, his prophecies have been amply fulfilled. Writing on 13th October, 1875, he remarked : -
Nothing but reprisals against their products will avail against those States which increase their duties to the harm of German exports. The objections raised against such steps in the name of political economy seem untenable for reasons of policy.-
On 28t’h October, 1878, he said -
The duties raised on foreign imports will either not be borne by the florae consumer at all, or such duties will be borne by him to a small extent only. , These duties will diminish the profit which the foreign producer has hitherto made from us, and will, perhaps, also affect the middleman.
In November, 1878, with great wisdom and foresight, he said -
The proposal to impose duties on our im ports may be viewed with suspicion by consumers, and chiefly by those consumers who live on their assured income free from care. But the means of those people will also give out, if they do not make up their mind to consider the position of the producing part of the population. If the producing part of the population is impoverished, the whole State is impoverished. Who, after all, is to carry the whole burden of the State? The producer alone?
Again in the same year he observed -
The return to the principle of protection oil round has become necessary owing to .the altered economic position of the world. In the revision of our fiscal policy, we can be solely guided by the interests of Germany.
On the 13th April, 1879, he said -
German fiscal policy, in taking up free-trade, had entered upon a phase during which the ellbeing of our national industries, and the retention of the home market for the benefit of our own industries, were almost completely left nil of consideration.
The policy outlined by that great man, and carried out after his death, has brought about a great increase in the manufactures and production of Germany, and it will compel Great Britain to take steps in the direction of consolidating her great Empire. The exports from Germany in 1872 were valued at £116,000,000; in 1890 at £166,000,000 ; in 1900 to £230,000,000 ; and in 1902 to £241,000,000. That shows the wonderful improvement that has been made by that country.
– What is the position of the working classes in. Germany?
– It is far better than it was. I do not say that the conditions of life in Germany are as favorable to artisans as they are in Great Britain ;. but I would point out that a marked improvement has taken place under the protective policy, and that in that regard a greater advance has been made in the United States than in any other country in the world. In 1872. the United States export!were valued at £89,000.000 ; in 1890 at £176,000,000; in 1900 at £285,000.000; and in 1902 at £282,000,000. The increase in that case is greater than is to be found in any part of the world. We find that the exports of the United Kingdom, not including ships, amounted in 1872 to £257,000,000; in 1890 to £263,000.000; in 1900, including ships, to £291,000,000 ; and in 1902, also including ships, to £283,000,000. These figures show a comparatively small increase. I admit that it is not correct to say that Great Britain is not increasing her trade, but we are justified in stating that she is not making progress at the same rate as are other nations.
– Does the honorable member propose to connect his remarks with matter under discussion?
– Yes; I am endeavouring to show that other nations have increased their trade to such an enormous extent that it is necessary that some special steps should be taken to secure to Great Britain a larger proportion ,of the trade which properly belongs to her. In thirty years under protection the exports of Germany increased to the extent of £125,000,000. The exports of the United States during the same period increased by £193,000,000, whereas the exports of the. United Kingdom showed an increase of only £26,000,000. I do not wish to weary honorable members by a lengthy discussion of this matter, but I think that the problem here presented to us calls for our most earnest attention. I wish that time would permit of my dealing, with this question with greater fullness. I wish to quote a few more figures in answer to those which were given last night, by the Prime Minister.
These figures are taken from the statistical tables prepared by the Board of Trade, and are as follows : -
I also desire to quote a few figures with regard to the external trade of the Commonwealth. These do not agree with the figures quoted by the Prime Minister. I am indebted to Mr. Coghlan for the very interesting information which is contained in the following table, which shows the direction of the external trade pf the Commonwealth in 1891 and in 1902. These will afford us some basis for considering our position. The table is as follows: -
I find that in 1903 the total imports amounted to ,£37,81 1,471 ; the exports to £48,170,164; and the total trade to ^85,981,635.
I submit these figures, in answer to the tables which were quoted last evening. Even the advocates of preferential trade have consoled themselves with the fact that whilst the exports of British manufactures to foreign countries have been steadily declining, those of the British Possessions have increased, and partly compensated for the loss. But that has not been- the case in regard to Australia, for we find that our imports from the United Kingdom have declined from £26,453,841 in 1891, to £23,848,562 in 1902 - a decrease of £2,605,279. This is not to be accounted for by any diminution of the total volume of our imports, for they increased from £37,7”>°53 in l89* to £40,678,239 in 1902. During the same period, our imports from foreign countries advanced from £6,927,941 to £11,444,775, an increase of £4,516,834. I find also that our exports of wheat, flour, butter, meat, and wine have not increased very much. In 1898, the value of wheat and flour exported amounted to £82^0,000; but in 1902 it was £1,496,000. Under a system of preferential trade, I claim that our production of wine will be greatly increased. Quoting again from Mr. Chamberlain, I find that he said -
It remains to ask, “What will the Colonies say ?” I hear it said sometimes by people who, I think, have never visited the Colonies, and do not know much about them, that they will receive this offer with contempt, that they will spurn it, or that, if they accept it, they will give nothing in return. I differ from .the critics. Do not do this injustice to the patriotism or the good sense of the colonists. When the Prime Ministers, representing all the several States of the Empire, were here this was the matter of .most interesting discussion. Then it was that they pressed on the Government the consideration of this question. They did not press - it is wrong, it is wicked to say that they pressed in any spirit of selfishness. They had no idea of exclusive benefit for themselves. No; they had Mr. Rhodes’ ideal in their mind. They asked for it as a practical tie which should prevent separation, and I do nut believe that they will treat, ungenerously, any offer we may now be able to make to them. They have no such idea, for they have offered you advantages all round. Canada has given you a preference of 33^ per pent. South Africa has given you a preference of 25 per cent. New Zealand .has offered a preference of 10 per’cent. The Premier of Australia has promised to bring before Parliament a similar proposal.
That is the impression which was left on Mr. Chamberlain’s mind after the Conference of Premiers, which met in London in 1902. Consequently it seems to me that we have a duty to perform in reference to this matter without further delay. Though we cannot offer to the mother country an absolutely free market for her manufactures, we can accomplish a great deal in that connexion by preventing our imports from other countries from increasing, and bythrowing a great proportion of our trade into her hands. By that means also we can increase the production of Australia to an enormous extent, and at the same time provide profitable employment!, not only for our own people, but also for the people of Great Britain.
Mr. POYNTON (Grey). - I wish to preface . my remarks upon this motion by a brief reference to the attitude which has been adopted upon it by the leader of the Opposition. I was very much surprised last night that he should exhibit a desire to force a division upon it without allowing members of his own party’ an opportunity of expressing their views. It is true that the honorable member has already given expression to his own opinions upon the matter, and that those opinions have been made known throughout the civilized world.’ But I wish it to be clearly understood that he has expressed merely ‘ his own views, and not those which are entertained by the Labour Party. The question of preferential trade has never yet been considered by that party, and when the honorable member submitted to that body his reply to certain trade unionists in the old country, it was clearly understood that he was replying to their appeal in his private capacity. Upon a later date, a further communication was received by him, which partook of the nature of a counterblast to the appeal from the workers across the waters. Subsequently a certain paragraph appeared in the newspapers, upon which I desired to question the honorable member. I wished to ascertain from him whether the statements contained in the following paragraph, which appeared in the Age of 24th November last, were correct: -
The manifesto published in the Age of yesterday, signed by a large number of pro-preference British trades unionists, sent to Mr. Watson, leader of thi Federal Labour Party, in opposition to the anti-preference declarations of Messrs. John Burns, Richard Bell, and Ramsay McDonald, was considered yesterday by the Iabour Party caucus. Gratification was expressed that the British unionists who favoured M/. Chamberlain’s scheme had not allowed the freetrade appeals to go unanswered, and the existence f-f a growing sentiment amongst the workers of England in favour of Tariff reform had been demonstrated. After discussion, it was decided to forward to the senders the resolution passed by the caucus last week in answer to Mr. Ramsay McDonald’s letter, to the effect that the Labour Party,’ as such, had taken no corporate action in connexion with preferential trade apart from “a premise to discuss the matter with its LiberalProtectionist allies, with a view to future action. Mr. Watson will probably send a personal acknowledgement of the letter by a subsequent mail.
The resolution referred to was to the effect that the Labour Party had never considered the matter. At the particular meeting referred to, no gratification was expressed in reference to Mr. Chamberlain’s proposals. I regret that the leader of the Opposition, haying given publicity to his own views, should desire to force this motion to a division, without affording honorable members an opportunity of presenting the other side of the question. It has been stated that the result of the last general elections demon:strated that there is a large majority of this House in favour of granting a preference to the mother country. I ask whether that fact proves anything at all? Is it not bordering upon hypocrisy to blazon it forth to the world that because a majority of honorable members are in favour of granting a preference to British goods, they are willing to grant the preference which is asked for in England today ? Let us take the case of the leader of the Government, and of a large number of honorable members who Told similar views. He would reduce the duties which at present prevail. I would ask the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, the Minister of Trade and Customs, and the honorable member for Hume, whether such a proposal would meet with their approval? No doubt, as the result of a combination of those who are in favour of granting preference to British goods, by way of a reduction of the duties which exist to-day on revenue lines, and of those who would grant it by increasing the present duties as against the foreigner, we should have a majority in favour of the motion. But if it were carried by such a combination it would net convey to the people of the old world a true conception of the position, so far as honorable members of this House are’, concerned. I wish, if possible, to get away from the sentimental glamour” of this proposition. I freely admit that, from a sentimental stand-point, the speech delivered by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was an eloquent one; but when I suggested, by way of interjection, that he should come down from his airy flights to practical details he scouted the idea. In his opinion, we have no right to consider the’de.tails of the question. We are invited to carry this series of proposals, and to affirm something which a majority of the House really does not desire to affirm. I hold that it is absolutely necessary that we should consider the details of the proposition. No question that has ever been brought before the Parliament of Australia is of greater importance than that which we are now considering, and I hold that it should not be dealt with at the fag end of a session. It is a question that should not be discussed in an almost empty House, when practically half the members of the Chamber, who reside in distant States, have left for their homes, believing that a division on the motion would not be taken. Why all this anxiety to press the motion to a division? The present leader of the Opposition stated, in the course of a speech delivered by him at Wagga, when he held office as Prime Minister, that, in his opinion, we should not take any part in the controversy until the question had been decided by, the mother country. He said that he would not raise his little finger to make the fight more difficult on the other side of the world. It seems to me, however, that he has now become entangled in the meshes of Imperial Federation. This proposition has been known by many names. We have heard it referred to as a proposal for fair trade, as preferential trade, as a proposition for an Imperial Zollverein, and we have also heard it described long ago as a proposal for Imperial Federation. In ‘my opinion the last of these is the true definition of the aspirations of those who are behind the movement in the old country. I desire,, if possible, .to lay bare its underlying principle. Cablegrams from Great Britain have recently informed us that Earl Rosebery described it as a gilded pill designed to throw on. the British dependencies the burdens of Empire. That this assertion is correct was made very clear by a deputation which recently waited on the Prime Minister .of Great Britain, and represented to him that the incidence of the burdens of Empire should be one of the primary consideration’s placed before the proposed Conference. If the object of the movement be to compel Australia to share the burdens of Empire - if it be to make Australia share the responsibilities of
Great Britain’s aggressive policy - the sooner the Commonwealth knows it, the better. If, on the other hand, it is simply a proposal to bring, about a better feeling than exists to-da between the mother land and the various parts of the Empire, then no one will wish it ill. I do not know, however, that there is any cause for alarm as to ih<» Keeling which the people of any part of the British Possessions entertain for Great Britain. I take this opportunity to deprecate the way in which Mr. Chamberlain has placed the question before British audiences. He has said that unless Great Britain is prepared to do something in the way of granting preference to the Colonies it will mean the parting of the ways. He suggests, in short, that the loyalty of the Colonies depends on their obtaining the proposed preference, and that unless it be granted they will cut the painter. That is a very unfair way in which to state our position, and one that is calculated to cause greater friction between England and the Colonies than anything else could do. In order that honorable members may see the underlying object of this movement, I should like’ to read a few sentences from a speech delivered by Lord Farrer, and published in a book edited by Mr. Chomley, under the title of Free Trade versus Fair Trade. The marginal note of the passage which I shall read is Imperial and Colonial Ideals. I venture to think that we all are anxious to know what are the ideals at the root of this movement. Lord Farrer says -
My second reflection was, a wider and more serious one. I asked myself, what this ebullition of Imperial feeling really means. Does it mean that the whole Anglo-Saxon race - I use the word advisedly - shall endeavour to live, act, and feel as if they were one people; that they shall join in spreading free institutions - freedom in thought, freedom in speech, freedom in government, freedom in trade - over the face of the world ; and that they shall be prepared, when such interests as these are imperilled, to stand shoulder to shoulder in defence of them ? If so, God speed the cause !
That sentiment is one that will be re-echoed by every member of this Parliament if it truly indicates the only object of the movement. But Lord Farrer went on to suggest the ulterior object -
Or does it mean that England and her Colonies are to enter into a league for the purpose of excluding, brow-beating, over-awing, or fighting the rest of mankind ? Does it mean that England is to cease to buy her food and raw materials, and our Colonies their manufactured goods, under any flag but our own ; that English artisans are to be taxed in order to sweep United States fishermen out of the Bay of Fundy, German .colonists out of South Africa, or French or German settlements out of the islands of the Pacific, and that, on the other hand, the blood of Canadians, of Australians, and of Hindoos, shall be poured out to help England in filibustering or muddling in Turkey, in ..Egypt, or in Afghanistan? If this is the object, we shall have need of a new Cobden !
It strikes me very forcibly that that is the true object of the proposal, and that we must consider it from that stand-point. The deputation which waited on the Prime Minister of England the other day put the matter very clearly. It was said that the Colonies were practically receiving assistance for which they were not paying, and that the time would come when “these children” would have to bear their full share of the burdens of Empire. In an able article the Age replied very fully to that assertion. ‘ It showed that, as the result of our actions, the burdens of Empire had been considerably reduced, and it urged that in this way, as well as by our contribution of £200,000 per annum to the cost of the Imperial Squadron on the Australian Station we were taking upon ourselves a very fair share of those burdens. The question that we have to consider is whether we are prepared, for the sake of the questionable advantage that we should derive from this scheme, to give up to a certain extent the local autonomy which we enjoy - whether we are going to allow ourselves to be trammelled to such an extent that we shall not be able to take action in regard to fiscal matters without consulting all other parts of the Empire. The matter is a very serious one. In regard to the spirit of bargaining, to which Mr. Chamberlain has referred, and the threat that unless certain privileges be conceded to the Colonies they will cut the painter, I should like to read the opinions expressed in Canada a little while ago by representative men. “Under the heading of The Difficulty of Fiscal Union, the following statement has been published : -
The representatives -of the Canadian industries at the Montreal Congress did not conceal their views. The spokesman was Mr. Ellis, a former president ,of the Canadian Manufacturers’ Association. He said - “ The new fiscal policy is advocated as a bond of Imperial unity. A preferential tariff on conditions very onerous to the mother country, and not conferring any sensible advantage on the Colonies, is a feeble link, in comparison to the ties of racial sympathy. If these were weak, it were vain to look for a rally round the old flag in the hour of national peril. The true links of Empire are the racial sympathies, the language and litera hire, the history which we. all share, the constitution under which we all live, the religion we all profess. The bonds ot such a union, are silken bonds, but they are strong and adamant, and they give powerful moral support Co the motherland.”
I desire now to refer to an article dealing with the same question written by Mr. H. L. Outhwaite, and published’ in the Argus a few days ago. It is headed “ Preferentialism in England.” The writer deals with, the candidature of Sir John Cockburn for West Monmouth, under the auspices of the Chamberlain Tariff Reform League, hisopponent being Mr. Richards, a labour candidate, and speaks of the bitter feeling engendered amongst the working classes of England towards the Colonies, because of what seemed to them their association with Mr. Chamberlain’s policy. They have been made to believe that it is the Colonies who are forcing on the demand for Imperial preference. The writer says -
It is almost impossible to convey in words to Australians what the question of food taxation means to the workers of England. They know from the dukes and lords ana great land-owner* who are supporting Mr. Chamberlain what is intended for them. Memories of the past still survive in the old people. Grey-bearded men tell the tale of the loaf at a shilling, of the rye and barley bread, and the 10s. a week wage of “ the hungry forties.” Statistics of to-day tell the tale of the German workers’ rye bread, of the scanty wage, and the fact that the Imperial Bureau figures show that in 1901 there were slaughtered in Germany for human consumption 78,000 horses, comes as a warning to the British workers of what may be their fate if once they surrender the principle of untaxed bread and meat. Down in West Monmouth I heard old men solemnly call on the workers in the name of God “ never to allow a tax to be put upon bread,” arid the appeal always went home. My own experience showed me how great is the wrong that is being done to the cause of unity by the Chamberlain campaign.
– I think that there should be a quorum present to hear the discussion of an important question like this. [Quorum formed.]
– The idea that the people of. the Colonies are so selfish that they wish to obtain a temporary advantage by imposing duties on the food of the masses of England is calculated to do us more harm than almost everything else would do.
– Would it not be better to argue from the Australian stand-point?
– The motion is an attempt to force the English Government to do something.
– If parties here were prepared to let the people in the old country fight the matter out for themselves, I should not feel compelled to speak so strongly on the subject. It is not right to say that a majority was returned at the last elections to secure preferential trade, if that is interpreted to mean that a majority was returned to support the proposals of Mr. Chamberlain. No doubt a majority was returned in favour of the principle, some to advocate a reduction of the duties on the Tariff, and some to advocate the raising of duties against the foreigners. But we are now asked at the fag end of the session to carry a resolution which, though it really means nothing, will be represented in England to be an expression of the opinion of this Parliament in favour of buttressing up the cause of Mr. Chamberlain. So much has been said about keeping out the goods of the foreigner, that I should like for a moment to consider who would be the parties to the proposed bargain. The British Empire contains only some 53,000,000 white people and 342,000,000 Asiatics and blacks. Is it to be understood that the latter are to be given a preference?
– Yes. It is proposed that we should take their tea at a cheaper rate.
– Does the Australian manufacturer desire that articles manufactured by Tamil labour shall be given a preference here?
– We might give a preference to Indian tea over China tea.
– I will presently show the hollowness of that proposal. There is to be nothing like an equality of sacrifice on the part of those who enter into this bargain. I am inclined to think that the protected manufacturers of Australia do not object more to the competition of the manufacturers of Germany and the United States than to the competition of the manufacturers of Great Britain. The result to them is the same. I think, too, that they will complain very bitterly if preference is given to the manufacturers of India. Even the protectionists who are speaking in favour of this motion will hardly like that. The further the matter is considered the more difficulties crop up. Therefore, I think an opportunity should be given for a fuller discussion. It would have been criminal to take a vote last night, and thus give it forth to the world that we are in favour of a motion which is in fact a hypocritical one.
– The Prime Minister admitted that a majority of the electors are in favour of the principle.
– I admit that, too; but that is not the same thing as being in favour of the motion. I am prepared, to vote for reductions of duties.
– Would the honorable member vote for a reduction of the duty on salt?
– Yes; and for a reduction of .the duty on boots, hats, and a number of other things.
– Then how would the revenue be obtained?
– High duties on articles manufactured in Australia do not produce much revenue. The result of some of the duties on the Commonwealth Tariff is to decrease the trade between Great Britain and Australia. Those duties are practically prohibitive. If they were reduced the revenue would increase.
– There are no prohibitive duties on our Tariff.
– The duty on hats is practically prohibitive.
– There are more hats being imported now than ever before.
– I will show, presently, where they come from.
– From Italy, chiefly.
– The preference which we are to receive is a duty of 2s. a quarter on foreign corn, except maize, which, according to Mr. Chamberlain, must not be taxed, because it is the chief food of the poor people of England, and is largely used .to feed stock. He admits, therefore, that the imposition of duties makes the prices of commodities higher. Otherwise, there would be no reason for abstaining from placing a duty on maize. Then there is to be a corresponding tax on flour, to give a substantial preference to the millers.
– Is the honorable member arguing from the British, or from the Australian stand-point?
– This motion is not to be carried as the honorable and learned member wished to carry it last night. Let us be honest. Let us have no hypocrisy.
– The question was put honestly to the people, and thev answered it.
– It was not. There were many other issues before them at the last general elections, among which this was a mere bagatelle. The big fight was in connexion with the Arbitration Bill.
– This was a leading question.
– I did not hear, or read, of a candidate being asked to express his views in regard to it, though, no doubt, some honorable members used it as a stalking horse. It is so easy to say, “ Tax the foreigner,” and’ to obtain sentimental support. We must, ever remember that the preference proposed by Mr. Chamberlain means increasing the cost of food to the people of England. I shall not be .any party to bolstering up Mr. Chamberlain, and enabling him to increase the cost of living to the masses of England. I want to show the man with whom we have to deal. Mr. Chamberlain tells us that the price of food will not be increased under his policy. He ventures to say that the foreigner will pay the duties. If he believes that why does he not propose to tax raw materials?
– He said that he hoped that the farmers of England would, under his preferential trade proposals, obtain higher prices for their wheat.
– I have a few quotations from speeches which have been delivered by Mr. Chamberlain. They are not so old, but that they may prove refreshing, even to Mr. Chamberlain. Speaking at Ipswich, on 14th January, 1885-
– That is a long time ago, so far as preferential trade is concerned.
– I desire to show the extent to which a man can change his views in order to suit the political exigencies of the hour. At the time of which I am speaking, Mr. Chamberlain was condemning the taxation of food. He said-
The condition of the farmer was never so hopeless, and the state of the labourers was never so abject, as when corn was kept up at a high value by a prohibitative protective duty, when it was 64s., or even rose to 120s. per quarter.
Later in the same year, at Birmingham, he said -
I wonder whether in this vast audience there are any people who have any conception of the state of things which existed forty or fifty years ago? At that time, the whole of the labourers in the agricultural districts were on the verge of starvation. The’ poor rates in some districts were 20s. in the pound.’ At the time of which I am speaking, the large towns were described by eyewitnesses, as bearing the description of beleaguered cities, so dreadful were the destitution, and the misery which prevailed in them. People walked in the streets like gaunt shadows, and not like human beings. There were bread riots in almost every town. There were rick burnings on all the country sides.”
In the same year, at Birmingham, he said: -
Do not suffer yourselves to be turned aside at the next election ; do not be diverted. The owners of property, those who are interested iri the existing state of things, the men who have privileges to maintain, would be glad to entrap you from the right path, by raising the cry of fair trade, under which they cover their demand for protection, and in connexion with which they would tax the food of the people, in order to raise the rents of the landlords. Protection very likely might, it probably would, have these results. It would increase the incomes of the owners of great estates, it would swell the. profits of the capitalists, who were fortunate enough to engage in the best protected industries, but it would lessen the total production of the country, it would diminish the rate of wages, and it would raise the prices of the very necessaries of life.
Then again, in connexion with the proposal for the taxation of wheat, speaking in the House of Commons on 12th August, T88i-
– That is going still further back.
– But the arguments, if they are good, will not be affected by the passing of a few years. They were considered good enough in those days, and they are considered good enough now. They appeal to me as facts. If we were dependent upon other countries for our food supplies, and a proposal were made to impose a tax upon food, would the honorable and learned member for Indi support it?
– Is Great Britain always to be dependent upon other countries ?
– She will be dependent upon other countries for many years to come.
– I should let the British people decide that for themselves, whilst we decide what is best for ourselves.
– I am quite prepared to allow them to decide for themselves, but I object to the attempt, which is now being made, .to force through this House a resolution which has a lie on the face of it.
– The motion merely expresses our willingness to consider the subject of preferential trade.
– It is going to be used as a whip with which to scourge those who are opposing the preferential trade proposals in the old country. The resolution will be pointed to as an indication of what Australia is demanding. I object to the action of Mr. Chamberlain in representing from the outset that Australia was demand- ing preference. The demand has come from him all along. Now let us see what he has to say about taxes upon food. He was very emphatic upon the subject at that time. Speaking in the House of Commons, he said :-
Is any one bold enough to propose that we should put duties upon food? The honorable member of Preston, no doubt has the courage of his convictions. He has referred to the sacrifices which he would require from the working classes, and he does not hesitate to make the demand upon them, that they should pay an extra price of 10 per cent., upon the most important articles of their daily consumption. Well, sir, I can conceive it just possible, although it is very improbable, that under the sting of great suffering, and deceived by misrepresentations, the working classes might be willing to try strange remedies, and might be foolish enough to submit for a time to a proposal to tax the food of the country,; but the one thing I am certain of if this course were ever taken, and if the depression were to continue, or to recur, is that it would be the signal’ of a state of things more dangerous and more disastrous than anything which has been seen in this country since the repeal of the Corn Laws. With the growth of intelligence on the part of the working classes, and- with the knowledge which they now possess of their own power, the reaction against such a policy would be attended by consequences so serious, that I do not like to contemplate them. A tax on food would mean a decline in wages. It would certainly involve a reduction in their productive value, the same amount of. money would have a smaller purchasing power. It would mean more than this, for it would raise the price of every article produced in the United Kingdom, and it would indubitably bring about the loss of that gigantic export trade which the industry and energy of the country, working under conditions of absolute freedom, have been able to create.
– Of what proposal was he speaking ?
– He was speaking of the proposal to impose 10 per cent, duties upon food, and the proposal now being made is practically the same ‘as was then advocated. It has been contended by Mr. Chamberlain that the duty now proposed to be placed upon wheat and other food products will not lead to an increase in prices to the consumer.
– Hear, hear.
– Does the honorable member believe that?
– Does the honorable member think that if five-sixths of the supplies imported into the United Kingdomwere taxed, the one-sixth admitted free of duty would’ regulate the prices?
– Does not the honorable member know that the last shilling pe.” quarter imposed upon wheat in England did not cause an increase in the price of bread ?
– It did raise it.
– Duties on imports fall, as Lord Goschen has shown, upon the consumer. In Germany, the duty upon wheat is 7s. 2d., and the price is 6s. nd. above that ruling in London. In France, the duty is. 12s. 2d’., and the price is from ns. 3d. to 13s.’ 7d. higher than in the United Kingdom. When the corn duties were repealed, the effect was immediate. The average price of bread for the five years preceding 1849 was 55s. sd., whilst for the ‘five subsequent years, it was 43s. 5d. Let us endeavour to ascertain upon whose shoulders these duties fall. Lord Brassey, in his work Fifty Years of Progress and the New Fiscal Policy, says -
Food taxes will fall heavily upon all consumers, and most heavily on the poorest. Bread become;; the more essential in the ratio of the poverty of the consumer. Those on the verge of starvation can give up tea and sugar. They cannot give up bread. At a time when the necessity of promoting the physical vigour of the people is becoming more and more urgent, it is not statesmanship to check the consumption of wholesome food. In the words of Sir Robert Peel - “ If there be, from any cause, a tendency for the consumption of articles of the first necessity much more rapid than the increase of population, the responsibility of undertaking to regulate the supply of food by legislative restraints, and the difficulty of maintaining those restraints in the event of any sudden check to prosperity, or increased price of subsistence will be greatly augmented.” So, too, Sir John Gorst-“ A number of those who are now above the poverty line would sink below it, and those already below it would sink yet lower. Free importation of food is vital to the physical and moral well-being of the nation, and is, therefore, at the root of true Imperialism. A great Imperial power cannot be founded on a starved and degraded population.”
Lord Goschen, speaking in the House of Lords, said -
Who will take the responsibility of saying - “ Let us put a tax on food, and I will guarantee that your wages shall be raised ?” I say that is a tremendous responsibility, and one which’ I, for one, would be most reluctant to undertake.
– Lord Goschen does not know anything about economics.
– He probably does not know as much as some honorable members in this House. Germany seems to be the chief point of attack in connexion with these proposals. We hear of the extent to which the markets previously monopolized bv Great Britain are being inundated with German goods. When the honorable member for Hume was quoting statistics relating to imports and exports he selected a period which would show results most favorable to his own argument. In 1861 our imports from foreign countries were valued at £3,160,888, whilst in 1902 they represented a value of £11,444,775. The countries from which these imports came were Belgium, Prance, Germany, Netherlands and Java, Italy, Sweden and Norway, China, Japan, the United States, &c. If we look at the table showing our exports to these countries we shall find that they amounted in 1861 to £8,726,852, and that in 1902 they represented a value of £11,492,862. I invite honorable members to look at the despised country of Germany.
– Germany is certainly not a “despised country.”
– The whole trend of the debate has been in the direction of a condemnation of German goods. From an article, entitled “ Imperial Union and Fiscal Reciprocity,” which was written by the honorable and learned member for Angas, and published in the Adelaide Register, I extract the following: -
Germany, (hs bug-bear of Imperial pessimists, is a country with which Australasia has developed a premising trade during the last twenty years. Between 1891 and 1901 the total trade with Germany increased 15. So per cent. ; but as the exports increased 19.69, and the imports only 13.81 per cent., it is a trade ‘.hat protectionists” ought to be the last to attack.
He continues -
At present, like most of our exports, wool is admitted free; but, should the British Empire differentiate against foreign products, a duty may be imposed. The German returns show an importation of Australian products of the value of, in 1897, £4,283,650; and in 1902, £6,008,550.
These figures show a big increase in the trade of that country. Germany, I maintain, is the last country to which protectionists should point as an ideal one. I have taken the trouble to obtain a few figures in regard to the rate of wages paid there-
– We are not discussing the advisability of establishing preferential trade relations with Germany.
– The Minister - of Trade and Customs was permitted to refer to the rate of wages paid in various^ countries last evening. In this connexion, I find that the working people of England may, with advantage, compare their present earnings, not only with those paid in their own country during past generations, but with those now being paid in Germany. For instance, the mean weekly wage in fifteen skilled trades in London is 42s., whilst that paid in Berlin is onlY 24s. In other towns in England the mean weekly wage is 36s., whilst that in Germany is 22 s. 6d. I find that the average annual family income in the cotton trade in the United Kingdom is £115 17s., whilst that in Germany is £62 19s. Similarly, in the woollen trade, the average family income in the United Kingdom is £107 9s., whilst that in Germany is £57 10s. In the steel trade the average family income in the United Kingdom is £122 15s., while that of Germany is £52 2s. The average level of industrial wages in Germany and France is two-thirds and three-fourths respectively of that which obtains in the United Kingdom. Of the 4,000,000 workers in Germany, twothirds of the number earn less than 50s. per week, 55 per cent, less than £40 per annum, and 85 per cent, less than ^£1 per week.
– Has the honorable member a corresponding percentage in the case of Great Britain?”
– I have not. Mr. Chamberlain suggests that though the cost of living may be increased by* -his protective proposals, the wages of the workingmen will be raised in a higher proportion. In support of this_proposition, he appeals to the cases of the United States ‘and Germany. No doubt, in regard to the matter of wages, a very different condition of affairs obtains in the United States, but Germany is about the last country that should be quoted in this connexion.
– Order. The honorable member is not in order in discussing that phase of the question.
– Upon the Prussian States railways, the wages paid vary from 2s. 4jd. to- 2s. 6d. per day. ‘ The daily wages of general labourers range from is. 7jd. to 3s. It is interesting to note, by way of contrast, the wages which are paid in the “mother country. In this connexion I wish to quote from the report of the Commission which investigated the depression of trade in Great Britain in 1886. Having referred to statistics, and shown that, exclusive of those engaged in agriculture, the number of those assessed as being liable to income tax were increasing, the Commissioners observe -
There is a distinct evidence that profits are becoming more widely distributed among the classes engaged in trade and industry. While the larger capitalists may be receiving a lower return than that to which they nave been accustomed, the number of these who are making a profit, though possibly a small one, has largely increased.
– Was that the Commission which was presided over by Lord Dunraven ?
– I think that it was. The report continues -
There is no feature of the situation which we have been called upon to examine so satisfactory as the immense improvement which has taken place in the condition of the working classes during the past twenty years. The workman in this country is, when fully employed, in almost every respect, in a better position than his competitor in foreign countries, and we think thai no diminution in our productive capacity has resulted from this improvement in his position. ‘
The Labour Commission in its final report, which was issued in 1894, expressed an equally reassuring view. Its members stated -
The impression left by the evidence, as a whole, is that among the’ more settled and stable population of skilled work-people, there has, during the last half century, been considerable and continuous progress iu the general improvement of conditions of life, side by side with the establishment of a strong trade custom adapted to the modern system and scale of industry. Experience may fairly be said to have shown that this part of the population possessed, in a highly remarkable, degree, the power of organization, self-government, and self-help. Work-people of this class earn better wages, work fewer hours, have secured improved conditions of industrial and domestic life in other respects, and have furnished themselves, through trade unions and friendly societies, with means of providing against the various contingencies of sickness, accidents, and temporary want of employment. The classes who compose the lower grades of industry, regarded as a whole, have probably benefited no less than the skilled workers from increased efficiency of production, from the advantages conferred by legislation, from the cheapening of food and clothing, and from the opening out of new fields for capital and labour. In their case also, the improvement manifests itself in better pay and more favorable conditions of work, but chiefly in this, that of the mass of wholly unskilled labour, part has been absorbed into hig”her grades, while the percentage of total working population, earning bare subsistence wages, has been greatly reduced.
I wish now to deal with some of the effects of the system of preferential trade which has been adopted in Canada. The honorable member for Hume, in dealing with this matter, implied that a great expansion had taken place in the trade between the Dominion and the mother country as the result of preferential trade. It is rather singular that he should have told only half “the tale. The Minister of Trade and Customs last evening, in speaking of British and other imports, fell into a similar error. What is the position ? Canada has granted a preference to the mother country upon three occasions.’ In 1897 she gave a pre ference of 12^ per cent, to British goods, in the following year she increased that preference to 25 per cent., and in July, I9Q3> to 33$ per cent.
– That makes the preference very small upon the value of the goods.
– Mr. Chamberlain, singularly enough, made the same mistake.
– Is it a mistake?
– I do not say that the error has been wilfully, made. Mr. Chamberlain says -
To put it in a word, the trade between our colony of Canada and the mother country, which, was ^6,500,000 in 1897-1898, is now carried on at a rate of j£i 1,000,000 - probably a good deal more - but I will, to be safe, say of £11,000,000 sterling in the present year; and the increase is chiefly in textile goods - cotton, woollen, and goods of that kind - and in the manufactures of hardware and iron and steel. And, at the same time, whereas the percentage of the total trade had fallen from 40 per cent., I think - or, at all events, from a large percentage- - to 23^ per cent., in these last two years it hasbeen gradually climbing up again, and it has now reached for the present year 26£ per cent.
I repeat that it is a singular coincidencethat the honorable member for Hume made a somewhat similar statement to-day, but neglected to show the volume of trade, so that honorable members might be in a position to institute a comparison. I have here a table by Lord Farrer, .dealing with the imports into Canada, both before and after the adoption of the British Preference Tariff. From it I find, by striking an average for five years, namely, from 1893 to 1897, that, whereas the average Canadian imports from the United States were valued at £11,921,000, they had increased to £23,018,000 in 1901, notwithstanding the Preference Tariff - an increase of £115097,000. I come now to the figures showing the value of imports into Canada from the United Kingdom. The average for the five years 1893-97 was £7,308,000, while the imports in 1901 - after the British Preferential Tariff were £8,962,000, or an increase of £1,654,000. In the one case the trade between the United- States and Canada shows an increase of 93 per cent., while that between the United Kingdom and Canada shows an increase of only 23 per cent. Although the omission on the part of honorable members who support the motion to mention that trade between Canada and the United States has increased to a far greater extent than has that between Canada and the United Kingdom may be due to a simple mistake, it is nevertheless regrettable,, for when we are told that the imports into
Canada from the United States have increased four times as much as have those from the United Kingdom, we see at once that the granting of preference has not had the effect which those who support the proposal would imply. It is pointed out in Free-trade versus Fair-trade that -
For the year 1902 the Canadian imports for home consumption from the United Kingdom were £10,114,000 against £8,839,000 for 1901 ; these being the figures given in the Board of Trade returns for August, 1903, and differing from those in the French report taken from the Canadian returns and quoted above. But, in the same year, while exports from the United Kingdom increased by 1-3 millions, those from America increased by *-i * millions - from £22,702,000 in 1901, to £24,834,000 in 1002. Since 1897, w.hen the preference was instituted, Canada has increased her imports from America by more than £12,000,000; she has increased those from the United Kingdom by more than £4,000,000.
I think that that is a complete reply to the statements which have been made regarding the increase of trade between Canada and the United Kingdom. There has been so much talk about the way in which the trade of the Empire is being manipulated that I think it desirable to quote certain figures bearing on the question. I have here a statement of the proportion per cent, of Great Britain’s whole foreign trade carried on with each foreign country. The table deals with the returns from 1870 until 1902, the object of it being to show that British trade is practically holding its own, notwithstanding the advantages possessed by that of other nations. A remarkable feature of the table is that it shows that Great Britain has lost very little of her trade with foreign countries. For the five years ending 1870 the total percentage was 77, in the next five it was 773, an.d in the succeeding five years period it was 7 5” 4. For the following five years period the percentage was 737, whilst the percentages for the remaining five years periods were 742 , 74’9 and 754. In 1901 it was 74”8, and in T902 7 4’ 3. The average for the whole period covered by this return is 754 per cent. I wish now to show our dealings with the old country . during the same period by quoting from a statement of the proportion per cent. of. the whole of Great Britain’s “foreign trade carried on with each colony.” The return gives Great Britain’s exports to British North- America, British West Indies. Australian Colonies, India, South Africa,- and other British Possessions, and it shows that for the five years ending 1870 the total percentage was 23”o. For the five years ending 1875 it was 22’7, while for the following five years’ period it was 24-6. It subsequently increased to 26 per cent., and then fell to 258, while for the five years ending 1895, the percentage was 25’L For the two years, 1901 and 1902, it was 252 and 25^6 respectively, while the average for the whole period was 246. These figures show very conclusively that the old country is not losing her trade with her dependencies, and I think they afford a sufficient reply to the assertions made from time to time that Australia has been deluged with foreign goods, which constitute a menace to the industries of Great Britain. The Board of Trade returns do not prove anything of the kind. Another question which has a very important bearing on this proposal is that of the lines on which we. should be able to grant a preference to British manufacturers. What goods do we import, and whence do they chiefly come ? The Minister of Trade and” Customs recently” had a report prepared, a summary of which was published in the Argus, under the heading of “ Australian Trade.” This return shows the export of Victorian manufactures, and is described by the Argus as a very instructive one. It is stated that -
At the request of the Comptroller-General of Customs, Mr. T. A. Coghlan, the Government Statistician of New South Wales, has prepared a very valuable statement, analyzing the trade of the Commonwealth for the year 1903.
I thought that the Minister would have referred to some of these figures in the course of the speech which he made last night, and I certainly should be pleased to obtain a copy of .the complete return, in order to see if it affects in any way the facts that have been published. The article continues -
Dr. Wollaston has received an advance copy of this publication, and the subjoined figures, which are taken from it, have an interesting bearing upon the alleged fiscal “ revival “ and the preferential trade campaign.
The return shows the principal imports into the Commonwealth for 1903. I find from it that .the value of the imports of apparel and attire was £1,162,449, and that of these goods £983,654 -worth came from Great Britain, £79,567 worth from Germany, and none from the United States. The value of boots and shoes imported during this period was £162,580, of which £81,430 worth came from Great Britain, and only £5,586 worth from Germany. The imports of infants’ boots and shoes for the year represented a total value of £52>637, of which £50,053 worth came from Great Britain, and the balance from Germany. The value of the furniture imported during this period was £143,129, of which £47,962 worth came from Great Britain, £29,522 worth from Germany, and £41,696 worth from the United States. This is the first evidence we have of trade with the United States. The imports of hats, caps, and felt hat* were of the value of £126,397, and of these ,£93,087 worth came from Great Britain, £17,568 worth from Germany, and £2,620 worth from’ the United States. The value of hats, caps, and bonnets imported during this period was £179,180, of which £169,876 worth came from Great Britain, leaving only a few thousand pounds’ worth of goods to be accounted for by imports from other countries. These figures show that
Avith one exception the granting of preference would not be of any value to Great Britain, because she already enjoys practically the whole trade in these lines. But I desire to go further than this. It will be remembered that a large deputation recently waited on ,the Minister of Trade and Customs, and urged that the duty on jewellery should be increased, the complaint being that the Commonwealth was being swamped by importations from various parts of the world. As usual, the cheap goods of Germany came in for much condemnation. But what are the facts? This official return shows that during 1903 jewellery and imitation jewellery of the value of £291,064 was imported into Victoria, and that of this, £251,243 worth came from Great Britain, £19,499 worth from Germany, and £7,778 worth from the United States. The position in regard to leather is somewhat different. That is one of the lines on which a preference might be given with advantage to the British manufacture. I find that the value of the imports of leather, n.e.i., during 1903 was £193,624, and that the imports from Great Britain represented £61,683 ; those from Germany being of the value of £10,434, and those from the United States, £108,152. The total importation of engines of all kinds into Victoria was equal in value to £407,828, of which £358,511 worth came from the United Kingdom ; £3,248 worth from Germany, and £8,190 worth from the United States. The total importation of engines, n.e.i., and parts thereof, was £531,379, of which £352,693 worth came from the
United Kingdom, £31,321 worth from Germany, and ,£137,148 worth from the United States. Our total importation of manufactures of metals, n.e.i., was worth £582,235; of which £453>4°9 worth came from Great Britain ; £56,663 worth from Germany ; and £60,848 worth from the United States. In all these cases, practically eleven-twelfths of our trade is now being done with Great Britain. Mr. Chamberlain has spoken of the ruin of the English woollen industry. Our total importation of woollens and articles containing wool, was £1,377,789; of which £1,288,052 worth came from Great Britain; £48,288 worth from Germany; and £7 44 worth from the United States. These figures speak volumes, and bring us down to the bed-rock of facts. If we gave a preference to Great Britain, only in regard to certain classes of machinery and leather, her gain would be practically nothing; whereas, if we proposed to reduce our duties in order to give her an .advantage in regard to other lines, the protected manufacturers of Australia would be up in arms at once. I wish now to deal with the question of food supplies, and to show what a comparatively small proportion our exportation to England form. In 1902, there were imported into the United Kingdom, £132,000,000 worth of foreign corn, including barley, rye, oats, and maize ; £20,000,000 worth of which came from the Colonies and from India, whereas about £^158,000,000 worth was produced in Great Britain and Ireland. A tax on the foreign importation would raise £3,300,000. Assuming that the Colonial and Indian growers got their share, it would come to £700,000. I have my doubts as to whether they would get that amount, though I have no doubt that the English consumer would have to pay it, because the price of grain in England would be regulated by the great bulk of foreign trade. In- my opinion, the middle-man would derive the benefit. It is estimated that the consumer would have to pay £8,000,000 extra. A balance of £4,000,000 would go into the pockets of the British landlords. The total quantity of butter, cheese, and eggs consumed in the United Kingdom in the same year was £26,000,000 worth from foreign countries, and £7,000,000 worth from the Colonies. A tax of 5 per cent, on that importation would produce £1,300,000 worth, and it is assumed that the Colonies would benefit to the extent of £350,000 worth. But the writer from whose work I have taken these figures says -
If our own produce of the same articles amounted to the same sum - and it is supposed to be a great deal more - the price of that will rise equally, and an extra £1,650,000 worth would go to the agricultural interests, that is, to the landlords.
In 1902, there were imported into England £27,000,000 worth of wheat, of which British Dependencies supplied only £7,500,000 worth. A tax on this importation would work out at between £7,000,000 and ^£1 0,000, 000. Mr. Chamberlain, however, proposes to make compensating allowances. He intends to reduce the duties on coffee, cocoa, tea, and sugar. But if the duty on tea were reduced, what advantage would the Indian grower have over the Chinese grower? None at all. The sacrifice made by the various parts of the Empire would also be very unequal. Canada would benefit to a greater extent than Australia or any other British dependency, it being estimated that she would receive 50 per cent, of the benefit, while New Zealand would obtain 30 per cent., and Australia 20 per cent. I do not contend that the division of benefits should be adjusted to a nicety ; but I believe that, as suggested by the honorable and learned member for Angas, these differences will create a great’ amount of friction. Something has been said about the trade of England falling off, and her industries failing.
– Is the honorable member prepared to give a preference in regard to salt?
– It is hardly worthy of the honorable member to make such an interjection when we are dealing ,with a great national question. I would reduce the duty on salt, which is now 12J per cent., without any bargaining ; but would the honorable member, who is boiling over with patriotism and preference, consent to a reduction in the duty on sugar? I would take duties off a number. of articles. But I cannot subscribe to the principle that the Empire must live wholly within itself - that we should not take goods from any other country. Mr. Coghlan ‘s statistics show that Australia sends more away to foreign countries than she imports from them. It is said that a number of English industries are in a bad state, but in a work entitled Fifty Years of Progress, I find that the British and Irish exports in 1891 were £280,000,000 odd ; in 1902 £^283,000,000 odd; and in 1903, £290,000,000 odd - an increase in two years of £10,868,000. Then the iron trade in 1901 represented £25,000,000 ; in 1902, 28*8 million pounds; and in 1903, 3o’8 million pounds. Machinery and metal work in 1901 represented 17 ‘8 million pounds ; in 1902, 18 7 million pounds ; and in 1903, £20,000,000. Cutlery and hardware, in 1901, represented £4,175,000; in 19°2» £4>384;00o; and in 1903, £4,636,000. In every case there has been a steady increase. In cottons, woollens, and textiles, during the same three years there was practically no difference, the figures standing at about £73,000,000 in 1901 and 1903. As the writer points out, these figures are remarkable in view of the fact that the cotton industry was placed at a great disadvantage during the last year owing to the shortage of the raw material. In glass manufactures there was an increase, and in chemicals an increase of £7,000,000 worth, whilst the exports of refined sugar practically doubled. So, right through the piece, there is ample evidence that the trade of the old country is not falling off to the extent that some people would have us believe. There are various ways of gaining support for the proposals which Mr. Chamberlain is advocating. Among other things, he has promised to introduce a system of old-age pensions.
– First starve the people, and then give them pensions.
– A writer in the Westminster Popular of 1903 puts the case very amusingly. He says -
The inconsistencies of Mr. Chamberlain’s proposals have been admirably exposed by a correspondent whose letter . was published in the Standard of 4th June. A number of horses, as he well says, have been entered for the Preferential Stakes. Among them are : -
The increase of British-Colonial trade.
’ The diminution of the import of foreign manufactured goods “ dumped “ into these islands.
The substitution of colonial food and raw materials for foreign products of the same character.
The consequent increase of the Colonies in industry and population.
The protection of native industries, especially agriculture.
The institution of retaliatory Tariffs in order to compel foreign States to admit our products on more favorable terms.
The “ widening of the basis of taxation,” so as to obtain sufficient revenue for old-age pensions and other benefits on the working class.
The correspondent says that the realization of No. 3, which is the substitution of colonial food and raw materials for foreign products of the same character, would be fatal to No. 7. Mr. Chamberlain’s idea was that if the British public allowed themselves to be taxed, and paid more for their food, they should as a set-off be granted old-age pensions. If, however, the colonial food and- raw materials were substituted for foreign products, there would be little or no revenue with which to pay the old-age pensions. A number of the other propositions would prove also mutually destructive. I should like to refer to Mr. Chamberlain’s attitude upon the old-age pension question. He has frequently changed his views. It is many years ago since he advocated oldage pensions. He recently declared that he had done with old-age pensions. On the 17th May, 1901, he told the Oddfellows at Birmingham that that matter had been made, what it never should have been, a subject of party controversy. Again, on another occasion, he said that it was false that he had ever promised old-age pensions. On 6th January, 1902, he declared that nothing could be done until a practical scheme was put forward by somebody. That is our position in connexion with this question. I venture to say that nothing can come of this proposal until we know what is actually required in the United Kingdom. We ought to allow the people of Great Britain to settle the matter for themselves. We should not permit ourselves to be used as a means of coercing them. The resolution now before us means absolutely nothing. No one could say that if it we’re carried it would indicate the real feelings of honorable members, or how far they are prepared to go in the direction of reducing duties, or giving preference. The Minister of Trade and Customs, in the course of his recent speech, said that there were a number of items upon which we could reduce duties in favour of Great Britain. I asked him if he could think of one such item, and I would ask other honorable members whether they are prepared to make any such reductions, and if so to inform me what they are? It is only fair to Mr. Chamberlain that we should be perfectly frank with him, and that we should not pretend that the motion conveys something more than we really mean. It will probably be represented that the resolution passed by us expresses an intention on the part of Australia to do what no one is prepared to’do. I should like to know how far honorable members are prepared to go in granting preference. When we come down ‘to the practical basis of this motion, we realize what a lot of fudge is being talked in regard to preference. I do not suppose that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports would consent to a reduction of the duties upon hats, nor do I for one moment imagine that those who are interested in the manufacture of boots would be willing to submit to a reduction of the duties upon those articles. Then, again, would those who are interested in the manufacture of machinery, and who are now complaining of the extent to which our iron industries are being interfered with by foreign imports, be prepared to reduce the present duty, even in favour of the mother country ? Are they not anxious to” secure an increase? What hypocrisy it is then for us to say that we are prepared to make concessions to British manufacturers. What led up to the appointment of the Tariff Commission? Was it not the demand for higher duties? Are we, in the face of that, to represent that we are prepared to assist the landlords of the old country to carry a proposal which would impose further burdens upon the starving poor? It does not become us to countenance any such proposal. I feel very strongly upon this question, and I do not think that it ought to be dealt with in the manner now proposed. The matter is one which affects the great masses of the people in England, who . should first be allowed to decide what is best for themselves. Then we might express our willingness to consider their proposal. We should not, in the meantime, allow ourselves to become tools in the hands of political adventurers who are carrying on a fight against those who are least able to defend themselves.
– I presume that it will be necessary for honorable members, who, like myself, are opposed to the motion, to commence by declaring our loyalty to the old country.
– I desire to call attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed].
– The gentlemen who have engineered the proposals for preferential trade throughout the Colonies are strong in affirming their love for Great Britain. They assert that they desire to establish preferential trade relations with the mother country, for the purpose of rendering it all the assistance that they can. When interjections are made with a view to showing that they merely seek to gain advantages for themselves, and that they care nothing for the future trade of England’, they immediately exclaim, “ Cannot we discuss this matter from’ an Australian stand-point?” In other words, “they immediately abandon their claim to be actuated only by feelings of loyalty, and admit that it is from the Australian stand-point that this question should be discussed. If that be so, I claim that the motion which is now under consideration has no right to appear upon the business-paper. It has been stated that we are endeavouring to satisfy Mr. Chamberlain by making some offer of a preference to British goods. If the gentlemen to whom I refer would promise that we shall not interfere with British politics, we might discuss the matter from an Australian standpoint. It is plain, however, that in seeking to carry this motion, their one desire is to enable it to be used as a lever in connexion with approaching elections in England.
– The whole thing is humbug. What is proposed? The idea which seems to be entertained by some honorable members is that the trade of England is declining - that decay has set in. Those who are most loud in their protestations of affection for the old country profess a desire to go to her assistance in the days of her supposed decadence. How? By opening our ports, and giving her increased facilities for trade with us? But do they really desire to open” the ports of the Commonwealth, and give to the old country increased facilities for trading here ? The very terms of the motion show that they do not. I commend the honorable member for Hume for having adopted a more candid attitude than did the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. I congratulate him for having had the courage to express bis desires in the motion relating to this subject which he placed upon the businesspaper. Honorable members who entertain the same view as he does, do not suggest anything like the free admission of British goods to our ports. Further, they wish to obtain some corresponding advantage in the British market. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat introduced this morion in a speech which has been described as eloquent and full of force. That, however, is a matter of opinion. In my judgment, although it contained a lot of beautiful phrases, the honorable member entirely omitted to set forth the circumstances under which he would grant any assistance to the mother country. He distinctly said that he would not introduce debatable matter, and he made it perfectly clear that he desired to please everybody, so as to secure a division upon the motion in the direction which he’ favoured. We have been repeatedly assured that British trade is declining. I wish to combat- that theory!, and in doing so, I am perfectly prepared to accept the years which Mr. Chamberlain selected in his first great speech. Prior to his visit to South Africa, that gentleman declared that Great Britain’s trade was not declining, but that she was capable of competing with the whole world. For some reason or other, however, upon his return to England, , he changed his tune, and arrived at the conclusion that British trade was declining, To suit hi 3 purpose, he selected the years which would best fit his arguments. I do not complain of that ; but I regard the whole of these proposals in connexion with preferential trade as an arrant piece of sham and hypocrisy, and as partaking of the most detestable meanness. In his endeavour to show that the trade of Great Britain had fallen off considerably, Mr. Chamberlain compared the volume of that trade in 1872 with that which obtained in 1902. He pointed out that after a lapse of thirty years, British exports had increased by only £20,000,000. As a matter of fact, he made a mistake of £10,000,000.1 He argued that because the exports pf the mother country had only increased by that amount, British trade was declining. I should like to point out that the trade of Great Britain between 1870 and 1872 increased by £60,000,000. The explanation of that is to be found in the fact that 1872 was a boom year in British trade, because of the War between France and Germany, and because of the borrowing policy adopted by the nations of the world. In consequence of the crippling of the countries which I have mentioned, there was a great addition to the trade of longland. The fact is that Mr. Chamberlain compared the boom year of British trade with the year 1902, when England was just emerging from one of the greatest wars in which she has been engaged. But what are the real facts? In 1872 prices, because of the abnormal condition of trade, increased materially, whereas from 1872 onwards, they have fallen immensely. That fall has been in the value of productions, and not in their quantity. If the trade of Great Britain in 1902 were valued at the same prices as her trade in 1872, it would be £100,000,000 higher. Mr. Chamberlain must have been familiar with these facts, and his statements, therefore, must have been intended to convey a wrong impression to his audience. If we analyze the figures, we shall find that they do not bear out the contention that the trade of Great Britain, as compared with that of other countries, has declined. British trade has increased correspondingly with that of the other nations of the world. The trade of America for 1902 amounted to: - Imports, £180,664,189; and exports. £271,096,372. The exports consisted of manufactured articles to the value of £80,728,286 ; and the balance of £190,368,092 was made up of the productions of agriculture, mines, forests, fisheries, &c. That country, we must recollect, has a population of nearly 80,000,000. The export of British and Irish produce in 1902 amounted to £283,000,000. Consequently, from a relative stand-point, the United Kingdom has more than double the export trade ot the United States. In other words, 40,000,000 people do exactly the same trade as 80,000,000. Great Britain did that trade, notwithstanding all the disabilities under which she labours, as compared with America. The manufactures of England exported during the same year were valued at £210,000,000, as against £80,000,000 worth of similar exports by the United States. In other words, England does three times the manufacturing export trade” of America. Is there any sign of decay there? It is absolutely ‘clear that, instead of there being cause to lament the decline of British trade, the mother country occupies a position of undoubted prosperity. It must be recollected, too, that Great Britain has to depend upon other countries for the supply of her raw material. For instance, in 1902, she imported raw cotton to the value of more than £40,000,000, and iron ore, which was worth £6,000,000, in addition to large quantities of wool, silk, and other raw materials, which she requires for the purposes of her trade. Yet, after importing all this raw material, she was able to compete in foreign markets, and to do the largest manufacturing trade in the world. Let us deal with these figures in another way. The question is a most important one. When I listened to’ the Minister of Trade and Customs last night, as he talked about percentages, I was reminded of the consternation into which the total abstainers were thrown when they were informed that 50 per cent, of the total abstainers in one regiment had died during a certain year. They determined to inquire into the matter for themselves, with the result that they discovered that there were two total abstainers in the regiment in question, and that one of them had died. When we quote percentages, we may convey an altogether erroneous impression to the public; but when we make a comparison of the bulk of Great Britain’s trade with that of other countries, we are able to show that she is standing well. The combined exports of the German Empire and the United States of America represent a value of £497,000,000, whilst the total export trade of Great Britain is £350,000,000, or only £147,000,000 less than the combined export trade of these two great countries. ‘ What are the facts? The German Empire and the United States have an area of 3,179,000 square miles, and a population of 135,000,000, while Britain and Ireland has an area of only 121,000 square miles and a population of about 42,000,000. As the population of a country increases so the necessity for an export trade decreases; as the prosperity of the people is enhanced the quantity of work to be carried out locally increases, land larger supplies have to be provided for home consumption. Honorable members will find that the bulk of the raw material which is being imported into Great Britain to-day is used in manufactures for local consumption, and this shows that her prosperity must have increased’.
– The honorable member is becoming a protectionist.
– There is no recognition of the policy of protection in that statement. The protectionists talk about the home trade of America and other countries, and allege that they have discovered that England has none. As a matter of fact, her home trade is considerably larger than is her export trade. The point I wish to emphasize is that she does the same trade locally in proportion to her population a§ does America or any other country, and then does the largest export trade in manufactures. We are told that we should grant a preference in respect of British goods. The honorable member for Ballarat says that if this scheme were adopted, our population would enormously increase, and that increased employment would be found for our agriculturists and others in producing sufficient to satisfy the wants of the largely augmented population. If the result of adopting a preferential scheme would be to largely increase our exports to Great Britain, why should not that export trade be increased without the adoption of any such scheme? Is there any obstacle in the way of our sending more produce to Great Britain to-day ? Does England seek to prevent us from capturing her market, if we can do so? Why is it that we have not the many thousands of people, of whom the honorable member speaks, producing in Australia to-day? Great Britain certainly does not stand in the way. We have the land, and everything is ready for the use of our farmers if the British market can be captured. The honorable member for Hume said that there was a certain obstacle in the way, and urged that we were being impoverished by reason of the fact that we contributed only 5 per cent, of the foodstuffs required by Great Britain. If we are, we certainly cannot ask Great Britain to help us. She has freed her markets to us, and we are at liberty to capture them if we can do so. When the honorable member for Hume was speaking, I pointed out, by way of interjection, that the uncertainty of our climate was against our doing what he suggested. No preference granted by England to Australian goods could prevent the droughts from which we suffer from time to time - no preference could have made the season before last a good one, nor could it have any effect upon the harvest of the present year. Our uncertain climate makes it difficult for us to send larger supplies to Great Britain. In 1901, we exported 20,000,000 bushels of wheat to the old country.
– And last season we sent nearly 40.000,000 bushels there..
– I have not the returns relating to last season, but I would remind the House that in 1903 we exported only 1,172,000 bushels to Great Britain. What was the reason of the decrease ? Was there any barrier placed in the way of our export trade with Great Britain ? No. The fact was that, as the result of the drought, our output was greatly reduced. If England were dependent upon us for her food supplies, what would happen in such circumstances ? Would it not be foolish for her to shut out the wheat and other foodstuffs of the rest of the world, and to depend upon such an uncertain source of supply as Australia? The honor- arable and learned member for Wannon says that we exported nearly 40,000,000 bushels of wheat to Great Britain last season. Shall we export anything like the same quantity this season? I think not. Last year was a favorable one, but’ the season of 1904-5 will not be so good. In 1901, Canada sent 12,491,193 bushels of wheat to Great Britain, and her output gradually increased, until, in 1903,- she placed 20,163,972 bushels of wheat in that market. Honorable members will see from this that the climate of Canada is more reliable than is that of Australia, and that the Canadian farmers would have an advantage over those of the Commonwealth if a preference were granted.
– But they have a good Tariff in Canada.
– What has that to do with the export trade? The farmers of the Commonwealth would be very foolish if they allowed themselves to be gulled by the assertion that a Tariff would be beneficial to them. No Tariff can possibly help them, and the same may be said with regard to the producers of flour, meat, and other articles. Those who are supporting this scheme, and who profess to love the old land, wish to increase the price of wheat in England in order to benefit the farmers in Australia. They desire that the Australian farmer shall reap an advantage at the expense of the poor workmen of England. That is the Australian stand-point. Could a meaner proposal be made? They wish to make it more difficult for the masses in England to live, in order that the position of the farmers out here may be improved. The price of the wheat to the consumer in Great Britain is to be increased, so that the rents of the landlords - the marquises, earls, and lords who are supporting Mr. Chamberlain, should be increased, whilst the unfortunate masses would have less to eat. If any one could tell me of a meaner proposal, I should certainly like to hear it. I may repeat at this stage a conversation that I had on one occasion with Lord Jersey. I always held a very good opinion of him as Governor of New South Wales, and that opinion was strengthened by a conversation which I had with him about the time when President Cleveland was elected. Lord Jersey was then travelling by railway through trie district in which I lived, and I handed him a telegram which I had received announcing President Cleveland’s election. We had a conversation as we travelled along the line, the news leading us to the consideration of the question of the effect of the removal of the duties imposed by Great Britain. Lord Jersey remarked, “ I will admit that the removal of the duties imposed by England, and especially of those which were levied on farm produce, has led to the reduction of the rent rolls of the landlords. My rent-roll is much less because of this, but the comforts and the blessings of the masses of England have been improved.” I have often thought of that statement. “ The man who would dare to place a duty on foodstuffs in England would be a cruel man, “ he went on to say, “ because the only result of such a duty would be to increase the rent-rolls of men like myself. It would give us greater luxuries, if that were possible, than we now enjoy, and at the same time would make it more difficult for the masses of England to live.” I honour Lord Jersey for such a declaration, and I am pleased to know that in England to-day he is fighting against Mr. Chamberlain’s ‘ proposal. Preferential trade must result in increasing the prices of foodstuffs. It has been suggested that that would not be the effect of the introduction of this system. It was stated, by way of interjection, this afternoon, that the tax of is. per quarter on corn had not increased the price of bread in England. What did Mr. Chamberlain say on this point? -
The other day a duty, a moderate duty of is., was placed upon corn. It is a very small duty. It had no effect upon the price of bread.
A writer in the October number of the Westminster Review points out -
Now a tax of is. per quarter on corn is equivalent to one-eighth of a penny on the four-pound loaf. But, as a matter of fact, in London, very generally throughout the provinces, and even in the faithful Birmingham itself, the price of the four-pound loaf was raised, and that not by oneeighth of a penny, but by 1/2d. - just four times the amount of the duty.
Then he went on to point out the position of Germany -
The case of Germany is far more to the point, though Germany imports only 34 per cent, of the wheat she consumes. But in Germany (as Mr. Gerald Balfour was forced to admit on August 9, in reply to a question in the House by Dr. Shipman), while the duty is 7s. 7d. per quarter, the price of wheat is gs. 3d. more than in this country - that is to say, is. 8d. over and above the duty.
Why is the proposal so strongly advocated ? Because it is said our producers will have a better market, and that it will lessen the competition of foreign corn with Australian corn, and so increase the profits of our exporters. I have always found that men who endeavour to secure advantages by law are careful to profess that they do not believe that such advantages will be derived from their propositions. Let the English people decide. Do not let us interfere in the matter. We should not seek to assist the aristocracy and wealthy men of England to make the lot of the poor in that country harder. We have been told of the preference that the Commonwealth can give to England, and therefore I have taken the trouble to analyze the statistics for 1903. I find that in that year our importation of cottons, woollens, velveteens, hats, boots, and other manufactured articles of domestic use amounted to- £8,778,011, of which £7,672,522 worth came from the United Kingdom, and only £119,622 worth came from France, £443,191 from Germany, and £243,069 from the United States. As I thought that I might be asked whether some of the imports from Great Britain were not of foreign manufacture, I have looked into the question, and apparently about £2,000,000 worth of the importations from the United Kingdom came from foreign countries. Deducting one-eighteenth from the total exports, it makes them worth £8,290,345, of which £6,905,270 worth came from the United Kingdom, and about £1,250,000 from other foreign countries. Our importations of metals, manufactures of metals, and machines pf all kinds were worth £6,582,901, of which £4,529,322 worth came from the United Kingdom, and only £11,904 worth from France, £576,585 worth from Germany, and £1,123,034 worth from the United States. Our importations of china, porcelain, earthenware, and glass amounted to £428,384, of which £”2 1 r, 219 worth came from England, £2,877 worth from France, £126,333 worth from Germany, and £30,143 worth from the United States. Our importations of instruments, platedware, cutlery, jewellery, clocks, watches, electrical material, and brushware amounted to £1,255,268, of which £962,911 worth came from Great Britain, £9,890 worth from France, £105.264 worth from Germany, and £128,164 worth from the United States. Our importation of drugs, chemical dyes, medicines, and perfumery were .£915,328 worth, of which £607,107 worth came from the United Kingdom, £11.2,827 worth from France, £75,891 worth from
Germany, and . £79,906 worth from the United States. So right through in all lines of manufactured imports, Great Britain stands a long way in front of all other countries. It is absurd to talk about giving her a preference in regard to these lines when she has already practically got the trade to herself. Instead of foreign countries ousting Great Britain from our market, that country is practically ousting them. I found that the importation of articles such as oil, timbers, tobacco, sugar, grain and pulse, and tea was , £11,609,667 worth, of which England sent . £1,920,036 worth, France £196,198 worth, Germany £345,490 worth, and the United States £3,822,667 worth. The balance came in about equal proportions from British possessions and other foreign countries. It is, of course, impossible for Great Britain to treat with foreign countries in regard to most of those articles. Personally, I should be ready to give Britain every advantage, because I am in favour of absolute free-trade. But those who talk so loudly about their loyalty, who boast that they are not little Engenders, that they want to unite the Empire, will stand behindtheold country only so long as they can gain by doing so.
– Does the honorable member do anything for nothing?
– No; but if I am making a bargain, although I try to get the better of the other man, I do not boast that I am trying to let him get the better of me. I would not represent myself as a great patriot or philanthropist if I were trying to cheat my fellow man or taking advantage of him. But that, in my opinion, is the position of those who are behind this movement. If it were proposed to have free-trade within the Empire to give the West Indian growers a preference on sugar, the honorable member for Richmond would not consent to it, although he talks so nicely about his love for the old land. As the Prime Minister said last night, if England needs our help, if the burden of empire grows too heavy for her, and she finds that she has to spend more than she -can afford on her Navy and Army, we might show our desire to help by increasing our subsidy for the upkeep of the fleet. Honorable members have tried to look at this matter from the English stand-point, because they wish to help Mr. Chamberlain to carry his scheme, in order that they may obtain preferential duties on grain. But it must be remembered that English trade is open to retaliation in every direction, and if the nations of the world develop the spirit of retaliation, England will not get the best of it. If we increase the animosity of other nations against the old land, we shall, instead of benefiting her, be doing her an injury. Neither can we hold the Empire together by bonds of selfish interest. If difficulties arise in the making of these bargains, those bonds, instead’ of decreasing, will increase friction, and the tendency will be towards disunion. I am in favour of giving . England all the help that can be given to her. I have no desire to stand in the way of her progress. I realize, that we owe a great deal to the old land, and though I have never trodden her shores, it is one of the dreams of my life - I do not dream much; whatever I have to say is practical, and the statements which I have made this afternoon cannot be refuted - to stand upon her shores and to see the places of historic interest which are to be found there. I do not know that that desire will ever be fulfilled. My loyalty, however, is as great as that of those who boast so much of theirs. I wish not to endanger her position, but to give her all the assistance possible. The protectionists, however, can have no desire to give English manufacturers access to these markets. What they say to the mother country is, “ Give us all you can, but we will not give you anything.” I do not know that 1 need take up any more time in dealing with this matter. I look upon the proposals before the House as the veriest sham and the greatest hypocrisy.
– I did not intend to speak on this question, although it has apparently afforded an opportunity sufficiently ample to satisfy any one with oratorical tendencies, and is important enough to justify the fullest discussion, I think, however, that as little heresy as possible should appear in the pages of Hansard, and, therefore, wish to say that the vast majority of the Australian people and of the members of this House favour the principle of preferential trade. An infinitely small majority of honorable members, however, are prolonging the debate in order to prevent a division being taken on the motion, and the result being cabled to England. Among those who have opposed the motion are the Prime Minister, the honorable and learned member for Angas, and the honorable members for Grey and New England. It appears not to have dawned on the minds of any one of them that Great Britain is a self-governing country. The Prime Minister admitted that at the last elections a majority was returned in favour of preferential trade, but the matter has been discussed by him and the others whom I have mentioned, not from the Australian stand-point, on which we are capable of expressing an opinion, but from the British stand-point,, with which British people alone can deal. The honorable member for New England, since there are such, men” as Lord Rosebery in the world, might have saved himself the trouble of championing the cause of the people of England, and the honorable member for Grey, great as are his abilities and magnificent his vocabulary, might have trusted Mr. Asquith to place before British audiences that aspect of the case over which he laboured so hard. It was obviously because Australians are in favour of preferential trade that these speakers addressed themselves to the subject from the British point of view.
– I am prepared to go out anywhere to speak against these proposals.
– I am prepared to believe that. With a certain. amount of enthusiasm, honesty, and ignorance, a man may dare anything. Most of the world’s troubles have been due, not to the wicked and cunning, but to the honest, incapable man, who does not know what is right, and cannot understand that great minds may hold absolutely different views on the same question. If we have learned anything from politics, literature, and civilization, it is that the ablest minds have been in antagonism in regard to every important question that has been brought forward for discussion. The honorable member for New England has declared, in his characteristic way. that all those who favour preferential trade are either rogues or fools.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable member inferred it. When the honorable member . takes that attitude towards those who are opposed to him he demonstrates that he has not risen to the contemplation of the very elements of discussion. Truth is not evolved from the unanimous advocacy of a doctrine. It is the magic spark produced by the conflict of opposing opinions which enables us to arrive at reasonable and just conclusions. The question whether preferential trade will be good or other- 13 n wise for Australia has not been discussed bv our opponents in this debate. The Prime Minister acknowledged that the majority of the people of Australia had declared in favour of the principle, but he passed away from the consideration of the practical aspect of the matter into nebulous regions. The whole point of his argument was that England had suffered so much under protection, prior to 1846, that she would never consent to revive the conditions which then existed. I would point out, however, that she has never been asked to do so.
– They could not go back if they tried.
– Exactly. The PrimeMinister then branched off, as did also the honorable member for Grey, to a discussion of the huge amount of misery that exists in the world. They drew pathetic pictures of the condition of the working classes of England prior to 1846. They said that, prior to 1846, the country was full of misery and appendicitis - although they did not know it by that name at that time. There was much misery and plenty of tuberculosis, and the cause of it all, in the view of the Prime Minister, was the protective policy which was then in force. There is sin and sorrow in the world, and apparently the cure in the eyes of the Prime Minister is the adoption of the policy of free imports. If the honorable member for Bland were asked to name a cure, he would say, “Join the Labour Party.” So long as human beings are born and grow up and die, there will be trouble and misery. So there was plenty of trouble and misery in England prior to 1846, not simply owing to a fiscal policy, but to entirely different causes. There will be sin and misery under any brand of fiscalism, where millions of people are gathered together in a little island like Great Britain. I desire to refute the statement of the F rime Minister that the change in the fiscal policy of England, which took place in 1846, immediately brought about reductions in the price of food. The fiscal change had nothing whatever to do with the matter. In 1850 wheat was quoted at 5s. per bushel in London, in i860 at 8s., in 1865 at 6s. 2d., in 1870 at 7s., in 1875 at 6s. 9d., and in 1880 at 7s. id. Then in the following years began the development of the great waste places of the earth. Vast areas of hitherto unproductive land were opened up, railways traversed the outlying solitudes’, which had hitherto been the hunting grounds of the aboriginal inhabitants, and the produce gathered at the seaports was transported across seas at a rate of speed and cheapness which was utterly inconceivable to men of the time of Bright and Cobden. The ingenuity of man applied to the productiveness of the earth brought down the prices of wheat. In 1900 wheat was quoted at 4s. iod. per bushel, in 1890 at 4s. 6d., in 1895 at 3s. 2d., in 1900 at 3s. 3d., and in 1902 at 3s 5d. The development of the natural resources of the earth by the hand of man ‘has been instrumental, over and above the influence of duties, in cheapening food. The reduction in the price of wheat was due to the fact that the wheat supply of the world is overtaking consumption. That was rendered possible by the application of science to the needs of humanity. If the argument of the Prime Minister is correct, as applied to the reduction of the price of wheat, how is it that the price of beef in England has not also been reduced? As a matter of- fact, it is dearer to-day than it was in 1830, because the supply of beef is falling rather behind the consumption than otherwise. In 1840, beef was sold in London at 44s. per cwt., in 1850 at 38s. per cwt., in 1855 at 41s. 6d., in i860 at 31s. 4d., in 1865 at 48s., in 1875 at 62s., in 1885 at 61s., in 1900 at 58s. 4d., and in 1902 at 53s. 8d.
– And that in spite of the improved facilities for transport to the home market.
– Yes. Notwithstanding this, the supply of beef has not overtaken the demand in the same way as in the case of wheat. The minds of some honorable members seem to me to be in a state of atrophy; they are apparently unable to understand the influences that are at work Even the honorable and learned member for Angas failed to grasp the position. Although his speech was admirable, not one syllable of it was correct. If was an able speech, but the honorable and learned member spoke from an entirely wrong stand-point. In the case of butter, also, we find that the prices have increased rather than diminished. In 1850 butter was sold in England at 76s. per cwt., whereas it is now realizing 108s. per cwt. The people of the old country are using more butter than formerly, and the production of that commodity ‘has not overtaken the demand. Some references have been made to sugar, and apparent! v honorable members do not understand what patriotism means. They have assumed that I would be unwilling to make any sacrifice in regard to sugar, because I am personally interested in the industry. I wish, however, to place it on record that I have no personal interest in the growing or manufacture of sugar. In 1840 sugar was sold in England at £47 per ton, whereas a similar article is now sold at £7 3s. per ton. No duties could have had much bearing upon that case, and obviously some other influence has been at work. In 1880. sugar was worth £22 per ton, but in 1885, when the German sugar bounties were started, the price fell to £11 per ton. Germany, in 1885 exported 22,200 tons of sugar, whereas in 1900 her exports had risen to 1,006,400 tons.
– Does the honorable member seriously contend that the fall in the price of sugar was due solely to the operation of bounties?
– It was due to practical science - to improvements in machinery, and also to the great development of the bounty-fed beet industry. I should like to ask the honorable member for Parramatta whether it is fair that the sugar industry - throughout the British Empire should be broken down by the strength and wealth of the German Government?
– Will the honorable member inform me of the direction in which his argument is tending?
– I am endeavouring to prove that the great causes which have produced these results are to be found quite outside the reasons which have been urged. Some honorable members exclaim, “Let us consider the foreigner.” May I point out that the foreigner has never considered British industries. An industry is only of value to a country if it be stable. Incidentally I referred to the sugar industry. Under free-trade conditions it would be right to allow fair competition between man and man in that industry. But when the German Government steps forward and places £1,000,000 worth of bountyfed sugar upon the market, does that permit of fair competition between man and man? Certainly not. Every freetrader should fight against that as strenuously as he would against protection itself. I have already shown that it is impossible for the British people to get back to the position which they occupied in 1846, and which was depicted by the Prime Minister in his speech last . evening. To discuss the motion from that aspect is therefore absolutely idle. It is necessary for me to make my remarks as brief as possible, recognising that we are in the twilight of Parliament. We can hear the recess “ calling,” and I am called upon to do nothing beyond enunciating a few sound principles, disclosing the manifest errors of honorable members opposite. We are all in agreement with regard to the needs of the Empire, so long as they cost us nothing. We are all prepared to profess, any political principles which are not too costly. A large number of honorable members believe in following the line, or rather, the curve, of lease resistance. Nevertheless, we all have the same end in view. If there be any individual so demented as to believe that Australia has any future except as a part of the British Empire, I should like to hear from him, because he must possess the sort of intellect that one would expect to find in a free import camp, but nowhere else. We possess a population of a few millions, and we have only a few thousand fighting men to defend us. We know that sooner or later every nation is tried by the arbitrament of war, and, without discussing from what quarter trouble may come, we must recognise that we cannot successfully defend Australia unaided. Our allies must be our own kith and kin.
Mr. King O’Malley. The honorable member does not believe that.
– I am quite sure of it. Surely the honorable member cannot imagine that, with the present means of communication, we are in a position to preserve a White Australia ?
– I think. that we can beat the whole world.
– It is obviously unnecessary to discuss that question. The supporters of preferential trade desire to do something, but its opponents wish to do nothing. They believe that something is sure to “ turn up,” and thereforethey are content to remain inactive.
– Come to business. Let the honorable member tell us what preference he is prepared to give to the mother country.
– I shall deal with that aspect of the matter at a later stage. What struck me during this debate was the unwisdom which induced honorable members to use as applicable to the year 1904 arguments which mayhave had some weight in 1846. They did not seem to realize that those arguments are like mere cobwebs, now - that they are mildewed - and that though they might have served in bygone days, they are not applicable to the present position. Some honorable members frequently talk about free-trade. Do they not know that Great Britain has never enjoyed a free-trade policy? She has merely had experience of a policy of free imports. Did Bright or Cobden expend their energies in the direction of gaining merely free imports ? Another argument which has been advanced by some honorable members has reference to the friendliness of nations. They urge that because Great Britain throws open her markets to the foreigner, the latter will be overpowered by friendly feelings. In this connexion I may ask, “ Where is any friendship exhibited by any European nation towards Great Britain today?” Is there any nation which entertains specially friendly feelings towards the mother country, except it be from fear?
– Greece and Italy have always been friendly towards her.
– It is a case of the mouse and the lion again. Honorable members must recognise that the free markets of the mother country have not promoted national friendliness towards her.
– Are theother nations of the world less friendly because of those free markets?
– If the honorable member asks me whether a man who puts a charge of dynamite under me is more friendly than the individual who, in other circumstances, would place two charges there, my reply is that it does not much matter. For sixty years Great Britain has thrown her markets open to other countries, and they have not reciprocated. In 1846, German competition was not considered, and even that of the United States was not accounted of very much importance. The growth of the trade of those countries has been phenomenal. But they have never done anything to show’ that they are influenced by Great Britain’s free import policy. They govern themselves for themselves. On the other hand, Great Britain was to become the great manufacturing power of the world. The general idea was that she should allow other countries to produce the raw materials which she requires - that she shouldthrow open her markets to them, and that after converting those raw materials into manufactured articles she should send them back at an enormously increased value. That was the basis of a considerable portion of the freetrade argument in 1846.
– Even to-day Great Britain stands first in the quantity of manufactured articles which she exports.
– Notwithstanding these anticipations, the progress of manufacture in- the countries which it was supposed would continue to be the .producers of Great Britain’s raw materials has been stupendous. We are becoming wearied by the patronizing friendliness of the free importers. The honorable member for New England has said, breezily and epigrammatically that a person who believes in protection or preferential trade must be either a rogue or a fool, and we know that the honorable member for Parramatta holds a similar view when he is not engaged in writing protectionist letters. Surely it should be unnecessary in the twentieth century to point out that all the able men in the world do not live in our own country. The honorable member for New England has described the inhabitants of the United States as fools, the people of a nation who are the cutest and ablest on the face of the earth with regard to practical science and invention, and what I understand would be called by the Labour Party, “cokum.” If, again, we wish to discover an astute, philosophical, thoughtful, strong nation, dealing with all the higher interests of life, where can we find one which excels Germany ? There again we have a protectionist country, believing in the principle of preferential trade, and trading with her colonies just ‘as we desire that Great Britain should trade with her Empire. Notwithstanding the wonderful example we have of the supreme ability of the honorable member for Grey, and the marked oratorical power of the honorable member for New England, I think they should be prepared to grant that there are at least some able men living in the United States. The honorable member for Grey suggested that this proposal would, if adopted, be an insult to the foreigners. But how should we insult the foreigners by doing that which they are doing themselves? The colonies of foreign countries are treated in the way we think the colonies of the mother-land should be treated. Let me give a homely illustration of the position. I presume that all honorable members do not live in tents - that some of them have homes - and therefore ask them whether it is an insult to an honest man to lock your own door. Certainly it is not. If an honest man calls on a friend and finds the door of the house locked he is not insulted. As soon as he knocks the door is opened to him, and he walks into the house and receives that hospitality which he expects. And so with regard to the British nation. We are certainly not insulting the foreigner by asking that the British nation shall lock its doors, and open them only to its friends. The locked door may be an insult to thieves and robbers, but it is certainly not an insult for one to keep his door closed against persons until they are prepared to deal fairly and honestly. From the free import aspect of the case - and, although opposing that scheme, it requires to be re-stated - I believe that Mr. Chamberlain and the free - traders who are with him in this’ proposal are much more likely to secure a uniform system of free-trade all over the world by means of preferentialism than they will be by Great Britain giving away all that she is able to give and receiving nothing in return.
– She gets only as much as it is good for them to give.
– That is all. The honorable member for Angas, in speaking to-day, pointed out that the Australian situation was similar to that of America at the time of the Declaration of Independence. I suggested when he was speaking that a man of his educational attainments was not entitled to mislead less-informed members of the House in that way. Every one should know that the trouble between Great Britain and her American Colonies arose from the fact that the latter claimed the right of taxation for themselves. They said they would give millions by way of contribution, but not one farthing by way of taxation, to Great Britain. I ‘ think it was Benjamin Franklin, who appealed for a treaty of some description, and asked that the views of the American people should be considered. He appealed to the British statesmen to allow the matter to be inquired into - just as we propose that the desirableness of preferential trade shall be considered - and if that course had been adopted it would have changed the whole face of the Anglo-Saxon world. We believe that, these proposals should be discussed and inquired into, and we at least claim for our opponents that they shall fairly state the cases which support their views. I know that the statement in question was. quoted by the honorable member for Angas from certain remarks made, possibly, by Lord Rosebery, but I would emphasize the point that there is no similarity between the two positions. We claim the right to discuss this question, and the Americans in 1774 were refused the right to discuss anything. A blow was dealt them by their kindred over the seas, with the result that America revolted. The honorable member for Grey also claims that there is a similarity between that state of affairs and the one with which we are now ‘confronted.
– -He is altogether wrong.
– The Prime Minister spoke of the danger of bargaining, and it would appear from his statement that we are in great danger of making the foreigner angry. If it be true, as he contends, that preferential duties are paid by the people who impose them, how is it possible that we shall make foreigners angry by taxing ourselves? The honorable and learned member for Wannon might deal with that point.
– I shall deal with the question, not of fiscalism, but of preference.
– The basis of the whole question is whether the members of the British Empire are to trade as far as possible among themselves ; whether the sons of Britishers in Australia and other parts of the Empire are to grow the raw material for our industries as far as possible, and give the weight of their .patronage to the British market. That can be done only by means of preference. How is it possible for the honorable and learned member for Wannon to suggest that we can deal with this question without making incidental reference to fiscalism? How are we to make the foreigners angry if it be true, as the freetraders say, that a protective duty is paid by the consumers in the country in which it is imposed ?
– Does the honorable member think that the foreigner pays the protective duty on sugar?
– I cannot enter into a dissertation with regard to fiscal possibilities in detail because I should be out of order in doing so. The Prime Minister, in the course of his speech last night, pointed out that nationality did not depend upon trade. We all grant that : Mr. Chamberlain has never said that it does. Underlying the question of nationality are many considerations far removed from the question of trade; ‘but we can say, in reply to the right honorable member’s suggestion, that nationality does not depend on free imports. When was English character formed?
What was the basis of the nation? When were her triumphs in literature, arts, and everything that goes to make a nation, achieved? When was the nation welded together? Long before England ever heard of free-trade. Everything that is great in the nation was in existence long before the free-trade question was raised, and it remains in existence irrespective of fiscal policy. What Mr. Chamberlain said was that the sons of Empire, producing in far-distant lands, pushing forward the boundaries of her domain, developing the waste places, and holding as fortresses and citadels of the Empire places like Australia and Cape Colony, were entitled to special consideration, and had special claims on the British people.
– And peopling the place with Chinese, as in the case of South Africa.
– Mr. Chamberlain never said anything more than this : That ‘trade is calculated to stimulate friendly relations throughout the Empire. He did not say that it created national character. What trade could be responsible, for example, for the existence of the honorable member for New England? Something else, must have been responsible for it; some upheaval throwing us back to the earliest days of the ichthyosaurus, labyrinthodons, and diprotodons
– That is …- kind of statement that the honorable member revels in.
– Trade is not responsible for the existence of a nation or a man, nor is it responsible for many other things. I shall go still further than the Prime Minister, and say that the absence of trade does not obliterate the responsibilities of blood. The crimson thread of kinship of which the late Sir Henry Parkes spoke in connexion with Federation, courses as strongly and as freely through the hearts of men who have never done any trade with their country, who have left it decades before, and have never set foot upon it afterwards, as it doss in the hearts of those who remain in their own lands.
– Very often patriotism runs high where the condition of the people is the worst.
– I do not desire to reply to all these interruptions, wishing to carry my remarks to a close as soon as possible. What every one will grant with regard to Mr. Chamberlain’s proposal may be briefly illustrated in a homely way.
Supposing the honorable member for New England occupied a goat farm, and a man came to buy goats from him-
– Will the honorable member discuss the question ?
– I am endeavouring to do so. It has been stated, over and over again, in the course of the debate, that trade among relations does not stimulate friendly conditions, and I wish to use a simple allegory to prove that it does. I shall not suggest that the honorable member is identified with a goat farm, ‘ because that might have a personal interpretation placed upon it, but let us say that he deals in some other line. If a relation comes to buy wheat or wool from him he treats him in a friendly way, and thinks all the better of him. He will not set the dogs on him. So we shall think all the better of the English people if they give us a preference over the foreigner, and they will think all the better of us if we allow them an entrance to our markets which we refuse to peoples outside the British confederation.. The honorable member for Grey spoke of the danger of incurring the hostility of the foreigner, but how does the foreigner treat us now ? During the discussions on the Tariff, night was made hideous by the voices of free importers asking what we were going to do for the primary producers. Now that we propose to do something for those primary producers, they say, “That is all very well,’ but we cannot allow England to consent to it.” England is able to look after herself, and that being so, the speeches .which we have heard against the motion are unnecessary in that Australia is practically unanimous upon the subject. How does the foreigner at present treat our primary producers? I have already expressed my high appreciation of Germany. But I am not cosmopolitan. I am national, and a choice has to be made between vague cosmopolitanism and a strenuous nationalism. But how does Germany treat our primary producers? Let us take flour, for instance.
– Why not take wool? She sends men out here to buy it from us.
– That is because she cannot produce sufficient wool to meet her demands. Not a cental of our flour can be imported into Germany without paying a duty of 4s. o,d., while it could not be imported into France without paying a duty of 2s. iod., or into the United States without paying a duty of 25 per cent, ad
– But in return the Commonwealth imposes a duty of 2s. 6d. a cental on German, French, American, and other flour.
– The point I wish to make is that England is the only market open to our primary producers. On our butter, Germany imposes a duty of 8s. 2d. per cwt., France a duty of 10s. 4d., and the United States a fluty of £1 8s.
– And the Commonwealth imposes a duty of 3d. per lb. on all butter coming here.
– No bacon can be imported into Germany, unless a duty of 10s. 2d. per cwt. is paid, while a similar duty is imposed by France, and a duty of £1 3s. 4d. by the United States. So it is with cheese, maize, sugar, fruit, and meat. These countries take our wool and admit it free, only because they require it for manufacturing purposes, though the United States imposes a small ad valorem duty.
– A duty of 11 cents, per lb.
– But it is a great thing for Australia that these countries take our wool.
– The fact that wool is admitted free into those countries is only the exception which proves the rule, and while it may be a good thing for our sheepfarmers, it is of no advantage to our wheatgrowers, or to those who export butter, cheese, meat, and the other things which I have mentioned.
– France is an exporter of butter.
– Honorable members must remember that butter, wheat, and other produce is at present pouring into the British markets from all parts of the world, so that there is great danger that our exportations may be submerged. Therefore, our farmers should ask Great Britain to give them a preference, and should be prepared to make concessions in return. Honorable members have asked what method is to be adopted in bringing about preferential trade. I am not called upon at this stage to state in detail what method is to be adopted.
– No one does.
– No one can.
– -Then why vote for the motion?
– I am voting to affirm the general principle. The motion affirms, first, the desirability of encouraging industry. Then a statement is made in regard to certain action taken in 1902. Then we are asked to consider the possibilities of bringing about preferential trade; to determine that the data necessary for the preparation of a measure should be obtained ; and to authorize the Government to offer preference to the United Kingdom. No details are mentioned.
– Will the honorable member vote for my amendment ?
– No. I am sure that that would be an unwise course to take, merely because the amendment comes from the honorable and learned member.
– We want to know what honorable members who are supporting the motion are prepared to do for the old coun try?
– We are dealing only with the general principle now. All that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat asks is that there shall be a pronouncement of our opinion as to whether preferential trade would be good for Australia. When the Prime Minister stated that a majority of the people and of the Parliament is in favour of preferential trade, the motion should’ have been agreed to without discussion. To ask us to declare now what the preference in detail shall be on butter, or screws, or articles of one kind and another, shows the futility of the consideration given to the subject by some honorable members.
– Will the honorable member vote for free-trade within the Empire?
– There are broad principles governing one’s decisions in regard to all these questions, and we cannot discuss details until we have determined the principles to which we shall give our adherence. We cannot expect to do more tonight than affirm a general principle.
– Paragraph 5 is a distinct authority for the making of an offer to bind the people of Australia.
– Yes; but it contains the words “ such preferences to be reciprocally adjusted according to schedules sanctioned by Parliament.” We cannot settle those matters to-night.
– Honorable members who support the motion are opposed to the giving of preference which would injure the markets of our own manufactures. Why do they not say that?
– Because it would not be true.
– As the Prime Minister has openly stated that a majority of honorable members were returned in favour of preferential trade, the House should unanimously agree to the motion.
– There are conversations proceeding in two or three parts of the chamber which make it almost impossible for me to follow the honorable member for Richmond. These disturbances must cease.
– I shall not vote for theamendment of the honorable member for Hume, because I think that it deals with a question which must be left an open matter, and which some say may be taken for granted. The Prime Minister talked about bargaining. We are all bargaining, in every transaction of life. Every law, and every treaty, is a bargain.
– Does not the honorable member think that, as authority is being given to make an offer to bind the people of Australia, the general terms of that offer should be made distinct?
– We agree to an offer being made subject to the final approval of Parliament. I do not desire to enter into a dissertation upon loyalty. There is no honorable member who would be disloyal to the mother country. . At any rate, any honorable member who was not loyal would have sufficient wisdom to keep the fact to himself. I believe that Mr. Chamberlain is right, and trade has. a great deal’ to do with the basis of national life. Sentiment may not mean much, but it is the mortar which binds the nation together, and if we are able to train the sons of the Empire to take a further special interest in the welfare of each other because they trade together, we shall do much for both the Commonwealth, Great Britain, and all parts of the Empire.
– I think it is a great pity that this important question should be debated in a thin and wearied House. Stress has been laid by every honorable member who has addressed the House, upon the importance of this subject, and doubtless it is worthy of the close consideration of a fresh and vigorous Assembly. It is to be regretted that more time has not been devoted to it, and that a more exhaustive debate is not possible. To my mind, it is desirable that we should place our views fully and freely before the British public. We should make clear and definite statements on the subject. This is not a matter for airy generalizations or vague rhetoric. We have already had from those who have spoken in support of this flamboyant motion too much airy rhetoric, and too little fact. As one who believes in preference upon certain lines, I am prepared to state the extent to which I am prepared to go, and the reasons why I favour the adoption of that policy. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat, of whose, ability, and of whose character I have as high an opinion as has any one, approached so near the sun in his flights of rhetoric, that I thought his wings would melt. The honorable member for Richmond, also, tried to keep as far away as possible from mother earth, and the details of this important question.
– That is the safest thing to do.
– As the honorable member for Parramatta remarks, it is safe to deal only in vague generalities. It is not safe for the protectionists to give up their generalizations, and come down to what is practical.
– I am prepared to vote on the subject.
– The honorable member says he is prepared to vote. I regret that an attempt was made last night to snatch a vote before honorable members had had an opportunity to exhaustively discuss this question. The point is : Are the people of Australia prepared to give to Great Britain such preference as will afford her manufacturers freer access to their markets, or only a nominal preference which will be of no advantage whatever to the mother country? The present position is summed up in a very clever cartoon by Mr. Carruthers Gould, published in the Westminster Gazette. He represents John Bull as pointing to a Tariff wall, which has been erected by a colonist. John Bull says, “ I say, my colonial friend, are you going to lower the wall ?” The colonist replies - and no doubt he is a protectionist colonist - “ Not exactly lower it, but I am going to raise the other part, so that it will be comparatively lower for you.” John Bull replies, “Then I shall need the same length of ladder as before.” Is the preference we are going to give such that-will make it imperative upon Great Britain to use the same length of ladder as before, or is it to be such as will enable her to obtain admission to our markets by using a much shorter ladder? I am not prepared to vote for any scheme of prefer ence which will keep British goods out of our markets. I refuse to be tied to the heels of the party which desires to use the proposals for preferential trade as a means of exciting public sympathy. The people of England have been led to expect that Australia is prepared to give them such preference as will improve the position of the British manufacturer by enabling him to send more goods into our markets. The complaint of the people in the mother land is that our Tariff is too high, and the best way in which we can give them preference is by lowering ‘it in their favour. A book has been published .under the title of All Sides of the Fiscal Controversy. It contains twenty-one speeches which were delivered in England between 15th May and 7th November of last year. I propose to quote one or two passages from these speeches, to show that the people of England hope- and trust that we are prepared to concede to them a generous preference. I shall first refer to the speech delivered by Mr. Balfour at Sheffield on the 1st October. In speaking of the Colonies, Mr. Balfour said -
And we have seen our own Colonies, our own flesh and blood, the very sinews of the Empire that is to be, building up one vested interest after another, a system of protection which, when it reaches its logical and natural conclusion, will make it as hard for us, their mother country, pledged to defend them, bound to them by every tie of affection and regard - will make it as hard for us to export to them the results of our in. dustry, our enterprise, and our capital as we now find it to export those results to America or to other protective countries.
Therefore, his complaint was that our Tariff was too high. Mr. Chamberlain also made a statement to the effect that he relied upon the Australian Colonies to make a genuine and substantial offer to the mother country. Speaking at Birmingham, on the 15th May, immediately after his return from South Africa, he referred, in the first place, to the good work done by colonists during the South African war, and, as was pointed out by the Prime Minister last night, remarked that -
If they (i.e., the colonists), value Empire and its privileges, they must be prepared to take a greater share of its obligations.
That is to say, they must be prepared to contribute much more than they do at present towards the expense of defending the Empire. He then stated that Canada had given certain preferences, and he went on to say -
Last year, at the Conference of Premiers, the representatives of Australia and New Zealand accepted the same principle. They said that in their different Colonies there might be some difference of treatment, but, so far as the principle was concerned, they pledged themselves to recommend to their constituents a substantial preference in favour of goods produced in the mother country.
Then again, when speaking at Newcastle, on the 20th October, 1903, he referred to the Colonies as follows : -
They will have to give us preference over the foreigners, and review their Tariffs, in order to see whether, without injuring their manufactures, they cannot open their markets more widely to us.
At Liverpool, on the 27th October, 1903, he set forth that the true ideal was, of course, to “bring about free-trade within the Empire, and that the preferential trade proposals formed a step in that direction. He said -
You must proceed to it step by step, and the proposal which I make to you is a step - and a great step - towards Imperial free-trade throughout the Empire, which is, no doubt, the ultimate object of our aspirations, but which at the present moment is impossible.
– Is that all he says about free-trade? Does he not condemn the ideas of free-trade that are prevalent in this country ?
- Mr. Chamberlain pointed out that the ultimate aim was Imperial free-trade, and that preferential trade, providing for substantial preference to Great Britain, would be a step in that direction. Then again, when speaking at Welbeck Abbe)’, Mr. Chamberlain is reported by the London Standard of 5th August as having referred to the Colonies in the following terms: -
They have proved their sincerity by offering to us preferences on everything that we produce, and that we send to them. They ask us to meet them half-way. They ask us to grasp the hand which they hold out to us. They ask us to contribute to their prosperity without injuring ourselves. They ask us to give them the trade that we now give to the foreigner. In return, they will do morefor us even than they have already voluntarily done. They will take more of our manufactures ; they will find work for the people of our towns.
I have quoted these statements for the express purpose of showing that the representations which have been made by the leaders of the preferential trade movement in Great Britain is that the preference we are prepared to concede is of a genuine and substantial character, which will considerably improve the position of the British manufacturer. I am prepared to vote to-day, or at any other time, for such preference. We mustguard ourselves against any misapprehension as to what will constitute a sub stantial preference. Mr. Chamberlain has specifically referred to the Canadian preference as having proved distinctly disappointing to the mother country.
– Was that the statement made in 1902 ?
– Yes. He said-
The net result, which I desire to impress upon you, is that, in spite of the preference which Canada has given us, their Tariff has pressed, and still presses, with the greatest severity, upon its best customer, and has favoured the foreigner, who is constantly doing his best to shut out her goods.
In another place he says -
The substantial results have been altogether disappointing.
– But Canada has derived enormous benefits.
– Is the honorable member aware that in spite of the preference the imports from the United States into Canada have increased in a far higher ratio than have the imports from Great Britain ?
– We have to consider the classes of goods that are imported.
– When the Canadian manufacturers of woollen goods found that the British imports were interfering with their operations, they immediately demanded that the duty should be increased. Apparently, whenever protectionists find that they are being injured1, they will demand that the preference shall be removed. Therefore, in matters of this kind, we should be absolutely plain and straightforward. We should consider the extent to which we are prepared to make sacrifices for the sake of the mother country. We should keep the leaders of the . movement in England thoroughly posted with regard to our views and intentions in this regard. No one can deny that if we do grant a substantial preference, it will prove of- great advantage to the working classes ofGreat Britain. What the workers of England fear, however, is that the preference to be granted will be nothing more than a sham and a make-believe, and that their condition will not be improved, but rather the reverse.
– What does the honorable member propose to give?
– A substantial reduction.
– Simply a reduction?
– How would that affect the operation of the Commonwealth Tariff?
– There are a number
– Does the honorable member think that we ought to secure no return for such a preference?
– I certainly anticipate that effect will be given to the promise which has been made, and that in return- for any reduction of the existing duties in favour of the mother country, we shall receive a preference in the British market. If a proposal were made that we should abolish all duties upon British manufactured goods, conditionally upon that country granting to us a substantial preference, I should be quite prepared to fall in with it. Freetrader as I am, I should support the ideal of free-trade within the Empire, even if it were coupled with the imposition of some duties against foreign nations, because I believe that by acting in that way we should knit the Empire more closely together. To me the prospect of a free-trade Empire is an alluring one. But, whilst I am in favour of making a substantial reduction in existing duties in favour of Great Britain, I cannot close my eyes to the Tariff history in Australia within- the past twelve months. At the last general elections the cry for fiscal peace was indorsed by every party in the Commonwealth. But about the middle of this year the exigencies of one political party demanded that it should raise the cry of fiscal war. Its clamour has been heard in this Chamber, and in the columns of the protectionist newspapers it has been represented that our Tariff is too low, and that our importations from abroad must be reduced by increasing the duties at present operating. The Victorian Protectionist Association has passed resolution after resolution demanding the imposition of higher duties. The Chamber of Manufactures has issued appeals- to the manufacturers ‘ of Melbourne asking them what duties they wish to see levied upon their finished articles generally. A system of organized mendicancy has been in progress for several months.
-. - Is it mendicancy to ask for the imposition of a higher rate of duty ?
– It is mendicancy for manufacturers to come to Parliament with a request to put more money into their duties continue to cover the difference between the cost of labour in Australia and that in other parts of the Empire, so that the fiscal preference given shall be by additional duties upon imports from foreign countries and by discrimination in the free-lists or merely revenue-producing items.
– From what book is the honorable member quoting?
– From a handbook to the Tariff question, which was published by_ the Free-trade Union. I may mention that I have checked the resolution from the files of the Argus and the Age. The same book also sets out the views of the Melbourne correspondent to the London Standard upon this question. To my mind, that gentleman aptly and accurately sums up the present situation. He says -
It must not be supposed that the Protectionist Party, though rejoicing that England appears to be prepared to adopt protection; will be ready to make any concessions in regard to duties on British manufactures. It is the British manufacturer they fear. Had it not been for the efforts of the Free-trade Party, the duties on British manufactures would have, in many cases, been twice as high as now. It is British hats, woollen goods, apparel, starch, furniture, and tobacco that the Australian protectionist fears.
– Who is the author of that statement ?
– The Melbourne correspondent of the London Standard. There is no doubt that he is a trustworthy man.
– Rubbish !
– His statements are absolutely correct, as I shall prove later on. He continues -
What the Australian protectionist hopes is that the United Kingdom will impose duties on the food products and raw materials received from foreign countries, and remit them in the case of her Colonies. That he will joyfully accept, and he would also gladly increase the duties on manufactured goods received from foreign countries, but he will not reduce those duties in favour of England. The practical effect of the proposals here will be to strengthen the hands of the Protectionist Party, which has always done its best to shut out the manufactures of England from Australia.
To my mind, that is an accurate statement of the position taken up by a section of those who are supporting the cry for preferential trade here. If it be possible to obtain a division upon the amendment of which I have given notice, we shall be able to separate those honorable members who are prepared to extend a substantial preference to the mother country from those who are not. It is true that some members of the Protectionist Association in Victoria have offered to reduce duties upon certain goods which are not manufactured in Australia.
They have had the temerity to specify two items in this connexion, namely, cotton and linen piece goods, and cutlery. Let us analyze the nature of the preference which they are prepared” to extend to Great Britain. When we have done so, we shall be absolutely satisfied that they will never die from enlargement of the heart. I find that 4n 1903 our total imports of cotton and linen piece goods were valued at £2,055,000, of which £1,943,000 worth were obtained from Great Britain. Consequently, that country supplied us with about 95 per cent, of our total imports of cotton and linen piece goods. Let us assume that the protectionists are willing to go further and reduce the existing duties upon all articles of apparel and textiles. What would their concession amount to? The total value of this class of imports in 1903 was £7,600,000, of which £6,800,000 worth was supplied by Great Britain. In other words, 89 per cent, of our imports in this direction are of British origin. Consequently, it appears that the protectionists of Victoria are prepared to extend to Great Britain a preference of 5 per cent, upon one class of goods, in the supply of which Great Britain practically enjoys a monopoly. Now let us examine what a preference upon the item of cutlery would mean. I find that in 1903 the Commonwealth imported £98,000 worth of this class of goods, in the supply of which £83,000 worth, or 85 per cent., came from Great Britain. If we include plated ware, we shall find that the total imports under this heading in 1903 were valued at £108,000, £90,000 of which - or about 80 per cent. - were supplied by the mother country. Seeing that Great Britain practically enjoys - a monopoly of the market upon the items which I have enumerated, the preference which the protectionists propose to offer her is an absolute sham.
– The Protectionist Association made no official announcement on the subject.
– I did not say that it did. But I distinctly heard an honorable member say in this House, that the alliance would be prepared to support a reduction of the duties on these two items.
– They would give away something which is of no service to them.
– Something which Great Britain already possesses. ,
– And which she is steadily losing.
– If the honorable member thinks that Great Britain can hope to better her position in respect of an article of export as to which she enjoys about 95 per cent. of our trade, I can only say that he is a glutton.
– Why does the honorable member say. that the alliance has decided to do something, when it has not arrived at any such decision ?
– I said that certain members of the alliance had asserted that they were prepared to take this action.
– The honorable member is in error.
– I believe that I heard the honorable member make the statement. To vote for a preference of this kind would be to vote for what is nothing more than a piece of political hypocrisy. My suspicions as to the genuineness of the offer of preferential trade on the part of some of the protectionists are increased tenfold, when I examine the paper which I hold in my hand, showing the resolutions proposed on 8th October, 1901, in Committee of Ways and Means, on the motion of the right honorable member for Adelaide, who was then Minister of Trade and Customs, and providing that certain duties of Customs and Excise should be imposed in Australia. The Tariff schedule was framed to keep out British and foreign goods. The honorable gentleman responsible for the Tariff told us that it would result in a diminution of not less than £5,000,000 worth of goods then being imported into Australia. In the ordinary course of events, three-fifths of these goods would come from Great Britain, so that at this time the object of the Protectionist Party was to shut out£3.000,000 worth of British goods from the Australian market. Honorable members know what was the result of the Tariff proposals of the Barton Government. They know that after ten months of the most vigorous fighting, the Free-trade Party succeeded in reducing the proposed duties to a more reasonable level. In some lines they cut down the proposed duties by over 50 per cent.
– And the result is ruined industries.
– In other cases the duties were reduced by 25 per cent., 30 per cent., 35 per cent., and 40 per cent., with the result that the manufacturers of Great Britain were benefited. Does not the interjection just made by the honorable member for Bourke bear out the contention which I have put before the House, that the policy which I believe he honestly and squarely favours is to shut out British products from Australia wherever that can be done?
– We fight for Australia first, not for the mother country.
– I have no objection to the Protectionist Party fighting for that which they believe to be in the best interests of Australia. All that I ask is that in making an offer for preference to Great Britain we should be candid and sincere. We should not lead the mother country to believe that we are going to give her a concession when, as a matter of fact, all that honorable members of the Protectionist Party propose is to give a preference which will be of no value to her. Let us examine some of the items in the Tariff. Take the item concerning drapery, apparel, millinery, and so forth. Great Britain supplies about 89 per cent. of the total imports of these goods, so that the Free-trade Party, by securing a reduction of the duty in favour of Great Britain and other countries-
– The honorable member is right in sayingother countries.
– Great Britain supplies 89 per cent. ofthe total imports of these goods, so that she receives 89 per cent. of the value of the reduction which the Free-trade Party secured.
– She holds it for to-day.
– She will not hold it long.
– I have always made it a rule never to argue with a prophet. The Protectionist Party wished to tax cotton piece goods to the extent of 10 per cent. and 15 per cent., but the Free-trade Party secured a reduction to 5 per cent.
– The Free-trade Party were not alone responsible for that reduction.
– I believe that in connexion with this matter the honorable member gave one of those intelligent votes of which I warmly approve. The duty on woollens imposed by the Barton Government was20 per cent. on some articles, and 25 per cent, on others; but the Free-trade Party succeeded in securing a reduction to 15 per cent. The duty on umbrellas is now 20 per cent., whereas the duty proposed by the Barton Government ranged from about 30 per cent. to 90 or 100 per cent.. On woollen piece goods the presentduty is 15 per cent., although the Tariff, as introduced, provided for a duty of 20 per cent. Seven-tenths of the benefit ofthesereduc- tions went to Great Britain ; yet the whole of them were strenuously opposed by the official Protectionist Party. In blankets and blanketing, for example, Great Britain supplies 98 per cent, of our imports. The Protectionist Party wished to tax that line at 20 per cent., but the Free-trade Party succeeded in reducing the duty to 15 per cent. Of china and earthenware imported into the Commonwealth, Great Britain supplies about 65 per cent. The Barton Government proposed a duty of 20 per cent. on china, and a duty ranging as high as 90 per cent. on the cheaper and more common earthenware articles, but the Free-trade Party successfully fought for a reduction to 20 per cent.
– Where did the honorable member obtain those figures ?
– From Mr. Coghlan’s return.
– But it does not say that the proposed duty on the articles just referred to ranged from 20 per cent. to 90 per cent.
– The proposed duty on earthenware was 6d. per cubic foot on the outside measurement of the packages, plus 15 per cent. If one takes packages of the commonest and cheapest earthenware, and measures them in this way, he will find that the duty proposed by the Barton Government would have run as high as 90 per cent. Specific instances were put before the Committee. On floor-cloths the Protectionist Party proposed a duty of 20 per cent., but, thanks to the efforts of the Freetrade Party, they are now dutiable at 15 per cent. About 95 per cent. of the floor-cloths imported by Australia come from the mother country. Honorable members will recollect the heart-breaking struggle which took place over the proposed duty on hats, caps, and bonnets, and how the honorable member for Melbourne Ports was almost moved to tears when the Freetrade Party succeeded in securing a reduction. In some cases I understand that hats are invoiced at 10s. or 12s. per dozen, so that the purposed duty would have run up to 100 per cent. We succeeded, however, in reducing it to 30 per cent. in some, and to 20 per cent. in other cases. The total importation of these goods represents a value of £372,000, and of this Britain supplies £308,000 worth, or something like 83 per cent.
– And yet the honorable and learned member will not give her a preference.
– That is my complaint against the honorable and learned member. He was one of those who objected to British goods coming into Australia, and the Free-trade Party had to fight him and others before they could secure these reductions. The Protectionist Party would have maintained these infamous rates against the mother country. Did they ever call for a division in favour of reducing the duties so far as British goods were concerned ? The records do not show that they did.
– Why does not the honorable member join us now ?
– Why does not the honorable and learned member support my proposal to give a genuine substantial preference, rather than the make-believe preference which he and his party offer ? If he is a genuine preferential trader, I shall welcome his vote when we proceed to a division.
– If the honorable member will help us to increase the duty against the foreigners, we shall see what we can do to help him.
– I am not to be caught with protectionist chaff. I have seen too many Parliaments duped by statements of that kind to allow myself to be a party to raising the duties under any pretence whatever. I have often fought the Protectionist Party in Victoria, and am familiar with their little ways. Let me turn to other items in the Tariff. Two of the staple products of Great Britain are iron and steel manufactures of various kinds. Of iron and steel - bar, rod, girders, plate and sheet, galvanized plate and sheet, and pig and scrap - Great Britain sends to Australia about £1,300.000 worth out of our total imports of £1,430,000. The Protectionist Party proposed a duty of 10 per cent, and 15 per cent. on galvanized plate and sheet iron, but, thanks to the efforts of the Free-trade Party, the duty was reduced to 15s. per ton. Pig iron and scrap iron is to be dutiable. There is a Bill on the notice-paper in the name of the honorable and learned member for EdenMonaro, in favour of establishing the iron industry, and of shutting out as far as possible the imports of pig iron and scrap iron and similar articles. The Government proposed a duty of 20 per cent., but the Free-trade Party secured a reduction to 12½ per cent. The value of machines, machinery, and machine tools imported into Australia is about £1,850,000, out of which Great Britain supplies us with £1,226,000 worth. The protectionists proposed that these should be dutiable to the extent of 20 per cent, and 25 per cent., but as the result of the efforts of the Free-trade Party, they are now for the most part dutiable at 12 </inline> per cent. For the last month or two demands for increased duties on these articles have rent the air. We have been told in the protectionist press and elsewhere that unless machines and machine tools are kept out of the country the trade will be ruined. Let me now deal with the manufactures of metals such as nails, wire, pipes and tubes, tanks, barbed wire, netting, axles and springs, bolts and nuts, and mixed metals. The value of the imports of these goods is £1,800,000, and of that trade about £1,100,000 worth goes to Great Britain. The Free-trade Party succeeded in reducing the proposed duty in regard to nearly every one of these items; but, unfortunately they were not successful in securing a reduction of the duty on wire nails. As the result of the action taken by the Free-trade Party, the proposed duty on axles and springs was reduced from 25 per cent, to 15 per cent., and on bolts and nuts from 20 per cent, to 12J per cent. Other reductions were also made, which were opposed” toy the Protectionist Party, who desired to keep out British goods. As from three-fourths ,to five-sixths of our imports in these lines come from Great Britain, the benefit of any increase of our imports in this direction would have been largely reaped by the mother country. The Protectionist Party have sought to prevent Great -Britain from sec ring the great bulk of the trade. When the Tariff was under discussion, it was proposed by the protectionists to place a duty of 15 per cent, upon railway material. That duty was reduced by thi? efforts of the Free-trade Party to 12$ per cent. If it had not been reduced, it would have had the effect, to some extent, of keeping British imports out of this market. At the present time, our imports in this line ire valued at £464,000, of which £412,000 worth come from Great Britain. Our importation of vehicles of all kinds, including carriages, bicycles, and motor-cars, is worth about £400,000, of which about £516.000 worth come from Great Britain. A Protectionist Government proposed fixed and composite duties on vehicles, which ranged from 20 per cent, to 80 per cent., and would have largely excluded vehicles of British manufacture. But through the efforts of those who were in favour of a more reasonable Tariff, those duties were very considerably reduced. The instances which I have given show that the Protectionist Party were, during the consideration of the Tariff, seeking to practically exclude from this market not only foreign, but also British goods. It was only by the efforts of those whose fiscal views are the same as mine, that this attempt was frustrated. Therefore, I am justified in looking with a great deal of suspicion on the genuineness of the offer of preference now being made by protectionists. Moreover, I cannot shut my eyes to another manifestation of the manner in which the industries of Great Britain are regarded by the protectionists. The British shipping industry, which was responsible for the settlement of these Colonies, and is the chief glory of Great Britain, so that with its decay British prestige and rule would come to an end, is one to which the Protectionist Party through its leaders, in the last Parliament, promised to give favorable consideration. It was a promise of this kind that **Mr. Chamberlain referred to in the great speech on preferential trade, which he made at Liverpool. He took the promise of our protectionists seriously, because he did not know them as well as we know them. At the Colonial Conference, the visiting Premiers passed resolutions, affirming that special concessions should be granted to British ships in the coastal trade of the Colonies, and in the trade between the Empire and the Colonies; and
Mr. Chamberlain’s speeches on the Tariff question, and have been struck with the reiteration of the statement that, unless there is. a preference, there will be no. Empire. These views have really been crystallized into the epigram “ No preference, no Em pire.” He has said that unless a tax is put on food) separation cannot be prevented, and I think that we cannot make it too plain that that is not our view of the case, that although we believe that a tax on food would be greatly to the advantage of our farmers, their loyalty would not be diminished if the British people abstained from so taxing themselves. I represent a producing district, and I say that the loyalty of the farmers in my district would not be lessened in the slightest degree if Great Britain decided that preferential trade is not in her interests.
– What about the honorable member’s loyalty to his constituents ?
– I am loyal to the farmers of my district. The best way for us to obtain preference is by reducing our duties in favour of the mother country. Does the honorable member think that British manufacturers and’ ship-owners are so stupid that they will be taken in by a preference which will not give them freer access to our markets? If they do not get anything substantial, they will not give us anything substantial. I believe that we can get something substantial, and I believe that if preferential trade on the lines of my amendment is carried, it will bring about substantial gain to the Commonwealth and to the mother country. I do not, however, believe in increasing the duties against foreign countries. The honorable member for Richmond, in his usual facetious manner, referred to the trade of France and Germany with Australia. A lot of nonsense is talked about the injury which* foreigners are doing to Australia. Take our trade with Germany, for instance. We import less than £2,500,000 worth of goods from Germany, and export to that country £6,000,000 worth, of which over £5,000,000 worth is the produce of our soil. Our exports to France are worth about £3,250,000, and our imports from that country about £^1,000,000. Our trade with those two countries is, therefore, on a satisfactory basis, and while I should prefer to trade with Great Britain”, I do not think we should discourage other customers. It is to ‘the advantage of Australian woolgrowers to have as many buyers as possible for their wool, just as it is to the advantage of our wheat-growers to have as many buyers as possible competing for their wheat, and of our dairy farmers to have as many buyers as possible competing for their butter. We should not discourage other nations from buying our goods. To raise our duties against them would be an act of hostility, which I believe they would resent, even at some cost to themselves. Believing as I do that a real, genuine preference cannot be obtained unless a substantial reduction is made in our existing duties in favour of Great Britain, I move -
That after the word “kingdom,” paragraph 5, the word “ such “ be inserted, and that after the word “ Ireland “ the words “ as will afford exports from the United Kingdom substantially freer access to the Australian market than now exists,” be inserted.
That amendment carries into effect ‘the opinions which I have endeavoured to place before honorable members, and I hope that a division will be taken upon it before the session closes.
– I was very hopeful, when this debate was initiated, that an opportunity would have been afforded to arrive at a decision, at -any rate, upon the principle involved. Last evening, it was evident that some honorable members were anxious to prevent any decision from being arrived at, but I was quite willing to forego the right to make any remarks upon the subject, even as I am now inclined to curtail my speech, with a view to facilitating some decision on the part .of this Chamber. It seems to me that there is a necessity for some ‘indication of the desire of the Australian people in relation to this subject. The honorable member for Parramatta indicated by interjection last even-, ing that, in view of my change of attitude, it was necessary for me to say something upon the question. So far as the principle of preferential trade is concerned, I contend that there has been no change whatever on my part from the moment that the question was initiated. I have hoped for many years past that some day we should be able to bring about something approaching an Imperial Zollverein, bv which the different sections of the people belonging to the British Empire, as a whole, could encourage trade one with the other, to their mutual advantage and profit. When the proposal for preferential trade began to assume something like concrete form in the mother country, I expressed from the plat form my full belief in the wisdom, from the stand-point of every section of the British family, of establishing preferential trade relations. Upon that principle I have not wavered up to the present time. I do not care who may bring forward a proposal in that direction. It matters not to me if I cannot agree upon matters of general policy with the godfathers of this movement in the mother country or in the Commonwealth. It is my duty - as it is also that of every other individual in the community - to look only at the concrete proposal, and to consider whether it will tend to the advantage ot the community. If we think that it will do so, we should support it with our whole hearts. In August last, at Wagga, ‘I stated that, whilst I favoured the principle of preferential trade, I saw no reason to take any active steps in the matter until a decision had been arrived at in the mother country. But in the meantime events have marched considerably. Whilst no doubt was expressed by the leading men in England as to the attitude of Australia, I was quite prepared .to await developments in the old land, because it seemed to me that the necessity had not arisen for any action on our part. Whilst it was assumed - as the people of England had the right to assume - that Australia desired preference, and that we were prepared to make some sacrifices in order, to obtain it, there was no necessity for us to take any active steps. But the speech of Lord Rosebery, at Lincoln, evidenced a disbelief in the desire of Australia to have anything to do with the suggestion.
– Does the honorable member think that the people of England care very much about it?
– I think that. Lord Rosebery is entitled to have his opinions respected. No doubt he thought they were founded on adequate data. I know that there are some people in the Commonwealth who are so utterly opposed to anything in the shape of duties, whether of a local or an. Imperial character, that they are quite capable - I do not say intentionally - of misrepresenting the feeling of Australia upon this subject. I have no doubt that the misapprehension of Lord Rosebery was due to that fact.
– Does the honorable member think that t’he feeling of the people of Australia is very strong?
– I think that they are extremely anxious that the general principle ot preference should be adopted. I do not for a moment say that they are agreed as to” details, nor do I imagine that at this period it is necessary that details should be the subject of argument. Even if at the next general election in England the people were to declare in favour of the principle, a great deal would still have to be done before practical effect could be given to the scheme. It would be necessary to arrange for a conference of representatives of the selfgoverning States and of the Imperial Government to consider the shape that preference should take, and (how far the Colonies might be expected to forego the principle ot protection that has been so generally adopted. The Prime Minister last evening referred to the motives that lay behind the suggestion of preferential trade. He said that evidently Mr. Chamberlain was resolved in view of the immense expenditure of Great Britain upon defence that the Colonies generally should be induced, per medium of preferential trade, to shoulder a greater share of responsibility. In arguing in support of the principle of preferential trade, I take no heed whatever of any issues that opponents care to import into the discussion, because it seems to me that, whatever Mr. Chamberlain’s abilities may be, or whatever may be said to his detriment by those engaged in English politics, he has at least a sufficient reputation throughout the British-speaking communities to justify him in expecting that any proposal he puts forward seriously shall be considered in the light of his own statements. He has not, so far as I am aware, given any indication that it is his desire in connexion with his proposal for preferential trade, to impose any further duty upon these Colonies in regard to Imperial defence. I have no sympathy, under present conditions, with any suggestion for a cut-and-dried scheme of Imperial Federation. I believe that any scheme of value from the Imperial standpoint must inevitably break down of its own weight, owing to the disproportion between the populations of the various component parts of the Empire. It is absolutely impossible to project any scheme that will not, in the long run, lead to friction, which is at present happily absent from the councils of the nation. Holding these views, I could not subscribe to anything that would even take us in the direction indicated, but I hold that a proposal for a partnership, or an arrangement of tariffs to our mutual advantage, would no more commit us to Imperial Federation than a similar reciprocal arrange ment between ourselves and other Colonies would involve our submitting ourselves to their control. We are just as free to arrange a reciprocal trade treaty with the mother country as with other parts of the Empire.
– The honorable member believes in an Imperial Zollverein. -
– Yes, but such a one as would relate to trade purposes, and have no connexion whatever with Imperial Federation, or Imperial defence, as those terms are generally understood. A trade treaty for mutual advantage would have no necessary connexion with any proposals that would be involved in Imperial Federation or. defence.
– A trade treaty cannot be called a Zollverein.
– The main effects of the Zollverein, as I understand, were of a commercial character. I do not know that it went very much further than that, so far as its actual results were concerned. In any case, I say at once that I have no sympathy with the idea of Imperial Federation at present. I do not know what the future may bring forth. Perhaps many years hence it may be necessary to enter into closer political relations with the mother country, and other portions of the Empire; but whilst the present disparity of population exists, it seems to me to be baying at the moon to talk of any closer connexion than we have at present. As I was saying, the Prime Minister was, I think, inclined to lay too much stress upon the motives of those who are responsible for this suggestion, and I am sorry to say that he went further and attempted to compare preferential trade to the old restrictive laws that England put in operation against her Colonies many years ago, when she had a very false idea - as has since been confessed by her own people - of the manner in which Colonies should be developed, having regard to the advantage of the Empire as a whole. I cannot understand the Prime Minister attempting to draw any parallel whatever between laws which were passed with the distinct object of benefiting England’s trade only, of insuring to the merchants of Great Britain the control of the trade of the various Colonies, with the present suggestion, whereby mutual advantage would, it is hoped, be conferred upon the partners. They would enter into an arrangement with their eyes open, and with freedom to alter the contract at any time when it was found to be hurtful to either party. I cannot conceive that there is any parallel between the two positions, and it seams to me that the right honorable gentleman was seeking to create a prejudice against the proposal for preferential trade when he sought to compare it to the condition of affairs that existed in England a hundred years ago. Then a reference was made by him to the appeal sent to me by the representatives of the British trade unions, which he said demonstrated the horror felt in England of any food taxation. To my mind the keynote of that document was rather the fear of one particular personality in England, than any particular objection to the proposals that were put forward.
– A well-grounded fear, too.
– I am prepared to allow the people of Great Britain to judge upon that, as upon other matters that concern them. It is their business to express opinions upon their local politics, and I, for one, heartily sympathize with the suggestion put forward in Mr. McDonald’s letter that it is not our place to interfere with the legislation or active politics of England any more than it is the duty of the English people to interfere in the politics of Australia. In either case, I admit that it is for the local people to decide. At the same time, I believe it to be our duty, not only to the people of Australia, but to those of Great Britain, to indicate as clearly as possible what, are our own desires, so that they may be taken into consideration when a determination is being arrived at upon the matter. I believe that at the present time the great majority of the trade unionists in England are opposed to anything that would involve the taxation of food. I am under the impression, however, that they are liable at present to overrate the importance to themselves of food taxation of the kind suggested, and to underrate the amount of compensation that may be given to England under an effective scheme of reciprocal trade relations with the various Colonies. I am inclined to that view, but I say, at once, that it is for them to decide, in view of the local circumstances. I believe that with the lapse of time, and the greater information that will be made available to them as months go on, there is every possibility of a change taking place, even in the views of those gentlemen who have been so emphatic in their opposition to the scheme up to the present time. The Prime Minister said that freedom of trade had lifted the masses of England from misery. I do not propose at this stage to enter into a lengthy discussion of the causes and effects, so far as the industrial position of England is concerned. It must be admitted that we must always consider, not only the mere fiscal arrangements, not merely the Tariff which has been in operation, but the surrounding circumstances, and my conviction is that in Great Britain the progress of invention, and its effect upon production throughout the world, has done more for the masses of Great Britain than has been accomplished by any alteration of the Tariff. I believe that the cheapening of produce throughout the world has brought within the reach of the British working man commodities which he had no opportunity of obtaining with the limited purchasing power which he possessed a few years ago. The same cause has produced a similar result in every civilized country in the world, irrespective of whether it is protectionist or free-trade.
– Not to the same extent.
– Last night the Prime Minister drew attention to the fact that there is a smaller proportion of able-bodied paupers in England to-day than there was in 1854.
– That is another point.
– While the right honorable gentleman’s figures were correct’ in that connexion, it is a fact that the expenditure of England upon poor relief to-day. is as much as it was between 1840 and 1850.
– And is therefore relatively much less.
– No. It is just as great per head to-day as it was fifty years ago. To-day it is 6s. id. per annum, whereas in 1850 it was 6s. 2d. per annum. In France a big reduction has taken place in the amount expended in that direction per head of the population. The number in receipt df poor relief in that country was reduced from 79 per thousand in 1850 to 41 per thousand in 1887. I repeat that in France and other countries there has been a reduction in the measure of suffering experienced, and an improvement in the condition of the people, which corresponds fully with the increase in comfort which obtains in England to-day as compared with the conditions which prevailed there fifty or sixty years ago. These facts show that the improvement of the British people has not necessarily been due to the adoption of a free-trade policy.
– Did the honorable member hear the figures which were quoted by the honorable member for Grey this afternoon ?
– I did not. I obtained my statistics from Mulhall, who is ordinarily regarded as a very reliable statistician. The alteration of conditions to which I have referred has been general throughout the civilized world. Whilst I contend that the worker does not receive anything like a reasonable proportion of what he produces, I must admit that, with the progress of inventions, there has been a material improvement in his condition in all civilized communities. I hope that that improvement will continue, until each section of the people will receive a much fairer distribution than obtains at the present time. Then we have to consider what is the position of British trade to-day. Whilst our free-trade friends congratulate themselves upon. the fact that since i860 there has been an enormous expansion in production and in the export trade of Great Bri-tain generally, it must be recollected that there were special circumstances which contributed to that result. There was first the fact that at the time the free-trade campaign was conducted in Great Britain that country occupied a unique position, especially so far as manufacturing was concerned. She had a start in the industrial race, which she retained for a considerable time. Indeed, it is only recently that other nations have shown any determination to progress industrially, and have become serious competitors in the markets of the world. But for a few years past there has been every indication that unless some general movement is made throughout the Empire the competition of the foreigner will become keener and more effective every day, I think that the adoption of Mr. Chamberlain’s proposals, which have been endorsed to a large extent by every self governing colony of the Empire, will go a long way towards remedying that condition of affairs. It is admitted that in foreign markets Great Britain has been largely ousted by her competitors, because the latter have maintained their home markets by a rigid wall of protective duties. It is only in the Eastern and colonial portions of the Empire that Great Britain has obtained any thing like reasonable treatment. I am aware that it is customary for those who consider that no change is necessary to declare that even if Great Britain has lost trade in foreign markets, she has gained more than sufficient in colonial markets to counterbalance that loss. My contention, however, is that, while until recently compensation was offered to British manufacturers, in that they were sending an enormous quantity of goods to the colonies, we find that of late years the foreigner has entered the colonial markets, and that the old saying that “trade follows the flag” is being falsified more and more every year. Last evening the Prime Minister made some references to India. He drew attention to the enormous preponderance of British imports into that country. He stated that an enormous proportion of the goods sent to India last year were of British origin, and consequently he claimed that there was no need, so far as that country was concerned, to .fear the competition of the foreigner. But I would direct his attention to the fact that whilst he gave the total quantity of British goods exported to India, he did not give the comparative figures in regard to any recent period. Mulhall states that between 1887 and 1897-
– Those figures are out of date now; I dealt with the position which obtained last year.
– The right honorable gentleman did not deal with the proportions at all. He merely gave the total sum. From the latest information to be derived from Mulhall, I find that in India British imports have declined from 58.2 to 45.2 - a decrease of 13 per cent.
– I gave much later figures than those.
– But the prime Minister did not institute any comparison between British and foreign imports into India. Mulhall states that -
Trade with Great (Britain has declined remarkably, while there has been a prodigious increase in dealings with China and Germany.
So far as India is concerned, the competition of foreign nations is becoming much more effective than it has been hitherto, and consequently it is a factor which ought to be taken into consideration. In Australia, again, Great Britain is falling behind. I do not say that she is actually behind, and I hope that she never will be. But there is no doubt that her proportion of exports to Australia has considerably declined of late. In 1891, I find that she exported to this country £26,000,000 worth of goods, whereas, in 1902, she exported only £23,000,000 worth, and in 1903 only £19,000,000 worth. If there were no indication of an increase in foreign importations, that decline might not be very significant, because we must admit that we have suffered severely from drought, and that we have recently very much curtailed our borrowing transactions. There was not the same likelihood that we should import largely from Great Britain under these conditions as there was under the conditions which existed some time ago. But I would point out that our imports from foreign countries have increased from nearly £7,000,000 in value to almost £13,000,000.
– What lines do these increases represent?
– I obtained my figures from Coghlan, which does not give details. I need scarcely point out, however, to the honorable member that from none of these countries do we import much in the way of raw material. Of course, we import some articles from them, such as tea, for example. But so far as tea is concerned, the value of my figures is not destroyed, because the source ‘of importation of that article between the years I have mentioned has changed almost entirely from China to India and Ceylon, which are within the British Empire.
– It is in timber, sugar, tobacco, wines, &c, that the increase has taken place.
– The honorable member is mistaken.
– I have examined the figures.
– The honorable member must know that a large portion of the sugar which we import is obtained from the Mauritius, which is a British Possession. It is a significant fact that alongside a decline of £7,000,000 in British imports, there has been an increase of £6,000,000 in our imports from foreign countries.
– Foreign countries import twice as much from India as does the mother country.
– I do not see that that fact affects my argument as to whether British manufacturers are holding their own or being defeated by foreign competitors.
– Can Australian manufacturers help British manufacturers? That is the question.
– I maintain that it is not the question. The real question is whether we have in Australia a permanent market for British products, if we grant them a preference over the products of the foreigner.
– There is very little in that.
– I think that there is a great deal in it, as the years roll on, there will be more in it than there is today. It seems to me that there will always be a large proportion of goods which it will not pay us to manufacture locally. Even with the high Tariff which is operative in America at the present time, and notwithstanding the immense population of that country, it has been found that there are some articles which the people will obtain from abroad.
– In view of the free market which Great Britain gives us, would not the honorable member give her a preference as against foreign countries, without making a bargain for something in return?
– I think that the arrangement should be reciprocal.
– The free market is there, ready for us.
– She gives it to us, in common with persons outside the Empire who choose to take advantage of it.
– If she taxed our produce we should look rather sick.
– I do not suppose that she is likely to tax our produce, and to allow that of other countries to come in free. I do not think that it is probable that any attempt will be made by Great Britain to differentiate between us and the rest of the world in that respect.
– That will never be done.
– I am confident that it will not; but I hold that the arrangement to be entered into should be reciprocal. I lay down no hard and fast rule in regard to the giving of facilities ; but, speaking generally, the arrangement should be reciprocal if it is to be of any advantage to Australia. Something has been said during the debate with regard to the position of Canada, and attempts have been made to underrate the effect of the preference extended by Canada to British goods. The Prime Minister stated last evening that Mr. Chamberlain had said that the Canadian preference was of very little value.
– And it is not.
– I take leave to differ from the honorable member. The Honorable Mr. Fielding, Treasurer of Canada, judging by the report of his last Budget statement, gave Mr. Chamberlain a very clear explanation of the position of the Dominion at the Imperial Conference. By statistics which he has since published in connexion with . his Budget statement this year, Mr. Fielding showed that in 1897, immediately prior to the granting of preference, the Canadian importations from Great Britain reached the lowest point they had touched for a great many years. They had dropped to less than $29,401,188, but immediately the preference was granted an expansion took place, until last year the value of British : imports into Canada had increased to $58,793,038. During the six years of the operation of the preferential policy, the trade was absolutely doubled.
– But did not Canada’s trade with the United States expand to a still greater extent during the same period?
– That point has been mentioned before, but I attach no weight to it, for the reason that had it not been for the preference granted to Great Britain the whole of this expansion of trade would have gone to the United States. Why should it not have done so? The United States have every facility, from a geographical stand-point, to send their goods over the border to Canada. They manufacture almost as great a variety as Great Britain, and if it were not for the preference this increased trade would have been lost to Great Britain.
– As a matter of fact, has not Canada reduced the preference in re,spect of woollen goods ?
– She did so in June last.
– The reduction was made because the preference was unfair to the local manufacturers.
– It was made because there was no reciprocity. The people of Canada, after waiting for six years, saw no movement on the part of Great Britain.
– Is that the reason given for the alteration ?
– I do not say it is the only reason.
– The reason given is that the preference was unfair to the local manufacturers.
– When a reciprocal arrangement is suggested, and a tentative scheme to facilitate it is adopted, with the result that nothing further eventuates, those who are concerned in helping to maintain reciprocal relations lose their enthusiasm, and the more selfish members of the community obtain their own way. What does
Mr. Fielding say upon this point? His statement is a significant one. We are told that we should do as other parts of the Empire have done, and offer Great Britain certain concessions without asking for anything in return. I contend that, if nothing be given in return, the inevitable result will be a falling-off in the concessions already made. Mr. Fielding, speaking on the 7th June last, referred in the course of his Budget statement to the position in Great Britain, and said -
What should be our own action in the matter? We may be influenced in our own preferential policy by what may occur in the mother country in the hereafter. We shall claim a free hand in that respect, but, for the present, we think it is wise policy to adhere to the preferential system, in the hope that it may be adopted more generally throughout the Empire, and that by-and-bye a better understanding may be come to in the mother country, and that it will be adopted there as well.
A distinct inference is to be drawn from this statement, that the preference is to be continued, but that, in the meantime, unless there be a general movement in the direction of reciprocity, Canada will reconsider her position.
– What other construction could be placed upon the language he used ? To my mind no other is possible.
– What is the immediate context?
– I have read the complete paragraph. The preceding paragraph refers to the position in England, whilst the succeeding one relates to what Canada proposes to do immediately iri reference to Tariff alterations. The honorable member for New England will perhaps remember that, whilst Canada increased the duty on woollens by a small percentage, she’ decreased the duty as against Great Britain on one or two other items. Great Britain had a preference of one-third of the total Tariff, and in the case of china and glass, for example, that preference was increased to one-half, so that where the foreigner paid 30 per cent, on goods of this class which he exported to Canada, the duty paid on British imports would be only 15 per cent. That would be to some extent a setoff for the increased duty on woollens. I have pointed out that Canada is giving a material advantage to the manufactures of Great Britain by her instalment of Preferential Trade. A number of honorable members, however, say that the concession has. had no effect. The same honorable members will tell us that the difference between a 20 per cent. and a 30 per cent. Tariff constitutes the difference between a high and a prohibitive protection. When dealing with a duty that is proposed to be imposed in Australia, the free-trade members of the House will denounce any attempt to fix a high Tariff ; but when Canada reduces her high Tariff to a moderate one, in the interests of Great Britain, they say that such action has been of no value.
– I do not say that.
– Some honorable members make that assertion, although I do not understand their reasoning. A further lesson to be drawn from the position of Canada is that this bargaining must be reciprocal, if there is to be any permanence - that a one-sided preference could not continue.
– Without it there is no consummation of the policy.
– Quite so. I am not speaking of any small concession that might be made, but I should object to any general arrangement unless it were of a reciprocal character. The Prime Minister last evening made some remarks with reference to the position of the British farmer under a preferential scheme. He asked why, in the interests of the farmers of Australia, the British farmer should be called upon to suffer under a system of preferential trade. He seems to imagine that under such a policy the British farmer would be in a worse position than he is in at present.
– It is argued that he will bevery much better off.
-The Prime Minister argued in the opposite direction.
– I think he was only putting that argument in a satirical way.
– If that be so, then, notwithstanding the brightness of the right honorable gentleman, it seems that it is necessary to label his jokes - “ This is sarcasm.” I thought thathe was speaking, seriously, and was going to say that the British farmer has to-day to face the competition of the whole world. He certainly will not be placed in a worse position if the area of competition be limited to the British Empire.
– If the argument be correct that the consumer will have to pay more, the British farmer must be benefited.
– I do not anticipate thatany large increase in price will result from the imposition of the duties suggested by Mr. Chamberlain. I admit that an impost of 3d. per bushel, or 2s. per quarter, would be of material advantage to the producers of Australia, but I do not think it would cause prices to increase to any large extent. It certainly would not materially prejudice the interests of the consumer. I shall not say more on that point, except that it seems absurd to suggest that the adoption of this proposal would place the British farmer in a worse position. It reminds me of an argument that was advanced by one of the Sydney newspapers, and which has been reiterated by some honorable members of another place, that if, as the result of Preferential Trade, the price of wheat were increased in England to the extent of 3d. per bushel, all the consumers in Australia would have to pay an increased price for their bread.
– So they would.
– It does not necessarily follow that they would suffer any increased price. Does the honorable member mean to say that he can obtain his bread any cheaper when there is a fall of 3d. per bushel in the price of wheat in the Sydney market? I have not found that I can. I remember seeing bread sold at 2¼d. the 2lb. loaf when wheat was considerably dearer than it is to-day. In any. case, an impost of. 3d. per bushel would be very difficult to pass on in the shape of an increase in the price of the ordinary 2lb. or 4lb. loaf.
– Protectionists always say that the duty can be passed on until it becomes protective.
– I hold that it altogether depends on the amount. The honorable member will recollect that the brewers of Sydney objected very strongly to the proposal of the local Legislature to impose an Excise duty on beer, because it was said that it would be difficult for them to pass it on. As a matter of fact, they have not succeeded in passing on the impost to the consumer.
– They succeeded in South Australia, by making the glasses smaller.
– I am sorry to hear that the people of South Australia have been got at in that way. In New South Wales the regulation price of a pint of beer has not altered.
– Wheat, above all things, must be affected uniformly throughout the Empire.
– I do not admit that, because the experience gained in connexion with the imposition of a registration fee ot a shilling a bushel on wheat entering England, which was exacted at the time of the war, was that it was not passed on.
– One of the honorable member’s colleagues to-day proved that it was.
– My memory as to the figures is quite distinct from that I am not at present convinced that that was the case. We are asked by the honorable and learned member for Wannon, and some other honorable members of his way of thinking, to get down to facts and concrete proposals. So far as I am concerned, I think that this is too early a stage in the negotiations to do anything of that kind. It seems to me that it is idle for us now to put forward our ideas as to the exact shape that preference should take, when there must be consultation and conference on the subject generally between the representatives of the dependent self-governing portions of the Empire and the British Government. All detailed consideration must be referred to some such conference before anything definite or concrete can be proposed. I do not desire to put Australian manufacturers in a position in which they would be at a disadvantage in the struggle for existence.
– The honorable member would not agree to India sharing in the preference.
– No, except in’ regard to such products as tea. I would not give a preference to products made by Asiatic labour which would come into competition with the products made by white people here, though I am prepared to give such a preference to the products of the white labour of Great Britain. I think that Australia might very well increase her duties against the foreigner. If she did that, she would not have a higher Tariff than is in force in Canada.
– It is not so easy for other countries to export to Australia as it is for them to export to Canada.
– I do not think that there is much difference, so far as exportation from England is concerned. As the honorable member knows, the freight from England to Australia is not very much higher than the freight from England to Canada.
– - But the United States are right on the borders of Canada.
– I am speaking of goods coming from Great Britain. Canada reduced her duties against Great Britain, but she had at the time a higher Tariff than we have.
– Her reduction of duties has not benefited Great Britain when compared with the United States.
– I have been attempting to prove that it has materially benefited Great Britain, and the increased export trade of that country would have gone to the United States had it not been for the preference. The honorable member may beable to controvert my statement, but my opinion is that Great Britain has benefited.
– Do I understand that the honorable member is not prepared to reduce duties on imports from Great Britain, speaking generally ?
– I should not like to lay down a hard and fast rule, but speaking generally, I say that our duties for the maintenance of industries are, as protective duties, very low. One cannot properly speak of a duty of 15 per cent, as a highly protective duty. To my mind, it is merely a shade higher than a revenue duty. Many of the colleagues of the honorable member regard 10 per cent, duties as revenue duties.
– How can we have preferential trade and protection at the same time?
– We need not have prohibitive duties, such as are in force in some countries; but if the United States Tariff were reduced in favour of Great Britain from 45 to 30 per cent. Great Britain would obtain a preference, while there would still be a protection of 30 per cent, to the local manufacturer.
– Notwithstanding our Tariff, Australia is importing nearly £40,000,000 worth of goods a year.
– Yes. But irrespective of the maintenance of the present duties against Great Britain, which for the most part are low, I would point out that we have an enormous free list, exempting articles of very high manufacture, such as machinery and tools, of trade. If Great Britain had a preference in regard to the free list alone, it would be of advantage to her.
– . Our manufacturers would complain then, because they would say that these things ought to be entirely free.
-It is always difficult to satisfy manufacturers, because, while one man wishes to have a duty placed on an article, another insists that it should be
– He asked us not to enter upon further industries.
– He did not insist upon that.
– It was not popular, and therefore he dropped it.
– I have heard that asserted, and I know that it has been denied. Even the best of us are liable to make mistakes in the presentation of a big case.
– We are liable to make changes. The honorable member has made one on this subject within the last four months.
– The honorable member is an adept in that sort of thing, so that he should be able to judge. I have stated that I have not changed my opinions in regard to the principle involved. I said at Wagga that I was strongly in favour of preferential trade. My only change is as to the desirability of taking immediate action. I have explained why I now think it necessary to take some action.
– Does the honorable member think that the Empire will break up if immediate action be not taken?
– No; but it would be of advantage to the constituent elements of the ‘Empire to have greater facilities for mutual trade than exist at the present time. I do not say that loyalty to the Empire is to be measured by the degree of advantage that is to be given.
– The honorable member is out for bargains.
– Certainly. Why should we not bargain, if it is to the ad
– It would be a bad bargain for him if he had to give the honorable member 2s. every time he met him.
– If I gave him four sixpenny bits in return, he would not be a loser. Both seller and buyer are richer for a trading transaction, so long as one requires the goods and the other the money.
– That is a free-trade argument.
– Free-traders believe in being always the buyers and never the sellers. I do not think that it is necessary for me to say anything more on this subject. It is my strong conviction that the movement is in the right direction. While it is not likely that the feelings of the Colonies towards the mother country will change, it is wise to provide against contingencies. It does not follow that Imperial Federation would be built upon a scheme for Preferential Trade. But as a mutual advantage accrues from improved trade relations between the various sections of the British people, the feeling will growup that it is necessary for them to stand together, that their interests are one, and that they can afford to disregard action taken by foreign countries to injure their trade and commerce.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).I am glad to have heard the speech of the honorable member for Bland. He has now made a definite statement as to his attitude in regard to importations from the mother country. He has told us that, broadly speaking, he is in favour of the maintenance of the existing protective duties against the industries of Great Britain.
– An3 of raising our duties against the foreigner.
– In the old country, they are not so much concerned about that, as they are about our attitude towards them. What we wish to know precisely is what the ‘honorable member, and those who are co-operating with him, intend to propose in regard to the importations from Great Britain. The motion speaks of a reciprocal preference, and we now know that what is intended is a preference “ up “ against the foreigner, not a preference “ down ‘ ‘ in favour of Great Britain. The’ honorable member went on to say that while he would main- tain the protective duties which now exist against the manufactures of Great Britain, he would not object to the taxation of the tools which our manufacturers are allowed to import free. That statement will be read with a great deal of interest by them. When we were discussing the Tariff, he was very much in favour of tools of trade being admitted free.
– I do not think I said anything on the subject.
– I think that the honorable member will find that he did. I know that the members of his party as a whole were opposed to the taxing of tools of trade.
– The honorable member’s imagination is running away with him.
– The honorable member is very glib in making statements of that kind’. He made a similar assertion last evening, when he denied that there had been any change in his attitude.
– I said that there had been no change in my attitude with regard to the principle.
– We shall’ soon see whether there has been any change in the honorable member’s attitude. I shall quote from the reports, which appeared in the Argus and the Age, of the speech delivered by the honorable member at Wagga in August last. The reports do not differ, except that that which appears in the Age is the fuller one. According to the Argus the honorable member said that he saw no necessity for the holding of a Conference in London at present. He pointed out that a Conference had been held, which was attended by Mr. Barton, at which resolutions in favour of preferential trade had been carried. He then went on to say -
We should therefore wait until the mother country had made up her mind on the subject. The first move must come from the mother country, because she has the largest interests at stake. I have no intention to allow any words of mine to be used as a lever one way or the other.
If the honorable member still says that his attitude has not changed, I do not know the meaning of words.
– Is any difference of principle involved?
– I am not speaking of the principle, but of the honorable member’s change of attitude. I nay that he has turned right-about-face. He said that it would be improper to .take any action until the mother country had spoken, because she had the greater interest at stake. The Age report reads as follows: -
In present circumstances he did not see the necessity of having any conference in London from the Colonies. Our position was to wait until the mother country had made up her mind upon this great and important question. He had always believed in an Imperial Zollverein - in an attempt being made as far as practicable to encourage trade among our own people in preference to other nations. But the first move must come from the mother country, because she had the larger interest at stake. Willi Australia it was a question of surplus products. With the mother country it was largely a question of life and death as to how far she would be justified in interfering with her ordinary channels of trade. That was a question for those intrusted with the Government of Great Britain, and for the electors of the mother country to decide - not for us in far-off Australia. If the mother country came to a decision that preference was desirable then it would be the proper thing to call a conference to consider the direction it might take.
– I say so still.
– Last night the honorable member denied that he had changed his attitude.
– I still say that I have not changed my attitude with regard to the principle.
– Does the honorable member still think that we should wait for the mother country to take the first step?
– That is not a matter of principle. The honorable member’s implication was that my attitude upon the principle had changed.
– I did not say any such thing.- I said that the honorable member had stated at Wagga that he would have nothing whatever to do with this proposal until the mother country had taken action.
– Many things have happened since then.
– I am quite aware of that. For instance, the honorable member for Bland has changed from one side of the House to the other, and that evidently makes all the difference, even in the attitude of a member of the Labour Party.
– The suggestion is worthy of the honorable member.
– I think I am justified in making it. I want to know the reason why the honorable member has changed his attitude upon this question.
– I stated” my reason when the honorable member was not here. It is not a very important matter, and I do not wish to discuss it again.
– I should not have spoken of the matter, but for the honorable member’s denial last evening.
– I still say that the honorable member is wrong.
– The honorable member said that this was a matter of life and death to the mother country, and yet he was prepared to proceed to a vote upon it last evening after three speeches had been delivered. The honorable member, at Wagga, took up very much the same position that was assumed by the Prime Minister last evening.
– No, I declared my adhesion to the principle, whereas the Prime Minister announced himself as opposed to it.
– The Prime Minister said that we should wait for the mother country to approach us, and the honorable member for Bland in his Wagga speech also expressed a similar view. That is my attitude upon the subject.’ When the mother country approaches us in the matter, I shall be very glad to consider any proposals that may be brought forward. Now, I desire to know why the honorable member, whom I regarded as an ally, should have suddenly developed’ into an opponent.
– 1 will explain to the honorable member privately.
– No one seems to have devoted any attention to the terms of the motion before us. We have been soaring into the clouds.
– More like wallowing in mud.
– I do not think there was any mud about the speech delivered by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, who gave us an example of the mostdelightful, fancy weaving. Unfortunately, however -
When but a beam of sober reason is displayed,
Lo ! fancy’s fairy frostwork melts away. -that is, when we come down to solid facts. We were not able to induce any honorable member to come down tr hard facts until the honorable member for Bland made his declaration this evening. I am very much obliged to the honorable member, who, I believe, said’ what is meant by every other protectionist, namely, that he was not willing to reduce the Tariff in order to promote larger imports from the mother country. All. they are prepared to do is to raise it to the foreigner. The motion opens with a declaration which may be cordially approved by every free-trader. It reads -
Inasmuch as every increase in trade between the mother country and the Colonies, or any of them, would be of mutual advantage commercially -
I wonder whether these words were written by the honorable and learned member who was the author of the Tariff - the man who spent eighteen months in this House trying to build the Tariff wall as high as he could in order to prevent the importation of British goods.
– The honorable member is in favour of admitting the goods of foreign countries as well as those of Great Britain.
– But foreign competition with our Australian manufactures is not nearly so keen as is that of the British manufacturers!
– In many cases it is
– In many cases it may be, but the figures which have been quoted during this debate show that the main competition is between Australian and British manufacturers.
– The honorable member for Southern Melbourne ejaculates all sorts of silly nonsense whilst other honorable members are addressing the Chair. Why does he not get up and discuss the question - if he can? The terms of this motion indicate a right-about-face on the part of the protectionists. We have heard it proclaimed that free-trade with the old country in respect of machinery, iboots, and clothing would bring disaster upon Australia, and yet we are now asked to affirm that it would be a good thing to develop such trade.
– With the mother country.
– I congratulate, honorable members upon their change of attitude. It is of no use for the honorable member for Northern Melbourne to put the matter in the way he has done, because all the arguments of the protectionists were directed mainly against the industrial conditions existing in England as compared with those prevailing, in the Commonwealth. I subscribe to the sentiment expressed in the first paragraph of the resolution. The first sub-clause affirms that -
The encouragement of industry and commerce within the Empire is a high national aim of paramount importance to all its peoples.
Every free-trader must subscribe to that most cordially. Further on it is suggested that the Prime Minister should be requested to consider the existing openings for preferential trade relations between Australia and other Colonies. There the honorable and learned member for Ballarat comes back to his own work. He admits that there may be openings for closer trade relations between Australia and other parts of the Empire, but that since the Tariff has been passed they require looking for. The honorable member did his best to close up the openings - to plaister them up - and now he desires that the Prime Minister should be authorized to look for any openings that may have been left. It is proposed further that the Minister shall be authorized for and on behalf of the Commonwealth “ to offer to the Government of the United Kingdom a preference upon its exports to Australia.” If the honorable and learned member for Ballarat had stopped there, I should have been able to support him ; but he goes on to say - and here is the fly in the ointment - “ in return for a preference upon our exports to Great Britain and Ireland.” After having paraded our loyalty, demonstrated our patriotism, and exhibited a burning desire to enter into closer relationship with the Empire, and to develop a better spirit, what is now proposed ? When we send a representative to London we are not to despatch a patriotic gentleman, filled with high Imperial aims, but a hucksterer, who is to do business for us and get us further advantages. The honorable member begins with a declaration of loyalty, and ends by displaying a huckstering spirit in our relations with the motherland. In other words, he says, “ You give us something, and we shall give you something.”
– Is not that good freetrade, to give as little and to take as much as you can?
– If the motion embodied free-trade ideas, I should be very much surprised to see the honorable and learned member voting for it. In any case, I do not see how he can subscribe to it, in view of his opinions with regard to Australian nationalism, and his desire to preserve Australian independence of the old country, in every way, in all our relations of Government. When we set out to make an Imperial Zollverein, it is just as Well for us to recollect that we must to some extent part with our sovereignty.
Our right to levy taxation is the sign and symbol of our sovereignty, and the moment we surrender that right - as we must do, if we enter into an Imperial Zollverein - we part with some of our powers of selfgovernment. When once a Zollverein of that character has been created, it will not be so easy to dissolve it, should it prove unsatisfactory in its operation, as the honorable and learned member for Ballarat seems to suppose. He spoke of the matter the other day as if we were playing with toys, and could easily escape from such an arrangement if it proved ‘objectionable.
– What about the arrangement which the honorable member suggests ?
– 1 do not say that I am opposed to this idea. I am merely pointing out some of the powers which we shall have to surrender, if we enter into an arrangement of this kind. It may be that we should gain advantages which would compensate us for the surrender of those powers. I believe that we should if my ideas on the subject were carried out. But these are some of the sacrifices which we must inevitably make when we embark upon an undertaking of that character. During the course of this debate, some honorable members have repeatedly asserted that the market of Great Britain is the greatest in the world. In his splendid speech on Friday last, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat made that statement, which it is just as well to emphasize, seeing that it emanated from so ardent a protectionist. Some honorable members have sought to make it appear that Canada is anxious to enter into a “bargain” with Great Britain. This evening the leader of the Opposition quoted a statement from the Treasurer of the Dominion which indirectly bears upon that aspect of the matter. Why did he not tell us what the Prime Minister of Canada has to say upon it? As a fact, Sir Wilfrid Laurier has expressly guarded against committing himself to any “ bargain “ of the kind. In speech after speech he has emphasized the fact that he will not be a party to anything which will interfere with the independence of the Dominion. No honorable member can show me where he has departed from that attitude.
– We do not propose to yield up any of our independence.
– But the honorable member’s party proposes to make a “ bargain “ with the mother country, which is precisely what Sir Wilfrid Laurier has refused to do.
– Sir Wilfrid Laurier has asked that there shall be a reciprocal preference.
– Look at Mr. Fielding’s Budget Speech.
– He Ls not the mouth-piece of the Canadian Government. Whilst he may make a patriotic demonstration for the moment, his chief prudently refrains from committing himself.
– Every man who enters into an agreement sacrifices his liberty to a certain extent.
– Of course he does. But Sir Wilfrid Laurier has been emphatic in declaring that he will not surrender any of the independence of Canada. Although he has granted a preference to British goods, upon two occasions that preference has been in the nature of a free gift. He has affirmed that he will be no party to entering into an Imperial Zollverein.
– Is there not. a great dissimilarity from a geographical stand-point between Canada and Australia?
– Yes: but there is no difference from a constitutional standpoint. The Dominion can exercise the same power to tax the goods of the mother country that we exercise.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that Sir Wilfrid Laurier does not ask for reciprocity ?
– I do. I claim that the honorable member cannot show me any speech in which the Prime Minister of the Dominion has preferred such a request. I have carefully read his utterances upon the subject, and I have always found him employing the most cautious and guarded language in “that connexion. Presently I intend to quote from a deliverance by Lord Rosebery, who has pointed out the same fact regarding Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Most honorable members will admit that we should never have been discussing preferential trade proposals in this Parliament if it were not for the fact that Mr. Chamberlain is at the present moment prosecuting his mission in the old country. I subscribe entirely to the suggestion of the Prime Minister that the chief object of that gentleman, who is now leading the Tories of Great Britain, is to divert the attention of the electors from other matters at the forthcoming contest, which will apparently be waged very bitterly. Anybody who reads the Home papers must know that the fate of the present British Government is sealed. They led the people to expect that the increased taxation imposed upon them during the South African war would be merely of a temporary character. Now the electors have discovered’ that that increased level of taxation has become normal. Consequently there is an outcry for economy in the government of the country. That matter, together with the education question and several others, has made It impossible for the Tory Government to retain power after the next election. Mr. Chamberlain is therefore busily engaged in urging all ,the old pleas regarding loyalty to the Empire, brotherhood, &c, with a view to inducing the electors to again return the Tory Government to office. Honorable members who belong to the Liberal Party may well pause when they find this movement being headed in the old country those who have championed every proposal which has been supposed to be hostile to the liberals at Home. The workers of the mother country are opposed to Mr. Chamberlain’s proposals. Why? Not so much upon their merits, as because they recognise that that gentleman is endeavouring to side-track the liberals and the labour forces at Home at the forthcoming contest.
– The honorable gentleman ,’was a great admirer of Mr. Chamberlain some time ago.
– I am a great admirer of him now. From a political stand-point, I think that Mr. Chamberlain is the ablest and certainly the cutest, man in Great Britain. But I do not regard him as the only sacred repository of everything that makes for the solidarity of the Empire. There are other politicians who entertain just as sincere a regard for the Empire as he does, and foremost amongst them I would place Lord Rosebery, whose services are at least equal to those of Mr. Chamberlain. Much as I admire the latter, and much as I respect him for his ability, I do not think that he represents the opinion of the old country upon this particular matter. My trouble is that I cannot exactly locate his position in regard to it. He disclaims that he is a protectionist. In a speech which he delivered at Luton recently, he stated that he was not a protectionist any more than was Mr. Balfour, tie said -
I have put forward, as plainly as I can, the remedy which I propose for a state of things which we all deplore, and I have done so on what I think is a sure foundation, because the policy which I suggest to you is a policy winch has been trie’d, and while our policy during recent years has failed, the policy of Continental nations, the policy of our kinsmen across the Atlantic in the United States of America, the policy of our own children in the self-governing Colonies of Great Britain, has succeeded.
If that is not an indorsement of a protective policy, I should like to know what is. Yet in the same speech he declares that he is not a protectionist any more than is Mr. Balfour. In this connexion I think that Lord Rosebery’s criticisms of his statements were perfectly justifiable. He declares that he does not know where to find Mr. Chamberlain, that the latter is first hopping about upon his preference leg, and then upon his protectionist leg, while the Government hop round on the free food leg and the retaliatory leg.
– That is the position of some honorable members here.
– Exactly. It is a fact that most honorable members who are ardent protectionists strongly support Mr.’ Chamberlain’s proposals. The two things may not be inconsistent from their standpoint, but they certainly are from mine.
– How does the honorable member explain the fact that so many good men are deserting the true fiscal faith ?
– I do not blame the honorable member for changing his opinions. I changed mine many years ago, but, I am glad to say, before I came into public life. The point I wish to make, however, is that honorable members who talk of preference, and ask free-traders to join with them, express the determination that, so far as they are concerned, preference shall mean protection, and nothing more. Honorable members will , recollect the report of an interview with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat which appeared in the Age on Tuesday last. After debating the pros and cons of the question the honorable and learned member said in conclusion, “ In short, we want to perfect protection for Australia, and to secure protection for the Empire.” ‘He has the effrontery to appeal to free-traders to join with him to achieve that object. These honorable members are playing upon the credulity of the Australian people, and particularly upon the credulity of the people of the old country, when they endeavour to make them believe that they are yearning with a desire to assist them, their real object being to make themselves more secure from them in their trading relationship.
Nine-tenths of the speech delivered by Mr. Chamberlain at Luton was pure protection. He concluded with a reference to preferential trade, and of course dragged in the old gag - I can describe it by no better name - that if the people of Great Britain did not vote for his preferential trade proposals they would be in danger of losing the Colonies. A greater slander was never perpetrated upon the people of Australia. Listen to his peroration -
We shall be saved from a great danger - a danger to which I have called your attention - that if we do not meet the wishes of our colonists they may be driven into arms which are eager to embrace them. They may make arrangements with other countries less pedantic, less antiquated than we are ourselves, and we may lose the trade upon which we are already becoming more and more dependent. We may increase that trade and increase the bonds which it involves, or we may lose that trade and lose with it the friendship and affection of our Colonies, and we may lose and have to mourn the loss of an occasion which can never be repeated.
I can conceive of no greater libel upon Australia and Australian institutions than declarations of this kind on the part of prominent politicians in the old country. In view of these statements we need to have some such declaration as that which the honorable member for Angas proposes to add to the motion. We should say clearly and distinctly that our loyalty does not depend upon our trade connexion with the mother country. It would have been a poor look-out for us had it been so in the past, and we should emphasize that point as strongly as possible. I wish now to quote a few words bearing on the attitude of Sir Wilfrid Laurier. I have not risen to argue this question, but to indicate what my attitude is. Lord Rosebery, speaking of the colonial offers made, said-
I am quite aware that in some of our Colonies preferences have already been granted to British products. In Canada, in South Africa, and in New Zealand that has been the case. In Canada it was specially stated some time ago that it was granted, not as a matter of barter, but as a matter of grace and favour and loyalty to the mother country, and in that case, as in other cases, I think we are entitled to consider these offers as free gifts, free concessions from the Colonies, in return for the enormous burden of national representation and national defence, which falls almost entirely 011 the over-taxed taxpayers of the United Kingdom.
Now, gentlemen, I pass to the utterances of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, and I observe that they are very cautions, very guarded statements, purposely vague statements, as to his general wish for commercial relations between the mother country and Canada. I know that Sir Wilfrid Laurier is in the throes of a general election. I do not know the circumstances in which he is speaking, except so . far as regards the general election, and I should like to see the text of all these speeches before I comment too closely on the extracts which are furnished us through not unbiased channels. But there is a speech of Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s bearing on these questions which I recommend you to cut out and lake to your homes and preserve as the best possible statement of the situation and relations of the British Empire in its various parts which has ever been uttered by a British statesman. “ There are parties who hope to maintain the British Empire on the lines of restricted trade “ - there were not many people when he said this of that kind ; there is one very eminent one now. “ If the British Empire is to be maintained it can only be by the most absolute freedom, political and commercial, in building up this great Empire. To deviate from the principles of freedom would be by so much to weaken the ties and bonds which now hold it together.”
– Sir Wilfrid Laurier is a good protectionist. He believes in 35 per cent, duties.
– I always thought that he was a good free-trader.
– We welcome free-traders of his el eis 5
– It would not be wise for the honorable member to do so, for if he were in Australia, instead of being in Canada, he would be an unrelenting OPPOnent of the protectionists of the Commonwealth.
– His 35 per cent, duties would do very well.
– He has not imposed any 35 per cent, duties.
– He has recently increased some of the duties.
– Which had been previously reduced.
– He has restored them to their former level.
– At the dictation of the protectionists of Canada.
– That is not complimentary to him.
– I presume that the Prime Minister of the Dominion does not constitute the whole Government of Canada.
– Any more than the Prime Minister of Australia constitutes the whole Government of the Commonwealth.
– I believe that Sir Wilfrid Laurier is a free-trader at the head of a Protectionist Government.
– And a preferential trader.
– He believes in a free, unconditional preference. Unlike honorable members who frame motions of this kind, he is not a preferential huckstered He has made a free gift of pre ference to the old country as a matter of grace and loyalty, and not as part of a bargain.
– With considerable expectation and hope that there will be reciprocity.
– That hope may have been entertained by others, but certainly not by Sir Wilfrid Laurier. On the contrary, he has carefully guarded himself, and has expressed his intention not to be a party to any bargaining of the kind. That was his attitude at the very outset, and, so far as I have been able to ascertain, it has never been modified. I hold that he precisely represents the position of the freetraders of this House in this matter.
– Does the honorable member deny that Sir Wilfrid Laurier desires Great Britain to lower the duty on Canadian wheat, as against-
– I deny that he has ever asked Great Britain to do anything in relation to her Tariff ; he has studiously avoided bringing himself into any relationship which would involve a bargain.
– But he has allowed his Ministers to officially put forward the statement that he desires—
– I presume that he has done precisely what the Prime Minister did last night with respect to his “ better half.”
– No; the Treasurer of his Government has put it forward as part of the Government policy.
– Honorable members may try as much as they please to make it appear that Sir Wilfrid Laurier is a protectionist, as the leader of the Opposition is seeking to do, and a preferentialist, as the honorable and learned member for Indi would have us believe; but they cannot show that he is either, according to their own standards.
– We must judge a man by his &cts«
- Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s acts have been in the direction, not of increasing, but of lowering, the Canadian duties.
– That is incorrect; he has increased duties.
– Only one or two. The honorable member is making much ado about a very small matter. All this really shows to what extent the protectionists are preferentialists. What happened in Canada was that a preference was given to British goods, and subsequently the protectionists said to the Government, “ You have given them too much ; you must increase the duties again.” Honorable members here would keep the duties as high as they can against Great Britain, and, if possible, would raise them against outsiders. My attitude is a very simple one. Great Britain has done much for Australia. In the first place, she has given us practically a Torrens title; she has given us sovereign power ; she has given us the right to tax even herself, and we have exercised it - I think, in a churlish and selfish spirit. She gave us a navy to protect us when we could not help ourselves, and has watched our steps on the way to our present position of influence and power.
– Does the honorable member say that she has given us a navy?
– The honorable and learned . member is quibbling about terms. This is not a police court. I say that the Home Government has placed her navy at our disposal. She has guaranteed a safe passage for our produce to every part of the world, and whilst she has been “ policeing “ our commerce on the high seas we have been trying to shut the door on her to the greatest possible extent.
– She draws £14,000,000 a year by way of interest from us.
– I was just going to say that she has found the capital for the development of Australia. Whatever interest we have to pay, I do not think any one would deny that if it had not been for Great Britain’s readiness to give us capital on better terms than foreigners would have given it to us, we should not have been in our present state of development. Then, again, Great Britain has furnished us from the first with consular services throughout the length and breadth of the world. An Australian has been placed upon the same footing as a Britisher. Wherever he goes, he is- able to appeal to the British Consul, towards the maintenance of whom he has not contributed a penny, and to obtain the same protection from him as a man who has been contributing to the cost of his office in the old land. So far as I am concerned, my attitude is this : I wish to take down our duties, to give Great Britain free access to our markets if she cares to come here and take advantage of them. In such an Empire as ours there ought to be none of these artificial distinctions between men of the same standard and race.
If the Empire is good enough to fight for, it ought to be good enough to trade with. Therefore I say that, instead of sending a hucksterer to London to barter and bargain for further concessions from Great Britain, I would,- here and now, give her a preference - a gift if you like - in the way of Tariff reductions, without making any stipulations whatever.
– Like the honorable member who has preceded me, I have been struck with the very great change which has come over the views and ambitions in respect to preferential trade of the party from which the present proposals have emanated. Only a year ago, we had it stated on every platform in Australia by supporters of the then Government, who are supporters of the proposals now before us, that their policy was that England should first grant us a preference on food supplies, and that we should afterwards, as a quid pro quo, accord a preference to her manufactures. At that time, I regarded the proposal merely .as a red herring drawn across the track of the misdeeds for which every Government is called upon to answer, when it faces the electors. Consequently, I decided that so far as my electorate was concerned, the question of preferential trade should h»2 outside the verdict; and I pledged myself to my electors that, in the event of Great Britain coming forward with a scheme for preferential trade - which, according to the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, was the first occasion when Australian proposals for preferential trade could eventuate - I would resign my seat in this House, go before my electors again, state -my views to them, and ask for their concurrence in them. The position is now entirely changed. What are the proposals now before the House ? They are, briefly, to consent to the holding of another Conference, to agree to ask the Prime Minister to consider the question, and to make a tentative offer to Great Britain which Parliament is afterwards to be asked to endorse. My position has not changed. I promised my electors that the moment Great Britain made an offer I would resign my seat, and go before them. All that is< now proposed is that the Prime Minister shall be asked to consider the question with a view to afterwards allowing this House to come to some decision. If, as the result of a resolution passed by this House, any offer is made by Great Britain - though it is problematic that any such offer will be made - then will be the time for me to carry out the pledge which I have made to my constituents. I do not propose to argue the question this evening, because it has already been sufficiently argued. I wish only to state my position in regard to it. We have been told that the adoption of preferential trade would eventually lead to the greater unity of the Empire of which we are a part; but my view is that the proposed system of reciprocal preferences would be detrimental to the very unity which it has been devised to establish more firmly. That is the one view upon which I am relying this evening. Great Britain has scattered all over the world, a number of Colonies, each of which, in its own sphere, now has absolute autonomy. Under the proposals of Mr. Chamberlain, we should have a number of Colonies, each protected in the home markets against the outside world; and, although subject to retaliation therefor, each gaining the advantage of a preference in the food markets of England. As a quid -pro quo, the Colonies must allow certain advantages to the British manufacturer, and must, therefore, take the risk of foreigners retaliating upon them for doing so. England, of course, buys raw material for the purposes of her manufactures, and she could obviously not afford to place a tax upon it. Consequently, she can offer no preference in regard to raw material. But she has also to import the great bulk of her food supplies, and on those supplies she can offer a preference. As a result, the relative advantage which each Colony will enjoy under a system of Preferential Trade will vary in the ratio which its exports of food supplies to Great Britain bears to its total exports; and the risk it .will have to face will vary in the ratio of its exports of raw materials to its total exports. Keeping that axiom in view, I wish to-night, in order to prove my case, to contrast the position of two of the Colonies. If the positions of more than two were contrasted, the’ relative advantages and disadvantages would be seen to be even more considerable. For the purposes of my argument, I would contrast the positions of Australia and Canada. The staple product of Australia is wool, of which England takes about five-twelfths only. Therefore, we should obtain no advantage whatever in regard to that product, while we should have to stand the risk of retaliation in regard to seven-twelfths of our principal export. Moreover, that risk would have been taken for what is, after all, only a problematic advantage. The benefit which we should receive from Mr. Chamberlain’s scheme of preference would be gained only by entering into fierce competition with the sister Colony of Canada, a Colony which, owing to her natural advantages, and comparative proximity to the English markets, holds a position greatly superior to ours. That comparison merely states the fact broadly, without entering into the consideration of several subsidiary lines. It shows that Australia will have to take the risk of retaliation without getting any benefit in regard to her chief article of export.
– The United States already impose a pretty stiff duty on wool, without having any reason for retaliation.
– Yes ; but that is a very unfortunate statement from the honorable and learned member’s point of view. The United States are, .practically speaking, the only country in the world which puts anything like a protective duty on wool, and the only country in the world to which we do not send a considerable quantity of wool. The United States take only 3*5 per cent, of our total export of wool.
– As it is a fixed duty, they take only the best wool.
– I do not wish to be led into by-paths. I merely say now that there will be a risk of retaliation for a merely problematic gain; I do not say that retaliation would necessarily follow. Now let us ‘ look at the position of Canada. The main export of that country is food products, and consequently it is not remarkable that the proposals for preferential trade came from Canada. In 1.902 that country exported something like £8,000,000 worth of wheat, flour, and cheese, and about £6,000,000 worth of meats and other pro- ‘ visions. Her only other article of export of any importance is lumber, in regard to which, from the very nature of things, there cannot be retaliation. Thus Canada has everything to gain, and very little to lose, under a scheme of preferential trade. Her position then is relatively very different from that of Australia. If we sought to obtain the advantages which Canada would get, we should have to enter into a fierce competition with her in a common market, where we should both be protected against the rest of the world. Without allowing that factor to enter into consideration, it must be remembered that, if one makes a gift which proves to be greater than he anticipated, he does not as a rule blame the donee, he blames himself ; but if one enters into a bargain which turns out to be-much less advantageous than he anticipated, the natural tendency of human nature is, not to deplore one’s own folly, but to impugn more or Jess the honesty and motives of the other party to the contract. Accepting that view, and remembering the unequal position of the partners under this scheme of preferential trade, it becomes extremely likely that it would be fraught with serious danger to the integrity of the Empire. Great Britain has now a series of self-governing colonies, spread over the broad surface of the world, each of them absolutely autonomous in regard to methods of taxation. If it were proved to any one of them that the manufacturing or commercial interests of the mother country were in need of assistance, it would be competent for it to offer a preference on the articles in the exportation of which from England; a decline was said to be taking place. I should have no objection to Australia giving a voluntary preference to Great Britain, but I have the strongest objection to our entering into a bargain, both because I think it would be unworthy of the loyalty under the guise of which we are asked to accept these proposals, and because I think that any bargain which operates unequally will prove a danger to the integrity of the Empire. Honorable members of the party to which I belong would most probably support the giving of a voluntary preference to Great Britain.
– Why does the honorable member object to Australia obtaining some benefit ?
– Then these proposals have been brought forward in order that Australia may get a benefit ?
– I have stated as clearly as I can the reasons why I object to any bargaining, and why I shall strenuously resist proposals of that nature. What is the use of our seeking to divert the trade of England from the channels in which it now flows to others, which will probably by the very operation of the protective preference we are according it, be dried up before many years are passed ? What is the use of our asking her to allow her trade to flow in the channels along which only one-seventh of her exports are conveyed at present, if our whole intention is to build up industries which will eventu- and entirely put a stop to our importations from the motherland ?
– Would that be a bad thing ?
– It would not be a very good thing for the mother country ! We should be acting dishonestly, if we made an offer of preference to Great Britain, and under the guise of pretending to benefit her, really aimed at promoting solely our own advantage.
– Where is the dishonesty?
– The dishonesty would lie in our pretending that we were entering into a bargain for mutual benefit, whilst our main desire would be to build up industries which would eventually oust Great Britain from the markets which we pretended to open to her. With the object of testing the loyalty of honorable members - their extreme loyalty - I desire to move that the words “ in return for a preference upon our exports, to Great Britain and Ireland,” and the word “ reciprocally “ be omitted from paragraph 5. The object of the amendment is to offer Great Britain a straight-out preference upon her manufactures, without entering upon what the honorable member for Parramatta has fitly described as a huckstering transaction.
– I consider that this very important question should be considered from the point of view, both of the mother country and the Commonwealth. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat introduced this motion in a speech that was characterized by the greatest eloquence, but it was difficult for honorable members to understand what he really wished to convey. The honorable and learned member employed a number of high-sounding terms, but there was nothing common-sense or business-like about his pronouncement. If the honorable member is willing to propose that a 5 per cent, preference shall be given to the products of Great Britain as igainst those from other countries, I shall cordially support him. We do not know, lowever, whether he intends to propose a reduction of our moderately protective rluties so far as British goods are con- cerned, or whether the existing duties are to be retained as against Great Britain, and higher duties levied upon foreign goods. If it be intended to raise our present duties against foreign goods, I shall cordially support the honorable member. The honorable member for Parramatta spoke strongly against the huckstering spirit that was displayed in the terms of the motion. After what occurred in the Transvaal, I view with very strong suspicion any proposals coming from Mr. Chamberlain. If the people of England had the same privileges that we enjoy in regard to the franchise, they would politically teaT Mr. Chamberlain limb from limb. The money spent in the unholy Transvaal war would, if spent in other directions, have done much to alleviate the misery and distress that .exist in England to day. If honorable members are in favour of giving a 5, 10, or 20 per cent, preference to the old country, let them vote in favour of that concession. We can then send our representative to meet upon equal terms the representatives of the Imperial Government. I honoured the Prime Minister for saying that we should not by any vote of ours impose upon the poor of Great Britain any additional burdens. I recently received a letter from a dear friend of mine in ‘London, who mentioned a striking instance of the distress which exists amongst the poor there. I had written to her on the subject of old-age pensions, and in her reply, she said -
I wish nil good luck to your old-age pension scheme. I am fearing an awful winter for our poor. There is something wrong somewhere ; what is to be done? Two days’ road work were given last month by the labour bureau to a man at Hackney ; he went at six in the morning, lifted his pick axe, and tried to begin, then sunk to the ground and died. The doctor said there was not a trace of food in the stomach, or fat on the body ; he could not have eaten for days.. Many more of the men were the same, and yet read of the millions held by some. It is awful and wicked.
A splendid article which appeared in the Age of Saturday last, contained statements which go far to support the arguments used by the Prime Minister, when he warned honorable members against taking any action to increase the price of food to the poor people of Great Britain. The writer of the article says -
There is nothing in Greek tragedy more pitiful than the spectacle of a British working man, it this stage of civilization, looking for work, and looking for it in vain.” No spectacle is more common here at present. Here is a typical instance reported during the last few days : - The coroner for the Hackney district held an inquest on the death of George Palmer, aged 43, labourer, who had been out of work for two years. The widow stated her husband had applied for work at the labour bureau of the Hackney Borough Council, .ind on Thursday night received a post card saying he could have two days’ employment. He left home at 5 a.m. on
Friday morning without having had anything to eat. Later in the day she heard of his death. Wm. Neale, a fellow labourer, who went to work with him, stated that on the way they each had a pennyworth of tea. While Palmer was picking the roadway he said, “ Bill, I feel wonderful queer; I think I shall have to give this job in.” He advised him to have a rest, and he did so for about five minutes. He then returned to work, but after raising his pick twice, he said, “ I can’t do any more,” and rested against a wall and died. A medical witness gave evidence that death was accelerated by want, and exposure to cold that morning. Cross-examined by coroner : You think he must have lived very hard ? Medical witness : I think he must have had a terrible life of it. There was no sign of food in the body. Philip Jacobs, an unemployed cabinet maker, said he had seen a few friends that morning, and had collected 6s. 6d. for the widow. The case was only typical of many in HackneySixteen men were taken on by the bureau last Tuesday, and it was found that ten had had no food at all that day, nor yet the day before ; nor had they any money to get it. The remaining six men had just is. 4d. between them to live on all day.
If preferential tirade will have the effect of adding one farthing to the cost of the little food which human beings like that can buy, I shall endeavour to prevent its being brought about. According to Mulhall, during the five years ending 1880, 630 persons died of starvation annually, and in the five years ending 1895, 335 persons died of starvation in England. It is stated that only ten persons died of starvation last year, but I can scarcely regard those figures as truly representing the facts, in view of the conditions described in the letter and article I have quoted. In the issue of the Age which contained the article to which I have referred, there was also published a statement to the effect that the Marquis of Anglesey, who never did a day’s work in his life, was scattering about thousands of pounds. There is no doubt that if the people of England had the same privilege that we enjoy in the matter of the franchise, they would soon bring about a great change for the better. I have no doubt that they would be prepared to enter into negotiations with us for the establishment of Imperial free-trade. Those who now hold the power in England, do not intend to give the vote to the working classes, their sole desire being to keep them in subjection. I do not wish to be misunderstood upon this question. I am a protectionist right up to the hilt, believing as I do that no goods which can be locally manufactured should be admitted free to our ports. I cannot forget that it was Mr. Chamberlain who promised the white residents of South
Africa that he would endow them with the franchise, and who, upon the expiration of the war there, swamped that country with Chinese labour.
– It is Mr. Chamberlain who is “ booming “ this movement.
– I say that I should require everything in black and’ white from that gentleman. I admit that in’ the early eighties, when in Birmingham, the home of Radicalism, I admired him. But since then I have learned to view anything that he touches with suspicion. In that respect, I share the opinion of the workers of Great Britain. In speaking of France this evening, the honorable member for Richmond did not do justice to that country. I propose to put before , the House certain figures in this connexion. From the Courier Australien, which is published in Sydney, I Jearo that whereas Australia taxes 71 per cent, of all goods imported from France, that country . taxes only 2 per cent, of Australian imports. The journal in question states that the French imports into Australia are taxed up , to 27.3 per cent, of their value, whereas Australian imports into France are taxed, at less than 4 per cent, of their value. If we are to grant a substantial preference to British goods, we might at least ask the Imperial authorities to endow the manhood of England and Ireland with the same political rights which we enjoy in Australia to-day. We might also urge them to employ white workers in the South African mines, instead of the yellow peril. I regard Mr. Chamberlain as the black angel of Great Britain. Can any honorable member honestly declare that we have ever gained one reform for which we have to thank the Conservatives? When the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was speaking on Friday last, somebody made an interjection concerning the change of front which has been effected by Mr. Chamberlain. Thereupon, the honorable and learned member declared that he knew of no man who was better fitted to explain away his action than was Mr. Chamberlain.
– He has betrayed every principle with which he has been identified.
– Throughout Great Britain his name is synonymous with that of the one false apostle of the twelve. I view his late acts as a public man with the most profound contempt. ‘I admit that he possesses abilities of a very high order, but so also does Satan. So far as Great Britain is concerned, Mr. Chamberlain has been worse than Satan. I love the British race, but it makes me sad to reflect upon the infamy which it has been called upon to bear. The House of Lords is composed of 592 members, who are there only by the accident of birth. In the old country, too, the people have to submit to the most infamous land system which obtains in the world. When the Prime Minister declares that he will not increase the cost of food to the English worker by one penny, I ask him whether he cannot request the Imperial authorities , to impose something like a sensible land tax in Great Britain, so that its people may be afforded better opportunities in the future ? By so doing, a brighter view would be opened up to the British nation, which has too long been subjected to the trammels of caste and . class and, therefore, . to infamy. I wish that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat would bring down some tangible proposal which we could grip. In the absence of any such proposal, I intend to support the amendment of the honorable member for Hume, who is endeavouring to improve the splendid if meaningless sentences contained in the motion. When the division takes place, I trust it will be found that while we are willing to assist England in every possible way, we view with suspicion and loathing the man who is at the head of the preferential trade movement there.
Mr. RONALD (Southern Melbourne).There is just one slight error which has been made in connexion with this debate, and which I should like to correct. The fact which I wish to place upon record is that a great proportion of foreign goods - French, German, and American - are shipped to England, and then re-shipped to Australia. That circumstance should not be overlooked. In comparing the relative trade of those countries, it is probable that Great Britain obtains credit for one-half more than that to which she is entitled. I believe in preferential trade, and I have no sympathy whatever with the suggestion t hat its adoption would raise the price of foodstuffs to the inhabitants of Great Bri- t ain. It is quite patent that it will not produce that result. On the other hand, i t is apparent to all who have studied the history of protection in America, Germany, France, and Australia, that whatever loss may be occasioned by the increased price of food will be more than compensated for by the increase which will accrue to the wages of the people. That is .the universal experience. We have a great deal to gain from any such scheme by obtaining a preferential market for our foodstuffs. It is true that we can offer Great Britain very little in return. Hitherto, that fact has proved the chief stumbling-block to the adoption of any such scheme. At the present time we have no reliable statistics as to the amount of trade which is done between Great Britain and her Colonies, because of the transhipment of goods to which I have referred, and because London, by reason of being a free-trade port, is the great emporium of the world. Under a system of preferential trade, however, we shall know with whom we are trading - we shall know to what extent we are trading with people who amass wealth from the labour of human beings, who are semi-slaves or semi-chattels, and who are used by capitalists for the purpose of breaking down the wages of independent workmen in other parts of the world. The advocates of this policy believe that, with rational protection, rational preference, and a semi-Imperial policy, much may be done to improve the condition of the citizens of the Empire. A great deal of abuse has been showered upon Mr. Chamberlain during this debate. It is my unfortunate lot to have never found myself in agreement with that gentleman until the present time.
– The honorable member finds himself in agreement with him at the wrong time.
– It may be so from the honorable member’s stand-point, but the fact remains that, for the first time during twenty years, I find myself - in agreement with Mr. Chamberlain, and begin to understand, perhaps, some features of his Imperialism which were previously a mystery to me. If the Boer war be the forerunner of a better relationship between Great Britain and her Colonies, it will be one of those evils from which good comes. Much abuse has been showered on a man who, in my opinion, is influenced by the best of motives - that of cementing and consolidating the Empire, and of substituting a union of interests for a union of sentiment. I sincerely hope that his efforts will be attended with success, because, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the British workman stands to win more from his than from any other proposal. I agree with the honorable member for Melbourne that it is necessary that he should have the right to vote to regulate the rate of pay and other conditions of his labour, for without that right he will not reap any of the undoubted advantages that accrue from the policy of protection. That should be the forerunner of this scheme; but in any event a workman so endowed stands to win. I deny that this policy will result in the price of his food being increased; but, should such an increase take place, it will be more than compensated for by the increase of wages which always follows a policy of rational and sound protection.
– It is as dead as a doornail.
– My reading satisfies me that it is not. Whether the protectionist policy is to be carried at the next general election in Great Britain or not, it is as certain as is the fact that the sun will rise to-morrow that the fallacy of free-trade will be seen sooner or later, and that Great Britain will return to a rational system of protection against the semi-slave labour of foreign countries.
– The British Labour Party is opposed to it.
– The British Labour Party has never really had the case properly put before it. In the time of Cobden the British Labour Party considered it a matter of life and death to fight for a free breakfast table, and failed to see that they were throwing away their wages in order to secure that end. They never considered what they were paying for the privilege. Every man who has lived in London, as I have done, and has seen the awful dens of infamy, squalor, and misery that are to be found in its slums, as the result of the competition of foreigners, must recognise the fallacy of free-trade. The workers there have been reduced to a state of wretchedness in consequence of the unrestricted competition of foreigners in the clothing trade, and other branches of industry, and there is no other country in the world whose condition can be compared with the present state of England, and more particularly of London, as the result of the stupid, futile policy of free-trade. Even Central Africa is a paradise as compared with London at the present time.
– Does the honorable member really mean that?
– Undoubtedly. If the honorable member will read The White Slaves of England, as well as the reports of various Commissions dealing with the subject, I am sure he will find that the state of affairs which exists in London as the result of free-trade is worse than anything to be seen in the rest of the civilized world. It is positively appalling to see the degraded state of the so-called British workman under a policy which was adopted in order that he might secure a cheap supply of food. I give my support to the policy of preference, believing that it is a sound, rational system, that will in the long run prove to be based upon a union of interests between the scattered parts of the Empire. Above all it will -substitute that union of interests for a mere sentiment, and in the long run will prove to be the best thing that could have happened to the Empire. Let me ask honorable members who believe in the principle of Imperialism whether we should have had the Boer war if Great Britain had made it worth the while of the Boers to maintain friendly relations with her? I am certain that we should not. When a British Dependency can gain no preference in the home market over the foreigner, one cannot be surprised if such a state of affairs leads to a certain degree of discontent, if not of rebellion in some cases. We all know that an interchange of commodities - a live trade between two countries - is the best security for peace so far as they are concerned, and therefore I say that preferential trade must give solidarity to the Empire, and truly make us one people with one destiny. Let Great Britain have trade relations with her own children, and extend preferences to them rather than to the foreigner. I am satisfied that the adoption of this scheme would do more to consolidate the Empire and to increase its prosperity than would any other system. With the great London market open to us, increased prosperity would result to all engaged in agricultural pursuits in the Commonwealth, and the influence would extend to those engaged in other industries. On the other hand, we should be able to give Great Britain a guarantee that the price of her foodstuffs would not be increased. Surely, then, we ought to adopt a course .that will lead to a union of interests as well as a union of sentiment. I wish it God speed.
– I suggest that this would be a convenient time to adjourn the debate until to-morrow. I am anxious that the House should deal this evening with the Senate’s amendments in the Sea-Carriage of Goods Bill and in the Papua (British New
Guinea) Bill, which have been returned tothis House. The debate can be resumed when we meet to-morrow morning.
– And concluded?
– That is a matter which is not in my hands; it will be for the House to settle it. We certainly shall conclude the debate if we can, but I do not know of any power to compel an honorable member to sit down when he is determined to talk. If I had known of such a power, I should have used it more than once during the last two months.
Motion (by Mr. Webster) proposed -
That the debate be now adjourned.
– I am sorry that the Prime Minister should have suggested the postponement of the debate.
– I suggested, not the postponement, but the adjournment of the debate.
– It really means the death of this debate.
– We shall be able to go on with it to-morrow.
– Unless there is” some undertaking that the debate will finish-
– How can that be given ? Who could coerce honorable members to the extent of preventing them from speaking?
– If I may be permitted to conclude the sentence I was uttering when interrupted, I would point out that the subject is of such vast importance that I think that we ought to endeavour to finish our consideration of the motion to-night.
– Is there any urgency ?
– There is great urgency.
– If the honorable member wishes an opportunity to bring the debate to a conclusion to-night, I would remind him that it may be resumed after we have disposed of the two Bills to which I have referred, but if any attempt of that kind were made, the result might be serious to the motion itself. I do not desire to encourage any hostile movement against it.
– I do not know exactly what the right honorable gentleman means, but I think that the debate might very well be disposed of to-morrow. Many honorable members who desire to speak refrained from doing so last night.
– Does the honorable and learned member desire to speak to the motion ?
– I should have liked to speak last right, but gave up my right to cb so in order that’ we might come to a vote. If the question is not to be determined before the session closes, however, I should like to deal with it, because I entertain very strong opinions in regard to the matter. But I am perfectly willing to surrender my right to speak so that, instead of merely talking’ in this way, we may actually do something. In answer, to the honorable and learned member for Parkes, I would say that the matter is a very urgent one. The Parliament will not have an opportunity to speak its mind, and to formally state what is admitted to be the will of the country as expressed at the last’ general election, for many months to come. If the question had not been raised, it would not have been so urgent. The Prime Minister, in a very able speech last night, expressed a view that was practically entirely adverse to preferential trade under the only condition upon which Australia could consent to it. We have had other speeches adverse to the proposal, as well as some able speeches in favour of it, and if we do not come to a decision the matter will be left in such a state of doubt that it may seriously prejudice public opinion in Great Britain as to what is the feeling in Australia. There is no doubt that the Prime Minister made the admission, which must carry a great deal of weight, that the Australian people at the last general election pronounced themselves definitely in favour of preferential trade.
– In favour of preferential trade in the abstract, I said, because no concrete proposal was put before them.
– They pronounced their opinion upon it as definitely as they could at that stage. They said they were in favour of preferential trade, if it could be carried out by agreement with the home country, and upon a protectionist basis.
– No ; that is a contradiction in terms.
– I do not say that the Prime Minister used those words last night.
– The question before the Chair is the adjournment of the debate, and not the question of Preferential Trade itself.
– I am endeavouring to show why I think it is a matter of urgency. I do not say that The Prime Minister used the expression that the electors were in favour of preference upon a protectionist basis.
– I admit that, with that exception, the honorable member has made a fair statement of what I said.
– At this stage of the session we should make an effort to give expression to our views in one way or the other. We do not wish to go into recess with an admission either that we are unable to say what the country has declared or that we are unable to make up our own minds. I therefore think that the question should not be left in a position, of doubt. Voting as I did last night to secure the taking of a division on the motion, I must, to be consistent, vote against the adjournment to-night. I am speaking not only for myself but for others. We shall vote against the motion for adjournment with no other desire than to protest, as strongly as we can, against delay on the part of this .Parliament in expressing the views of the Australian people on a subject which we consider to be of the highest moment to the Commonwealth as an integral part of the British Empire. I ask the Prime Minister not to allow an adjournment. He will tomorrow have more than ample time for the consideration of the business which yet remains to be done. The amendments in the Sea Carriage, of Goods Bill are a purely formal matter, which should take only a minute or two to consider, while the other measure can be dealt with without discussion, and by means of a vote. We should, however, give as much time as remains for the consideration and determination of the question of preferential trade to-night, whatever is to be done to-morrow.
Mr. REID (East Sydney - Minister of External Affairs). - I am anxious to study the wishes of the House in this matter. We are not dealing with Government business, and Ministers are divided in regard to the motion. Therefore we are not exercising any sort of pressure as a Government upon it. If a majority desire, to sit late, in order to finish the discussion, I will vote against the motion, for adjournment, though I have been informed that at least six speakers desire to address themselves to the main question.
– The right honorable gentleman can add my name to the list.
– The amendments will all be debated, too.
– I can quite understand the utility of continuing the discussion for several hours, and, if necessary, I am willing to remain here to allow the debate to go on, but it would be useless to continue the debate for only another half-hour. As an old parliamentarian, I say, too, that it will be better to adjourn this debate now, and deal with the Sea Carriage of Goods Bill and the Papua Bill, and then have to-morrow clear for its further discussion. Some honorable members hold strong views on the liquor question involved in the Papua Bill, and if we begin its consideration to-morrow, there is not likely to be much time then for the continuation of the preferential trade debate. It is the general feeling of honorable members that we should go on and finish this debate to-night ?
Honorable Members. - No.
– There is only one way to test the feeling of the House on the subject.
– I understand that if the motion for the adjournment of the debate is negatived, the honorable member for Gwydir, who moved it with the concurrence of the Government, will be prevented from speaking, and I am not prepared to take a course which will have that result.
– The rights of both the mover and seconder of the motion for adjournment will be preserved, even if that motion be defeated.
– I am glad to hear that that is so. In the New South Wales House, the result would have been- as I have stated. If honorable members generally desire to proceed with and finish this debate to-night, 1 am willing to remain, but I think that very few honorable members favour that course being taken.
– The honorable and learned member for Indi has announced that he wishes to speak on this subject, but is quite prepared to vote without speaking. That is not the position of other honorable members. His reason for objecting to an adjournment of the debate is that it is an urgent matter, and that there should be a division on the main question, whereas we have been told by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat that he has given his motion the most abstract form it could have. If the honorable and learned member for Indi thinks that the British people will attach the slightest importance to so absolutely abstract and academic a motion as appears on the businesspaper, he is looking through the wrong end of the telescope. He really gave no good reasons for opposing the motion for the adjournment. I wish to speak to-morrow, and I am not prepared to vote to-night without speaking. I do not see what urgency there is for prolonging the debate any further to-night, seeing that the Prime
Minister wishes to deal with two completed Bills which have come down from the Senate. If they are dealt with to-night we shall have to-morrow for the continuance of this .discussion. I hope that the Prime Minister w’ill not allow honorable members to terminate the debate to-night.
– I desire to speak on the motion which has been brought before the House by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and have gone to some pains and trouble to prepare a statement of my views on the subject ; but I am ready to refrain from speaking in order that we may take a division on it to-night.
– There are others in the same position.
– Honorable members have made up their minds on this question, and so have” those who sent them here, and I do not think a long, drawn-out debate will be of advantage to any one. In my opinion, it will be well to settle the matter at once. Most of those who are arguing that there should be a further succession of long speeches have already committed themselves by stating that the motion is a purely abstract and academic one, and therefore would not be understood by the people of Great Britain. ‘
– I said, not that it would not be understood by the people of Great Britain, but that it would have no effect with them.
– Honorable members fear it will have an effect which they “do not desire it to have. Those who are most anxious that we shall not proceed further to-night have already spoken, and therefore have no real interest in prolonging the discussion. I hope that they will consider the convenience of their fellow members, and allow the motion to go to a division tb-night.
– I am not prepared to give a silent vote on this question. I propose to speak at considerable length in regard to it - possibly for two hours or longer. I am perfectly prepared to go on to-night, although I should prefer to speak to-morrow.
– This question is of great importance, and I am afraid that if the debate is adjourned until tomorrow we shall have no chance of arriving at a decision. I do not wish to force matters to a division to-night, but I think that the honorable and learned member for Indi is on solid ground when he asks that an opportunity should be afforded to register the decision in this House before the session closes. The honorable and learned member is prepared to give up his right to speak, and there are others who are also willing to record a silent vote. These facts give the answer to those honorable members who say that the discussion upon this subject is in the clouds. We invite those honorable members to come to earth, and give their vote. If, as they argue, the motion can have no effect upon the people of Great Britain, why are they afraid to pass it? Why should they object to a motion giving expression to a principle in favour of which the majority of the electors have declared themselves. I hope that if the debate be adjourned until to-morrow, some arrangement will be made by which we can come to a decision.
– An arrangement with whom ?
– With honorable members. I know that we cannot ask the Prime Minister to give any undertaking in the matter. I understand that he has the Appropriation Bill in his pocket, and that therefore our only chance of controlling the House is by preventing you, sir, from leaving the Chair until we have had an opportunity to register our opinion. This is not a party question, and I think that it might be disposed of if honorable members who view it from different standpoints were prepared to make mutual concessions.
– I do not see why any heat should be displayed over this question. We have been debating it for some time, and it appears to me that the more we talk the more honorable members seem disposed to lengthen the debate. I suggest that the Prime Minister should arrange for a special session of Parliament three months hence to enable the motion to be fully considered. The Prime Minister has, I think, actedvery fairly in affording an opportunity for discussion, and therefore we should endeavour to come to a vote as soon as possible. I am prepared to vote for the motion. I believe in preserving the British Empire. There are only two free nations in the world, the American and the British, and we should do all we can to increase the power and influence of the Empire.
– Honorable members who are opposed to the motion have complained that the discussion has been merely of an abstract character, and mostly in the clouds. They are doing their very best to keep the subject there by, placing obstacles in the way of recording a vote upon it. I desire to say a few words, which will occupy only about ten minutes, and I feel that if the debate is adjourned until to-morrow I shall have very little chance to express my views. The short time at our disposal will probably be taken up by three or four honorable members, to the exclusion of all others. If it be understood that we are to go on to-morrow until a vote is taken I shall be prepared to vote for an adjournment of the debate this evening, but otherwise I shall oppose the motion.
Question - That the debate be now adjourned - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to ; debate adjourned.
– I have received from the Auditor-General, under section 53 of the Audit Act, his annual report for the financial year ended 30th June last.
– I have to announce the receipt of a message from the Senate, intimating that it has agreed to amendments Nos. 1, 4, and 6 of the House of Representatives, that it has agreed to amendments Nos. 2 and 5 with amendments, and to amendment No. 3 with a consequential amendment.
– As the amendments which have been made by the Senate are practically consequential amendments, I move -
That the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole to consider the amendments forthwith.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments) :
This Act shall apply only in relation to ships carrying goods from any place in Australia to any place outside Australia, or from one State to another State, and in relation to goods so carried, or received, to be socarried in those ships.
House of Representatives’ Amendment - Insert the following new sub-clause : -
Senate’s Message: - Insertion of new sub-clause agreed to, with the following amendment : - “Leave out ‘passing of this Act,’ insert ‘seventeenth of November, 1904.’ “
– Honorable members will notice that the amendment of the Senate has the effect of making the disability imposed by clause 3 applicable from the date upon which the Bill was read a firsttime in the other Chamber, instead of from the date upon which it becomes law. I see no objection to that proposal. Consequently, I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 4 -
Where any bill of lading or document contains any clause, covenant, or agreement, whereby -
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - In line 2, after the word “diligence,” insert the words “ and to properly man, equip, and supply the ship, to make and keep the ship seaworthy.”
Senate’s Message. - Insertion of words agreed to, with the following consequential amendment : - “ in paragraph b, leave out the first word ‘ the ‘ and insert ‘any.’”
– The object of this slight alteration is not to use language which may seem to create new obligations. The word “any.” is the widest which can possibly be employed, so that we cannot object to it. By adopting the amendment of the other Chamber, we shall be simply giving effect to the policy of the Bill.
– It does not interfere with the original purpose of the measure?
– Not at all; it leaves things exactly as they were. I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 6 (Penalties) -
House of Representatives’ Amendment. - After clause 6 insert following new clause : - “6a. (i) In every bill of lading or document, with respect to goods, a warranty shall be implied that the ship shall be, at the beginning of the voyage, seaworthy in all respects, and properly manned, equipped, and supplied.
In every bill of lading or document, with respect to goods, unless the contrary intention appears, a clause shall be implied, whereby, if the ship is, at the beginning of. the voyage, seaworthy in all respects, and properly manned, equipped, and supplied, neither the ship, nor her owner, master, agent, or charterer, shall be responsible for damage to or loss of the goods resulting from - -
Senate’s Message. - Amendment to insert new clause 6a agreed to, with the following amendments : - “In line 1, leave out ‘or document’; in line 6 leave out ‘ or document.’ “
– I think that good reason has been shown for the omission of these words. The position in this case is quite different from that in clause 4, where the. words “or document “ are included. Inthat provision we have to guard against evasions of prohibitions by means of placing contracts in separate documents. The position, however, in the present case, is very different, and upon reflection, I agree with the Attorney-General that it would be wise to omit the words to which I have referred. Therefore, I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Motion agreed to.
– The words were inserted in two sub-clauses, and I understand they remain in one of them.
– They appeared in two subclauses of the same clause, but they have been left out in both cases. At the beginning of clause 4 we have the words -
Where any bill of lading or document contains any clause covenant or agreement, whereby -
And so forth. It was proper to include the words “ or document “ in that case, because that which we desired to prohibit might otherwise be done in a collateral document that was not a bill of lading. It was proper to insert these words in order to provide against our object being defeated by the wrongful thing being done by means of a document that was not a bill of lading. Then we come to the new clause 6a, which is what we have called the ship-owners’ clause. The honorable and learned member will see that there is no necessity in that case to insert the word “ document,” because the clause reads something into a bill of lading, and no collateral document could defeat legislation which reads into an actual bill of lading all that we desire. ‘We had the words in sub-clause 2 -
In every bill of lading or document, with respect to goods, unless the contrary intention appears, a clause shall be implied. .
The expression, “ in every document with respect to goods, a warranty shall be implied “ would be altogether too wide. There are any number of commercial documents which are notbills of lading, and have no connexion with them.
– A shipping receipt is not a bill of lading, but it is a very important document.
– But this would include any document. We do not want to rove round and bring in every commercial document which has nothing to do with the case.
– And there must always be a bill of lading.
– That, of course, is an inevitable incident..
– I think the words “or document “ ought to remain in sub-clause 1, and shall read a decision of the House of Lords, which will show the necessity for them. They might be omitted in the subclause 2, because the ship-owner can protect himself.
– They would be altogether too wide. There is a vast number of documents with respect to goods which have nothing to do with bills of lading, or anything of the kind.
– In the case of Steel versus the ‘State Line S.S. Company (3 Appeal Cases, p. 86), Lord Justice Blackburn said -
I take it, my Lords, to be quite” clear both in England and in Scotland that where there is a contract to carry goods in a ship, whether that contract is in the shape of a bill of lading or any other form, there is a duty on the part of the person who furnishes or supplies that ship or that ship’s room, unless something be stipulated; which should prevent it, (hat the ship shall be fit for its purpose. . That is generally expressed by saying that it shall be seaworthy ; and I think also in marine contracts, contracts for sea carriage, that is what is properly called a “ warranty,” not merely that they should do their best to make the ship fit, but that the ship should really be fit.
In the right honorable gentleman’s endeavour to throw the common law into the form of a Statute-
– Does not the honorable and learned member forget that the clause was. inserted for the benefit of the ship-owners, and that if they do not give a bill of lading they will not secure the benefit of it.
– I agree as to the omission of the words from sub-clause 2, but subclause 1 is for the benefit of the shipper.
– But the warranty in that case exists whether there be a document or not. If a shipowner for reward receives goods to be delivered at another place, that warranty exists at common law.
– I think there is a danger’ when express provisions are inserted in an Act of the contention being raised that the’ inference is that all other matters have been excluded. One would be told by the Court “If the common law only was intended to be preserved, why was it put in that limited form. Why limit this provision to a bill of lading.”
– That would not alter the common law.
– The Prime Minister apparently takes the view that the clause as it stands is sufficient, but I think that it is not, and I am not quite sure that the honorable and learned member for Parkes does not agree with me. I think this is a risky thing to do, but I have pointed out what I think is the danger, and can do no more.
– I know that in the closing hours of the session we cannot give that time to the consideration of amendments made by another place that we should otherwise devote to such a matter; and I must confess that I am not able to grasp the full effect of the amendments which have been made. The original object of the Bill was to protect the shippers. It was found, however, that injustice might be done to ship-owners, and as no one desired anything of the kind, steps were taken to avoid such a contingency. I ask the Prime Minister to give me an assurance that, notwithstanding these amendments, the original object of the Bill will be carried out, while at the same time a just and equitable regard will be shown to the interest of ship-owners. If I receive an assurance from the Prime Minister that such is the case, I feel that in view of the pressure of business this evening I must rest content. Does the Prime Minister give me that assurance?.
– I do.
Motion agreed to.
Reported that the Committee had agreed to the Senate’s amendments.
Bill returned from the Senate, with amendments.
Motion (by Mr. Reid) proposed -
That the consideration of the amendments be an Order of the Day for to-morrow.
– I think that before we proceed to consider this Bill again, we should be furnished with copies of the Senate’s amendment. It is a very bad practice to deall with measures at the end of the session in the manner in which we have just dealt with the Sea-Carriage of Goods Bill. No one knows the effect of the amendments just agreed to. When members of the legal profession differ, it makes one doubtful if he is doing the right thing in allowing a matter to be dealt with which he has not had an opportunity to fully understand.
– The honorable member’s request will be complied with, and copies of the amendments of the Senate will be available to-morrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Mr. DUGALD THOMSON laid upon the table the following papers: -
Amendment of regulations 88, 152, 199, 209, 220, 253, and 256 under the Public Service Act.
Incremerts paid under section 19 of the Victorian Public Service Act.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
It is proposed that Parliament shall be prorogued to-morrow at 4 o’clock.
– What about the business underconsideration ?
– It will remain under consideration for six months or so. I take this opportunity to express, on behalf of the Government, our sense of obligation to honorable members in all parts of the Chamber. We had rather a stormy beginning, but I believe that we are gradually coming to a better understanding, which I hope will be cemented in an agreeable manner after the adjournment.
– I should like to say a word or two on this motion. Do I understand from the Prime Minister that he intends to get a vote on the question in another place before the prorogation ?
– I must not refer to the business of another place, but I think that I can give my honorable friend a very satisfactory assurance on the point.
– I am not satisfied with that statement.
– The honorable member knows that I cannot refer to the business which is now being transacted in another place.
– If it suited the right honorable gentleman to do so, he would be very ready to refer to it.
– If the honorable member knew what I have been trying to do on behalf of his railway, he would not be so confoundedly ungrateful.
– The right honorable member is doing me a grievous injustice by making such a remark.
– The honorable member has heard many stronger.
– Yes, and I may at no distant future begin to return a few of them.
– Come upstairs.
– The measure about which I wish for information is of more consideration to those whom I represent, and to myself, than is the invitation of the Prime Minister to come upstairs, even though it is now a quarter-oast eleven.
– The honorable member 1must not refer to a measure which is before another branch of the Legislature. He covered his first reference to it, but he is now obviously referring to a measure which is under the consideration of the Senate, and- that he must not do.
– I am very dissatisfied with the promises which have been made to me in regard to this matter.
– This House cannot force the Senate.
– No; but the Government could have so arranged the businesspaper that the matter would have been debated earlier. A short time ago the Prime Minister promised that certain business, including the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta Railway Survey Bill, would be transacted before Parliament was prorogued. I recognise, however, the awkward position in which I am placed, and I shall not refer to the matter any more now, but I hope that the Prime Minister will see that the pressure which he can exert is used in another place, in order to obtain a division in regard to the Bill before Parliament is prorogued, and thus redeem his promise.
– They are going to sit all night.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been directed to a statement which appears in to-night’s Herald, with reference to something which has just taken place in the New South Wales Parliament? It is stated that that body has taken the extraordinary course of thwarting the will of this Parliament, by refusing to consider the site referred to it by us as a matter of courtesy ; because if any honorable member will turn to section 125 of the Constitution he will see that it is for the Commonwealth Parliament to determine the Seat of Government. This Parliament’ has determined the Seat of Government, and this is final unless we alter the Constitution. In stating that opinion, I am backed up by several constitutional authorities in this Chamber, whom I have consulted. There is no other course for us to take, but to stand by our determination, or to alter the Constitution. It seems to me extraordinary that gentle- men, who represent the people of New South Wales, and who have been crying out so loudly and so long about the delay which has taken place in the selection of the site, putting it down to the wickedness of Victorians, and the desire to cheat New South Wales out of an inherent right, should flout the will of this Parliament. I can hardly credit the correctness of the newspaper report. They have flouted the will of this Parliament, although the determination arrived at was accepted by those who had fought for other sites, and have declined to allow us to express an opinion on the matter. In these circumstances, we look to the Prime Minister to stand up for the rights of this Parliament, and to clearly indicate to the Parliament of New South Wales that we do not intend to be dictated to in this matter. We must strongly protest against the attempt that is now being made to bounce US into taking a particular course of action.
– The. New South Wales Government offered us the Dalgety site.
– The Monaro district was favorably reported upon by the late Mr. Oliver, who was specially appointed by the New South Wales Government to inspect sites eligible for the Capital. Now the New South Wales Parliament does not appear to be prepared to indorse our selection of the site recom-“ mended by their own representative. If they persist in their present attitude, honorable members who are beginning to find it is very convenient to be located in Melbourne, will be disposed to postpone indefinitely the establishment of the Federal Capital. At the same time, I feel quite sure that they will be prepared to take strong exception to the attitude assumed by New South Wales. I would ask the Prime Minister to inform us before the House rises that he intends to represent to the New South Wales authorities that there will be no chance of successfully negotiating upon the lines they have laid down.
– Surely the State has certain rights?
– Certainly it has, but the honorable member does not pretend that the State has the right to adopt its present high-handed attitude.
– The State has a right to be considered.
-No one denies that, but it has no right to deliber- ately flout this Parliament. If the honorable member thinks so, I invite him to turn his back upon this Parliament. No one denies the right of the State to negotiate with us as to the area which shall be set apart for the purposes of the Federal Capital.
– They have a right to negotiate with us, both as to the location and the area.
– Does the honorable member suggest that they have a right to dictate to us the location of the Federal Capital ?
– Certainly they have.
– Have they the right, after having offered us a certain site through their Commissioner, to turn round and say, “ No, you shall not choose the site, but shall go where we tell you to go.” I think that we may fairly expect the Prime Minister to indicate that he intends to maintain the rights of this Parliament in the matter.
– Do not make the matter more difficult.
– I suppose that on the principle that “ a soft answer turneth away wrath,” it is better for the present that I should say no more about the matter. I desire to bring under the notice of the Prime Minister and the Postmaster-General another very important matter. A good deal of discussion has taken place, both in this House and outside, with regard to the English mail contracts, and it appears to me rather strange that, whilst we have expressed” our determination not to patronize mail companies employing black labour, we should have entirely lost sight of the claims of an enterprising company which employs white men and pays them good wages, and carries the mails over a section of what has been described as the “All Red Route.” In other words, the mails are carried throughout upon British ships, or through British territory. I refer to the CanadianPacific route. I have taken the trouble to secure a chart, showing the distances that will have to be traversed between Sydney and Vancouver, and thence across the Dominion of Canada and the Atlantic, also a time-table, showing the time that will be occupied in carrying the mails if sixteen-knot steamers are em ployed crossing, the Pacific. I have a letter from Mr. William Clarke, a merchant of Sydney, which clearly explains the position, and I cannot do better than quote it. It reads as follows: -
Referring to recent conversation re English mail contracts, I have the honour to place before you a few particulars regarding the “ All Red Route “ from Australia .to England, via Canada, which can be discussed and enlarged upon at a preliminary meeting between the Honorable the Postmaster-General and the manager of (he Union Steam-ship Company in Sydney. In my private capacity as a merchant, I shall be pleased to render the Government any assistance I can in the matter. From information, gathered by personal travels through Canada, &c, in this connexion, you can satisfy the Minister. The Canadian-Pacific Railway Company (Union Steam-ship Company, Sydney, agents) are very progressive, as also are the Union Steam-ship Company, and with the help of the Canadian Government, I have no doubt but that an efficient service can be carried out. When speaking to the Minister on the above subject, please impress upon him that it is of the utmost importance to have a quick and regular service in the interest of British-Australian and New Zealand trade. Under no circumstances harass our commerce ; foreign competition is very keen, and a slow, defective mail service would result in very serious consequences ‘to the trade and welfare of these Colonies. I enclose a track chart, which I copied from one on a steamer, showing distances, which with a sixteen-knot service from Sydney to Vancouver, eighteen days, detention Suva and Honolulu one day, rail Vancouver to Quebec four days, Quebec to Liverpool nine days, would land the mails from Sydney to London in thirty-two days. New Zealand would, no doubt, avail itself of a weekly mail service by the “All Red’ Route “-from Auckland to Fiji sixteen-knot service three days, Fiji to Vancouver thirteen and a half days, half day’s detention at Suva, Vancouver to Quebec four days, Quebec to Liverpool nine days; thirty days Auckland to London. The transfer of mail matter from the Southern States and Queensland, as arriving at Redfern station, would beboth simple and expeditious. Mail vans would” be run to the siding to the left facing the Redfern station, thence passed right into a van on the electric trams specially constructed for the purpose, necessitating a short deviation of the tram line only, and the mails carried direct to the mail steamer at her berth at Circular Quay, and passed direct to the mail room. The inward Southern States and Queensland mails would be treated with the same despatch upon arrival of each mail steamer. Facilities for quick despatch are fully available at Vancouver, Quebec, and Liverpool. Brisbane would cease to be a port of call. Ample rolling stock is available by the Canadian-Pacific Railway Company to carry the mails to- time. Means are also provided for keeping the lines clear of snow in “winter, and where snow is likely to fall in large quantities from the mountains, the track runs through covered sheds. Mails would be carried throughout by British ships, and over British territory.
He also refers to the fact that arrangements might be made to make Brisbane a port of call. I have travelled over this route, and I know from personal experience that the company possess good steamers. If its vessels were run at sixteen knots an hour, they would be able to deliver the mails between Sydney and London in thirty-two days. The company pays the highest rate of wages, and employs only white labour. I am convinced that if we offered it anything like the encouragement which we are prepared to offer to the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation
– I quite admit that. Their steamers are not so large as the others referred to, but they are well found, very comfortable and safe, and approved of by the travelling public. The company to which I refer is a progressive one, and I am quite satisfied that it would be perfectly prepared to provide larger steamers if necessary for the carriage of our mails. By adopting my suggestion we should open up an entirely new All Red Route, and the service would form a great connecting link between Canada and Australia. In that way, I am of opinion that the mail difficulty with which we are at present confronted might be solved. I have gone to considerable trouble to obtain the table of distances from which I have quoted, and for the accuracy of which I can vouch. The information which it contains was supplied by Mr. William Clarke, who is a well-known and respected Sydney merchant. He has travelled considerably, and possesses a good deal of knowledge of the route in question, which is becoming a very popular one with visitors to the old country. Upon the eve of the prorogation, it strikes me that the matter is of sufficient importance to warrant me in bringing it under the notice of the House. I feel convinced that the Canadian Government would be quite willing to offer a subsidy to establish a weekly mail service between that country and Australia. I commend the matter to the notice of the Prime Minister.
– I hope the Prime Minister will take no notice whatever of the rhapsodical rhodomontade of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro in connexion with the Federal Capital Site question. I can conceive of no more in judicious procedure than that which he has followed to-night, even from his own stand-point. If he believes that language such as he has employed is likely to conciliate New South Wales, or to bring that State to its knees, he is very much mistaken. What the Legislature of New South Wales has done may, in his opinion, be very absurd. But against his opinion, must be ranged that of Sir Julian Salamons, Mr. C. B. Stephen, and Mr. Wade, who all declare that New South Wales has done what she is entitled to do under the Constitution. Under the circumstances, it is not fair to ask the Prime Minister to “ shape up “ to New South Wales, so to speak, and to threaten to visit her with dire consequences if she does not immediately respond to the crack of the whip of this Parliament. It is just as well for us to recognise that New South Wales possesses some constitutional rights in connexion with this matter. Nothing that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro may do or say can interfere with those rights.
– What will be the result of the assertion by New South Wales of her alleged rights ? Will it not be that the Capital will remain in Melbourne?
– Probably the result will be the same as that which would follow the assertion of our rights in the same direction. I am assured by the best constitutional lawyers that although we may determine the Seat of Government, we cannot compel New South Wales to cede any particular site.
– If that be true, the Commonwealth Parliament will remain in Melbourne. That is not a very cheerful state of things to contemplate.
– Consequently, the greater’ is the need which exists for the employment of moderate language. I trust that the Prime Minister will not pay the slightest heed to the invitation of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro to fight New South Wales upon this question.
– I am of opinion that the honorable member for EdenMonaro has done the House some service by bringing under its notice certain facts in connexion with the carriage of our mails over the All Red Route. It seems a pity that the information was not supplied earlier; but as our mail contracts do not expire until the end of January, the Government will have ample time to look into the matter. If the mails can be carried as expeditiously over that route as they can over the present route, I think that the suggestion of the honorable member is worthy of very serious consideration. By its adoption, the conditions imposed by this Parliament would be complied with, and the wants of the commercial community would also be met. I commend the matter to the notice of the Prime Minister, because I feel that any such solution of the existing difficulty in respect of the carriage of our mails would be satisfactory to the Commonwealth and to the Empire generally.
– I wish to reiterate the advice which has been offered by the honorable member for Parramatta in connexion with the difficulty which has arisen between this Parliament and the New South Wales Legislature, regarding the location of the permanent Seat of Government. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro is under the impression that the Government should fight New South Wales upon the matter. On the other hand, I counsel them to approach that State in the most friendly spirit, recognising that its Legislature represents the people of New South Wales, who possess some constitutional rights in regard tothis matter. I do not claim to be a constitutional authority, but I have from the first placed upon the Constitution the interpretation which has been followed by the Parliament of New South Wales. I claim that the intention of the Constitution is that, in the first instance, New South Wales shall submit certain territories to the Commonwealth Parliament, and that a site within one of those territories must be selected by us for the Seat of Government. It was only a few days ago that the Parliament of New South Wales was called upon to consider this very important question, the delay which has taken place in this respect being largely due to the late State Government. Sir Edmund Barton, as Prime Minister, urged the State Government to take action, and the present State Ministry consider, apparently, that it is their duty to submit certain territories for the consideration of this Parliament. I hold that the Government will act wisely if it approaches the Government of New South Wales in a friendly spirit, and endeavours to ascertain the reasons for the recommendations which have been made on behalf of the only body which has a right to speak for New South Wales - the Parliament of the State. As for the threat which has been made by the honorable member for EdenMonaro.’ that the action of the State Legis lature will result in the Federal Parliament continuing to meet in Melbourne for some years, I would remind the House that any one acquainted with the true position of affairs must recognise that even if the State Parliament agreed to the selection which we have made, we should continue to meet here during the life of the present, and, no doubt, of a succeeding Parliament. Whilst considering the interests of New South Wales, we have also to conserve the interests of the Commonwealth. I hope that the interests of New South Wales will not have to be sacrificed, but if such a contingency arises, then, in the interests of the Commonwealth, it would be better for the Federal Parliament to continue to meet in Melbourne, rather than that we should incur, for a considerable time to come, the enormous expenditure incidental to establishing the Seat of Government at Dalgety.
– With reference to the question of the mail service which has been brought forward by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, I can only say that the Government have been giving the matter their careful consideration. Some weeks ago a representative of the Canadian Government obtained information from the Postal Department, with a view to ascertain if it would be possible to make some proposal in relation to the carriage of our mails. The Government have convened a conference of the several Deputy PostmastersGeneral to consider the proposal made by my honorable friend, as well as other propositions, to overcomethe difficulty caused by our failure to secure satisfactory tenders. The proposal made by the honorable member, as well as others that have been put forward, will receive every consideration at the hands of the Government during the recess. We hope that some satisfactory scheme will be devised to overcome the difficulty.
– In view of the statements which have been made from time to time by representatives of New South Wales as to the rights of that State in respect of the Seat of Government, it is remarkable that some of them should now be prepared to assert that Melbourne should be the Seat of Government for all time.
– No one has suggested anything of the kind.
– That is really the effect of the statement to which we have listened this evening. Constitutional authorities, whose opinions I should be prepared to accept in preference to any that the honorable member for Lang might offer, are agreed that the Federal Parliament has the right to decide where the Capital shall be. We have arrived at a decision, and the law under which we have acted can be varied only by an alteration of the Constitution. In consequence of the clamouring of the representatives of New South Wales, we took action to settle the question. I did not vote for the Dalgety site. I was one of those who favoured the selection of Lyndhurst, but as the Parliament has decided that the Seat of Government shall be at Dalgety, I am prepared to abide by its decision, and to stand up for its rights as against those of the State Legislature.
– Except in matters in which Queensland are concerned.
– I do not even make that exception. The Government are going into recess–
– No thanks to the honorable member.
– It is not my wish that they should be able to go into recess.
– That will not disturb my slumbers.
– If a majority of the members of the Labour Party had shared my: views, the Government would not have had an opportunity to get into recess. We have just heard the honorable member for Eden-Monaro threaten that, unless the Goverament take a certain action, he will probably compel them to do so.
– It is too late now for this sort of thing.
– Perhaps it is. The Prime Minister declared, during the discussion upon the no-confidence motion, that he and his party were banded together for the express purpose of wiping the Labour Party out of existence. I have not forgotten that declaration, and I regret that the Government did not obtain a dissolution and give us an opportunity to show whether they are able to carry out their threat.
– The honorable member can go to the country now for six months.
Mr.McDONALD.- I shall go round the country as much as I can, and do whatever I can to prevent the wiping out of our party by the right honorable gentleman. I hail with delight the action which he has taken. I hope that we shall not hear any more clamour from New South Wales members concerning the Federal Capital. Now that the people of that State have practically decided that the capital shall remain in Melbourne, the people of Victoria will be pleased at the news.
– The action of the New South Wales Parliament is not capable of the construction which the honorable member has placed upon it.
– I have given my opinion, but the honorable member can place his own construction upon the action of that Parliament. We have been sent here to defend our rights. The Federal Parliament have passed a certain Act. determining that the Federal Capital shall be in a certain place, and the New South Wales Parliament say, “ We will not have that.” My answer is, “ Then let us remain where we are.” I am prepared to stay here as long as the New South Wales members deny our right to legislate on this important matter.
– In replying, I shall refer only to the very important subject which the honorable member for EdenMonaro has brought under the notice of the House. I have no intelligence, except the statement in the Melbourne evening newspaper, which is not necessarily accurate, of the action taken in the New South Wales Parliament, but I understand from that source- that a series of resolutions were submitted to the House of Assembly, one of which embodied an offer of certain sites to the FederalParliament, and that a majority omitted from the list submitted by the Government of New South Wales the name of Dalgety.
– And Tooma too.
– That name was not submitted by the Government. They submitted four sites.
– That showed their ignorance of the question.
– I understand that the Government of New South Wales submitted to the Legislative Assembly of that State a list containing the names of four places which might be offered by the Parliament of New South Wales to the Federal Parliament. The Parliament of New South Wales would be absolutely within its rights in any offer that they might make to us. The proposal submitted to the Legislative Assembly of that State was that one of four sites should be offered, and that body,
I understand, decided to omit from the list of sites the name of Dalgety. In other words, it ‘determined not to offer.Dalgety as a site for the Federal Capital. If., that has happened, it does not in the slightest degree alter the decision arrived at by us, and embodied in an Act of Parliament. It may amount to an expression of a desire to ask this Parliament to reconsider the decision at which it has arrived, but the omission of the name from a proposed offer does not alter the decision of this Parliament. If it should turn out that a majority of the members of this Parliament are prepared to repeal the’ Act which we passed, and choose some site other than Dalgety, t’he object which I suppose the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales had in view in omitting the name of that place from its list might be secured. So far as I am concerned - and I think that I may speak for my colleagues - we arc satisfied to act upon the choice which ‘Has been arrived at by this Parliament. If it be impossible to arrange any voluntary understanding between the State and the Commonwealth, another situation may arise, but it will be time enough to deal with that situation when it arises. I strongly deprecate the use of any language which will make a difficult task more difficult, and I. ask those who have the interests of the choice which this Parliament has made at heart to give its opponents no opportunity to increase the difficulties which may now arise in consequence of the step which has been taken by the “New South Wales Assembly.’ Although I represent a New South Wales constituency, and will always loyally respect the just rights of that State in every way.; I am not likely to forget t’he duties which I owe to this Parliament in regard to a matter about which I think we have the largest share of choice ; because it seems to me that the selection of the Federal Site belongs more properly to the Federal Parliament than to a Parliament which is not to occupy the Federal Capital. At the same time, I wish to speak with the utmost respect of any action which may be taken, or any wishes which may be entertained on the subject, by the Government or Parliament of New South Wales. I hope that we shall be able to arrive at a satisfactory settlement of the difficulty. If that settlement is impossible, we shall have the consolation of remaining in a very comfortable city, surrounded by many advantages. It is ray earnest wish that the provisions of the Constitution shall be carried out loyally on both sides. If thev are, the Federal Capital will be established in New South Wales at no distant date, but, just as it is possible for the Federal Parliament in its treatment of the subject to so act that there will be no capital in New South Wales within a reasonable time, it is possible for the Government and Parliament of New South Wales to so act that there will be no Federal Capital in New South Wales within a reasonable time, unless we have an inherent right to select the capital by our own will. That is a question of serious importance, which I hope will never have to be considered. I hope that those who have this matter at heart will rest satisfied that the Government will loyally regard the decision of this Parliament, unless it is rescinded, and, so far as I am concerned, any attempt to rescind it will meet with- my strongest opposition.
– Then may we take it that the Government will not order General Finn out just yet?
– Not yet.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12 o’clock (midnight).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 December 1904, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19041214_reps_2_24/>.