2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Some time ago I asked 1 question about the disabilities to which blind persons travelling from one State to another are subjected, and was informed’ by the Prime Minister that the AttorneyGeneral was considering in this connexion the effect of the Constitutional provision for free intercourse between the States, and that a communication would be sent to the Premiers of the States, asking whether the State laws preventing; the traveiling of blind persons from State to State could not be modified. Has that communication, had any effect ?
– Action has been taken in the matter, and if the honorable and learned member will repent his question on Tuesday, I will inform him exactly what has been done.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) agreed to -
That leave of absence for one week be granted to the honorable member for Echuca.
– Has the attention of’ the Prime Minister been directed to the excellent speeches delivered last night at the Town Hall by the Governor-General and Lord Jersey? Will he cause publicity to be given to those utterances in England, especially to the remarks of Lord Jersey, that this is a land worth living in, and that Australians are a people worth working for?
-The high standing and repute of the distinguished gentlemen referred to will cause publicity to be given to their utterances inGreat Britain without any assistance that I can lend. I should be happy, were it in my power, to make known the verdict on Australia of all equally competent and experienced statesmen.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments) :
Clause 4 -
In the case of an Enumeration Day not being a census day, allowances shall then be made, as prescribed in Schedule A, or by the regulations, by adding the increases and deducting the. decreases in those numbers arising ‘from births, deaths, arrivals, and departures during the period from the last census day up to and including the last quarter day before Enumeration Day……
Senate’s Amendment. - Leave put “ up to and including the last quarter day before Enumeration Day.”
– I move -
That the Senate’s amendment be agreed to.
The effect of the amendment is to cause increases and decreases of population to be calculated up to Enumeration Day instead of stopping short at the last quarter-day before Enumeration Day.
Motion agreed to.
Senates Amendment. - After clause 8 insert the following new clause : - 8a. The Chief Electoral Officer shall, immediately after the issue of the foregoing certificate, determinethenumber of Members of the House of Representatives to be chosen in the several States in the following manner.
Motion (by Mr. Isaacs) agreed to -
That the Senate’s amendment be amended by inserting in lieu of the words “ following manner,” the words “manner hereinafter mentioned,” and agreed to.
Clause 9 -
Senate’s Amendment. - After clause 9 insert the following new clause : - 9A. The Chief Electoral Officer shall forth with, after he has determined the number of Members of the House of Representatives to be chosen in the several States in accordance with this Act, make andforward to the Minister a certificate setting forth the number of Members of the House of Representatives to be chosen in the several States.
– I move -
That the Senate’s amendment be amended by inserting in lieu of the word “certificate” the word “ notification,” and agreed to.
I wish to make this amendment, because “ certificate ‘ ‘ has a technical meaning, and the-‘ use of the word in the proposed new clause may create confusion.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Panramatta).When the Bill was going through Committee before, the Attorney-General and other members of the Government stated that its great merit was that the Executive would have nothing, to do with the determination of the number of members to represent any State. I pointed out that the Bill stopped short at the presentation of a certificate as to the population of each of the States, but was told by the Attorney-General, and the Minister of Home Affairs that the trouble which I foresaw would be cured in the Electoral Bill. Apparently, however, it has been left to the Senate to amend the Bill, so as to give full effect to the original intention of the Government which introduced it, and we should be much obliged to them for having rectified a matter whichwas overlooked by the Attorney-General, notwithstanding his keenness, and the great interest which he took in the drafting of the Bill.
– The observations of the honorable member are admirable in themselves,but have no relevancy to the amendment of the Senate.
Motion agreed to.
Motion (by Mr. Isaacs) proposed -
That the resolutions be reported.
– When the Bill was first introduced I pointed out that it was wholly unnecessary to occupy our time with its consideration, because the Electoral Bill gives full power to the Government and Parliament to make redistributions of electoral divisions. I am sure that the Attorney- General, if the question were put to him, would have to admit the correctness of that view.
-I do not agree with the honorable and learned member on the point.
– This Bill does not increase our powers in any way, and has been introduced merely to delude the public that further legislation was necessary to give effect to the Electoral Act. I protest against the time of the House being occupied unnecessarily.
Mr. LONSDALE (New England)’.- I do not agree with the honorable and learned member for Werriwa. The Bill may not have been needed to provide for the redistribution of electoral divisions, but its introduction was necessary to allow a number of gentlemen, who some time ago opposed with might and main the proposals of the late Administration, stating that they would injure Victoria, to recant their utterances. Fortunately or unfortunately, I will not say which, the scene has been changed since their original statements were made, and, having accepted office, they have been forced to provide some means to escape from the difficulty which they themselves created. They knew full well that the last Administration proposed to take the right course, but, having stated that the course proposed would do injustice to Victoria, they found, on coming into power themselves, that they were forced to commit that so-called injustice by proposing a legal enactment. There is too much . hypocrisy about the utterances of some honorable members, and the House should set itself against the un-Federal attitude which was then taken up.
– I am very pleased to be able to express my gratitude to the Senate for having proposed these amendments. As the Bill left this House, the whole control was left in, the hands of the Minister, but the Senate, in view of the extent to which the interests of certain States have been neglected, have made a very desirable amendment. They have, in fact, adopted the suggestion made by the honorable member for Parramatta, and rejected by the Attorney-General when the Bill was previously before us. He claimed that the measure was his own, and was complete, and apparently he thought that a gentleman of his legal training and experience would suffer a loss of dignity if he accepted a suggestion from a mere layman. Now that the Senate has adopted the suggestion of the honorable member for
Parramatta, the Attorney-General has the audacity-
– The question before the Committee is whether I should report the resolutions. The conduct of the AttorneyGeneral is not under discussion.
– My point is that but for the conduct of the Attorney-General in rejecting the suggestion of the honorable member for Parramatta when the Bill was previously before us, you, sir, would not have the pleasure of reporting one of these resolutions. I shall not repeat the word “ audacity,” as applied to the AttorneyGeneral, but I have heard the word “ indecency “ used to describe similar conduct. I am very glad that the Senate has made a great improvement in the measure, and I trust that when it has been placed upon the statute-book we shall secure that proper representation which has been denied to New South Wales for many years.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Reported that the Committee had agreed to the Senate’s amendments, with amendments ; report adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend the Immigration Restriction Act 1901.
Bill presented and read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
I am obliged to honorable members for having allowed the Bill to be advanced to this stage. The Immigration Restriction Act, No. 17 of 1 901, covers two entirely distinct classes of immigrants. The first comprises those who are sought to be excluded because of differences of type and tendency, which render their assimilation with the people of our own race difficult, if not Impossible. It was thought necessary in the earliest days of the Commonwealth to pass a measure for their exclusion. The Act does not on the face of it distinguish between the nations to which it is applied, and in only one or two portions of the measure does a word occur which even indicates that its administration is intended to be directed) to peoples such as those to whom I have referred, who are not members of the group of races which from colonizing Western Europe, have spread themselves over a large portion of the habitable globe. The other class of immigrants dealt with are those under contract, who will presently be the subject of comment in. connexion with another measure. What I am now asking honorable members to examine is a proposed amendment of the Act, which will apply particularly to those peoples to whom I have referred, some of whom are separated from us by a great gulf of inherited traditions, character and aims ; and all of whom under administration come within the scope of the existing measure. Our control is exercised by means of the application of an education test, which is neither the most convenient form of exclusion nor that which is most readily appreciated elsewhere. It involves a certain amount of indirect action, although from the very first day that it was adopted until the present time, it has been directly and consistently employed, and by this time its purpose is everywhere understood. When the education test was ‘adopted as the least objectionable method of excluding those whom we felt bound to keep from cmshores, it was feared that the control exercised would be less efficient than if direct prohibition had been resorted to in regard to people described by race or colour. I think, however, that experience has shown that the apprehension was groundless. The annual returns, which have been laid upon the table, prove not only that a smaller number of coloured aliens are being admitted into the Commonwealth, but that year by year the number of departures of such people exceeds the number of arrivals. They also show that of those who do come here a considerable number are only nominally admitted, as in the case of the pearl shell fishers, in order that they may sign contracts which are fulfilled on the sea. In a similar manner, the greater number of the Chinese and others who figure in the returns as having entered the Commonwealth have been previously domiciled here, or Have been in possession of State permits or other permits entitling them to admission. Consequently, the gross figures demonstrate that the number of coloured aliens within the Commonwealth is decreasing steadily, and is likely to decrease more rapidly year by year. Then, when judging the education test which has been applied to only a limited extent, honorable members must remember that those recorded ashav- ing failed to pass the test, and who have been refused admission to the Commonwealth, do not represent anything like the whole number of those who have been prevented from coming here by its operation. Those who come here and subject themselves to the test represent the few who have some hope of overcoming the difficulties presented by the Act. Probably thou, sands were deterred by it from embarking for Australia. I am justified in stating that the education test, as now applied, has proved efficient, and has enabled us to shut out from the Commonwealth those whom it was desired to exclude. Only a few individuals have succeeded in defeating it. This measure proposes to make a series of minor amendments, rendered necessary by the ingenuity of professional men, who have been able to discover particular means by which the intentions of the Act can be defeated. The first amendment is intended to make members of the police force of any State officers under the Act. This k necessary, because the Commonwealth officers are stationed on the sea-board, and when a prohibited immigrant manages to reach the interior an officer has to be despatched from the sea-board to apply the education test. The proposed amendment will enable any policeman- who may be on the spot to administer the test.
– Surely it is not proposed to allow any member of the police force to act?
– Yes. I ‘shall explain the reason when we reach the Committee stage.
– Have we not power under the Act to appoint policemen as officers for the purposes of the Act?
– The only power we have in reference to the police is that contained in section 14. We are there empowered to appoint particular police officers, but that involves a separate appointment in every case. What we seek is authority for any policeman to apply the education test provided under the Act. Under paragraph n of sub-section 3 several legal difficulties have arisen in regard to the dictation, test. First of all, there is doubt as to whether the word “passage” does not imply that the test to which the immigrant is subjected shall conform to certain requirements. Again., it is urged that the passage must contain only fifty words, and that the dictation of fifty-one or forty-nine’ words invalidates the whole test.
Then the use of the word “ European “ by implication draws a distinction between people to whom the test is intended to be applied, which so far as the administration of the Act is concerned, is quite unnecessary. This Bill is designed to repair slight omissions and to close small loopholes, which have been discovered in .the practical working of the Act. With exceptions to which I shall presently allude, I might conclude, with these few words, my statement of the purposes of the measure. But, in addition, the fact cannot be overlooked that - however silent the Act may be upon the point - it is intended to be applied to people of particular races. That provision must not be regarded as having been inserted in any Pharisaic spirit, and must not be held to imply any assertion of superiority on our part. Probably every nation, every tribe - and even smaller gatherings - is satisfied that its country, its district, its village is the best in the world, and thai its members are better than anybody else, partly because they try themselves by their own standards.
– That remark is applicable even to Ministries.
– It has even happened in the case of Governments. People try themselves by their own standards, and, naturally, return a verdict which is favorable to themselves. But assertions of superiority are neither conveyed nor implied in this Bill, which simply recognises the incontestable fact that, despite the unity of humanity, its diversity is more operative in fact. The branches and families into which the human race is divided ‘have followed different paths for ages. They have developed in. different directions to such an extent that it is now found that any attempt to suddenly blend their blood, unite them in institutions which are foreign to them - or in politics or economic relations - leads to disruptions and disturbances of a serious kind. These blends axe apparently of advantage to neither race directly - and certainly not to the advantage of any hybrid races which spring from them.
– The Prime Minister objects to the mode of blending as well as to the fact of blending?
– I refer both to the mode and to the fact of such blendings. We cannot deny that the experience of today promotes a reaction from the theory of the century before last, when all peoples were grouped in one mass as if they were divided by no other than artificial distinctions which, by the mere alteration of systems of education, could be readily overcome. That idea is passing away, even in the British Empire, made up of many races, following many different systems of life, with widely divergent religious beliefs, who are able to unite for the purposes of maintaining and extending that Empire. Certain bounds have been drawn between its peoples to trespass which means not only peril, but undoubted loss. That ‘ is the experience of modern times ; it is the . experience of those Englishmen who have devoted their lives, to work in Asia and elsewhere amongst people foreign to ourselves, -whom half-a,-century ago we should have endeavoured to turn into Europeans by imitation on then existing, European patterns. We have since found that it is wiser to allow each people to develop along its own lines, by the perfecting of its own methods of civilization, than to endeavour to impose our methods upon them. They do best for themselves in their own countries. I say this because occasionally we find .ourselves challenged from the pulpit and the lecture-room as setting up claims to superiority over other nations which no thoughtful man would prefer. As we cannot know how we ourselves look in the judgment of. an -All-seeing Eye, we do not attempt to judge other peoples, but we recognise tha,t racial “and national differences are prominent features which we have to take into account in practical life Nor are we selfishly exclusive in our laws”. Owing to the exceptional conditions prevailing in this Continent, and to the fact that the native races promise to become extinct, the first settlers of Australia have an opportunity which has existed nowhere else in the world, of endeavouring to gradually people our land with the descendants of white races capable of blending with advantage and relatively all of about the same grade of culture or possibilities of culture. That is what we generally refer to as the White Australia policy. This measure, instead of detracting in any way from that policy, aims at rendering the law more efficient in its enforcement. In formulating that policy and abiding by it, we are not called upon to cast, even by inference, any slur upon any other people, to imply in them any special defects, or suggest anything more’ than a separateness of character, aim, and tendency to which I have already alluded. It is an imperative necessity at the present time that, in pursuance of our great national ideal, we shall exclude the people of the East, of whom two races in particular possess claims upon our respect and admiration. Within the Empire, we have an empire - Hindustan - some of whose races are amongst the most intellectual that the world has known. They rank amongst the intellectuals to-day, and enjoy many heritages comparable with those of most advanced peoples. A tribute to their accomplishments in literature and art is unnecessary. Their records are sufficient to merit admiration-
– Some of them are of the same origin as European people.
– I believe that the Hindoo races are supposed to trace their ancestry back to distant mons, it being one with ours, although that theory is not so universally accepted as it used to be.
– The Prime Minister is making another misstatement.
– We need not pursue the inquiry whether all races had not originally a similar ancestry. That is immaterial for our purposes to-day. I wish only to safeguard those who support legislation of this character against the assumption that their action is derogatory to any people. The Hindoos as members of the same Empire are entitled to special consideration at our hands. Then there is the nation who have recently sprung into such prominence,” attracting the admiration of the world for their ability and patriotism, by their achievements in arms, science, and industry. They are the allies of the Empire to which we belong. Before they won their recent successes many people, including myself, bore tribute to their standing and promise. Now the whole world realizes that it is confronted by a young and virile people, whose possibilities cannot be gauged, although we know that they are of a very high order. It becomes us, .therefore, to see if, in regard to the excluded races generally, but particularly in regard to the two I have mentioned, we cannot, without altering the policy to which this country is pledged, amend the expression of our law and its administration. We can convey to them our appreciation of their qualities, and, while excluding permanent settlers from among them, inflict no sense of offence. To this end we propose to omit the word “European” before the word “language” in the sub-section to which I have previously referred. We shall then declare that the test shall be in a prescribed language, instead of a European tongue, a provision that will give us just as ample a control as we have ,at present.
– Would not that provision allow a Government which is opposed to the White Australia policy to prescribe a test in Japanese?
– Even supposing such a case, I would point out that they could now prescribe a test in the Turkish language, which is just as Oriental in character as is, Japanese.
– But there is no danger of Turkish immigrants coming to Australia.
– There are Turks who seek admission to the Commonwealth. The limitation of the test to a European language is more nominal than real, considering the unlimited power of exemption already contained in the Act. I do not think that the honorable member need cherish any apprehension in that regard. An important proposal is contained in clause 6 of the Bill intended to permit of an arrangement being made with any particular country if such a course is deemed’ desirable.
– Would “ country” include a dependency of the Crown?
– It is so intended.
– Would it include one out of many races in a country which might be desirable? ^
– I’ cannot answer that question offhand. I doubt whether it would. That, however, can *be considered in Committee. The idea embodied here is that with the consent of Parliament it would be possible to make am arrangement with the two countries I have mentioned,, or with other countries, in respect of the admission of their people to the Commonwealth. Seeing that neither the Government of India nor that of Japan desires their, people to come to Australia, we may, perhaps,- arrange that they themselves shall practically undertake to limit emigration to Australia instead of our having to control it when it reaches us.
– That is a very dangerous arrangement.
– In Committee, honorable members will have an opportunity to show me in what way such an arrangement - made with the consent of Parliament, and administered in the light of our present knowledge of the immigrants’ from these countries - would permit of any influx. No inflow would be possible without our becoming aware of it, because the records kept at all our ports would show how many were entering.
– The proposal of the Prime Minister is tantamount to an abandonment of the White Australia policy.
– I am moving the second reading of this Bill before it has »been circulated. When the honorable memberhas had an opportunity to study its provisions, he will see that his apprehension is groundless. If Parliament chooses to vary an arrangement it can do so.’ It is not proposed to change our present policy ; but if an arrangement can be made that will give effect to that policy in a more considerate way, why should we not take advantage of it? If Parliament considers that a proposed arrangement is not sufficiently safeguarded, it will refuse to ratify it. I think that there is not the slightest reason for fear in this regard.
– Wi’ll this Bill allow more than one language to be prescribed ?
– Certainly. The intention is to carry but the existing practice, which is to prescribe such a language in each case as will lead to the rejection of the persons intended to be rejected. That is deliberately done. The test is not of education, and was never proposed as such. It is a means of exclusion, devoid of offence. In pursuance of the same policy, we are now proposing that a general arrangement, which meets with the approval of Parliament, may be brought into operation.
– Is there not some such arrangement between Fiji and the Government of India?
– The only arrangement of which I know between the Governments of Fiji and Hindustan relates to the mode of recruiting coolies, the method of paying them off, and so forth. That is quite a different arrangement from those which we have in view.
– But do not the coolies recruited in Hindustan remain in Fiji ? Are they not re-engaged?
– That is another matter.
– They remain there, and are gradually obtaining possession of the country.
– That has nothing to do with the arrangement here proposed. The
Bill provides not for an alteration of the policy of a White Australia, but for a change in the method of administration. Surely if the Government of India, by agreement with the Government of the Commonwealth, prevented natives from emigrating to Australia that would be just as satisfactory to the supporters of the principle of a White’ Australia as would be our pieventing their landing here when they came. We hope to make arrangements of that kind.
– Should we not provide, as we have done in other measures, that such agreements shall not come into operation until approved by resolution of the House?
– That is intended, but I shall be happy to consider any suggestion in the direction indicated. Sub-clause 3 of clause 4A is explicit As to its termination. It provides that -
Any such notice shall cease to have effect upon the Minister notifying, by notice in the Gazette, that it is cancelled.
Any arrangement made will be subject to that power. By way of illustration, I may point to the fact that we have at present an arrangement with the Governments of India and Japan that has proved satisfactory. When previously in office I had the honour to submit the original proposals to those Governments. Subsequently they were approved by the Government of which the honorable member for Bland was the leader, and final effect was given them by the late Administration. The arrangement in each case is to the effect that tourists, merchants, and others visiting Australia shall not be subjected to the education test ; but shall be provided by their Governments with passports, _ the production of which will entitle them to pass freely through Australia. That system has been carried out up to the present time with entire satisfaction to all concerned. There were two cases in which it was thought that passports had been improperly obtained; but we have been able to satisfy ourselves that in one of these the person concerned landed in the Commonwealth prior to the introduction of the system. There is, therefore, only one case in which we have reason even to suppose that the passport system may have been abused. It is possible, by an extension of this system, to study the feelings of other visitors from these countries who desire to come here either for business or pleasure. There is no reason why similar arrangements should not be made with other countries.
– Is legislation necessary for an extension of the system?
– It is not; But it is desirable, in order that arrangements of the kind described may be made formally with the approval of the Parliament. In the cases to which I have referred, we took action practically upon our own responsibility ; but with the consent of the Parliament, we may be able to apply the system over a wider area. I do not wish at this stage to detain honorable members, but ask them in looking through the Bill to realize that it marks no change in the existing policy. On the contrary, with the exception of the clause making friendly arrangements possible, its provisions consist of those minor amendments which the application of the original Act to our extensive coastline has proved to be necessary for its economical and efficient administration.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Joseph Cook) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act relating to Immigrants under Contract to perform Manual Labour in the Commonwealth
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of (this measure is, first of all, to remove the many misapprehensions that have clustered1 around the application of the contract. labour sections of the Immigration Restriction Act. The present Act, as originally drawn, was to apply only to the general exclusion of coloured races. But, during its consideration in Committee, a new clause was inserted which was aimed at ali races whether they could assimilate with ourselves without injury to our institutions and standards or not. Dealing with immigrants solely from the economic standpoint, it applied to people of our own race, and even to those of our own country, who might happen to be outside the Commonwealth. Consequently, the original provisions in relation to coloured peoples have affected British citizens who seek to enter the Commonwealth under contracts to perform manual labour. A great deal of misapprehension has thus occurred which ought to be removed. This Bill recognises, first of all, the difference between these two classes of immigrants, since it deals with contract labour, and contract Labour only. It will, of course, cover contract labour without respect to colour or race. Coloured labourers under contract would be subject to both measures. They would first of all be prohibited immigrants under the Immigration Restriction Act, but if they, were exempt they would still be subject to the conditions imposed by this Bill. For all that this Bill is very unlikely to be applied to them. No circumstances Have arisen in Australia to lead to a proposal to introduce coloured labour under contract. This Bill, though applying to all persons coming here under, contract to perform manual labour, will really affect Europeans, and, so far as one can see, them only. The United States has lately taken steps to modify the strict law which they originally enacted, excluding all persons under contract. Under recent amendments, I believe, professional people and certain persons engaged in mental pursuits are admitted although under contract.
– The restrictions imposed by the original Act are largely evaded.
– I dare say. But the United States Act has been so amended as- to bring it more into conformity with our own law on the subject, which deals with persons seeking to enter the Commonwealth under contract only to perform manual- labour. Judging by experience, there is no reason to suppose that either under the existing law. or the amending Bills now submitted, there is likely to be any considerable influx of contract labour into Australia. It would appear that there are not many employers who desire to introduce labour under contract,, and that the number of men whom they wish so to introduce is very small. I doubt if, since the passing, of the original Act, there have been more than a dozen applications, covering altogether two score contract labourers. There is always a possibility, however, that changed conditions, may lead to a. greater demand for contract labour.
– In the eyes of some employers, arbitration laws will constitute “ changed conditions.”
– Arbitration- laws, and, indeed, all other laws passed by the S’tates, will remain unaffected by this measureNothing that can- be done under it will add to or take away from the States control of all employes within their own. areas.
– Where the workers are organized.
– This Bill will not interfere with the existing laws of the States. The point I was about to make when interrupted was that it is necessary, in our,, own interests, that we should let it be clearly understood that this is . not an. Immigration Restriction Act. This is a measure to deal with intending immigrants who are under restriction. Neither this nor any proposed Bill, nor any Act, excludes an uncontracted man who wishes to come to this country from Great Britain or from Europe. No free- man of the British race,, or of allied races, nasi ever been prevented under the Immigration Restriction Act from! entering. Australia, and I do not believe, that any such man ever will be prevented.’
– Is a man who has- a position waiting for him- not ‘a> free man ?
– I will deal with that point presently. The immigration for which we are most anxious, taking our experience as a guide, will be free immigration - not, to any noteworthy extent, immigration of persons under contract. In the great bulk of cases those- who come here, like those who go to Canada and South Africa, will be men whose desire in coming to a newland will be to obtain that which has been denied them, in the crowded countries of the old world, men whose ambition it is to make some spot of land their own, to settle upon and to cultivate. The stream of immigration which- we need, for which we hope, and which we ought to assist, is a stream of men who do not wait for a contract or obligation. The immigrants who go to the United States and to Canada in thousands are immigrants of this kind, those who are under contract being, in comparison, a mere handful.
– The American law does’ not do what the Bill proposes to do:
– We will consider that matter when we come to it. Our circumstances are different, and necessarily the treatment may be so. What we wish to do first is to show that no restriction is placed on the ‘admission of free immigrants to Australia, and to emphasize the fact that this measure deals only with those who propose to come here under some restriction as to employment In regard to intending immigrants who are under contract, there is to be perfectly free entrance if the contract is submitted beforehand! to the Minister. Having been submitted, it will be considered first in the light of the intention of the contract labour provision in the Immigration Restriction Act, to ascertain if it has been made with reference to industrial disputes here, to displace Australian workmen by imported labour. It is universally recognised, I believe, that this is a proper precaution to take, because it is felt that no settlement of an industrial dispute by such a method could be permanent, or would contribute to the prosperity of the community. Industrial disputes arising in connexion with local conditions should be settled in accordance with those conditions, instead of ‘by the importation from abroad of men ignorant of them, or perhaps belonging toraces allied to our own, who have not reached the same stage of industrial development. I think that honorable members generally agree that the importation of labour to take part in strikes should be prohibited, and it will continue to be prohibited. The first point to which consideration will be given in connexion with any contract submittedwill be whether itwill affect any existing, or contemplated industrial dispute. Sub-clause b aims at the same end. The intention is to prevent an irruption of contracted persons in such cases, and I believe that will be preventible by the Bill. The next point that will be considered in connexion with a contract is whether the remuneration, terms, and conditions of employment provided for are those which obtain in the place to which the contract labourer is to be sent. We can thus protect intending immigrants from being bound by misrepresentations. I believe the Bill to be sufficient for this purpose. If the contracts fulfil the conditions which I have outlined, no more will be said. But, while every contract of any magnitude will, doubtless, be submitted beforehand, in compliance with the requirements of the jneasure, it has been thought necessary to make provision for other cases - practically the only ones with which we have so far had to deal - in which one, or two, or three men are brought unexpectedly to Australia under agreement, because of their special proficiency in some particular trade or calling. It is thought that there may be some oversight in regard to the submission of contracts covering the immigration of such units. and it is provided that they will be void if those brought out under them land before the contracts have been approved by the Minister, unless he is satisfied that there was a good reason for not previously submitting them. Security must be given, and an opportunity allowed for the scrutinizing of the terms. If the Minister is satisfied that the omission to obtain his approval in advance was unimportant, and the transaction, bond fide, it will hold good.
– Is it not sufficient to declare the contract null and void, allowing the man imported under it to remain ?
– A. man brought out under such a contract might find that there was no place open to him. In the bulk of cases it is skilled, and often highly skilled, labour which is brought out in this way, and there are not too many opportunities for the employment of such labour.
– I suppose that if the man who was imported” had£10 in his pocket he would be allowed to remain?
– If a contract is cancelled, the employer who has made it will be liable to be called upon to pay£50 for the maintenance in this country of the man who has been imported, until he has obtainedemployment here, or to defray the cost of sending him back to his own country. It is our desire that the man who is imported under contract shall not suffer, but that all responsibility shall be cast on the employer who has brought him here, without taking the steps necessary to obtain an open door for him.
– Will the man who has been imported be allowed to stay here ?
– Yes. The Minister will see that he is not victimized by the contract.
– He will be allowed to remainhere, but he will not be allowed to get work to do.
– He will be allowed toget work, and the employer who has brought him here will have to maintain him untilhe has a chance of getting work.
– At his own trade or calling ?
– Yes. I have little, doubt that, when the provisions of the measure are understood, all these small contracts will be submitted in advance, and., therefore, no difficulty will arise. No difficulty would have arisen in the past had. the contracts been so submitted. Butit has been pleaded that the Immigration Restriction Act does not tell employers that application for permission to import labour should be made in advance, though that is the natural and common-sense deductionfrom its orovisions.
– Is it not likely that contracts will be made which will not be submitted ?
– That may happen now.
– At the present time it is an offence.
– Such contracts will be null and void, and those making them will be liable to penalties. All laws may be defeated by fraud, but fraud when detected is punished. Still the area of Australia is so enormous that we shall not be vitally injured if occasionally a man is imported contrary to the provisions of the law. Personally, I have no fear of any abuses of this Contract Labour Bill. The problem is, why the work-people of the mother country do not recognise that the law which has been so much attacked is intended to benefit them when they come here, and operates in their interest ?
– At the present time persons found to have been imported contrary to the Act are deported.
– Is it not an encouragement to a man to come here to know that . he has certain work awaiting him?
– I shall deal with that aspect of the case directly. At the present time we have no reason to fear any influx of prohibited coloured immigrants. All the precautions that common sense can suggest are being taken to prevent it. But there is all the difference in the world between dealing with an economic safeguard inthisBill and having our legislation in regard to it confused with provisions of an Immigration Restriction Act. In this Bill we deal only with the immigration of persons, otherwise suitable, who come here under contract, probably without a knowledge of the local conditions prevailing, and possiblv imported to take part in some industrial dispute. Having safeguarded ourselves against these dangers, we have done everything that is necessary. We have to remember that all contracts of importance are certain to be submitted - I think that all contracts will be - and when these are scrutinized we shall have ample guarantees that the introduction of the proposed immigrants will be to the advantage of Australia. I am quite unable to agree with those who regard with alarm the prospect of an influx of people of our own race- and standard. Let them come as fast as we can absorb them. If there be any risks it must be due to con ditions and restrictions obtaining, here, and which prevent people from taking advantage of the opportunities presented. The natural opportunities of Australia are admitted to be boundless, and if they are not made available upon whom does the blame rest ?
– Upon the politicians.
– Let my honorable friend take his full share of that blame.
– No, I decline to do so, because I have always been in favour of making available to the people of our own race the opportunities presented for profitable employment here.
– Many of us have been operating in the same direction, but that does not relieve us of our present responsibility, nor does it justify us in ignoring the fact that, notwithstanding our boundless natural opportunities, we have not yet succeeded, and are not succeeding, in attracting a sufficient population. I entirely sympathize with the aim the honorable member has in view with regard to unlocking the lands which ought to be, but are not, available, for settlement here-. I go the whole distance with the honorable member.
– The Prime Minister talks, but does not act.
– I have done at least as much as the honorable member in that direction. I say that our lands must be thrown open before we can hope to encourage any considerable immigration to this country. We need it, but weare not getting it. The necessity for taking action in this direction should have been brought home to the people of Australia most clearly and irresistibly by the offers recently received from the old country of a large number of desirable settlers, to which vague replies were sent, and those only from certain parts of Australia. We ought to have been able to reply: “There are no landless people in this country who desire to make their homes upon the soil, and there are boundless lands for others who desire to settle upon them.” We had to admit that some of our own people were vainly seeking land, and that wehad no such efficient organization as exists in Canada, whereby the settler is enabled to at once proceed to the place where his choice of land is already marked out for him, and practically establish his home without delay. Hardly any of our States offer suchopenings for suitable immigrants coming here.
– The Dominion Government has the control of the land in Canada.
– Yes, that makes an enormous difference. When I am asked why the Commonwealth Government does not submit a proposal to foster immigration, I reply that whilst .this Parliament is in favour of such a policy, we feel that it can be carried out only when the people who come here can be settled upon the land of which; we have vast areas idle, or provided with employment at their own trades and callings by the encouragement of the manufactures and the development of the resources of the country. Until we are able to offer immigrants employment either in the cities or in the country, what inducement can we give them to come here ?
– We want a good graduated land tax.
– I desire to avoid controversial issues, but contend that if we introduce immigrants at random, and merely throw them on the labour market, or upon the land - knowing, as we do, that in the latter case they will probably be kept waiting for six or twelve months, or even longer, before suitable holdings can be allotted to them - we shall be guilty not only of cruelty to the immigrants, but of conduct which must result injuriously to Australia as a whole. What we need to do is to make opportunities for settlers. Then we shall attract a large proportion of enterprising people, whose operations will enable us to still further augment our numbers. I do not share any alarm with regard to contract labour. As the honorable member for New England has remarked, it has its advantages. The man who knows that he has work to come to, and where it is, has a greater attraction than a man who has merely speculative prospects of employment. By the introduction of immigrants under contract, we ought to obtain excellent settlers, first because the employer will try to select good men, and secondly because others who would not otherwise be tempted to come would be inclined to throw in their lot with us if they could be assured of situations or homesteads. Moreover, contract immigrants would he introduced without expense to the State. Neither during my previous term of office, nor since I last assumed the position of head of the Government, ha.ve any overtures been made to me by any person desir ous of bringing in any large number of contract immigrants for any purpose whatever. Still, it has been suggested that if the large fertile areas still unoccupied in Queensland and elsewhere are to be settled, it is quite possible that some contract proposals will have to be made with the object of introducing settlers and giving them a good start on land which those States rich in territory are both ready and anxious to offer. I can only say that proposals of that kind ought to be most sympathetically received. If we are satisfied that immigrants are able to take part in new developments of production, trade, commerce, or industry, it seems to me that they should be welcomed. We should give our fullest assistance to proposals of that kind. They are among, the means to which we must resort if we desire to make this really a White Australia. As I have said, over and over again, an empty Australia is not a White Australia. Until the Commonwealth is peopled, and its resources are utilized, we shall neither reap advantages in which its present population are entitled to share, nor shall we see’ this country protected by settlers whose interests will be bound up with it, and who belong to our own race. The purpose of this measure is to set out clearly and distinctly-
– The Prime Minister means “ shut out.”
– I do not. The purpose of the measure is to set out clearly and distinctly those whom it was intended to shut out under the original Act. Those whom it was designed to exclude are still prohibited.
– Does not that depend upon the administration ?
– It always will. The Bill expresses the policy adopted in the original Act, which I think ought still to be maintained in regard to contract labour. First of all, what we- look to is free labour; in the second place, we look to labour the contract in respect of which has been submitted before the immigrants land.- The residue will be very small, and will consist of labour the contracts in respect of which will be submitted after the immigrant has been brought to this country. The object of the original Act was to prevent the introduction of contract labour in connexion with any industrial dispute, and provision is made for that in the Bill. The second purpose of the measure before us is to insure that people who are brought out under contract shall be engaged upon - terms and conditions such as prevail here. The Bill provides that the contract shall relate to the place where the immigrants are to be employed. We shall thus be able to ascertain easily the proper rate of remuneration. Having provided for the exclusion of contract labour engaged in connexion with any industrial .dispute, and having provided also that those who make contracts shall be fully acquainted with the terms and conditions of employment in Australia, we have, I think, adopted sufficient safeguards. We are not imposing any unnecessary .restriction nor any condition which would operate unjustly either to the men who are to be brought here, to employers, or to the persons engaged in the particular industry in which the contract labour is to be employed. No question is or will be raised with regard to immigrants of the class who constitute the majority of those now flowing into the United States and Canada, who desire to settle on the land and make homes for themselves. I have already stated that any contracts in regard to such immigrants should be favourably regarded. But care should be taken that the agreements entered into are fair, and are designed to accomplish the end ostensibly in view. Under these circumstances, the Bill represents what I believe to have been the intention of the House when the original measure > was introduced, and what I trust will prove to be the present desire of honorable members. It will have the effect of removing misapprehensions which have existed in the past, and will make provision for the coming of many more desirable people when they learn from their friends who settle here what this country offers them. It provides means by which immigrants can be introduced into Australia readily and without difficulty if the contracts are open and above board, and it also provides for careful control if there is reason to suppose that labour is intended to be introduced with an undesirable object. We have separated the existing Act into two parts, and are now providing for contract labour separately, thus accomplishing what was intended in the first instance, and in such a manner as to merit the approval of our own people and of those we wish to see numbered among them.
-, With’ the consent of the Prime Minister, I move -
That the debate be now adjourned.
I merely desire to add that the introduction of these two Bills dealing with immigration abundantly evidences the desire of the Government to close the session almost immediately.
Motion agreed to; debate adjourned.
– I move -
That, until otherwise ordered, Government business shall have precedence, on each day of sitting, of all other business.
I think we have now arrived at that stage of the session when honorable members will agree that if we are to terminate our labours within a reasonable period, it is essential that they shall forego the privilege which they have hitherto enjoyed in regard to the consideration of private members’ business. Yesterday they were good enough to enable us to proceed with Government business earlier than usual, and I believe that the disposition of the House is that Thursday afternoons shall in future be devoted to the discussion of Government measures.
– I shall offer no objection whatever to this motion. I support it iw the confident belief that the Prime Minister will very soon make another statement to the House as to the course of business to be transacted this session. That statement, I hope, will contain some very serious modifications of the announcement which’ he made the other evening. He must be well aware that it is impossible to transact the business which he then outlined. The measures which he has submitted to us from time to time, instead of being of a simple character, are of the most highly complicated and controversial nature.
– Surely it is not “ impossible “ to deal with them?
– I am sure that nothing is impossible to the honorable member. However, I am not anticipating anything in the nature of a miracle. I think that the age of miracles has passed, at any rate, so far as this Parliament is concerned. Having regard to our experiences in the past, it must be patent to the Prime Minister that it is a matter of absolute impossibility to carry out the programme which’ he has submitted to the House, if we are to rise within a reasonable period of Christmas. I hope that he does not contemplate keeping us in Melbourne for our Christmas dinners. We shall need to rise, I take it, about the middle of December, to enable honorable members to reach their far distant homes before Christmas Day. Therefore I hope that the Prime Minister will take the House into his confidence, and let us know exactly what political cargo is to be jettisoned, so that we may assist him to close the session at the earliest possible moment, and in the most amicable way. Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 9th November (vide page 4908), on motion by Sir William Lyne -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– With the permission of the House, I should like to say a few words by way of explanation.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the Minister of Trade and Customs be allowed to make am explanation ?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– Last night I omitted to mention one very important matter, which has been the subject of a number of telegrams from Queensland to honorable members. I refer to the question of what will happen to the sugar in bond at the termination of the present Sugar Bounty Act. I may tell honorable members that in Committee I propose to insert an amendment in this Bill which will provide that any sugar in bond at the end of 1906 shall bear the excise of 1906, and not the excise of T907. Otherwise the result would probably be a reduction in price to the growers. Those who are interested in this matter are very anxious to know what is intended, and I take this early opportunity of making a statement in regard to it. Probably, I shall impose a limit of two or three months upon the period during which the sugar may be taken out of bond. At the same time, I desire to act fairly to those who have sugar in bond.
– At a. moment’s notice, I. am not in a position to comprehend the scope of the statement which has just been made by the Minister.
– So far as I can gather, the statement of the Minister refers, not to this Bill, but to the Excise Bill.
– But it is intimately connected with this Bill.
– If the statement which the Minister made refers to the Excise Bill, I cannot allow it to be discussed in connexion with this measure.’
– I would point out that although the Sugar Bounty Bill and the Excise Bill are separate measures, the one is dependent upon the other. Do I understand that we cannot deal with them jointly ? I can scarcely conceive that I shall be able to deal with one measure effectually, unless I am permitted to refer to the other.
– I am glad that the point has been raised at this stage. If honorable members will look at the Constitution Act, they will see that in order to comply with its terms it is absolutely necessary that these two Billa should be introduced separately. I recognise that it will be difficult to divide the debate into two portions, but if honorable members will assist me by refraining from repeating upon one Bill what they have said upon the other, I shall allow them the greatest possible latitude.
– I have already said that I do not propose to discuss the statement of the Minister at the present juncture. It is, however, impossible to debate either of these Bills without making some reference to the other. In substance they are one measure, although in form, in order to meet the requirements of the Constitution, they are two. I should like to say, especially to the Queensland representatives, that with the exception of certain portions of New South Wales, the rest of Australia is in the position of what I may fairly call a “ generous supporter “ of the policy in connexion with the sugar bounty. It, at the present time, interests Queensland more than any other State.
– Are we riot to maintain a White Australia?
– I particularly stated that the policy connected with the sugar industry interests Queensland more than it does any other State. I think that that statement is literally correct. I am one of” those who, in the initial Federal campaign, advocated to the full the policy of a White Australia. . I saw then that in pursuance of the desire to secure a White Australia, it would be necessary for the States as a whole to undertake some financial burdens beyond those that they would otherwise be called upon to bear. I recognised the necessity of granting assistance to the sugar industry of Queensland during the critical period of its transition from the employment of coloured to white labour, and that quite apart from the fiscal question which is involved! in the imposition of a general duty upon imported sugar. But I think I express the views, not only of representatives of ray own State, but of those of other States, when I say that we did not contemplate a, perpetual system of bounty being extended to white-grown sugar, as contrasted with sugar which is produced by black labour.
– We do not contemplate it now.
– I ‘am coming to that point. In 1901 or 1902, when the first Sugar Bounty Bill was submitted to this Parliament, many of us were led to believe that the payment of the present bounty for a period of five years, which will expire at the end of 1.906, would probably prove sufficient to accomplish the purpose for which it was granted. We may have been hasty in arriving at that conclusion, and we may not have paid sufficient attention to the warning of others. I am free to admit that in the light of subsequent events, those who entertained the opinion to which I have referred, came to a hasty conclusion, and one which the present condition of affairs does not justify.
– Hear, hear. I wanted the bounty to extend over a period of ten years.
– I am aware of that. It is just possible that during the continuance of the bounty the Queensland sugar-growers have not displayed that zealous desire to effect the change which we might fairly have expected from them, in view of the generous way in which they have been treated. But whatever the causes may be, I must confess that in order that the White Australia policy may be carried into effect, further reasonable assistance must be granted to the sugar industry, and, therefore, we are fully justified in advocating an extension of the bounty for some period, the duration of which may be determined in Committee. At the same time, I wish to point out that no State is making greater sacrifices in connexion with this sugar ques tion than is Victoria. In considering the interests of Australia, every honorable member is bound to recollect how any general policy affects tWat State with which he is most familiar. Victoria is undoubtedly a heavy loser, and will be a heavier loser in years to come, as the result of the operation of this policy, because her financial candle is being burnt at both ends. She is losing a large revenue upon sugar, and is also suffering by being obliged to contribute to the bounty. Notwithstanding that, I believe that the people of Victoria - especially since they are now enjoying a measure of prosperity to which, from the State Treasurer’s point of view, they have been strangers for some years - aire prepared to continue to make reasonable sacrifices for the purpose of rendering Australia available for practically a white population. But I do not think- that the people of Victoria, or indeed of any other State, are willing to see the bounty continued indefinitely, nor do I consider that they should be asked to do so. It is in that connexion that I desire to draw attention to the specific proposals of this measure, and to point out the extreme probability of our being requested in 191 1 to continue the bounty for a further period. Within fifteen months of the termination of the bounty under the existing Act we have a proposal to extend it at its full rate for a further term of five years. Although, nominally, a change is being made by increasing the bounty from ^2 to per ton, the existing state of affairs will practically remain unaltered. The excise on white-grown sugar is to be increased by £1 per ton, as against the import duty of £6 per ton, and as the bounty is also increased by £1 per ton, the disadvantages of growing sugar by black labour are to be increased, while the advantages of producing it by white labour are to remain practically untouched. We are told that the bounty must be continued in order to successfully carry out the substitution of white for coloured labour in the production of sugar in Australia. We are told, and rightly so, that the sudden disappearance of the bounty would inevitably check, to a large extent, the intentions of the Federal Parliament. I am very much afraid that if the Bill be passed in its present form we shall have the same statement put before us in T910 or 191 1. I am dealing with this question for the moment quite apart from the view of those who disapprove of ‘ the bounty system. I agree with it ; it accords not only with my views upon this particular question, but with the general principles I favour as regards the propriety of State assistance of industries by bonuses and protective duties. As a- protectionist, of course, I can have no scruples in supporting a bounty system. I would point out, however, that the sugar bounty has something more than a purely fiscal aspect.
– I think the honorable and learned member is in error. To my mind, the sugar bounty is the most important that could be given.
– As it stands, the bounty is not a fiscal one.
– It is.
– It draws a distinction between an Australian product raised by different means, but not between the products of Australia and those of the outside world.
– Is it not a question of protecting the produce of one race as against that of another?
– It is a question of securing the production of Australian goods by white labour. That is a principle of which I heartily approve. It is not so much a question as between protection and freetrade
– What is the object of the policy of protection but to protect our own people against-
– Against outsiders.
-And why not against the product of an inferior race within the Com mon Tea 1 th ?
– We undoubtedly desire to make Australia white. I have always been, and am still, prepared to support such a policy, but the sugar bounty is designed to assist white as against coloured labour within the Commonwealth. Unlike an import duty, it is not designed to assist white labour in Australia as against coloured labour outside. I would point out, however, that it was never intended that the bounty should be indefinitely continued. Does the honorable member for Wide Bay suggest that it should?
– I have always said that it ought to continue so long as coloured labour is employed in producing sugar in the Commonwealth.
– That is to say, that if in 1910 coloured labour is still employed in the production of sugar in Australia we shall be asked to continue the system for another term of five years.
– But the excise will continue.
– The question of whether the margin between the excise duty and the import duty is sufficient protection for Australiangrown sugar is another matter, which we shall be able to discuss in 1910. I could not’. deal with it at the “present time without entering, upon a discussion of the whole fiscal issue. The bounty now proposed to be paid will give sugar produced by white labour a greater advantage than it has hitherto enjoyed over that produced by coloured labour.
– Practically the same.
– The position of Australian white-grown sugar, as against imported sugar, will be the same as before, but it is to be placed on a better ba.sis as against black-grown sugar locally produced. I have said already that I think this is a right step to take in order to press on the substitution of white for coloured labour. If we desire to expedite this change, it isa legitimate and proper course to pursue; but in view of the statement made by the honorable member for Wide Bay, who leads the Queensland party in this matter, it is perfectly clear that if we continue the bounty in the form now proposed, we shall have a request in 1910 for an extension of the system for another five years in the event of sugar still being produced by black labour within the Commonwealth.
– That is fore. shadowed by Dr. Maxwell.
– Dr. Maxwell says that he thinks it would be reasonable and proper to extend the bounty for a further term of ten years, but that he assumes that for political reasons a seven-years’ extension would perhaps be enough to propose. The Government?, however, do not propose to extend the system for a further term of seven years. It is perfectly clear from what has been said that there is a feeling in the minds of some honorable members that it will be necessary to ask Parliament at the end of the! period fixed by this Bill for a further extension of the system. Long-lived though it may be. the present Government will probably not be in office when that time arrives, so that it is useless to ask how they would regard such a proposition. But I do not believe that the Federal Parliament or the people of Australia desire that the bounty shall be re- newed from time to time, as long as any such case as is suggested by the honorable member for Wide Bay may be made out for its extension.
– Where there is no unfair competition between black and white labour there should be neither excise nor bounty in respect of sugar.
– That is another matter, but from a revenue stand-point I should be sorry if an excise duty on sugar were to disappear.
– That is not protection.
– Protection is afforded as long as the difference between the import and the excise duty is sufficient. We secure protection by the import duty and revenue by means of the excise.
– That is sham protection.
– I think that the honorable member is confusing the word “protection” with the word “prohibition.”
– The revenue tariffist is the middle-man.
– I believe in the desirableness of obtaining some revenue from the Tariff; but I am not what is called a revenue tariffist.
– If there were no unfair competition between white and coloured labour in Australia, there would be no need for the Sugar Excise or the Sugar Bounty.
– There should be an excise for revenue purposes.
– Why should we tax sugar and not corn?
– Corn duties are imposed.
– We must obtain revenue.
– Why not have a good fat land tax?
– Some honorable members evidently desire to see a graduated land tax imposed in the Commonwealth. If they would clearly state such a desire in their programme-
– The honorable member knows what is in our programme.
– My duty is so to administer the Standing Orders as to prevent an honorable member, being interrupted whilst making a speech. Some honorable members are not easily interrupted, and therefore I am not impelled to limit interjections while they are speaking; but other honorable members do the House the compliment ofcarefully preparing their speeches, and I must ask that they be not interrupted.
– It is perfectly clear from some of the interjections which have been made that it is not intended that the bounty shall terminate at the end of the period named in the Bill. It is evident that, as often as it may be necessary, new proposals for an extension of the system will be made by those specially cognizant of the needs of the growers of sugar by white labour. I do not think that Australia desires that this bounty shall be continued indefinitely. It simply proposes to tide the producers over the transitional period. At the end of 1906 the sugar-growers of Australia will have enjoyed the bounty for five years, and another period of five years or so should be ample to enable the change of labour to be made. I think that the granting of the bounty for a period of ten years in all should be more than sufficient, if the growers desire to substitute white for black labour, to enable them to make that charge. Iwould remind the House that it was considered that the granting of a special Tariff for five years from the establishment of Federation would be sufficient to enable Western Australia to adapt its conditions to the Australian Tariff. If a . matter affecting the finances of a State and the whole of its industries can be settled within five years, surely the granting of this bounty for a period of ten years should be ample to enable those engaged in a single industry to make the change we desire. It is time that the Parliament announced, not only to the public of Australia generally, but to the sugar-growers of Queensland in particular, that it does not intend indefinitely to continue this bounty. This may be done most effectively by the introduction of a sliding scale. There is a. very good precedent in the Western Australian Tariff for the method I have proposed. I have circulated an amendment which provides in effect that the bounty shall be continued in full for three years after the expiration of the present period, that is, during the years. 1907, 1908, and 1909. or for four full seasons from now, and that instead of giving the whole amount during the final two years. four-fifths, three-fifths, two-fifths, and one-fifth respectively shall be given in each year following 1909.
– That will make it increasingly difficult for white growers to compete with black growers. There will be no additional difficulties in the path of the grower who is employing alien labour.
– That interjection shows that the idea is held that after the completion of the five years’ period another period shall be entered upon.
– Would it not be better to gradually increase the excise duty?
Mr.McCAY. - Under my amendment the amount of bounty proposed to be paid would be given, but the payment would be spread over seven years instead of over five. The adoption of such a course is the best way to inform the sugar growers of Queensland that the Commonwealth Parliament does not intend to go on voting a bounty for an indefinite period. The fiscal question is raised only in dealing with the excise and import duty, the amount ot protection depending on the difference between the two.
– It is far more difficult to light against an enemy within than against an enemy without.
– That is why we have given a bounty, and are continuing it; but we should not continue it for ever. If we proposed to continue it for ever, we should thereby acknowledge that the growing of cane by black labour must continue for ever, and that there can be no such thing as a White Australia.
– Would not the honorable and learned member continue the bonus as long as may be necessary for the purpose which it is intended to effect ?
– That is too vague. I think that this Parliament should say to the growers, “We will continue the bounty for a sufficient timeto give you ample opportunitv to make a change from black labour to white, but that period will not be exceeded. The taxpayers of Australia should not be asked to give a bounty for an indefinite period. Do honorable mem- bers who have interjected think that when the term of fiveyears. for which it is proposed to extend the bounty, has come to an end, another five years’ term should be entered upon if cane is still being grown by black labour?
– I think that, the bountv should continue so long as black labour is competing with white labour in the production of sugar.
– That means that the bounty must be paid for ever.
Mr.Joseph Cook. - It means that Australia is to be asked to continue a system which has proved a failure.
– It means that in 19 10 we shall be asked to extend the payment of the bounty for another five years.
– Yes, if it is needed.
– If any cane is being grown by black labour at that time. In my opinion, having given the growers an. opportunity to change from black to white labour, we should, at the end of that time, if black labour is still being employed, take some other way of getting rid of it.
– Could the end not be obtained by increasing the excise duty gradually until it became equal to the import duty ?
– I. desire that Parliament shall let the growers of Queensland know that they cannot expect to receive a bounty for all time. Honorable members suggest that the difficulty can be met by increasing the excise on black grown sugar, and that that will be equivalent to increasing the bounty on white-grown sugar ; but I am concerned only with the giving of a bounty. This is not a question of excise. It is proposed to pay money out of the public Treasury to the growers of sugar-cane to encourage them to. employ white labour and it is our duty to inform them that Parliament will not continue this bounty for ever.
– Would the honorable member be prepared to extend the same principle to the industries of Victoria?
Mr.McCAY.-Certainly. The proDosed iron bounties, which do not concern Victoria so much as they concern some of the other States - though thev mav do so at some future time - are to be paid for a period of five years only.
– Is there not adistinction between the proposed iron bounties and the sugar bountv, inasmuch as there is no excise on iron, while there is an excise on sugar?
– There is that difference. I am pointing outmerely that the proposed iron bounties are not to continue forever.
– Would the honorable and learned member treat the protected industries of Victoria as he is proposing to treat the Queensland sugar industry?
– Yes. No bounty is paid’ to any Victorian industry. I am prepared to give a fair measure of protection to every Australian industry ; but the sugar industry is receiving both protection and the bounty, which is more than any other industry in Australia is getting.
– ‘Does the honorable and learned member include the woollen industry ?
– No bounty is paid to the woollen industry, and it does not get as much protection as the sugar industry obtains apart from the bounty.
– Is not the white labour problem the only reason far -the sugar bounty ?
– It is the main reason; but some honorable members seem to think that the payment of the sugar bounty affects the fiscal question. To my mind, the bounty is paid merely to secure a White Australia. But it is the duty of Parliament to tell the growers of Queensland that the opportunity which we have provided for making a change from black to white labour cannot be continued for ever. There should be ample time in a period of ten or twelve years to make that change, and special inducements to make it cannot be continued indefinitely. The payment of the sugar bounty is no part of the protectionist policy of Australia.
– Is it not part of the protectionist policy to induce the production of commodities by white labour?
– That is a very important part of the Australian policy, but it is not part of the protectionist policy as. contrasted with the policy of the free-traders or revenue tariffists. Free-traders as well as protectionists can support the bounty.
– The protection given to the white grower of sugar is no greater than the protection given to the makers of hats and boots.
– I think that it is. The price for refined sugar varies at the present time, according to quality, from about 7s. ixd. to us. 9d. a cwt.
– That must be irc London ?
– Yes; but it is on that price, and not on the Australian price, that the duty is paid. Ten shillings per cwt. would be a fair average price to take, and when the bounty is added to the ,difference between the excise and the import duty, a protection of about 50 per cent, is given to the grower of sugar-cane, which is more than any other Australian industry gets.
– A good deal of it is taken by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company.
– Perhaps so ; but in comparison with other protected industries the sugar industry is very well treated. I do not make that remark in any grudging spirit, because I know that part of the as sistance given to the sugar industry is given to it for the avowed purpose of encouraging the employment of white instead of black labour. But we are entitled to say that we do not intend to give this assistance for all time. The Minister in charge of the Bill has said that. The most effective way of making our wishes known to the growers is to embody them in ah enactment’, and, therefore, I urge honorable members to accept the sliding scale which I have suggested, so that the bounty will diminish until it finally comes to an end.
– Is the excise also to disappear automatically?
– No; that is another matter.
– Why should excise be charged on sugar alone?
– Excise is charged on Stimulants, tobacco, and starch, and is a method of raising revenue chiefly from the consumption of luxuries. The difference between the excise and import duties is a matter to be dealt with in connexion with a revision of the Tariff, and the protection to be given to the .industry must be determined by the relation of those two duties. The excise duty is imposed for revenue purposes, and may! be regarded as justifiable or unjustifiable according to the point of view, but in itself does not affect the fiscal question. Unless Parliament provides for a sliding scale by which the bounty on sugar will ultimately disappear, we shall have a demand, five years hence, for the payment of the full amount for another period of five years. But strongly as I desire to assist the sugar industry, and ardent protectionist as I am, and always have been, I say that the payment ( of this bounty is not connected with the fiscal issue, and that it is our duty- to tell the sugar-growers that the bounty will not continue for ever. The method I propose is the least violent way of putting an end to it. I urge the representatives of Queensland to remember that’ there has been no niggardliness on the part of the other States in regard to this matter hitherto ; but we have a right to say that we shall not continue the bounty for ever. We cannot bind future Parliaments, but we should indicate our intentions on the face of the Bill. That is the most we can do, and it is also the fairest course we can pursue. The balance of convenience seems to lie in the direction I have suggested, namely, that of adopting a sliding scale - if we are to have a sliding scale at all - which will continue the full bounty for four years.
– The right honorable member for Balaclava was in favour of grantnig the bounty, in full for two years, and on a sliding scale foc a further eight years.
– I go further than did the right honorable member for Balaclava in that I propose to extend the bounty in full for four years, and on a sliding scale for a further four years; and it seems to me that that is a more favorable arrangement from the point of view of the grower, who claims that the full bounty should be paid during the transition stage, when white is being substituted for black labour. If the representatives of Queensland prefer that the bounty shall be paid for two years’ in full, and for eight years on a sliding scale, I am perfectly willing to agree to that. It seems to me that the arrangement I propose will be more favorable to the growers^ although I must admit that the payment of the bounty for two years hi full, and for eight years on a sliding scale, would be equivalent to five and a half years’ full bounty, whereas my proposal provides for only a five years’ payment.
– The honorable and learned member does not understand all the aspects of the question,.
– I do not understand any question in all its aspects. And I am perfectly prepared to meet the representatives of Queensland, who have the most knowledge of the subject, if they prefer the plan proposed by the right honorable member for Balaclava. My point is that there ought to be a sliding scale, tapering off to nothing,, in order that full notice mav be given of the termination of the bounty period. We cannot for ever make a distinction: between black and white labour. If we do we shall perpetuate a black Australia, instead of bringing about a White Australia. The only way of announcing to the Queensland planters that Queensland is not to have- arn eternity within which to effect the change from black to white labour upon the sugar plantations is by informing them in some express manner that the special encouragement nf the employment of white labour is to last on.lv for a reasonable time. If they fail to make the change, they cannot expect the Federal Parliament to continue to grant financial assistance. If we intend to insist upon the policy of a White Australia, we may have to adopt other measures. It is conceivable that a future Parliament: mayhold that tha attempt to bring about a White Australia has proved a. failure,, but I trust that the facts will never justify any such conclusion. The only way in which we can bring about the results we. desire, without dislocating the industry, and causing a loud outcry from all those concerned,, is by adopting a sliding scale, which, according to my idea, should have a steep slope towards the end of the term rather than a gradual slope from the beginning. No difference of principle appears to rae to exist between a sliding scale; providing for two years’ full payments, andi eight years diminishing payments, and others providing for four years? full payments and four years upon a sliding, scale; or three years’ full payments and five years upon a sliding scale. But I think it is desirable that the tapering period should be short, and towards the latter end of the term. The question of the protection of the sugar industry can always be dealt with by adjusting the import and excise duties, and I shall always be prepared to give protection to that, as to any other industry. I am a protectionist, irrespective of the position in which I sit in this Chamber. But upon this matter I speak quite apart from the fiscal issue. What we want to do now is to- notify the planters of Queensland that we cannot go on assisting them for ever; if they will not take advantage of the extended term we offer them.
– In dealing with this question, it is necessary to consider what has been, accomplished by means of the bounties. No one can read Dr. Maxwell’s report without realizing that we have failed to bring about the substitution of white for black labour on the sugar plantations. Although, at first sight, ‘it may appear, that there are some indications of success, the report, when carefully examined, discloses the fact that the reverse has been the case. We were told by the Minister of Trade and Customs that the number of white sugar, planters had increased..by 1,160. The greatest proportion of that increase is represented by the expansion of the area , under white-grown sugar in the southern and central districts, where there is a larger white population, and where the climatic conditions are more favorable to the employment of white labour. There has been, an increase of only eighty- eight in the number of planters employing white labour in the northern district.
– It is not so long ago that it was maintained that white labour could not be successfully employed in the central district.
– I did not contend anything of the kind. My view is that in the northern district white labour will never prove a success ; but I believe that it can be profitably employed upon the plantations south o Rockhampton.
– The greatest success has been achieved in the central district, which lies to the north of Rockhampton.
– Yes, but not in the northern district. The success in the central district is due to the increase in the number of planters with small holdings. I believe that white labour can be successfully employed to the south of Rockhampton. It is notable that, whilst there has been an increase such as I have indicated in the number of employers of white labour, there has been no decrease in the number of black labourers employed. I find that in the southern district, the kanakas employed number 128 more than they did two years ago. Altogether 2,424 kanakas were engaged upon the southern plantations at the close of 1904, and in addition 750 other coloured aliens were engaged, making a total of 3,174 coloured labourers. That has occurred in the district where the conditions are claimed to be most favorable to the employment of white labour. In the northern areas, there are only 2,807 kanakas, but there are 3,977 other aliens, or a total of 6,784 coloured labourers. These districts produce twothirds of the sugar-cane grown in Queensland, whilst the southern district, in which’ 3,174 coloured labourers are engaged, produce one-third; therefore, there is about the same proportion of black labour in the southern areas as in the northern fields. These figures seem to show that the bounty has entirely failed to accomplish its object.
– Dr. Maxwell’s report shows that the bounty does not represent the full difference between the cost of employing white and black labour.
– No ; and that is the reason why it is proposed to increase the bounty. As one-third of the sugar output of Queensland is the product of white labour,, it is clear that in those districts where that class of labour is chiefly em ployed there is exactly the same proportion of black; labour as is to be found in other districts.
– Why do not the planters get rid of the kanakas?
– I do not know. I am simply endeavouring to show that the operation of the bounty has not had the effect of displacing the kanaka.
– Is the proportion of sugar produced by black and white labour in those districts the same as it was before we enacted special legislation for the industry ?
– According to Dr. Maxwell’s report, there are 128 more kanakas employed in the southern district to-day than there were two years ago. Of course, there has been a corresponding increase in the quantity of sugar produced.
– Does not the fact that the kanakas have not been displaced indicate that the planters cannot do without them?
– So far as I can learn from Dr. Maxwell’s report, the bounty of £2 per ton has not accomplished its purpose. That officer practically makes that admission. The proposal to increase the bounty by £1 per ton is intended to expedite the abolition of kanaka labour. The great advance in the production of sugar by white labour is practically confined to the densely populated parts of Queensland, where white labour can be easily obtained, and where the plantations are chiefly being carried on by small men. In the central district, for example, small farms have al’ways been the rule. A great many of the plantations there were carried on by small farmers, even before the Sugar Bounty Act came into operation. On the other hand, the employment of black labour in the southern district is confined to the large plantations. Of course, if a vast difference is to be made between the excise payable upon sugar produced by white and that produced by black labour, it is possible that these plantations may be broken up into small farms, and in that wa.v the conditions that we desire to bring about may be established. Today there are 3,442 farmers or holders of land in Queensland. Dr. Maxwell states that,, to accomplish our object in respect of the employment of white labour, there should be at least 8,000 farmers there - an increase of 4.600. Dr. Maxwell’s report is scarcely satisfactory upon iwo points. Speaking of the proposed increase in the bounty payable upon white-grown sugar, he says it is possible that in the southern and central districts it may entirely do away with the employment of black labour. He declares that by releasing the black labour which is now employed in the southern district, a larger number of coloured men will be available to produce sugar in the northern district. That means that the White Australia policy will not succeed there. We have been repeatedly assured that white men can successful:!)’ labour in the cane-fields in the northern parts of Queensland. I should be pleased to know thai that is so. If the statement be true, it confirms my conviction that we have no right to sanction the proposed bounty. The payment of a bounty can be justified only upon the ground that there are natural difficulties in the way of the employment of white labour which must be overcome.
– It is impossible for white men to compete with kanakas in doing field work.
– If white men can produce sugar successfully in the northern areas there is no justification for the payment of a bounty. Personally, I think it is much better to admit that they have to encounter adverse climatic conditions which make it necessary for us to extend to them some assistance. The conditions that prevail upon the coast of Queensland are quite different from those which obtain on its table-lands. Along the coast the humidity of the atmosphere is very much greater than it is on the table- lands. It is the climatic conditions which obtain that militate against the employment of white labour in the cane-fields of the northern areas. To me it has always seemed that we should have acted more’ wisely, if instead of attempting to get rid of the kanakas by means of legislation, we had allowed them to gradually die out. I am opposed to any legislation which has the effect of indenting men from any place under conditions which practical lv amount to slavery. In my opinion it would’ be in the interests of the men employed in the various other departments connected with the sugar industry if we allowed the growers in the north to employ kanaka labour. There would be a larger number of white men engaged in those districts if the kanakas were permitted to do the field work. Seeing that the operation of al bounty of £2 per ton upon sugar produced exclusively bv white labour has not had the effect of getting rid of the kanaka, I feel sure that the increased bounty now proposed will not achieve that end. In speaking upon the Budget, I pointed out that other industries are in full swing just at the period when the largest number of white workers is needed in the northern district. I then said that whilst white men could obtain employment in shearing, woolpressing, and other pastoral pursuits they would not think oT working in the cane-fields. One of the representatives of Queensland interjected that there was no such employment available. I did not intend to suggest that such employment could be found about Cairns or Bundaberg, but I knew that the further statement made by the honorable member in question that it would take the men months to travel from the sugar-growing to the pastoral districts was absurd. To set the matter at rest, I wrote to my son, inquiring how long it would take to journey from one district to the other, and received a reply that the distance could be covered in three or four days. It is necessary that, in dealing with this question, we should be guided solely by a desire to do that which is best in the interests of the community as a whole. My opinion is that we should have acted wisely had we allowed the employment of kanakas on the cane-fields to continue. I come now to the question of cost. This attempt to set up unnatural conditions of employment for white men, and to abolish coloured labour On the canefields, has cost the community in one year nearly £1,100,000. An attempt will doubtless, be made to disprove this statement, and I therefore wish to make my meaning perfectly clear4. If it cam be shown that my assertion is erroneous, I shall be glad to be corrected. In 1904-5, 151,209 tons of sugar were produced in Australia, and as a result of the import duty the cost of this to the community was increased by £907,254. During the same period, 29,147 tons, of sugar were imported, and the duty on this amounted to £174,882, so that the total increased cost to the community was £1,082,136. Of that sum, all that went into the coffers of the Treasury by way of duty was £174,882, so that the local manufacturers of sugar received over £907,000 out of the pockets of the rest of the community. It is true that from that amount we have to deduct £453,627 in respect of the sum paid by way of excise duty, but by means pf the sugar bounty we returned to them about .£12 1,000. Thus the net loss to the community for the year was nearly £600,000.
– For what period?
– For the year 1904.
– The honorable member is assuming that all the sugar consumed last year was imported.
– I care not whether the sugar consumed last year was imported or locally produced. My honorable friend knows very well that locally-grown sugar is not to be obtained at £6 per ton less than the price of the imported article. The local manufacturer reaps the benefit of the duty of £6 per ton, .and puts it in his own pocket. If all the sugar consumed in Australia were imported, the revenue derived from the import duty would go into the Treasury, but that is not the case. In view of these figures, it behoves the House to seriously consider whether the advantages derived from this system are really commensurate with the cost. It is remarkable that an attempt should be made ink this way to help a few people at the expense of the great bulk of the community ; but we find a tendency on) the part of many honorable members to move in that direction. As members ‘ of a Parliament which controls the destinies of the people of the Commonwealth, we should have regard to the interests, not of the few, but of the whole community. I propose now to put before the House a few figures showing what we are gaining from this vast expenditure. I am aware that a number of white men are engaged in the mills, and would be employed there irrespective of the payment of the bounty ; but on the basis of Dr. Maxwell’s report we are calling upon the people to pay something like ^600,000 per annum, in order to benefit about a 5,000 persons. Is itright that such a system should be continued? Dr. Maxwell points out in his report that the cane produced . in the northern area is of greater value than is that grown in the southern or central areas of Queensland, the average price for the sugar-cane from the northern area being 17s., whilst that for sugar-cane grown in the central and southern districts is about 13s. 6d. and ros. 6d. per ton respectively. Taking, 13s. 6d. per ton as a fair average, we find that the total value of the whole of the cane placed in the mills in 1904 was £895,716. To secure this result we have mulcted the people in a payment of about ^600,000.
– How does the honorable member arrive at his estimate of value?
– On Dr. Maxwell’s report.
– The honorable member’s comparison of the value of the cane, with the increased price due to the import duty, is not a fair one, inasmuch as the duty is paid, not upon the cane, but upon refined sugar. The difference in value must be recognised.
– But I am speaking of the value of the cane at the mills. The quantifies produced by means of black and white labour in Queensland in 1904 were as follow: - Northern area, 947,105 tons; southern and central areas, 379,884 tons. This output, at 13s. 6d. per ton, was worth £895,716. My point is that, in order that the whole of this output may be produced bv white labour, the people are being called upon to pay nearly £600,000 per annum in respect of duties on sugar.
– Assuming the honorable member’s figures to be correct, the people paid nearly ^600,000 in order to obtain a certain quantity of refined sugar at the end of the season.
– The sugar refining is in the hands of one company. I recognise the point which the honorable member desires to make, namely, that the value of the raw sugar is much lower than is the value of the refined article. I suppose that, on the average, one ton of sugar is obtained from ten tons of cane ; but, once the cane leaches the mill, no black labour is employed upon it.
– The value of the refined sugar is about fifteen times that of the cane product.
– The honorable and learned member is losing sight of the fact that I am speaking of the tons of cane, and not the quantity of sugar produced. I wish the House to realize that, first of all, the bounty, in so far as it relates to the policy of a White Australia, has been an absolute failure. There are proportionately as many black men engaged in the production of sugar-cane in the socalled white area of Queensland as are employed in the so-called black areas.
– The quantity of sugar produced by black labour has increased.
– Yes. The sugar produced bv black labour as well as the sugar produced by white labour has increased, but the former has not increased proportionately as much as the latter. Dr. Maxwell indicates though he does not make the statement directly, that even the continuance of the bounty for another five years will not get rid of black labour in the sugar industry. What probably will happen will be that the kanaka will leave the southern and central districts, and take work in the, northern area. I am against bounties of any kind ; I am against any system which tries to produce unnatural conditons.
– Is the honorable member in favour of a White Australia?
– The White Australia cry is a fad ; I have no hesitation in saying that. I hope that I am a White Australian myself. I would like to point out that there are in Queensland, apart from kanakas, 15,000 or 16,000 aliens, and if we succeed in driving them out of the canefields, how are thev going to find a living? It is not proposed to shoot them info the sea ; but the effect of driving them out of tropical occupations, for which thev are suited, and for which white men are not suited, will be to drive them into other occupations where they will displace white men. and such an arrangement will not benefit the white workers. If it is unnatural for white men to work in the tropics, black men should be allowed to work there, and white men should confine their efforts to places where thev can work. I heard a white working man say once that we are not wise enough in our day and generation - that white men should not work at all, but should get these black men to work for them. I think that the wisest remark which I have heard a man of that class make on the subject.
– I hope that there are few such men.
– All of us wish to get the greatest amount of comfort for the least expenditure of labour’. The honorable member, as well as myself, tries to do that.
– The honorable member would make a good nigger-driver.
– No; but the honorable member for Gwydir would. My history shows that I have never been a niggerdriver. I believe in giving the same rights to black and white. In my opinion, there are black men who are better than many white men, just as there are white men who are better than blacks. Men must be judged, not by the colour of their skins, but by their character. There is a large number of men with black skins who have white hearts, just as there are large numbers of white men who, although they despise the blacks, are inferior to them. I know that there are black men whom 1 would rather have as friends than some white men. This cry for a White Australia is a piece of absolute hypocrisy. What is happening is that the growers are trying to get larger bounties, and many of those who advocate the continuance of the bounty must know that it will not accomplish its ostensible object.
– The honorable member should not say that.
– I say it because I think it. By the end of this year, Australia will be producing as much sugar as she needs for her own. requirements, unless, of course, there is a failure in the crop, and consequently the import duty will produce little or no revenue. By increasing the cost of producing sugar, we are lessening the opportunities for the employment of white men in other industries, such as the confectionery and jam-making industries. The result of Mr. Chamberlain’s denunciation of the Sugar Convention has been to reduce the price of sugar in European countries, and increase the price in Britain, and, as a consequence, to enable them to compete more effectively with English manufacturers in industries such as the making of confectionery. Similarly, if the cost of any raw material is increased, the employment available in other industries is diminished. I listened with considerable interest to the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Corinella. He and I differ on the fiscal question. I am not prepared to give protection to sugar or to any other industry, though I admit that I am amongst the minority in this Chamber. His advocacy and treatment of the bounty proposals, however, shows that there is no chance of getting rid of an octopus like this once it takes hold. Did any one ever know a manufacturer who was obtaining an advantage from a duty or bounty to ask Parliament to discontinue it?
– What about McKay?
– McKay, although he is making a fortune, asks for higher duties, so that he may rob the people still more.
– Surely the honorable member wrongs him?
– No. I might be wronging other men if I used that term in regard to their actions, but I do not think I am wronging McKay. Those who are benefited by duties or bounties, at the expense of the community, do all they can to bring about their continuance; they are never willing that they shall come to an end. In Victoria they have had protection for thirty years, and yet to-day are whining for higher duties. If we continue the sugar bounty, the Queensland growers ten; years hence will be asking for a further continuance, as they will be twenty years hence, and for all time. Protection is ai .system, which feeds on itself. We are sent here, not to help individual classes of men, or to force upon the community unnatural industries which cannot support themselves, but to protect the whole public, and do what is right, best, and fair for every one. We should not consider the special interests of special classes. However, I do not wish to prolong my remarks, because I desire to give the honorable and learned member for Werriwa a chance of speaking. If a division is called for, I shall vote against the continuance of the bounty, though that is not likely to be agreed to; and in Committee I snail certainly support the sliding scale proposal. I hope that the House will rise to a proper conception of its duty in this matter, and not study the interests of individuals as opposed to those of the whole community.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).The speech of the honorable member for New England has been a most exhaustive one.
– Honorable members showed no signs of exhaustion towards the latter end of his speech. I know that the honorable member for New England has for days been studying this question, and if his calculations are verified we shall have reason to seriously .consider whether the bounty should be continued. I was a member of the first Parliament, and am, therefore,, acquainted1 with the reasons which, in the first instance, induced honorable members to agree to the bounty. It was recognised that the people demanded a White Australia; but it was considered that it would be un-Federal, in view of the immense sums of money which had been invested in the sugar industry in Queensland, to take action which would absolutely ruin that industry. Therefore, we decided to provide monetary support which would enable the industry to continue without the assistance of black labour. At the time, I stated that I believed that an extension of the bounty period would be demanded, and events have proved the truth of my prediction. I think, too, that if we vote for the continuance of the bounty for another five years, we shall at the end of that time be met with a demand for a further continuance, because I agree with the honorable member for New England that the history of bounties shows that those who benefit from them never cease to demand them, and make very little effort to carry on their business- without Government assistance. The bonus system is the least objectionable form of protection, but we know that those who have once received the benefit of a bonus are just as unwilling as are those who have derived the advantage of protection’ to give it up. It is for us to con,sider whether the bounty should be con?tinued for any lengthened term. I have come to the conclusion, after reading the report of Dr. Maxwell, whom I regard as a thoroughly reliable authority, that the industry could not be carried on without the assistance of bounties ; but I think the Government are making a mistake in proposing to grant an extension for five years beyond the term now provided for. We have no guarantee that the system will then be brought to an end. There is a paragraph in Dr.. Maxwell’s report which indicates that at the expiration of the proposed extended period we shall be asked to continue the bounty for a further term. In this connexion, the interests of the smaller States should be seriously considered. They cannot be expected to go on contributing large sums of money for an indefinite period. South Australia has been involved in serious loss, Victoria cannot continue to pay the large sums she is now called upon to contribute; and Tasmania cannot be expected to make much further sacrifices in the interests of a White Australia. The sugar-growers of New South Wales are receiving ,£40,000 per annum, which they do not require but which, under the terms of the Constitution, must be handed over to them.
– They could return that sum to the Commonwealth if they chose.
– In this age of selfishness, neither the sugar-planters nor any one else could be expected to do that. As a matter of fact, they are clamouring through their free-trade representative, for a continuance of the bounty.
– What authority has the honorable member for saying that Victoria cannot afford v to continue to pay the bounty ?
– Victoria is losing enormously.
– Victoria has the largest surplus of any of the States.
– No complaint has been made by Victoria.
– Because that State is pledged to a policy of protection, and cannot say one word against its appli- cation to the sugar-growers. I think that the sugar bounties should be paid for an extended period, but the extension should be accompanied by an intimation that the bounties will be gradually diminished, until they cease. The best plan would be to adapt a sliding scale, extending over . a period of eight years, and providing for reductions at the rate of 12J per cent, per annum. As the Minister of Trade and Customs has pointed out, we are rapidly approaching the time when we shall produce more sugar than we require for home consumption. When that stage is reached we shan be face to face with a very serious problem, ( because we shall have to export Sugar upon which the bounty will have been paid. Whilst I am perfectly prepared to do full justice to Queensland and to the planters who have invested their millions in the industry, we must consider the interests of the other States, and see that thev do not pay too much for a White Australia. I believe that if a sliding scale such as I suggest were adopted, the planters would gradually become reconciled to the changed conditions, and we should have no further demands made upon us. The sugar-growers of New South Wales are not entitled to any consideration, because, but for the provisions of the Constitution, they would not have received any bounty whatever. I trust that in Committee the Bill will be amended in the direction I have suggested.
– Provision was first made for the payment of bounties for the production of white-grown sugar in the Excise Tariff Act of 1902. That
Act provided for an excise duty of 3s. per cwt. upon manufactured sugar until the 1st of January, 1907, -less - from the 1st July, 1902 - a rebate to the grower of sugar-cane and beet ; the rebate in the case of sugar-cane to be 4s. per ton on all sugar-cane delivered for manufacture, and’ in the production of which sugarcane white labour only had been employed after 28th February, 1902. When that was done, it was pointed out that it would hardly be possible to provide for the bounties in that way, because under the Constitution they would have to be contributed to by all the States. Therefore, the Sugar Bounty Act, No. 4, of 1903, was passed, providing that a bounty should be paid at the rate of 4a. per ton on cane yielding 10 per cent, of sugar, the bounty being ‘increased or reduced proportionately to the sugar contents of the cane. It was urged that owing to the policy we had adopted in regard to a White Australia, it was necessary to make some concession to the employers of white labour in the cane-fields. At that time I pointed out that the whole question, was misunderstood, and subsequent events have proved that the view I then took was the correct one. The import duty upon cane sugar was fixed at £6 per ton. I find that in 1902 we consumed 176,300 tons of sugar; in 1903, 182,600 toms; and in 1904, 180,300 tons; whilst it is estimated that our consumption for 1905 will amount to 187,000 tons. A duty of £6 upon these quantities would represent sums varying from ,£1,060,000 to £1,1.20,000. For the purposes of my argument, I -propose to assume that the average is £1,100,000. That is undoubtedly the amount of taxation contributed by the people of Australia, and the sum that ought to be paid into the Treasury. But, owing to the difference between the import and excise duties, the revenue received amounted in 1902 to £180, 000; in 1903 to £790,000 ; and in 1904 to £628,000 ; whilst in 1905 it is expected to reach the sum of £607,000. Deducting the amount of ‘ the bounty which has been paid, amounting in T902 to £60,000, in 1.903 to £97,000, and in 1904 to £128,000, and estimated to amount in 1905 to £151,0.00, we find that the net revenue amounted, in 1902 to .£720,000, in 1903 to £693,000, and in 1904 to £500,000, whilst the estimate for the current year is £456,000. The amounts, therefore, received by those engaged in the industry were £3.38,347, or 32 per cent., in 1902-3; £403,173, or 37 per cent., in 1903-4; £581,190, or 54 per cent., in 1904-5; while for this year the amount totals £666,170, or 59 per cent.
– The honorable and learned member has quoted the amounts received from the Customs duties?
– I have based my calculation upon the supposition that the sugar consumed within the Commonwealth paid a duty of £6 per ton. Formerly the State Treasuries received these amounts by way of revenue. In other words, during the current year the Commonwealth will receive only £450,000 from sugar, after allowing for the payment of the bounty.
– Om account of the good season ?
– The honorable and learned member has quoted the figures relating to 1902, when the production was at its lowest, and when the people paid grain duties to the extent of £500,000.
– Every penny of those grain duties found its way into the Treasury.
– The honorable and learned member has deducted the amount of the bounty paid1 from the duty.
– That is exactly what I have done. Honorable members are perpetually confusing the fact that some white men and some black men are engaged in the production of sugar in Queensland. They propose to transfer the present competition, from the employers of white labour in the cane-fields to the consumers of sugar throughout Australia.
– Nobody denies that.
– Then: the honorable member’s argument is that the’ whole community ought to bear the expense of that competition. I find that in Queensland and New South Wales, prior to the introduction of the Sugar Bounty Act, there were 2,600 planters who employed white labour only. The number has since been increased to 3,690. Roughly speaking, there has been an increase in the number of white growers of 1,090.
– The white growers in New South Wales formerly enjoyed a larger measure of protection than, they do now. They had absolute protection against coloured labour.
– Before we passed the Sugar Bounty Act they enjoyed a protection of £3 per ton only, as against £5 per ton now.
– The honorable and learned member is comparing the difference between the cost of coloured labour and that of white labour. I repeat that the white growers formerly had a protection of £3 .per ton against the growers of sugar by black labour in Queensland.
– Does the honorable member say that the -‘protection mow is greater or less than it was?
– It is less in proportion to the coloured labour competition.
– The honorable member is mistaken. Deducting the number of white growers in 1902, before the Sugar Bounty Act came into operation, from the present number, he will find that there has been an increase of 1,090 in. their number. The bounty, plus the duty, is costing the Commonwealth £666,000 per annum. That is the amount which the people of the Commonwealth actually pay for the maintenance of the white-grown sugar industry. Has the honorable member ever considered what that means? It means that we could afford to hand over to each of these 1,090 cane-growers £611 per annum every year, and the Commonwealth would then be in no worse financial position than it is to-day.
– I say that the white growers in New South Wales were more protected against the competition of black labour before the Sugar Bounty Act was passed than they are now. Consequently, they should be included in the honorable and learned member’s calculation.
– The statement of the honorable member is not correct. Prior to the passing of the Sugar Bounty Act, the white growers of New South Wales enjoyed a protection of only £3 per ton as against £5 per ton to-day.
– They had a protection of £3 per ton against sugar produced by coloured labour, whereas now they have a protection of Only £2 per ton.
– I admit that the Australian production of sugar has not yet reached the local consumption. I repeat that, leaving out of consideration the value of their product, the Commonwealth could afford to give each of these 1,090 additional growers of sugar £611 annually, without being in any worse financial position.
Does any one mean to suggest that the rich lands upon which sugar is now being grown would pass out of cultivation ? Why, in portions of the Richmond electorate there are farm lands worth as much as £40 per acre. Under this Bill, the holders of these lands will receive the advantage of a bounty for another five years. Practically we say to them, “ We intend to make you a present of at least £4 per acre.”
– In the honorable and learned member’s electorate it takes 2,000 acres to keep a family ; in mine 40 acres will keep one.
– The argument of the honorable member is that the richer the land the more -it should be fed by bounties. The honorable member for Cowper has the strongest reason for supporting the case of the growers. With him it is the doctrine of self-preservation.
– Is there any sugar produced in the honorable and learned member’s district ?
– Some land in my electorate will grow sugar-cane. As a matter of fact, I have grown cane on my farm, but it would only return about 2^ per cent, of sugar. It is a monstrous injustice to the men engaged in farming throughout Australia that they should be saddled with this additional taxation.
– Plenty of the land which is worth £40 an acre does not benefit from the payment of the bonus.
– I am quite aware of that. Does not the honorable member know that owners of inferior land in his own electorate - land’ which is not rich enough to grow sugar - receive no bounty, while holders of land almost adjoining their lots reap the benefit of this system?
– The landlord obtains a good deal of the bounty.
– That is another reason why I am opposed to the continuance of this system. The proposal is one to help those who can very well help themselves.
– »The honorable and learned member is attacking the bounty and not the duty. As long as the duty remains, no one suffers from the granting of the bounty.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that the price of sugar has not been raised in consequence of the duty ?
– I say that the granting of the bounty does not increase the price.
– Our excise legislation is based on the assumption that the imposition of a duty does increase the price. We, have an import duty of £.6 per ton, and it is proposed that the excise duty shall be raised to ,£4 per ton. We have increased the value of locally-grown sugar by £6 per ton, and whilst we have hitherto deducted from that increase £3 per ton in respect! of excise, we have, by means of the bounty, reduced the excise paid on sugar produced by white labour to £1 per ton. The local growers of sugar by black labour also reap an advantage from this system, inasmuch as whilst the price has been raised) owing to the import duty by £6 per ton, they have had hitherto to pay an excise duty of only £3.
– And the object of all this?
– The fact that coloured men are employed in the industryleads to the issue being confused by some honorable members. I wish the House for the moment to consider this matter, apart altogether from the question of coloured labour. Soon after the establishment of Federation, certain politicians, quite ignorant of the real facts, came forward with a proposal for the payment of a bounty, on sugar produced locally by white labour, and declared that this would not involve an expenditure of more than £40,000 or £50,000 per annum. When I said that within three years the sum paid by way of bounties would amount to £150.000 per annum, I was laughed at by the then Treasurer, and was told that my suggestion was unworthy of consideration. And yet it is estimated that the bounty for 1905 will amount to £151,000. I mention this fact merely to show that those responsible for the introduction of this policy real]* did not understand what they were talking about. There oan be no doubt that many honorable members saw at once what would be the effect of this system, but as the cry of ai White Australia had) been raised, they did not attempt to oppose it. The honorable and learned member for Angas and myself stood side bv side in opposition to the proposal, and every statement that we made has been full v borne out. We were asked to continue the bounty system until 1907, for the reason that the deportation of kanakas would then, commence. I objected, and still object, to their deportation. At the outset, I pointed out that the fact that the men who had been brought in under contract were small in number, and were a decaying race, should satisfy honorable members that there was no serious danger to be apprehended from their presence, except that which must inevitably arise from one set of the inhabitants being in a state of semi-slavery. We should take care that contracts entered into to return kanakas to the islands at the end of their engagement are observed ; but 1 do not think we have any power to deport kanakas who have been resident in the Commonwealth for many years, and are “not now under contract. We ought not to attempt to treat these men in a way that we would not dare to do if they were citizens of a powerful nation. We were told that the necessity for the bounty would cease in 1907, because the kanakas must then be deported.
– Who said that the bountyshould cease in 1907 ?
– That was the statement made hy those in charge of the original Bill, as well as by many others. But I wish to get away from this phase of the question, and point to the cost of this system to the people of the other States. It is only natural that the representatives of sugargrowing districts should endeavour to put forward the strongest possible case on behalf of their constituents.
– If the honorable and learned member had had to put up the fight that we have had to put up against black labour he would understand our attitude.
– I think that the honorable member is losing sight of the interests of the working classes, for whom he professes to have a special regard . The poor are generally said to have the largest families, and the bulk of the increased taxation arising from this system must consequently fall upon them. If honorable members proposed, by means of direct taxation, to raise the revenue necessary for the payment of these bounties, we could understand their attitude.
– Would the honorable and learned member support the imposition of a Federal land Fax ?
– In the event of such a proposal being made, my argument would be that it is unwise as a rule to tax one class of the community in order to benefit another. Our main object should be to lighten the load of taxation, because by so much as we tax the people, by so much do we lessen the capital that can be employed upon productive works. The result of taxation is to injure the poorest classes. We find that according to Dr. Maxwell the quantity of cane produced by white labour in Queensland this year was 379,884 tons, and ‘it is in respect of sugar produced in this way that we are asked to pay the bounty. I presume that the honorable member for Yarra will not say that it was intended that assistance should be given by means of the bounty to those who had previously; been growing sugar by white labour.
– I would make the Excise duty on black-grown sugar £6 a ton.
– While the duty on sugar is £6 a ton, I would undoubtedly make the Excise equally high.
– It is marvellous that we should find ourselves in agreement.
– It shows that the hon- orable member is learning. In Queensland, 390,000 tons of sugar-cane, and in New South Wales 200,000 tons, or roughly 600,000 tons altogether, are grown with white labour ; . but, in connexion with that production, the Commonwealth is called upon to pay £666,000, or about 22s. a ton, although the growers receive only 4s. a ton. Surely that is a matter which deserves the consideration of those who represent districts in which sugar-cane is grown. There should be some explanation of so extraordinary a discrepancy.
– I suggest that the honorable and learned member should visit the sugar districts, and lecture on the point.
– I spoke on the subject in one of those districts on one occasion, and when I referred to the land on which sugar-cane is being grown as poor land, I was interrupted by the cry that it is the richest land in the district. Thereupon I said that surely those who possess the richest land do not require to be supported by those who have to be content with poor land. That at once silenced the interjectors. Those living on poor land began to see how the matter affected them, and the concluding portion of my address was listened to with great attention.
– Six hundred thousand tons of sugar-cane would produce about 60,000 tons of sugar, and if the production of that cane cost the Commonwealth £666,000, it must cost-the whole protective duty of £6 a ton and over £5 a ton in addition.
– The honorable and learned member’s figures do not tally with those with which I have been supplied by my officers.
– I am speaking in round numbers, but the figures which I am using were collected by that well-known statistician, Senator Pulsford, and verified by me.
– Statistician !
– I consider Senator Pulsford one of the best statisticians in. the world, and all who have taken the trouble to read his publications must admire the dispassionate way in which he is able to deal with figures, whether they tell for or against his argument, and his wonderful power ofarranging them, anddrawing sound deductions from them. Roughly, the taxation on the 190,000 or 185,000 tons of sugar used in the Commonwealth amounts to £1,100,000, but the net revenue received is only £450,000, leaving a balance of about £650,000, which represents the amount which the people of the Commonwealth are called upon to pay for the production of 600,000 tons of cane by white growers. I entirely exclude, of course, the production of black-grown cane. The honorable member for Yarra and others have said that they have no intention to protect the production ofcane with black labour, and would be willing to make the Excise on black-grown sugar equal to the import duty. This Parliament, in its mad eagerness to settle things, although honorable members regard the employment of black people in any Australian industry as one of the worst of evils, has fostered their employment in the canefields at great cost to the community. We are transferring a large sum of money annually from one class of citizens to another ; in fact, we are robbing those who own poorer land in order to confer an advantage upon those who own some of the richest land in the world. I cannot conceive of any more serious evil than that which will arise from the continuance of the bounty. We are told that the law providing for the deportation of the kanakas will take effect in 1907.
– The honorable member must not forget that there are about 15,000 aliens in Queensland, apart from the kanakas, who number between9,000 and 8,000.
– It was understood, in the first instance, that the bounty was needed only until such time as the kanakas were deported, and I should like to know why it is regarded as necessary to continue it beyond the year 1907, when the last of the kanakas will be returned to their homes. If the kanakas are not to be deported, honorable members should be fully informed uponthesubject. Would it not be better for us, instead of continuing the bounty, to say to the planters : “ We will pay you so much annually, and have done with it.” As I have shown, we could afford to give each of the white growers, in excess of the number who were engaged in sugar planting in 1902, an amount of £611 per annum. Will any honorable member pretend that we are conducting the business of the Commonwealth in a reasonable manner when such conditions exist? It should not be forgotten that sugar is one of the raw materials used by many manufacturers. If there is one product that should be free fromduty it is sugar. Lett us consider the extent to which the fruit-growing industry is affected by the high price of sugar, and let us also pay regard to the extent to which it is used in the jam-making and other industries.
– Let us consider how it affects mutton.
– Itmay not affect mutton, but it does affect the bacon-curing industry, in which a large amount of sugar is used.
Mr.Fisher. - There is a duty of £14 per ton on jam.
– Yes, but does not the honorable member understand that the higher the price of a product the less the demand for it, and, consequently, the smaller the amount of employment afforded.
– Not necessarily. If a product is already reasonably cheap it may be consumed to the fullest extent possible.
– I have never known of an instance in which a decrease in price has not been followed by an increased consumption. Even in the case of bread, which is the staff of life, we find that a fall in price leads to a slight increase in consumption. That indicates how close some of our people are to what I mayterm the pinch of life.
– The jam-makers paid as muchduty on sugar prior to Federation.
– The honorable member for South Sydney tells a different story. Our Tariff arrangements have made a great difference to the jam manufacturers of New South Wales.
– They have a larger market than they ever had before.
– No, they have not. Their market is not as large as it was, because when they enjoyed a rebate to the full extent of theduty they were able to send their goods into the markets of the world. Now they are npt in that. position. I contend that it is unfair to single out anv class of the community and confer upon it special benefit at the expense of any other class. In addition to involving’ the consumers of the Commonwealth in heavy loss, we are discouraging production in industries other than sugar-growing. How can we tell our orchardists that they are being benefited whilst we call upon them to pay a duty of 6s. per cwt. on sugar? They do not in many cases obtain a return of more than 2s. per cwt. for their fruit. Of course I am speaking of the total amount of sugar used in the Commonwealth in the manufacture ofjam. Naturally, in the export trade our manufacturers are not required to contribute so much. But is it not monstrous that all the lemonade and cordial manufacturers throughout Australia should be called uponto pay an additional price for their sugaras the result of the operation of the proposed bounty ? I submit that the case against the payment of a bounty is unanswerable. Why should any set of citizens be called upon to contribute to the support of the holders of some of the richest lands in the Commonwealth? In Committee I shall do my best to prevent any extension of the existing bounty beyond 1907. From that time onwards, I think that a sliding scale should be adopted under which the bounty should be annually decreased by £1 perton, until at the expiration of three years it would entirely disappear.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Joseph Cook) adjourned.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– t should like to know whether the Government intend to proceed with the discussion upon the Trade Marks Bill on Tuesday next ?
– I cannot say.
-I understand that the Government -mean to resume the consideration of the Trade Marks Bill on Tuesday.
– I do not know.
– The Prime Minister has told me so, and I think it is just as well that the House should be apprised of the fact, especially as the measure in question is one of supreme importance.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 3.55 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 November 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1905/19051110_reps_2_28/>.