2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Is the VicePresident of the Executive Council prepared to answer the question which I asked on Monday last in reference to the examination of the cartridges which are now in use, and have proved defective at Castlemaine and other places? Is there any report of the Military Board on the subject?
– I am not yet in a position to reply to the question, and ask the honorable member to give notice of it for to-morrow.
– Is the Prime Minister awarethat the Minister of Trade and Customs has brought in a Bill for the repression of trade which shall be deemed unfair unless the contrary is proved to his satisfaction ? Under these circumstances, does the honorable and learned gentleman think it possible to close the session before Christmas ?
– The close of the session will depend upon honorable members.
– Does the Prime Minister intend to take action to cope with the secession of New South Wales threatened by its Premier?
– When the possibility of secession arises, it will receive consideration.
– Is the Vice-President of the Executive Council able to answer the question which I asked on Monday last in reference to the appointment of Colonel Lyster as Commandant of Queensland?
– I shall endeavour to furnish the information later on in the day, or to-morrow.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Will he furnish a statement to the House, during the present session,showing the amounts standing to the credit of clothing and contingent accounts of each corps in the several States of the Commonwealth, on the 30th June, 1905, and also the allowance for 1905-6.
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The necessary information will have to be obtained from the various States, but the statement will, if possible, be furnished to the House before the end of the session. If time, however, will not admit of this being done, the information required by the honorable member will be furnished to him direct.
– I move -
That the Billbe now read a second time.
I recognise that, in addressing myself to this question, I am undertaking a rather severe task, because of the many legal and technical questions involved ; but the motive of the measure is simple, it being intended merely to provide that due consideration and protection shall be given to the industries of Australia. I feel that no excuse is necessary for the introduction of the Bill, but if it were, it could be found in the statements published in the newspapers of the United States of America, showing the dimensions to which the enormous octopus trusts of that country have grown, and the harm which they have done, not only by their cheap exportations of manufactures to other countries, but by buying up and destroying the smaller internal business concerns of theUnited States. The Farm and Live Stock Journal of New York, dealing with this matter in a recent issue, contains the following statement : -
A Bill intended to curb the operations of the National Harvester Co., of Chicago- the legal name of the harvester trust - recently introduced into the Legislature by Senator Fyfe, was taken up in Committee of the Whole on Monday last, and led to a warm discussion. Senator Mills, of Menominee, moved to strike out section 3 of the Bill, which contains the essence of the measure. Senator Fyfe came to the defence of his Bill, and, in the course of his talk, said, according to the reports in the daily press : “I don’t know how many agents of the International Harvester Co. there are around here buying high-balls, but if you senators vote against this Bill I shall not be responsible for your political future.”
The report of the discussion continues : - “ Does Senator Fyfe know of any law that compels a dealer to sign one of these contracts?” asked Senator Mills. “ I know of a law stronger than any Statute,” replied Fyfe, “ the law of necessity.” “ But necessity knows no law,” laughed Mills. “ Yes, your necessity may know no law,” was Fyfe’s retort.
Senator Glasgow, who deals in agricultural implements, came to Fyfe’s assistance, telling how the Chicago trust is trying to hog the trade. He related how the different agents of the company had tried to induce him not to support the Fyfe Bill, but he refused to be won over.
After Glasgow’s speech, Mills withdrew his amendment, and the Bill was agreed to.
The contracts referred to bind agents not to sell any other harvesting machinery except that of the trust….. We note that the harvester trust has played a sharp game by carrying large advertisements in the agricultural press of the whole country so as hoodwink the farmers. Of course, these journals dare not say a word derogatory to this combine - that ad. keeps them quiet while preparations for robbing their readers are going on. It is well that we have men in the Legislature with the moral courage to attack this scheme, and ask for legislation to stop its operations and protect the public.
Since the above was written another anti-Trust Bill has been introduced by Representative Bland, of Detroit, and said to be the work of himself and Fred. A. Baker, of this city,who is a lawyer as well as a farmer and dairyman. This Bill defines as illegal all combinations intended as monopolies in any branch of trade or business. Corporations already in existence are affected, as well as any to be organized in the future. One provision of the Bill nullifies any agreement not to engage in any specified occupation. It passed the House unanimously, and if it becomes law will make this State a rocky place for all trusts. It is a good thing - push it along.
That statement shows the estimation in which the trust referred to is held in the United States of America, and similar views are expressed in regard to that and other trusts in other American newspapers. These trusts have menaced the industries of Australia for a considerable time past, and must be dealt with at the present juncture. I regret that the measure has been brought forward so late in the session, but I have been prevented from bringing it forward earlier, as I was prevented from bringing forward another measure earlier, by the constant and long opposition and “ stonewalling” of honorable members opposite. That is the reason why our legislation has not advanced more quickly towards completion. The Government, in considering how best to deal with this subject, had a difficult question to face. Two or three methods were open to them. One was the imposition of duties, but we knew the opposition which would be shown at the present time to any proposal to alter the Tariff. Another method was to take advantage of section 52 of the Customs Act, which gives power to the Minister to prohibit imports ; but we felt that that power was not intended to be used in cases such as this, its object being merely to prevent the importation of commoditites injurious to the public.If Parliament empowers the Minister to put that provision into operation, to protect bur industries from the unfair competition of foreign trusts, I shall have no compunction in doing so; but I shall not do it except with the direct authority of Parliament, which is provided for in the Bill. The measure which I have introduced is divided into two distinct parts, one of which is intended to prevent the dumping of foreign goods on these shores, and the other to prevent the formation of monopolies and trusts, such as have done great injury to the people of other countries. The first part of the Bill is practically new. Except in Canada, I do not know that there is similar legislation elsewhere.
– For the sake of the Minister’s reputation, it is to be hoped that it is new.
– I do not want to get a statement of my reputation from the honorable member. I am quite satisfied to stand on my own merits.
– I am not talking of the honorable member, but of the Minister.
– In Canada they experienced this danger to their industries, and took action. If we desire to protect our industries in a proper way, we must take some such course as this, when we know that rings and trusts dump their various productions upon our shores, with the absolute intention of destroying the industries of our country, and retarding their development. I think that no patriotic Australian will be opposed to a measure which will help to increase production and manufacture in our country - a country which is endowed with all the necessary raw material in great abundance, perhaps in greater abundance than any other country in the world, being comparatively undeveloped. Those persons who are prepared to sit quietly by and allow thisdagger to be inserted in our industries are not worthy of the name of Australians. I would call them “little Australians,” and cast upon them the responsibility of allowing things to be done in the future as in the past, for the promotion of the interests of the foreigner, instead of the promotion of the interests of our own people. As I pointed out, there was a difficult position and a great danger menacing Australia, as there is to-day. Perhaps I may be permitted for a moment to refer to what was done in New South Wales. On more than one occasion, surplus wheat was dumped down in Sydney from California, taken by train toAlbury to be gristed, and then sold along the line at Goulburn and other places, at something like half the price at which flour could have been produced in the Albury district, with the result that it injured the farming community for nearly twelve months.
– During a drought !
– It was not during a drought, but during a good year. I am prepared to hear any objection from the honorable member, because I know that he is so very anti-Australian.
– I object to Victorian legislation in the Commonwealth Parliament.
– If we had had a little more Victorian legislation so far as the Tariff is concerned, it would have been a lot better for Australia. Indeed it would have been agreat deal better for New South Wales in the past,if she had had a little more of Victorian legislation, instead of protecting the dumper. Let me now describe the procedure in connexion with the Bill. The first part- that is down to clause 8- deals with commercial trusts. Perhaps I had better explain what is the meaning of a commercial trust for the purpose of the Bill, because there is a greatdeal of misconception in regard to the term. For the sake of giving an example, I shall take the shipping companies, although, of course, I might take other companies. The Bill will not affect the ship-owners unless they join together in a monopoly and appoint a board or some person to control the whole of their ships and direct the freights which are to be charged from point to point, so that they will do injury to the public.
– Which they are doing at the present time.
– Possibly they are, but so far as I know, they have not appointed a Board or a Commission to control their trust. If they were to do what I have suggested, I should think that they would come under the provisions of the Bill.
– Is the Minister going to include trade union combinations under the Bill?
– The honorable and learned member is really a little dotty over trade unions.
– They are included in the Bill.
– Trade unions are included in the Bill for a beneficial purpose, and the labourer is protected. Neither a firm nor a company is a commercial trust within the meaning of the Bill. An individual, unless he is associated with three or four persons, with one person controlling the whole, is not a commercial trust.
– Is the Colonial Sugar Refining Company a commercial trust ?
– I do not know that it is not a commercial trust within the meaning of the Bill, unless it is carrying on more than one branch of industry, and has a controlling composite power.
– If that is so, it will be easy to sail through the Bill.
– I do not think that the British -AustralasianTobacco Company will sail through the Bill.
– Will the coalvendors be commercial trusts?
– Oh ! be quiet. The Bill also contains this provision -
The creation of a trust as understood in equity or a corporation wherein the trustees or corporation hold the interests, shares or stock of the constituent persons.
I have inquired of my legal friends what the words “as understood in equity” mean. I am informed that the word’s are used because there might be some statutory law which would enable the provisions of the Act to be evaded, but when that was done any particular commercial trust could be dealt with in equity. Let me now describe the procedure under the first part of the Bill, which for the sake of clearness, I may call the “dumping” clauses. The procedure is that if the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs should” have reason to believe that a commercial trust is dumping anything, and thus doing an injury to the people of the community, under clause S, he will certify that belief to the Minister, and1 state that a combination exists, and then, under sub-clause 2 of that provision the Minister will appoint a Board. I admit that it would be proper, if it were possible, to give an idea of the constitution of the Board, but it is a most difficult thing to do. Under the New Zealand Act, the Board is comprised of six or seven members. In that country, that course can be taken, because there is one head to a society or body. But,, in Australia, except, I think, in the case of the Chambers of Manufactures, the Chambers of Commerce, and, perhaps, the Federated Labour Union of Australia, we cannot get a joint head or a general controlling body, which embraces the associations in all the States. Therefore, the clause is drawn, to empower; the Minister - which means the Executive - to appoint a Board. If the Board should report that certain things were taking place, and that there were imports on the way, or about to be brought into Australia, those imports could be held until authority was given for them to pass for distribution. That precaution is taken for the purpose of preventing the wholesale importation, which, according to the rumours we have, might otherwise take place. I must admit that they are only rumours so far as the harvester question is concerned. We have no authentic information as to 2,000 harvesters being on the water, or as to any number being made, but I have no doubt that a large number of orders have or will be given, and that unless we pass this legislation, the machines will be here before next spring.
– What about the 276,000 farmers ?
– We must do nothing which would create an internal monopoly and raise the price of these machines.
– That is what the Minister is going to do.
– I should .not take any action to favour or help the manufacturers in this or any other industry, unless I got an assurance that the price was going to be a reasonable one. What is the position now? In consequence of the action I have taken, the harvesters can be bought by farmers at a great deal less than previously.
– Because of that action ?
– If the Minister went a little further, he would be able to give them away
– I think that I have shown my bona fides. I certainly would stand very firm in not allowing a monopoly to arise in our midst. One of the principal arguments in favour of the Bill is that when a monopoly is created in our midst, it can be dealt with by legislation. But we cannot deal legislatively, except with very great difficulty, with the monopolies which exist in other parts of the world. The first and the best thing to do is to prevent an influx of the productions of those monopolies such as has. already created trouble to many of our own people.
– There is no trouble anywhere except in Victoria.
– There is a great deal of trouble. New South Wales would be far and away ahead if she had fostered her manufactures instead of remaining under a dead policy for’ so many years.
– She can hold her population, but Victoria cannot.
– Is this fiscalism or. trust?
– It is fiscalism and trust, because in argument we cannot very well separate one from the other. When a matter is referred to the Board”, it will have the full powers of a Royal Commission to investigate and report to the
Minister, who in his turn will report to the Executive. If that report should be in favour of taking action a Gazette notice will be issued, and it will have to be laid upon the table of each House within seven days if Parliament be sitting, or if not. within seven days from the beginning of the next session.
– What Gazette notice ?
– I said Gazette notice, but it is the report of the Board. I do not wish at this stage to deal with a number of minute details, but to give a clear and concise idea of the provisions of the Bill, which. 1 may mention, relates, to only Inter-State and foreign trade, and has no reference to the internal trade of a State. I now come to the last phase of the action which has to be taken under the first part of the Bill, and that is to put into operation, if it is so desired, subsection 9 of section 52 of the Customs Act,
– What power does it give?
– It gives the power of prohibition.
– Hear, hear! That is the object of the Bill.
– Under the procedure I have described, I do not think it is- likely that any great injustice will be done. ‘ I was not aware, until my attention was called to the fact by the AttorneyGeneral, that stringent legislation of this kind had been passed in the United States and Canada. Of course, I was fully aware of what had been done in New Zealand. The provisions of this Bill are mild in comparison with those which are in force in the United States to-day.
– Two of the American Acts were replaced on the statute-book expressly at the request of the big trusts.
– If that be so, the trusts have been made to suffer very severely for t(heir action.
– The other Acts were passed in order to enable members of Congress to extort money.
– That is nonsense.
– Before passing to the second part of the Bill, I wish to direct attention to what has been done in New Zealand. Mr. Seddon, who has just been returned by such an overwhelming majority, has placed on the statute-book an Act containing provisions similar to those to which I have referred, and has in hand another Bill containing provisions similar to those embraced in the second part of this measure. Mr. Seddon, who has been supported so whole-heartedly by the people of New Zealand, after having occupied the- position of Premier for thirteen or fourteen years, has placed on the statute-book more democratic legislation than has been enacted by any of the Legislatures of Australia. The Act that was passed last session was a measure to regulate and control the manufacture and sale of certain agricultural implements in New Zealand, and to prevent serious importation of such implements from foreign countries. The schedule of that Act embraces everything of consequence required by farmers. A Board has been appointed, consisting of the President of the Arbitration Court, who is the chairman, the President of the Farmers’ Union, the President of the Industrial Association of Canterbury, a person appointed by the Governor on the recommendation of the Trade and Labour Council, and a person appointed by the Governor on- the recommendation, of’ the Agricultural and Pastoral Association. The Board has power to deal with a-li cases in which unfair competition is likely to prove a menace to the community. The New Zealand Act contains a .provision similar to that of clause 3 of the Bill before us, which reads as follows : -
Unfair competition has in all cases reference to those Australian industries the preservation of which (in the opinion of the ComptrollerGeneral or the Tribunal which has to determine any matter under this Act as the case may be) is advantageous to the Commonwealth, having due regard to the interests of producers, workers, and consumers.
– Why should the consumers occupy the last place?
– One must come last - goods cannot be consumed until they are produced. The New Zealand Act provides that only when unfair competition is shown to be injurious to the general community, as well as to the manufacturers, shall the Board step in and take certain action.
– What action?
– I do not want to enter into all the details of the New Zealand Act, or of any other measure. Honorable members will have an opportunity of looking through the New Zealand
Act if they so desire. Clause 4 of the Bill provides that - (1.) Competition shall be deemed to be unfair if-
the means adopted by the importer or seller of the imported goods are, in the opinion of the tribunal which has to determine the matter unfair in the circumstances.
– The word “ probably “ will give the Minister a really good chance.
– Other clauses also make provision for the proper remuneration of labour, and throughout the measure will be found evidences of a strong desire to protect the workmen. Therefore, we are not proposing to confer benefits on the manufacturer and, at the same time, to permit him to grind down his workmen. I wish to refer to the action taken in Canada under the Customs Tariff Act of 1897. Section 18 of that Act provides -
That if the Governor in Council has reason to believe, in regard to any article of commerce, that there exists a trust or combination of manufacturers to unduly raise the price, or promote the advantage of the manufacturers, he may empower a Judge to make inquiry and report.
-It is not a Judge, but the Minister’s creatures who are to have control here.
– In answer to the honorable and learned member’s very unfair remark, I may say that our desire was to secure the services of a Judge, but we found that the Justices of the High Court had already more work to do than they could properly attend to. The Canadian Act further provides -
If the Judge reports that such a trust or combination exists, and it appears to the Governor that any disadvantage to consumers is facilitated by the duties of Customs on a similar article when imported, such article shall be placed on the free list, or the duty reduced, in order to give the public the benefit of reasonable competition.
An Amending Act passed in 1904 or later, provides -
That if it appears to the Customs Department that the export price or actual selling price to the importer in Canada of any imported dutiable article of a kind made in Canada is less than the fair marketvalue, a special duty of Customs, equal to the difference between the fair market value, and the selling price, may be imposed.
Provision is made for a temporary exemption from special duty of any class of articles, if the Minister is satisfied that such articles are not made in Canada, and offered for sale to all purchasers on equal terms.
I should have liked to obtain authority to impose increased duties in order to regulate importations, but I recognise that honorable members are averse to raising the Tariff issue at this stage. I contend that the Bill before us is a good one - the best we can pass under the circumstances. Clause 10 provides -
Any person who wilfully -
Penalty : Five hundred pounds, or one year’s imprisonment, or both.
That seems to be very stringent, but it is taken, as honorable members will see, from the Sherman Act of 1890, section1. I will show presently what that Act provides.
– Is it effective?
– Ishould think so, considering the number of cases that have occurred under it.
– How many?
– I cannot say how many ; but I have a record of them here.
– It enabled the American Government to reach the beef trust.
– Section1 of that Act provides that -
Every contract combination in the form of trust or otherwise or conspiracy in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States is hereby declared to be illegal.
Further on the Act deals with misdemeanours -
Every person who shall make any such contract or engage in any such combination or conspiracy shall be deemed to be guilty of a misdemeanour, and on conviction thereof shall be punished by fine not exceeding Five thousand dollars, or by imprisonment not exceeding one year or by both said punishments in the discretion of the Court.
– Has that Act been effective in the United States?
-I think it has been, in some cases at all events.
– It is reaching some of the trusts now. It reached the beef trust last year.
– There is a very important case which is known as the Merger, or the Northern Securities case, the headnote to which is “ Combination of Carriers Illegal.” The point decided in that case was -
That a contract or agreement whereby a holding corporation was created to which the stockholders of two competing parallel lines contrary to the Constitution and laws of the States, creating such competing companies, agreed to transfer the stock of both roads and turn it over to the holding company, creates a trust prohibited by the Federal Statute.
I need not go into the details of the case, but honorable members can see it for themselves, oh turning to the authority from which I am quoting. The next case to which I will allude is that of the great beef trust, which was dealt with under the same section. The reference to it is headed, in the authority from which I quote, “ Beef Trust an Unlawful Combination “-
On the branch of the case in which defendants claimed that they were not an unlawful combination, it was alleged that they were guilty of the following acts : - (a) directing their purchasing agents to refrain from bidding against each other at auction sales of live stock ; (b) in bidding up the price of such stock for a few days at a time to induce large shipments, and then ceasing to bid to obtain the stock thus shipped at ruling market prices;(c) in agreeingupon prices to be adopted by all and restricting the output or quantities of meat shipped:(d) in directing uniform prices for cartage and delivery throughout the United States as a device to increase the price to dealers and consumers; and (e) in negotiating with carriers for secret rebates on their enormous shipments, thus bringing about unjust discrimination against other shippers and competitors for the purpose of stifling and destroying competition.
– Does this Bill deal with that?
– Not a scrap.
– The Colonial Sugar Refining Company, which fixes the price of sugar for the whole of Australia, could not be touched under this Bill.
– Move to enlarge it, then.
– The Prime Minister and his supporters would vote against such a proposal on the ground that it would affect an Australian industry.
– There is a reference to what constitutesa misdemeanour under the Sherman Act, in section 2 -
Every person who shall monopolize, or attempt to monopolize, or combine or conspire with any other person orpersons, to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce among the several States or with foreign nations, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanour, and on conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding£5,000, or by imprisonment not exceeding oneyear, or by both said punishments, in the discretion of the Court.
– Those provisions are to deal with local trusts.
– They are to deal with the same class of cases as we intend to deal with.
– Are Inter-State trusts affected?
– How does the Government propose to deal with the pottery trust in Brunswick?
– The honorable member knows that unless the operations of a trust are Inter-State they cannot be touched under the Constitution.
– There is also another United States Act, called the Wilson Act. Under that Act -
Every combination, conspiracy, trust, agreement, or contract is hereby declared to be contrary to public policy, illegal and void, when the same is made by or between two or more persons or corporations, either of whom is engaged in importing any article from any foreign country into the United States, and when such combination, conspiracy, trust, agreement, or contract is intended to operate in restraint of lawful trade or free competition in lawful trade or commerce.
I do not wish to go into the details of the cases recorded in the work which I hold in my hand. A number are given. The work is entitled Annotated Inter-State Commission Act and Federal Anti-Trust Laws. It is an American book, giving a great deal of information which I was surprised to get.
– Was not the object of all that legislation to deal with local trusts ?
– American trusts. There is a provision in the Bill which I am submitting to the House that if a commercial trust wilfully engages - I wish that to be clearly understood ; a person must wilfully do certain things - or some one else engages with him, to do, or doss, anything in contravention of clause 10, he is liable to a penalty. Sub-clause 1 of clause 11 provides that any person who wilfully - honorable members will notice that the word “wilfully” is used there again - being a commercial trust monopolizes, or attempts to monopolize, or . . combines or conspires with any other person to monopolize, or wilfully combines or conspires with a commercial trust to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce among the several States or with other countries, with the design of controlling, to the detriment of the public, the supply or price of any merchandise or commodity, is guilty of an indictable offence against this Act.
– Why depart from the wording of the Sherman Act there?
– The Sherman Act is much more stringent in this respect than the one now submitted.
– But when dealing with local trusts the Government strikes out the stringent words.
– The honorable member has not read the Bill. Under clause 12 -
Whoever aids, abets, counsels, or procures, or by any act of omission is in any way directly or indirectly knowingly concerned in or privy to (a) the commission of any offence against the last two preceding sections; or (b) the doing of any act Outside Australia which would if done within Australia be an offence against either of the last two preceding sections, shall be deemed to have committed the offence, and shall be punished accordingly.
– How does the Government propose to put that clause in motion ?
– The AttorneyGeneral has to put it in motion, and I suppose he will find some way.
– Let the honorable member try to make it more stringent.
– Is that the way the measure is brought forward ?
– The last provision in the Bill, clause 14, provides that if any person is injured, or loses, by reason of anything done by any combination, he can get treble damages if the decision of the Court is given against the monopoly or trust. Now I have dealt with the two parts of the measure as concisely as I could.
– Why should the plaintiff get treble damages?
– That provision is taken from the American Act. He ought to get treble damages if he has been seriously injured by an unlawful combination. I venture to think - though Ido not suppose that there will be many of such unlawful combinations here - that a person who is injured by one should get well paid for what he has suffered through their misdirected power.
– What are the unlawful combinations that are affecting the Minister’s mind now?
– I cannot answer a question like that.
– Of course, the Minister cannot answer !
– When the Bill gets into Committee I shall be prepared to answer any question that the honorable member desires to put to me, as far as I can ; but I am not going to answer a lot of conundrums at present. I suppose the honorable member for Kooyong has in his mind the effect that the measure is going to have upon his coal mines or his tin mines.
– We might more properly ask what effect it has on the Minister’s mind, and what he is going to get out of it.
– I am dealing with this matter as one who has no personal interest in it whatever. I approach it absolutely free from any personal interest in every way. I think that I ought to receive credit for doing what I am doing, with the assistance of my colleagues, in the interests of the public.
– This Bill creates a personal interest.
– How does it create a personal interest? Let the honorable member speak out, and say plainly what he means. I have no personal interest in it whatever.
– I say that it creates a personal interest in the Minister.
– He simply has to administer the measure.
– And he hasan interest in the welfare of this country.
– A great many personal accusations have been made against me, and I have always challenged those who have made them to the proof. I am entitled to claim that some men could not stand the challenge in the way I have done. I repeat that, in connexion with this subject, I have no interest in any shape or form.
– Why suggest that any- one else has?
– The honorable member for Kooyong asked what was in my mind in reference to this matter.
– I rise to a point of order. It is this : The Minister has made a statement, and I asked for a definite answer. I asked what was in his mind in reference to trusts in. introducing this Bill at this period of the ‘session, and what pressing necessity there was for it. There is no other question whatever.
– That is not a point of order.
– I want an answer to my question.
– There is no point of order whatever.
– Surely I am entitled to an answer.
– Even, at question time, the honorable member has no right to demand an answer to a question, and certainly at this stage he has no right to do so. There is no point of order.
– If I misunderstood the honorable member’s question, owing to the noise on the Opposition, side of the House, and was led to believe that he was unwarrantably assuming I had personal interest, I regret it.
– I assumed nothing of the kind.
– Then I am sorry I made any reference to the matter. I now wish to give a little information as to the quantity of machinery that has been imported, especially affecting the harvester question. But it is necessary to remember that in dealing with questions affecting harvesters, strippers, ploughs, harrows, or any other machinery, it is impossible to legislate concerning a particular set of implements. We must pass a Bill if we do the right thing - and the Government is doing that right thing in this Bill - to deal with every case. This measure does not deal specially with harvesters, strippers, or any other particular kind of machinery.
It deals with trusts generally, and it deals with the subject, not only in the interests of manufactures, but also of the labourers and consumers of the community. The great object of a monopolistic trust is to sell its goods at a price which will enable it to crush out competition ; and the moment competition is crushed out, the trust raises its price to the injury of the consumer. The value of the harvesters, imported into this country from the ist January to the 30th November, 1905, was £100,000.
– What number was exported ?
– In the year 1903, the value of harvesters exported was £58,978; in 1904, £29,556; and up to the 31st October, 1905, .£47,113. That statement includes 418 harvesters valued at £30,110. No harvesters were exported during November. I now desire to direct special attention to the number of harvesters manufactured in the Commonwealth. I find that in New South Wales- there are six factories, with an average annual output of ninety-one harvesters; in Victoria there are twelve factories, whose average annual output is 2,125; in Queensland there is one factory, with an average annual outp’ut of fifty ; and in South Australia there are three factories, with an average annual output of 435. Numbers of the manufacturers have reported that, owing to the severe competition of the imported harvesters, the local output has been necessarily restricted. I trust that the House will’ give this Bill very earnest consideration. There is no doubt that it will be far-reaching, but I would point out that even more drastic legislation has been enacted in other countries, and with beneficial results. Surely it behoves us in this young Commonwealth to extend to our native industries more projection than we have hitherto afforded them. The protection which they at present enjoy is almost a myth’. This Bill has been introduced to prevent the possibility of serious important trouble occurring during the next nine or twelve months. I commend it to every worker in the community, to every manufacturer, and to every consumer. It was predicted by honorable members opposite that the Commerce Bill would work a great deal of harm to the importer and the consumer. I venture to say that it will do nothing of the kind. Under that measure, I venture to say, the consumer will enjoy better conditions than he did previously. Having briefly explained the origin and effect of the Bill, I trust that the House will agree to pass it without undue delay, so as to permit honorable members to return to their homes before Christmas.
– I rise for the purpose of asking the Minister if he will consent to an adjournment of the debate at least until to-morrow?
Debate (on motion by Mr. Joseph Cook) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 10th November (vide page 4969), on motion by Sir William Lyne -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).Bills follow each other in such rapid succession that one does not quite know where one is. Certainly we are afforded no opportunity for thinking over the proposals submitted for our consideration, or of preparing to discuss them. Consequently, I intend to occupy only a very few minutes in dealing with this important matter - important in that it affects one State profoundly and vitally ; important in that it will touch every consumer in Australia; and important from the stand-point of the racial considerations which it involves. It is evident that the sooner the House gets into recess the better. Honorable members do not seem able to pay the slightest attention even to the most important legislative proposals. I protest against the way in which the work of the country is being scamped by the Government. Bills axe being hurried through without the slightest regard to their effect upon the welfare of Australia. This measure is introduced for the purpose of extending the sugar bounty for a further term of five years, at its present full rate. I say its “present full rate.” because the increase of the excise and of the bounty makes no relative difference in the situation as it exists to-day, except that it materially and detrimentally affects the large amount of sugar which is produced by coloured labour. Before we agree to extend the period during which the bounty shall be operative, we have a right to ask ourselves how it has worked during the past five years. Unless it can be shown that the payment of the bounty is bringing about a steady diminution in the employment of black labour in the sugar industry, we have a right to divert all the money which is now expended in that direction, and all that is collected by way of excise, into the Treasury for revenue purposes. We should either do that or we should surrender some portion of the existing duty, and so make sugar cheaper to the consumers of Australia. Therefore, a very simple query suggests itself when we approach this ma tter in the way that we are doing now. We require to keep in mind the fact that when we set out to protect the sugar industry during a period of transition, when we attempted to throw around the sugar-growers of Queensland the aegis which is represented by the Excise duty and the bounty, we did so with the clear and express intention of carrying out the policy of a White Australia.
– I do not think that we troubled very much about the sugar-growers of New South Wales. We knew we were going to make them a very handsome present.
– They pay for it by way of Excise.
– I am very glad to hear it. I was not aware of it. As a matter of fact, the result of our legislation -as the honorable member ought to know - was to make the sugar-growers a present of£2 for every ton of sugar which they produced by white labour over and above the protection which they received when the Federation was established.
– The sugar company gets the benefit of that.
– Yet we were assured by the Minister of Trade and Customs that he does not expect to be able to touch the Sugar Trust by the Bill which he introduced this morning.
– I am not certain about it.
– The Minister ought to be certain, before he submits a proposal of that kind to the House. It is a deplorable thing to hear him confess that he does not know whether the Bill over which the Government have been pondering for months, will affect the biggest trust in Australia.
– If the honorable member chooses to move an amendment with that object in view I will accept it.
– I hope to make the Bill much more acceptable than it is in its present form before, it leaves this Chamber. The honorable member for Cowper has said that the Colonial Sugar Company is really deriving the benefit of the present bounty. That is a fact which we ought to keep in mind in dealing with this measure.
– With all its faults the Sugar Company cannot touch the bounty.
– The honorable member is very simple if he thinks that.
– He knows more about the matter than do most of us.
– I doubt whether he knows very much of the ramifications of business as they apply to the Sugar Trust. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company have the means of taking full advantage of the bounty if they desire, since they have absolute control of operations in New South Wales, and nearly absolute control in Queensland. Under such circumstances, any company may determine prices and the conditions under which the sugar shall be produced.
– There are the Central Mills, in Queensland.
– The argument that I am now using, the honorable member for Wide Bay has used eloquently and forcibly in regard to other trusts, but not in regard to the trust in. the sugar industry. However, I do not wish to deal with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company this- morning, but with the sugar industry, and that very briefly. The Commonwealth Parliament have been exceedingly generous to Queensland by imposing heavy duties on the people of Australia, with a view to making a change in the kind of labour employed, and to purifying the race to which we belong. We are not free to approach this question as if we .vere legislating ab initio; there is a transition proceeding, and black labour is supposed to be steadily clearing away from Queensland. I very much fear, however, that the results are not such as Parliament expected when we set out to be so generous. The figures show that there is still an abundance of alien labour in Queensland, almost -at the end of the verv term which was fixed for its absolute abolition.
– The end of next year terminates the period, and all coloured labourers have the right to remain, until then.
– But does the honorable member think that if there had been a sincere desire on the part of planters to abolish black labour within the period specified, a movement in that direction would not. have been begun long ago?
– If this Bill passes, a number of black labourers will go away at once.
– I am afraid that . the black labourers will never go if the special conditions be maintained for all time. Human nature accommodates itself to circumstances ; and1 the conditions will be so fostered as to make a bounty absolutely necessary for all time. Encouragement in this is given by the attitude of the honorable member for Wide Bay, who has himself declared that he will maintain this bounty until- white labour is fully established in Queensland.
– I have said that there is no justification for either excise or bounty, except the conditions be unfair to the white man.
– And by unfair conditions the honorable member means, the presence of black labour?
– The honorable member furnishes a motive to maintain the unfair position, by fostering a hope that the full measure of generosity displayed by this Parliament will bte continued.
– The honorable member is committing an injustice; no white man desires that black labour shall be employed to grow sugar.
– I am doing no injustice; I am referring to an elementary trait in human nature.
– I do not know one white grower who desires the continuance of the employment of coloured labour.
– ([ am sure the honorable member knows a lot of growers who will not willingly part with black labour.
– The growers told us they will not.
– We are told, on the one hand, that there is not one white planter who desires to maintain the employment of black labour, while, on the other hand, we are assured that there is hardly a planter who desires to part with it.
– There is not a white planter now employing black labour who would willingly part with it.
– There is not a white grower who desires black labour to be employed.
– I do not suggest that there is a white grower who desires to employ black labour if he can employ white labour and reap the same profits. But a motive is given to continue the employment of black labour, because we furnish an excuse to demand the continued generous assistance of the Commonwealth.
– A grower gets no bounty if he employs black labour.
– But he gets a£6 duty.
– Those growers who are continuing to employ black labour do so because the inducement is not sufficient to make them abolish it. This is all a commercial matter - a question of pounds,, shillings, and pence. The moment it can be shown that it is advantageous to abolish black labour, the planters will abolish it, but not till then.
– That argument has to do with the duty, and not with the bounty.
– The argument has to do with both duty and bounty. What do we find when we investigate the figures ? When we set out four years ago to eliminate black labour in Queensland, we believed that at the end of five years a substantial advance in that direction would have been made. The honorable member for Wide Bay claims that great strides have been made towards the abolition of black labour.
– I say there have been marvellous strides.
– What the honorable member means is that there has been an increase in the quantity of white-grown sugar in Queensland. But what I should call a substantialstride would be a great decrease in the black-grown sugar. That is the only test that can be applied as to the effectiveness of the Act; and the figures are all in ugly array against the latter conclusion.
– I am surprised at the honorable member !
– The honorable member for Wide Bay ought not to be surprised.
– That is quite true, and I am sure the Minister is not surprised.
– I never am, at what the honorable member for Parramatta says.
-So long as the Minister of Trade and Customs has the votes behind him, he will be surprised at nothing. Nothing would surprise him except the withdrawal of that support, and the bundling of himself out of office. It is true that the white planters number 1,160 more than at the beginning of the period, but the increase is only eighty-height in the North, where the bulk of the sugar is produced. Nearly the whole of the increase is in the central and southern districts, where it has always been admitted white labour can be employed Even in the comparatively cool southern districts there are to-day 128 more Kanakas employed than there were two years ago.
– That is correct in regard to the No. 3 district.
– To-day there are 3,174 coloured labourers employed in the southern plantations after four years operation of the bounty. The great outstanding feature of these figures, so far as I can see, is that there is about the same proportion of black labour employed in sugargrowing in each district - north, central, and south - as there was four years ago.
– There is now a bigger acreage under black labour.
– So that all the money Has been wasted.
– It is pitiful to hear honorable members make such statements ! The ratio of increase is as two to one.
– It is more.
– The ratio of what ?
– The ratio of increase in the white-grown sugar as compared with black-grown sugar.
– The honorable member is entirely wrong. I am not speaking of the quantity of sugar grown, which is quite another question, but of the number of labourers. That is the crucial point in regard to the proposal before us. We have not to regard the quantity of sugar, but how it is grown, and with what labour. I say that to-day there is preserved exactly the same proportion of black labour in all the three districts, as when we legislated four years ago.
– Then the measure has failed entirely?
- Dr. Maxwell, on whose figures I rely, states in his report, that two-thirds of the sugar in Queensland is still produced by alien labour.
– That does not mean black labour, but coloured labour.
- Dr. Maxwell means kanakas, Chinese, Japanese, and so forth - alien labour which we thought we were going to abolish.
– And we all deplore the employment of this labour.
– I quite admit that there has been an increase in the quantity of white-grown sugar, and in the number of planters who employ white labour, but what the honorable member for Wide Bay has to show, in order to prove the success of the bounty, is not only that the white growers have increased in numbers, but the black growers have decreased. There has been an increase in the quantity of white-grown sugar and the number of planters, but there has been an actual increase in the quantity of black-grown sugar and the number of black labourers.
– The ratio is about as two is to three-quarters.
– The result of the stimulative method adopted by the Commonwealth Parliament has been to attract more white people to the industry, but not to discourage black labourers. The Minister for Trade and Customs very largely relies on the evidence furnished by Dr. Maxwell ; but I do not regard that gentleman as quite an unbiased witness.
– Why not?
– Because he was specially engaged by the Queensland Government, and paid a large salary to attend to the sugar industry in that State. We cannot, therefore, regard him as a totally unbiased witness where his State is concerned.
– He was engaged by the Queensland Government prior to Federation, so that his judgment cannot be affected by the question of a White Australia.
– What I suggest is that, while Dr. Maxwell comes here to place his evidence before the Minister of Trade and Customs, he has yet to keep an eye on his own State. I am suggesting nothing, save a little unconscious bias on the part of Dr. Maxwell.
– That is rather an unfair imputation.
– No. I suggest nothing but unconscious bias on his part.
– His reports regarding theindustry, both in New South Wales and Queensland, read very fairly.
– That is so.
– He is a very straightforward man.
– I am not suggesting that he is not ; but when he is asked to answer a straight question, he replies in effect, “ This or that could be done in certain circumstances.” There is nothing very definite about his statements. The opinion that I gather from his words is that he sees no prospect of the industry being carried on in the North at any time without black labour.
– In what part of the reportdoes that statement appear?
– That is what he says, in so many words.
– That is the effect of his report. At the close of it he points out that this is a big experiment.
– What he does say - and this supports my contention more strongly than does the other statement to which I have referred - that the present difference between the Excise and the Customs duties is barely sufficient to maintain the industry inthe north of Queensland. If we are going to decrease that margin by £1 per ton, then, according to Dr. Maxwell’s reasoning, the sugar industry in the North must fail. Theonly remedy that he suggests in the meantime is that, by the operation of the bounty, and the increase in the output of white-grown sugar in the southern districts, some of the black labour there will be released, and can go north.
– I think that the honorable member is committing Dr. Maxwell to more than he actually says.
– I believe that I am quoting him accurately, although I regret that I have mislaid the copy of the report which I had annotated fully.
– There is nothing to conceal ; I wish all the facts to come out.
– So far as I know, I have stated the effect of Dr. Maxwell’s view; he does not anticipate a time when he will be able to grow sugar in the north of Quensland other than by black labour. As a matter of fact, he points out that there are reasons why the bounty, should continue for longer than five years; he is in favour of a ten-years’ extension, and believes that only at the end of that time should the experiment be finally considered.
– The system is still to be experimental ?
– Yes; and so far from there being any reason for the reduction of the bounty, the marginbetween the cost of white and black labour, he says, has continued to increase. That being so, there is no possibility of sugar being produced in the north of Queensland other than by black labour. It is just as well to remember these facts, because they do not demonstrate that our experiment has so far been a success. On the other hand, it is only fair to say that when an industry of this kind has such widely-extending ramifications, affects so profoundly the whole Continent, and involves financial and commercial considerations of an exceedingly complex character, four years is a short time within which to complete our experiment in relation to it. I admit that to the full, and that, having regard to the intention which we had in originally granting the bounty, it is a justification for a further extension of the generosity of the Parliament. The experiment has not yet had time to develop itself. It is in a condition of transition, and by the end of next year, when the provisions of the act in relation to the deportation of Kanakas begins to operate, we shall know what the trend of the industry is likely to be. That being so, I feel inclined to view with some favour the proposal of the Minister tofurther extend the payment of the bounty. I know well the sacrifice that this means to many people in the southern States, whose conditions of living are quite as hard as are those of any man in Queensland. There are people in the southern States whose conditions of living are such that they have no margin to enable them to be generous, and they have to be considered in this connexion. We must not lose sight of the consumers, nor of the producers of Australia, in whose productions sugar forms so large a part. But we threshed that out three years ago, when we had all the facts in view, and, therefore, there is nothing we may now say in that respect that was not well known when this proposal originally came before us. There is, however, one matter that I should like to impress upon the Minister.I should like to have a definite answer to the question of whether or not he proposes to allow the full drawback in respect of the duty on imported sugar entering into the manufacture of jams and preserves for export. The honorable gentleman has made many promises to consider this question, but nothing definite has been done. Why does he not take the difficulty in hand, and grant a request which will result in a margin of profit where otherwise there would be none, and so offer an added inducement to persons to enter into the extension of the jam industry in Australia? The Minister ought to let the House know whether he will deal out this modicum of justice. At the present time a drawback of five-sixths of the total amount of the duty on sugar used in jam for export is allowed. Why not allow the remaining sixth?
– I have made inquiries in regard to the matter, and intend to give instructions that that should be done.
– Do I understand that the Minister has definitely decided to give the officers that power ?
– I am very glad to hear it.
– But that refers only to sugar used in jam for export. What about a drawback on sugar used in jams for local consumption ?
– I have made inquiries, but find that there are many difficulties in the way.
– I confess that there are very great difficulties in theway. Still, I am pleased that the Minister will make the concession of the remaining onesixth in respect of the drawback on imported sugar used in jam for export. It is the least that we can do for the jam manufacturers, at a time when we are placing upon them a heavy burden in relation to a stable part of their products. The question now arises whether the bounty is to go on, like Tennyson’s brook, for ever. In the interests of Australia, and of our revenue, that cannot be. If the bounty is to be a continuing and1 constantly accelerating quantity, there must come a time when we shall be in financial difficulties with regard to it.
– The question of the policy of a White Australia should not be dealt with from the stand-point of revenue.
– I have already dealt with it from the other points of view. I am now dealing with the question of whether or not we should continue to pay the bounty,, in respect of what ought to be one of our staple items of revenue, when that payment has been shown to be futile for the purposes intended. At the end of the period fixed in the Bill, the experiment will have had1 time to prove itself to the full - to prove whether it should be continued, and upon the lines on which the Parliament set out to conduct it. I, therefore, intend to support the amendment of which notice has been given by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, providing for the gradual disappearance of the bounty by means of a sliding scale. The intention of the honorable and learned member is, I understand, that the bounty shall be paid at the rate proposed for three years after the coming into operation of this Act, and that during the succeeding four years it shall taper off to the extent of 25 per cent, per annum until it finally disappears. Meantime, we shall have paid no more under the proposal of the honorable and learned member than would be paid under that submitted by the Minister. The bounty will be extended over seven, instead of five, years, as proposed by the Government, and the amendment will put upon the growers a steady pressure in the closing years of the bounty period to accommodate themselves to the original intentions of this Parliament, and to show whether or not the experiment can be demonstrated to be a success. That is my attitude towards this measure, and I shall, therefore, be found in Committee supporting the proposal for the gradual tapering off of the bounty.
– I daresaythat I shall be pardoned by honorable members if I occupy the attention of the House at some length, since I represent No. 1 and No. 2 districts, in which 70 per cent., if not more, of the sugar produced in Australia is raised. The question is to my constituents, as it is to the whole of Australia, one of very great importance ; and I hope, before I have concluded, to place -upon it a different aspect from that which some of the previous speakers, notably the honorable member for Corinella and the honorable member for New England, have sought to impart to it. The honorable member for Parramatta said that four years ago, when this question was being discussed, we had all the facts before us. That could not have been so.
– I referred only to the facts as they affected the other trades.
– I shall deal’ later on with that phase of the question. In any case we did not know when the original proposal was before us how it was going to operate; nor what would be its effect upon those industries in which sugar is largely used. Now that we have had some experience, we are able to speak with more assurance on the question. Dr. Maxwell refers to this as a great experiment, and there is no doubt that it; is. I think too that it is being conducted with an amount of success which could hardly have been hoped for when the White Australian legislation was- first proposed in this Parliament. When we take into consideration the fact that this industry, not for years but for centuries, has been one conducted entirely with black labour, and that no one believed it possible to carry it on with anything but black labour, it is very satisfactory to find that now in North Queensland, well up in the tropics, we are conducting the industry on entirely new lines with white labour, and with undoubted success. Not! only in other countries, but in Queensland, it had become a belief that black labour or other coloured, cheap, and servile labour, must be used to carry on the production of sugar successfully. The great experiment in which’ we are at! present engaged is proving otherwise. For a generation in Australia, and up to the initiation of the White Australia policy of this Parliament, the industry was carried on by black labour, and in the circumstances Dr. Maxwell, in speaking of this as a great experiment, is speaking by the card. As to the results so far attained by the experiment, I find that in No. 1 district, according to Dr. Maxwell’s report, there were, in 1902, only thirty-six white growers cultivating an area of 1,882 acres. The number of white growers gradually increased, and in 1905 the number registered for rebate is 124, cultivating an area of 5,024 acres. No. 2 district is called in the report the “central” district, but! it is not properly so called. It is well up in the tropics also. Its southern boundary is at Cape Palmerston, which is 200 miles north of the tropic of Capricorn., and it extends northwards to Townsville, a distance of 200 miles, roughly speaking. It is. therefore, a purely tropical district. In No. 2 district there were, in 1902, 519 white growers, cultivating anarea of 12,333 acres. This year there are 977 white growers, cultivating an area of 28,552 acres.
– Can the honorable member give the increases in relation to sugar grown by black labour?
– Proportionately, there has really been no increase in the case of sugar grown by black labour, though there is an actual increase arising from accidental fluctuations, which cannot be accounted for by statistics. We have continued our experiment now for only four years. The fourth crushing has only just been finished from the time at which we commenced it, and the result, as shown by the figures I have quoted, must be considered highly satisfactory, and one of which the White Australia advocates have reason to be proud. A number of people who have hitherto pinned their faith to black labour, and contended that no other is possible in the production of sugar, are to-day desirous of registering under conditions applicable to the employment of white labour. But many of them are now, as a result of the regulations in force, perpetually disqualified from registering as growers of sugar with white labour. They have registered for bounties, and found that, because of circumstances over which they had no control, they had again to revert to the use of black labour, and, in consequence, their land is penalized under the existing regulations, and it cannot again be registered for the bounty. The Minister has promised to liberalize the regulations in such a way as to enable these men to register again, and he shall certainly have my support. There are others, as has been explained at different times in this House, who are under financial obligations to the mill -owners and large planters. The mill-owners are as a rule, growers, and employers of labour on a large scale, and they have insisted that the boys whom they have indented from the Islands, and for whom they have had no work, shallbe taken on by the farmers who are under obligations to them. These farmers have been compelled to conform to the demand of the mill-owners and large planters in this respect. The result of this is that some of the land has again reverted to cultivation by black labour. Many of these men are now desirous of coming in under the conditions required for the employment of white labour. The most northern district of Australia in which sugar is grown is the Mossman and Port Douglas district. There lis established there a very large and powerful central mill, turning out from 9,000 to 11,000 tons of sugar per annum, and necessarily employing a large number of men,and requiring a large area of cane to keep the rollers going. The directors of that mill were very hostile to the employment of white labour, and discouraged its employment in every way they could. There are, as a consequence of their action, very few white growers registered in that district so far. Latterly, however, the directors of this mill have thought it advisable to change their policy to some extent. Only a few weeks ago they sent a representative to Victoria to engage forty white agricultural labourers to cultivate cane for the mill. I believe that their representative was not quite as successful as he hoped to be. I understand that he engaged thirty-seven men, but how many went north with him I am not prepared to say. This action on the part of the directors of this mill is, however, an indication that they are desirous of altering their policy. It also proves conclusively that persons who have had great experience of the cultivation of sugar in the North are now convinced that it can be grown by white labour, otherwise they would not have altered their policy as they have evidently clone. It must be clear that the experiment in which we have been engaged has proved to be eminently successful, and seeing that it has been only four years in operation. I trust this House will be prepared to continue it. Where in connexion with, the development of the sugar industry other countries have trodden in the same path for generations, and we have in Queensland trodden in that path for at least one generation, it is too much to expect that in the short space of fouryears we should be able entirely to reverse the labour policy hitherto considered necessary.
– Does the honorable member favour the reduction of the bonus on a sliding scale?
– I do, but I do not think that the matter should be dealt with in so short a period as proposed by the honorable member for Corinella. I think that the proposal of the Government is worthy of support. and at the expiration of the period which it would cover, I should be prepared to agree to the application of a tapering policy. I remind honorable members that if that course were adopted, the matter would be dealt with in two years more than the honorable member for Corinella proposes. I have no wish to occupy a very great deal of time in discussing the question, but there are certain statistics which I wish to lay before the House in connexion with the cost of the experiment. Several representatives of South Australia, Victoria, and Tasmania are under the impression that the experiment involves an enormous cost to the other States of Australia. I wish to say in the first place that Queensland has herself made the greatest sacrifice in this connexion. The honorable member for Corinella, when advocating the adoption of the tapering policy, told the House that Victoria has made a greater sacrifice than has any other State of the Commonwealth. I can prove conclusively that Victoria has made absolutely no sacrifice, and I can also prove by statistics that Tasmania has made no sacrifice.
– I wish the honorable member would come over and prove that to my constituents.
– I shall put such figures into the hands of the honorable member as must convince them of the truth of what I saw Some of the States have made sacrifices in connexion with this policy, but not nearly to the extent generally imagined. In New South Wales the duty paid on sugar in 1899 was £122,613. I think it necessary to point out to honorable members that when the Tariff was being discussed in this House, an amendment was proposed that the duty upon sugar should be 50. per cwt. No one proposed that sugar should be free. The Minister proposed that the duty should be 6s. per cwt.,and no one proposed that it should be any leas than 5s. per cwt. The amendment was lost on the voices, and the proposal that the duty should be 6s. per cwt., on being put to the Committee, was carried without a division. The conclusion to be arrived at from that is that the House was unanimously in favour of a duty of 6s. per cwt. I specially refer to the matter because I base my calculation as to cost upon that duty. We are invited to assume that the House was satisfied that for the necessities of the States, and for other reasons, it was desirable to have a duty of 6s. per cwt. on sugar.
– The difficulty we had was that the matter was tied up with the kanaka policy.
– I admit that, but I point out that no voice was raised against the proposal that the duty should be 6s. per cwt. The duty received on sugar in New South Wales in 1890 was £136,716. In the figures I quote I am taking the calendar and not the financial year. Honorable members may, therefore, discover some slight discrepancy between my figures and those submitted in the Treasurer’s Budget table; but other statistics which I wanted were reckonedaccording to the calendar year, and I found it necessary to treat them all in the same way. The revenue from the Customs and Excise duties in New South Wales in 1901 amounted to£220,565 ; in 1902, £205,677; 1903, £217,257 ;1904, £203,827. If we add the amount for bounty in 1904, the total for New South Wales for that year amounted to £259,607. Of course, a section of the population of Queensland and New South Wales have derived a certain benefit from the bounty paid to the sugar-grower.
– Those two States have received all the bounty.
– I admit that, but it has not gone into the pockets of the people of those States as a whole, and I therefore treat the Customs and Excise duties as being paid by the people as a whole. If I take the bounty received by New South Wales at £36,107 in 1904. the amount which New South Wales had to pay for the White Australia policy was £24,813 in excess of what would have been paid under the ordinary duty based on the present consumption in that State. The quantity entered for home consumption in New South Wales, in 1904, was 57,974 tons of Australian sugar, and 8,255 tons of foreign sugar. Under the old Tariff, the amount paid in duty would have been £198,687, as against £122,613paid in 1889, so that allowing for the growth of population New South Wales, would have been no better off if there had been no bounty. If the Commonwealth Tariff had operated without a bounty, the duty paid in 1904 would have been£1 73,922 on 57,974 tons, at £3 a ton; and £49,530 on 8,255 tons, at £6 a ton, a total of £223,452, or £20,000 in excess of the amount actually paid on the consumption of 1904. If a duty of £6 per ton had been imposed and there had been no excise, the position would have been as follows: - 66,229 tons en~tered for home consumption, from which would have had to be deducted 19,468 tons, the production of New South Wales, leaving a balance of 46,761 tons, which, at £6 per ton, would have produced £280,566, or £30,959 more than is now paid for duty, excise, and bounty. Therefore, New South Wales has no cause of complaint, and the statement that she is suffering immensely under the Tariff is not substantiated by facts or statistics. I come now to Victoria. In that State, the duty collected in 1899 was £312,795; 53>567 tons of sugar being entered for home consumption, of which about 70 per cent., or 37,757 tons, were refined in bond. In 1900, the duty collected was £316.227 ; and, in 1901, the duty and excise combined were £331,180; in 1:902, £274,674; in 1903, .£333,330; and, in 1:904, £326,900. In 1904, 63,995 tons were entered for home consumption. Taking the same proportion as was refined within the State in. 1899 - 70 per cent. - the duty would have amounted to £373,130, that is, 20,995 tons refined at £6 per ton makes a total of £125,970; and 43,000 tons refined1 in bond at £5 i5Si a ton, makes a total of £247,250. These were the old Victorian rates. If we add the contribution to the bounty - £38,932 - to the total of Excise and Customs duties actually paid in 1904, we get a total of £365,832, or £7,298 less than would have been paid in duty alone under the Tariff of 1.899. Upon the quantity of sugar entered for home consumption’ in that year, therefore, Victoria has not suffered ; and the contention of the honorable and learned member for Corinella that s.he is making a sacrifice cannot be substantiated. Victoria is actually better off in that respect now than she was prior to Federation. One hears about the sufferings of the jam-makers, but how can they be suffering, seeing that “they have not to pay higher duties than they had to pay in 1899? The change in the Tariff has affected the jam-making industry only beneficially. Coming now to Queensland. I shall be able to show that that State has made a greater sacrifice than has any of the other States. She practically supplies herself with sugar, and, therefore, prior to Federation, paid no tax on sugar, the duty paid in 1899 being only £92; in 1900, £160; and, in 1901, £73, and £3,888 in
Excise,, there being a certain amount of loaf-sugar and icing-sugar imported, while duty was also paid on surplus ship’s stores sold in bond. In 1902, the duty was £290 ; and the excise, £39,285. Prior to 1901. there was no excise on sugar in Queensland. In 1903 the import duty yielded £186, and the Excise duty £54,771. In 1904 the import duty yielded £241, and the Excise duty £80,341. So that in the latter year we had to pay on our sugar £80,582 in excess of what we paid in 1899. In addition to that sum, Queensland had to pay £16,779 in bounty, which brought our contribution up to £97,361. That sum was taken out of the pockets of its people for the benefit of the sugar industry. When ‘honorable members say that the State has benefited very greatly by the sugar industry, I point out that the people, as a whole, are not benefiting to any extent, but, in point of fact, are suffering. Certainly, one section is benefiting to some extent, but that is for a purpose’ which, I am sure, every one here has at heart, and that is the maintenance of our White Australia policy. After the bounty was paid, the Treasurer of Queensland received from these sources a sum which he had never received before, and equal to £63.803. I now come to the case of South Australia. ‘In 1899 the import duty yielded £48,721 ; in 1900, £47i97T ; and in 1901, £52,456. The Excise duty in 1901 amounted to only £135, so that the revenue from both sources was £52>59i-
– That was the fault of the Minister who arranged the Rebate Bill. In one year, through his bungle, we got £^50,000 more than we ought to have done.
– There was no rebate on a great quantity of the sugar.
– The whole of our sugar was imported!, and the Customs duty was £6 per ton until a few years ago.
– In 1902 the import duty yielded £97,81.7, and the Excise duty £1,141, making a total of £98,958 ; in f.903 the import duty yielded’ £io2.,282, and the Excise duty: £1.229. making a total of &°3>5i:i- I” T904 the import duty vielded £74,085, showing a considerable falling off, and the Excise duty £27,883, making a total of £101.968. If we add the bounty paid by South Australia in 1904, which was £11,988, we get a total of £113,956 for that year. In 1904, there were entered for home consumption, 16,104 tons. On the old Tariff basis of £3 a ton, the quantity would have yielded £48,312; but supposing that the import duty was £6 a ton, that there was no Excise duty, and that there was no bounty to pay, the amount paid by South Australia would have been £96,624, or a disadvantage of £17,332. That is what that State contributed in the year to the maintenance of the White Australia policy, and as a set-off against that I propose to show the value of produce which Queensland took from her. If we take the quantity of sugar entered for home consumption in South Australia in 1904, that is, 5,049 tons of Australian sugar at £3 a ton, it gives a total revenue of £15,147 ; and if we take 11,055 tons of foreign sugar at £6 a ton, it yields a. revenue of £66,330, or a total revenue of £81,477. The net revenue was £101,968, and the State’s share of the bounty came to £11,988, so that the Treasurer received £89,980. I appeal to the representatives of South Australia to say whether that sum was not necessary to her financial stability. Financially, she is no better off than any other State. She cannot afford to do without this addition to her revenue. Her total contribution to the maintenance of the White Australia policy in this connexion was £17,332. I now come to the position of Western Australia. Certainly, as compared with other States, she has made a considerable sacrifice, because prior to Federation, sugar was duty free in that State, just as it was in Queensland. What the people have to pay now on their sugar may be looked upon as additional taxation, and judging by the Western Australian Budget, which I read this morning, the revenue from this source will be a very considerable and acceptable item to the Treasurer. In1901, the import and Excise duties yielded £8,126; in 1902, £44,572 ; in1903, £50,738; and in 1904, £38,680, the latter year showing a considerable falling off. It may be that this is attributable to the fact that very often the amount entered for home consumption does not actually indicate the amount consumed. Sometimes sugar is stored up in bond as a reserve, and large quantities for consumption are drawn, while in the other cases, more sugar may be entered for home consumption than is actually consumed, and the balance is carried forward to next year,
If we add £7,794 as the bounty for 1904, we get £46,474, as the amount of the new taxation, and the net revenue of £30,886 was a very acceptable addition to its finances. The amount of new taxation is not very excessive when it is spread over a large population. The comments which the representatives of Western Australia make as to what) that State is suffering owing to the import and Excise duties in comparison with Victoria and other States, are not substantiated by the figures in the Customs returns. Western Australia produces no sugar. In 1904, there were entered for home consumption, 9,362 tons of Australian, and 2,182 tons of foreign sugar. Under the Commonwealth Tariff, that quantity would yield £40,178. The representatives of Western Australia, who expressed themselves as ‘hostile to this policy, and indicated that Western Australia would suffer very considerably, did not pursue their protest to the point of calling for a division when this matter was previously before the House.
– That was because they had no chance of success.
– Now we come to Tasmania. In 1899 the sugar duty in Tasmania realized £46,290, and in 1900 £47,066. In 1901 the Customs duty amounted to £41,983, and the Excise duty to £1,940, making a total of £43,923. In 1902 the Customs duty amounted to only £8,125,whereas the Excise duty represented £16,894, making a total of £25,019. In 1903 the Customs duty amounted to £11,626, and the Excise duty to £13,440, making a total of £25,066. In 1904 the Customs duty represented £10,415, and the Excise duty £13,426, or a total of £23,841.
– The figures quoted by the honorable member are at variance with those supplied by the Government Statistician of Tasmania. He shows that there hasbeen a loss of over £15,000.
– I obtained my figures from the Customs Department. As I previously explained, there is a slight discrepancy between them and those published in connexion with the Budget papers, which is due to the fact that, whereas the figures quoted by me relate to the calendar year, those quoted in the Budget papers are made up for each financial year. The bounty paid by Tasmania, in 1904, amounted to £5,797, which, added to receipts from the Customs and Excise duties,, makes up a total of £29,638. The quantity of sugar entered for home consumption, in 1904, was 8,158 tons, and, if the duty levied under the State Tariff had been paid upon this quantity, the revenue would have benefited to the extent of £48,948; whereas the amount actually paid by the public in that year in bounty, Customs duty, and Excise duty, amounted to only £29,638. Under the State Customs Tariff, in Tasmania, a duty of £6 per ton. was levied upon some classes of sugar, and1d. per lb. upon other classes.
– The duty of1d. per lb., or £9 6s. 8d. per ton, was levied upon icing-sugar.
– I did not make any allowance for that, because I thought that the quantity of sugar subjectto the higher duty would not be worth considering. I have shown that the people of Tasmania were, in 1904, called upon to pay £19,000 less than they would have paid upon the amount entered for home consumption in that year at the old rates of duty. Therefore, Tasmania has nothing to complain of.
– Tasmania has lost that amount of revenue.
– And the people as a whole have gained to that extent. The sugar consumption, in 1899, amounted to 7,704 tons, whereas, in 1904, 8,158 tons were entered for home consumption. Those figures show a slight increase. I admit that the Tasmanian Treasurer has received £19,000 less than he would have done under the State Tariff, but the people have had that much less to pay. In other States, the Treasury has benefited, because the people have had to pay more to the revenue. If we adopted the figures for 1900, which were the highest for six years, namely, £47,066, the gainto Tasmania would amount to £7,699, and, if the bounty were added, the gain would still be £2,902. The particulars which I have procured show that the apparent increase in the consumption of sugar in Australia is about 7,500 tons per annum. In the year 1904, the quantity of Australian sugar consumed was 192,048 tons. If we add 7,500 tons to that we have a total of 199,975 tons. If it were in the same proportion as during last year,, there would be 142,988 tons at £4, and 57,087 tons of foreign sugar at £6 per ton. The Australian sugar, paying £4 per ton, will return to the revenue £571,952,and the foreign sugar, paying £6 per ton, will return £342,522 ; so that on this basis the total revenue for 1905 will be £914,474. The total duty and excise for all Australia in 1904 was £762,960. That leaves us additional taxation to the amount of £151,514. I may as well take this, opportunity of saying, so far as I am personally concerned, I am not in favour of increasing the excise, nor of increasing the bounty. I think the present conditions are fair and reasonable. I have heard no complaints from the growers who are interested in the matter, as to the present conditions being unfavorable to them, nor have they requested that those conditions shall be altered in the directions indicated. I am personally acquainted with a large number of growers in Northern Queensland, and the matter was never mentioned to me by them when I was up there, so late as last J une.
– Are they satisfied with the present bounty?
– They are, so far as I am able to judge. I am not concerned as to the producers of black-grown sugar being more unfavorably dealt with than they are under present circumstances; but my fear is that the £2 protection- after the £4 excise is collected - will not be sufficient to keep out foreign sugar. I am quite aware that many who have studied the subject do not agree with me, but that is my opinion. I do not think there is any necessity for altering, the present conditions, and I am afraid that if they are altered they will be disadvantageous to those who are growing sugar under white labour conditions. Now, I have something to say relating to the other side of the question - that is, the consumption of Australian produce in Northern Queensland. Northern Queensland practically produces no agricultural commodities except sugar, tropical fruits, and a few sweet potatoes for the kanakas. Perhaps a little maize is produced here and there, but very little. No potatoes and onions are grown. We may say that nearly the whole ofthe agricultural commodities consumed by people in Northern Queensland are produced in the southern States. Consequently the people there are large consumers of the produce of the rest of Australia. I have here a list, prepared for me by the Department of Trade and Customs, showing the quantities of purely Australian produce consumed in Queensland. The commodities of which particulars are given are flour, wheat, hay, chaff, butter, cheese, onions, potatoes, and hops. The hops are, I understand, purely Tasmanian products. The statement with which I am now dealing does not include jams and jellies, for which I have separate particulars. In 1899 North Queensland imported from New South Wales flour to the value of £114,815. From New South Wales we imported, in 1899, £203,336 worth of goods of the kinds I have enumerated, and in 1900 £286,747 worth. From Victoria, in 1899, we imported £241,846 worth, and in 1900, £168,466 worth. In 1899, from South Australia we imported £57,455 worth, and an 1900,£74,843 worth. From Tasmania, in 1899, we imported £11,272 worth, and in 1900 £9,165 worth. From Tasmania in 1899 our imports were principally potatoes. The same was the case in 1900. But in the latter year we imported hops to the value of £1,718, as against £525 in 1899. In 1901, we imported hops from Tasmania to the value of £2,245; in 1902, to the value of £2,796; in 1903, to the value of £4,566; and in 1904, to the value of £4,009. So that we have been consistent in the increase of our consumption of Tasmanian hops. I infer that those hops are principally Tasmaniangrown, and are not re-importations. In the four years 1901-2-3-4, we imported from New South Wales £533,699 worth of flour, £82,431 worth of wheat, and hay and chaff to the value of about £40,000. We also imported butter from New South Wales to the value of £95,971. Nearly all that butter goes into North Queensland, because the southern parts of the State supply their own requirements in that respect.
– Queensland is exporting more butter than ever before. She had a record shipment last month.
– That is so. But that butter is shipped from Pinkenba, and is all southern produce. Northern Queensland cannot produce nearly sufficient butter to meet its own requirements.
Mr. Hutchison. Still, Queensland turned out a record shipment a month ago.
– In 1901, Queensland imported from New South Wales £1,247 worth of cheese, £48,633 worth of potatoes, and £5,935 worth of onions. In 1902, the values were - Cheese, £8,788;potatoes, £44,307; and onions, £3,349. In 1903, we imported from New South Wales cheese to the value of £4,189; potatoes, £20,531; and onions, £831. In 1904 the figures were- Cheese, £705; potatoes, £6,752; and onions, £561. From Victoria during the four years 1901, ‘02, ‘03, and ‘04 we took flour valued at £228,064;. wheat, £15,670; hay, including chaff, £196,065; butter, £129,062; cheese, £25,791 potatoes, £120,223; and onions, £10,676. From these statistics it will be seen that Queensland has been a very good customer of the other States in the matter of these products. I have here one very significant table, which I am sure will surprise many honorable members. It relates to jams and jellies. We have been repeatedly told in this House that owing to the increased price of sugar caused by the operation of the excise and the bounty, the jam-making industry has suffered severely. I contend that it has not suffered at all. I have seen the
Statistical Register for New South Wales, and I find that the same increase that has occurred in Victoria in regard to this item has taken place there. In this State the increase has been very large indeed. Upon page 606 of the Victorian Year-Book for 1904, under the heading of “ Interchange,” Part X., appear the values of the principal articles of Victorian produce exported between the years 1900 and 1904. From these figures, I find that during 1900 the export of jamsand jellies was valued at £49,994, and in the following year at £46,178. Honorable members will note that in 1900 the Federal Tariff was not in operation, and that it was only in force for a few months during 1901. But in 1902, afterthe imposition of the Commonwealth Tariff, an enormous increase took place in the quantity of jams and jellies exported from this State. Their values rose in that year to £111,178; in 1903 they were £82,755; and in 1904, £71,941. In each of the three years mentioned, there was a great expansion in the export of these products from Victoria. That increase, however, was not confined to this State, I hold in my hand a return showing the quantity of jams and jellies exported to Queensland alone during 1904-5. The figures are most significant and instructive, and I shall be pleased to hand them over to the honorable member for Franklin if he desires to peruse them.
– Has the honorable member any figures showing either the increase or the decrease which has taken place in the number of aliens employed in the sugar industry in Queensland?
– I will deal with that matter presently. In 1899 Queensland imported from New South Wales 30,828 lbs. of jam ; from Victoria, 1,728 lbs. ; from South Australia, 18,708 lbs. ; and from Tasmania, 26,856 lbs. ; making a total of 78,120 lbs. Of course, theconsumption of jam is always considerable in Queensland, and’ in the northern portion particularly, because, owing to the climatic conditions which prevail there, butter does notkeep well. In 1900, Queensland imported from New South Wales 30,828 lbs. of jam, and in 1904 the quantity had increased to 1,089,605 lbs. In 1899 Queensland imported from Victoria 1,728 lbs., and in 1904 the amount had risen to 1,543,324 lbs. From South Australia, the northern State imported 18,708 lbs. in 1899, and 249,408 lbs. in 1904. Similarly, Queensland imported from Tasmania 26,866 lbs. in 1899, and 977,217 lbs. in 1904. This makes a total in the one item of 3,859,654 lbs. That represents an increase of fiftyfold. and shows that so far as Queensland is concerned, the consumption of Australian produce has been very considerable indeed. Under these circumstances, the contention that the jam industry has suffered cannot be sustained. In reply to the question which was asked by the honorable member for Franklin a few minutes ago, I admit that there has been an increase in the quantity of alien labour in the northern portion of Queensland. When the Pacific Island Labourers Bill was under consideration, I foresaw that unless we could provide for the gradual deportation of the kanakas as their agreements expired, they would almost certainly be reengaged. My apprehensions were well founded. When I spoke to the Minister in regard to the matter, he said, “I acknowledge that it is very probable they will be re-engaged; but I am afraid we have no power to deal with the matter, as it is purely a State concern. We can legislate for the importation or deportation of the kanakas, but so far as their agreements are concerned, that is purely a State matter, with which I am sorry I am unable to interfere.” In some instances
I regret to say that unfair means have been adoptedto induce the kanakas to reengage. Consequently the men who should have been returned to their homes are still in Queensland.
– Hope was also entertained by some that this legislation would not be persisted in.
– There is no doubt about it. There was always a latent hope entertained by some planters that something would turn up which would cause us to reverse our legislation.
– That was because Queensland played with the question for thirty years.
– It is quite true that Queensland “ dilly-dallied “ with the question for, at any rate, twenty-five years, and, doubtless, it was expected that the same policy would be pursued by the Federal Government. All the pressure possible was brought to bear, and attempts made to raise a scare as to the ruin of the industry. Some most absurd) statements were made, even in this House, to the effect that if the kanakas were deported, grass would grow in the streets of Melbourne.
– All legislation we do not like will ruin the country.
– Exactly. It is perfectly childish to suppose that a State with a population of half-a-million, and immense territory and resources, could be ruined by the removal of 8,000 blackfellows.
– Even if the industry were wiped out, Queensland would be all right.
– That is so; her resources are so great that if the rest of the Commonwealth were submerged in the Pacific, Queensland would continue to flourish. I am sorry to have to admit that there has been an increase in the number of the coloured men employed, but that does not militate against the fact, as shown by Dr. Maxwell, that the white growers have increased to a still greater extent. Dr. Maxwell says in his report that if the kanakas be deported. 5,000 extra farm labourers will be required. A little while ago, all Australia was somewhat excited by the proposition of General Booth to introduce 5,000 families from England into some part of the Commonwealth. There is no doubt that in Queensland, on the coast as far as Townsville, the population is sufficient to give no justification for a proposal to settle the country on the ground that it is unoccupied. North of Townsville, however, the population is much sparser, and to a considerable extent alien - yellow, black, and brown. It has been argued that the country being so thinly populated, other countries may cast upon it covetous eyes ; and in my opinion the settlement of 5,000 families there would be even more important than a similar settlement in the southern parts of the State. In my opinion, everything possible should be done to populate this country, even if somewhat extraordinary inducements be offered ; and the popular feeling in Queensland is turning to that view. Those who have been hostile to a white population hitherto are now coming to the conclusion that settlement of the kind would be best in the interests, not only of the State, but of the Commonwealth generally. Indeed, I may appeal to the selfishness of the, southern States, because the settlement of 5,000 families in Queensland would mean so many extra consumers of southern produce. The wages earned in Queensland are still on a scale to enable people to live comfortably, and this means that the increased consumption would be considerable. On the other hand, aliens are not, to a great extent, consumers of Australian produce, most of their requirements being supplied direct from China, Java, Japan, or Manilla, with the result of only a small contribution to the Customs revenue. On this ground I appeal to representatives of the southern States, who are somewhat hostile to the proposal before us, to lend it their support.
– We are not hostile to the proposal if it does not affect other industries.
– The figures I have quoted dispose of that fear. The industry of jam-making, for instance, has been promoted rather than retarded ; and, in any case, there is practically little or no difference in the duties in Tasmania and Victoria, as compared with those imposed prior to Federation. In Victoria there is a difference of 5s. on refined sugar as against raw, while in Tasmania the duty is just about the same.
– Tasmania has lost over £100,000 during the last four years.
– In the first place, that does not affectthe industry of jammaking ; and, in the secondplace, it is simply revenue which has not gone into the Treasury.
– It is in the pockets of the people.
– When, in Queensland, £83,000 goes into the Treasury, it is said to be bad for the people, but when £100,000 does not go into the Treasury of Tasmania, it is said to be bad for the State. Before I sit down, I should like to refer to my statement that none of the representatives of the other States took exception to this duty being imposed. On looking over the Hansard reports, I find that there was no division, and that no Western Australian member raised his voice against the proposal. The honorable and learned member for Angas wasthe only one who objected.
– The honorable member for Dalley also objected. I tabled an amendment twice, and he did so once.
– The principal objectors were from New South Wales; and I should like to read what Sir William McMillan said on that occasion. He spoke as follows : -
While there has been no absolute understanding in regard to the sugar duties during the whole discussion upon the white-labour question, ithas been assumed that a duty of this kind would be agreed to, and, therefore, we on this side of the Chamber do not intend to propose a reduction.
The honorable member for Werriwa did propose a reduction, but it was rejected on the voices -
We do not, however, desire it to be thought that we approve of this high import duty, nor that we approve of an excise duty which will disappear after a certain number of years, and leave a practically prohibitive import duty.
I may say at once that I am not in favour of the Excise duty disappearing after a certain number of years, because I realize that our Treasurers will require some duty upon sugar to help them to balance their finances. Sir William McMillan continued -
We intend to support the duty as amatter of high public policy, in view of the legislation which the Commonwealth has passed affecting the position of Queensland.
He, therefore, clearly indicated that the proposal was designed to some extent to compensate those who would suffer from the loss of black labour. That is our attitude. I freely admit that those who were engaged in theindustry when the Federal law was passed were empowered, under the State law, to employ black labour; but whilst I condemn such a , system, I rarely blame an individual for doing that which the law permits. On behalf of Northern Queensland, I support the Government proposal, although I am not in favour of the bounty being fixed at £3 per ton, and the excise being paid at the rate of £4 per ton. I would rather see a continuation of the present system,and if an opportunity be afforded me to vote for its maintenance, I shall avail myself of it.
– I think that honorable members generally will agree that the honorable member for Herbert had every desire to place his case fairly before the House; but I believe that I shall be able to point out that he made several grave errors in connexion with his contention that some of the States have not suffered any loss as the result of the policy of a White Australia. For instance, let us take the position of Tasmania, to which my honorable friend last referred. Dealing only with round figures, I understood him to say that prior to the imposition of the Federal Tariff that State received a revenue of £46,000 from the import duty on sugar, whilst last year it received £10,000 from the import duty, and £13,000 in respect of the Excise, or a total of £23,000. But instead of deducting from that the amount of the bonus paid by Tasmania, he added it to the total.
– I added it to the Excise and the import duty, but I debited the amount to the States.
– It appeared to me, from the figures quoted by the honorable member, that prior to the imposition of the Federal Tariff Tasmania received £46,000 from the import duty on sugar, and last year it received a total of £23,000 by way of the import and excise duties. Its share of the bounty amounted to £5,000, and that sum should have been deducted from the total of £23,000, in order to show the total revenue which Tasmania received last year from the sugar duties. According to the honorable member’s figures, her receipts from this source amounted to £18,000.
– That was the amount which went into the Treasury.
– Therefore the Treasury of Tasmania lost £28,000.
– I admit that.
– Then, I presume that the honorable member was dealing with the matter from the stand-point of the consumer. But he did not go far enough. To show that the consumer had benefited, as he alleged, to the extent of £19,000, he should have proved that the consumer is now paying less than he was prior to the imposition of the Federal Tariff. As a matter of fact, we know that he is paying more.
Mr.Fisher. - The price of sugar all over the world has increased.
– If my statement be correct, and we know that it is, the consumer is not benefited ‘by the present system. The honorable member admits that the revenue of Tasmania suffered last year to the extent of £28,000, as compared with the amount derived from the import sugar duty prior to the Federal Tariff coming into force. We know that the revenue of Victoria has also suffered to a very large extent. Having pointed out these facts, I wish to say that I am a supporter of a proposal to give fair compensation to the sugar-growers of Queensland and New South Wales. I intend to support the second reading of the Bill, but would earnestly impress upon the Minister the desirableness of reconsidering some of its details in Committee. If the Bill be passed in its present form, it will do nothing to settle the question ; we shall merely postpone its settlement for another five years, thus throwing upon our successors the onus of dealing finally with it.
– Is it not right that we should leave it to our successors to decide what is proper?
– Ido not think so. We ought to know more of the loss that we have inflicted upon the cane-growers by calling upon them to substitute white for black labour, than the Parliaments of some years hence will know. I would also point out to the Minister that) if we leave the ultimate settlement of the question to some future Parliament, vested interests will be growing every day. Encouraged by the payment of these bonuses, almost every day men are entering into the industry who are absolutely not entitled to one farthing by way of compensation. The bounty was introduced, not to establish a new industry, but for the express purpose of compensating those engaged in the sugar industry for any loss incurred in substituting white for black labour in conformity with the policy of a White Australia. But the longer we postpone the settlement of this question the greater will be the vested interests. Every person who has entered into the industry since the payment of the bounty began is receiving a share of the compensation, just as if he had been affected by the original determination of the Parliament.
– Does the honorable member know of any bonus that has been granted out of Excise to the parties who paid that Excise?
– I will deal with that point a little later on. A bounty is usually given to cover the initial cost and risk incurred by those who enter upon a new industry, and I think that, when properly considered, and judiciously paid for that purpose, it is not only a justifiable, but a very’ wise policy. I hold that it should be paid only to assist the establishment of a new industry, when there is every reasonable prospect’ of that industry becoming self-supporting and a valuable asset to the nation, after the first cost of its creation has been overcome. In this case, however, the position is different. There is no fiscal question involved. Free-traders should be just as willing as are protectionists to compensate cane-growers for any loss they have suffered as the result of our policy. ‘ Therefore the question at issue is not a fiscal one ; it is simply one of whether we should compensate the growers for the loss we have inflicted upon them. That is the stand-point from which the bounty should be regarded, and it is because I hold that view that I urge that we should settle the matter once and for all. I am willing to settle it on a- basis absolutely fair to the cane-growers - on a basis that would give thiem full compensation for any loss we have inflicted upon them. I am not so particular in respect to the amount we have to pay as I am in regard to the point that we should follow a definite principle and settle the matter. Let the bounty extend over as long a period as the House may deem desirable, but let us see the end pf it. I would prefer to see the system now proposed, which is practically the same as that in operation at the present time, extended over two or three years upon the existing basis, at the expiration of which time the bounty should begin to taper off. I should1 like to see the gradual reduction of the bounty extend over a longer period than that proposed by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, but upon the same lines. If we paid, the present bounty for two or three years, and, then began to reduce it on a sliding scale, we should do well. The honorable and learned1 member for Corinella proposes that it shall be reduced* to the extent of 20 per cent, per annum, after a certain period has elapsed, but I should prefer a reduction of 12J, or even 10, per cent, per annum. The bounty would then disappear by successive gradations. If we fixed a definite time for the disappearance of the bounty, and determined the amount of the annual reduction, we should settle the question for all time. Those entering upon the industry would then know exactly what they had to expect, and would make’ their calculations accordingly. The Government proposal, however, would tend to create vested interests. It would encourage people to enter the industry in the hope that they would be able to bring sufficient influence to bear upon the Parliament to renew the bounty from time to time, and so make it perpetual. If we pass this Bill in its present form, we shall do a great deal towards making the bounty a permanent one. In that .case, future generations will be paying, the compensation, supposed to be due to the cane-growers originally affected by our legislation to every one who has entered the industry since the passing of the Federal Tariff. That would lie a grave mistake, and I sincerely hope that the Minister will consider the desirableness of modifying his proposal. With regard to the Ex’cise, about which honorable members have been interjecting, the burden of it certainly should not fall upon the producers. Germany, Fiance, and the other continental countries, where the greater part of the sugar of the world is produced, derive a large amount of revenue from an Excise duty- on sugar, which is paid, not by the producers, but by the consumers. They impose import duties which are practically prohibitive, and return very little revenue. These duties are imposed for the protection of the producers, and, in addition, substantial Excise duties are imposed for revenue purposes. These Excise duties increase the cost of production, but they are paid entirely by the consumers. Then for many years a small export bounty was given to’ enable any surplus to be exported without serious loss, and this enabled the consumers of Great Britain to obtain continental sugar more cheaply than the continental consumers could obtain it. Deducting that export bounty from the amount received from the Excise duty, there still remained a substantial sum to the credit of the revenue of the country in which the sugar was produced. The object of our Excise duty was not to tax the producer, and it does not do so. He is protected by the import duty, thoughI will not now discuss, whether that duty is or is not high enough. That is a question which should be argued on its own merits. The point I wish to emphasize, however, is that the matter should not be dealt with in such a way as to mislead any one, by inducing him to go into the sugar industry under the impression that the bounty will be paid for all time. However distant the date of its disappearance may be made, a definite date should be fixed. Let us settle the matter once and for all in such a way as will be fair to those on whom our White Australia policy has undoubtedly inflicted loss, but without being unfair to the taxpayers, who have to find the money required for the payment of the bounty. It will certainly be unfair to the taxpayers if we go on adding to the vested interests of the industry year after year by inducing more persons to enter into it under the belief that the bounty will continue for all time. Still, as the measure is one which can be more profitably dealt with in Committee, I shall content myself with the few words which I have uttered to indicate the lines on which, in my opinion, we should endeavour to settle this question.
– I join with the honorable member for Gippsland in congratulating the honorable member for Herbert On the carefully prepared speech and statistics which he presented to the House. Those of us who are opposed to the continuance of the bounty as it is now paid, or at an increased rate with provision for the application of a sliding scale, are only too pleased to hear what can be said by the representatives of Queensland in defence of their position. At the same time, I think that that State has been too much considered, and that we should not hesitateto apply the sliding scale immediately. It was never the publicly announced policy of the Queensland Legislature, prior to 1901, to give any compensation for the abolition of the kanaka traffic. Whenever the putting of an end to the traffic, which was begun in 1868 or 1870, was raised in the Queensland Parliament, Ministers were apologetic for having sanctioned it, and in 1885 it was decided that the traffic should come to an end in 1890. A Commission, however, was appointed to consider the question, and reported in 1889, there being a Very strong dissentient report. It was afterwards decided - in 1892 -to extend the period for which the traffic might take place for another ten years; in other words, the compensation given to the industry which had been created was an absolute extension of time from 1892 until 1902. Therefore, we were under no obligation to Queensland in this matter when, in 1902, we determined to carry out the policy of a White Australia.
-The honorable and learned member is in error about the ten years’ extension - the extension was for an indefinite period.
– My authority is Sir Edmund Barton, who, in introducing the Pacific Island Labourers Bill, read extracts from speeches made in the Queensland Legislature, and said that an extension had been granted from 1892 to 1902. In 1901 the Commonwealth passed an Act under which the kanakas received their marching orders, which they will not obey when the time for their deportation arrives.I say that they will not obey them, because this Parliament has no power to compel them to leave Australia. That point has been decided in two or three cases, and is dealt with very lucidly in the Commonwealth Law Review for August, by a Mr. B. A. Ross, in an article on the Pacific Island Labourers Act, He argues that there is no power to compel the kanakas to leave Australia, and I agree with him. In the course of his argument he refers to the case of Ray versus MacMakin, decided in 1875, in which a similar point was raised before the Victorian Supreme Court, when Mr. Justice Barry delivered the following judgment : -
Whatever power or authority the Legislature of New South Wales has to frame laws to cause persons charged with the commission of misdemeanours in other countries to be apprehended within that colony, and to be detained in prison there, it is a totally different thing to say that it can give a magistrate power to expel such person from the colony, and send them across the seas to another part of the world.
There is a South Australian case known as in re Gleich, in which the same point arose, and a similar decision was given. Any powers exercised in thisregard must be conferred by an Imperial Act, and certain powers are given under the Fugitive Offenders Act. I have exceedingly grave doubts as to our power to deport men from the Commonwealth under the Pacific Island Labourers Act. It was pointed out by some of us in 1901 that the bounty system would probably be ineffective, and that at the end of the term fixed upon there would be a clamour for the continuation of the bounty, which is what is happening.
– And it will happen again.
– Of course. Even. Dr. Maxwell says that the policy is an experiment, and1 does not tell us what will occur when a sliding scale, which he suggests, has put an end to the bounty. The honorable member for Herbert sought to impress honorable members with the fact that South Australia gains by the present policy, but I shall give some figures which will show her true position in this matter. South Australia is as much, if not more, entitled than is Queensland to consideration in this matter, because Queensland sanctioned the importation of coloured labour.,, while South Australia did not. If we had imported kanakas, we could have produced1 sugar as cheaply in the Northern Territory as it has been produced in Queensland, and we passed an Act providing for the importation of British subjects from India. In deference to public feeling, however, that Act has never been put into force. If Queensland, whose conduct in this matter has been partly bad, is to be compensated, why should not South Australia, whose conduct has been wholly good, also be considered? Through the abolition of the special Tariff in force in the Northern Territory prior to Federation, we have lost about £20,000 in Customs receipts. Up to 1904 South Australia had incurred an expenditure of about £3,750,000 on transcontinental projects which are really of national importance, and there would not have been a deficit in our accounts ever since the Northern Territory railway was made a few years ago had we looked upon that country as a purely tropical one, and allowed the importation of coloured, labour for the economical production of sugar there. We have an annual deficit of £106,000, and surely that entitles us to consideration. But we have never pressed our claim as the strong representation of Queensland, which is, banded together for the purpose, has pressed the claim of that State. The honorable mem. ber for Herbert referred to the gains which we have received from Federation. By a blunder of the Ministry in 1901, in providing for a rebate of duty instead of the granting of a bonus - the rebate being taken from the excise duty, whereas the bonus would have been debited to the revenue per head of population - South Australia with other States obtained an advantage, and she also gained an advantage under the Tariff for the first year or two. All our sugar in 1902-3, with the exception of about 150 or - 200 tons, was imported from beyond the Commonwealth. The import duty is £6 per ton, and we were entitled1 to be credited with the duty collected on our consumption. In 1902-3, the duty collected on sugar amounted to £97,000 ; but, in 1904, the revenue shrank to £61,000. This reduction was due to the operation of our fiscal laws, and to- the fact that more Commonwealth sugar, was consumed in South Australia. Of course, South Australia also had to pay her share of the sugar bounty on a per capita basis. The. estimate of the Treasurer for the current year is £49,800; and, if we deduct from that amount the share of the bonus which South Australia will have to pay, amounting to, say, one-tenth of the total of £146,000 - the net revenue derived by South Australia from the sugar duties will not exceed £35,000. The honorable member for Herbert told us that the revenue derived by South Australia from the duties on sugar in the year prior to Federation amounted, in round ‘ figures, to £50,000, so that we shall certainly sustain a loss of about £13,000 or £14,000. That is, without taking into account any increase of population.
– In. addition to that, the people have to pay more for their sugar.
– Yes. But I am dealing with the assertion of the honorable member that we have gained in revenue under the operation of the Federal laws, as compared with the condition of affairs prior to Federation. As, the honorable and learned member for Parkes has very properly mentioned, the people are paying more for their sugar, and, with all respect to the honorable member for Herbert, who states that the jam industry has been benefited as the result of our present policy, I would point out that the fact that there has not been an absolute shrinkage in the export of fruits and jams does not indicate that the fruit industry has not suffered. The increased cost of sugar has naturally hampered the operations of the fruit-growers, and manufacturers of jams, and other articles of which sugar forms one of the raw materials. I do not think that I shall be very far out in saying that those engaged in industries in which sugar is largely used have been placed at a disadvantage to the extent of having to pay about £4 or £5 per ton more for their sugar. Our exports of jams amount to over 1,200,000 lbs. per annum, and our exports of confectionery to about 225,000 or 230,000 lbs. In addition to that, there have been large exportations of pulp. The annual consumption of jams, jellies, &c., may be put down at about 8,000,000 lbs. We have nearly 16,000 or 17,000 acres under orchard, and 9,000 or 10,000 acres under garden. All our gardeners and orchardists are seriously affected by the increase in the price of sugar. Therefore, in addition to the shrinkage of revenue, we are entitled to take into account the burdens that have been placed upon the people. Now let me say a few words with regard to this question, as it affects the Commonwealth as a whole. The revenue derived from the sugar duties amounted, in 1902, to £780,000; and it is estimated that the duties collected for the current year will represent a total of607,000. This shrinkage has been caused by the policy we have adopted, because, whereas, in 1902, duty was paid upon 176,000 tons, the total quantity upon which duty was levied in 1905 was 187,000 tons. Whilst the sugar locally produced in 1902 amounted to 92,000 tons, it is estimated that the production for the current season will be 171,000 tons. We can thus see at a glance what benefit has been conferred upon the sugar-growers by the difference between the import and Excise duties.Let me pursue the matter a little further. In connexion with the bounty system, we shall have paid Queensland to the end of the current financial year £266,446, whilst New South Wales will have received £152, 594. In other words, we shall have paid to those two States in the way of bounties £419,040. If we estimate the shrinkage in revenue that has occurred since 1902 as averaging £100,000 per annum, and add the sum of £400,000 to the amount paid in the form of bounties, we shall arrive at a total of £819,000. That is a pretty stiff sum to have paid in connexion with a policy which is an admitted failure. New South Wales has received a very large advantage from the bounty, but I do not see why she should have done. Her sugar growers do not employ more white labour now than they did in 1901-2. Ministers take the view that under the Constitution we could not make the bounty apply specifically to one State. But there is nothing to prevent us from declaring that the bonus shall not be paid in connexion, with any production in which only white labour was employed prior to 1901.
– There are a few coloured men employed upon the sugar plantations in New South Wales.
– No doubt; but they would not number more than 200 or 300, and would not affect the question. There is nothing to prevent us from framing a general law under the Constitution, providing that no bonuses shall be paid in connexion with any production in which white labour only was employed prior to the introduction of the bounties. That would be a general law which would make no distinction between State and State; although, of course, it would exclude New South Wales from participating in, the bounty, to which, however, she is in no way entitled.
– What about those who have been induced by the payment of the bounty to engage in the industry?
– I do not think there has been any substantial addition to the number of sugar-growers in New South Wales.
– No, but many properties may have changed hands at values enhanced by the operation of the bounty.
– Properties may have been greatly increased in value as the result of our policy, but that consideration should not operate with us. However, I do not think that the payment of the bounty has attracted men into the industry in any great numbers. What has been the result of all this coddling of the sugar industry? It has been shown that no appreciable addition has been made to the number of white growers, and that the sugar grown by white labour represents only 28 per cent. of the total production. The significant fact is that Dr. Maxwell tells usthat our policy is an. experiment. He says that it is likely to induce or force an immediate substitution of white for coloured labour only in those districts where the natural and economic conditions will permit of the change being made. Why should we continue our present policy in regard to sugargrowing in localities where the natural and economic conditions do not allow of the change that we desire to see brought about ? We have every right to ask why that change was not brought about in cases where the conditions are favorable, under the encouragement of the stiff protective Tariff that has been in operation. Dr. Maxwell says, further, that the relief granted can have only a temporary effect, and that he cannot say what will occur afterwards. He mentions that, in order to produce sugar throughout Queensland wholly by means of white labour, an addition of 5,000 would have to be made to the number of cane farmers - that 8,000 cane farmers would be required, as compared with the 3,522 now engaged in the industry. He is not particularly sanguine as to the possibility of bringing about such a change at an early date. He cannot even offer a conjecture as to when it will be possible to substitute so many small farmers for the 75° large growers who, in conjunction with 3,522 small growers, are now carrying on the industry.
– It is the small growers that we want to specially encourage.
– No doubt, but that is quite another question, which we need not deal with at this stage. According to the report of Dr. Maxwell, we have no guarantee that the further sacrifices which we are now being called upon to make would bring about such results as would afford us anything like adequate compensation. I say, in addition, that the sugar industry hereafter will be clamouring for more protection. If we ever lower the sugar duties it will have to face the competition of the world, and, probably, very soon local production will considerably exceed local consumption. It is estimated that next year the local consumption will be met by local production. Consequently it is fair to assume that at a comparatively early _ date the Australian production of sugar will be far in excess of the local demand. A request will then be made for a bounty upon export, and thus we cannot tell where the matter will end. Under these circumstances, I feel disinclined to grant any further protection to the industry. I am disposed to allow the bounty to be abolished upon a sliding scale, extending over a period of five years.
– Does the honorable and learned member favour wiping out the bounty entirely in five years,, or does he agree with the suggestion of the honorable member for Gippsland?
– I prefer that it should entirely vanish at the end of five years. I shall certainly support the application of the sliding scale to the shortest possible period, and I favour bringing it into operation at the earliest practicable date. There is nothing in the history of Queensland to warrant these severe burdens being imposed upon the consumers. Though that State has suffered in the matter of her revenue, Tasmania has probably incurred a bigger loss. During the first year of the operation of the uniform Tariff, Tasmania lost £160,000 in revenue, and, although a large diminution occurred in Queensland, the shrinkage in . Tasmania was relatively greater. As a matter of fact there is not a State which has not been called upon to make sacrifices in some way. Consequently there is no reason why we should select any particular State for special treatment.
– It is no fault of honorable members that this question is being discussed from a narrower stand-point than it should be. One would think, from the arguments which have been employed, that the producers of sugar by means of white labour are deriving some special advantage from existing legislation. One would imagine that if all the sugar produced in Australia were grown by white labour, the white growers would be paying an Excise duty upon sugar - an agricultural product - whilst no other product of a similar character was subjected to taxation qf that kind. Even the honorable member for Gippsland states that the consumer pays the excise. That is true in a measure. As a matter of fact, the consumer pays ali increases in- prices.
– Does he not pay everything ?
– In the last resort, the consumer pays for everything.
– It is simply a question of whether Queensland shall get her revenue from this source or from some other.
– I was hopeful that before the honorable member resumed his seat he would have declared - seeing that he is favorable to reducing the bounty - that he would also support a reduction of the excise.
– That depends upon whether we give the producers of sugar a corresponding import duty.
-There is no justification either for the excise or the bounty, except the factthat white men are struggling in an industry which is not carried on by white labour in any other part of the world.
– Then it is an unnatural experiment.
– But it is an experiment that has been well considered by the people of the Commonwealth. They have laid down the principle that they intend to populate every portion of the Commonwealth with white races. In the tropical parts of Queensland an earnest and extremely satisfactory effort has been made in that direction, and just when it has achieved success honorable members are disposed to indulge in carping criticism regarding the expenditure of the few pounds which it involves.
– The increase which has taken place in the number of kanakas employed in the north of Queensland does not indicate that the experiment has been a success.
– I say that to me the legislation passed by this Parliament for the purpose of encouraging the production of sugar by white labour has been’ an almost incomprehensible success. Some honorable members appear to forget that the legislation which we enacted in regard to the deportation of kanakas will not come into operation until the end of next year. The bounty payable upon sugar was originally called a “ rebate,” but that word was dropped, because it did not accord with constitutional usage. The bounty is actually a rebate to the very men who pay the excise.
– The excise is paid by the general community.
– If the honorable member had been present a few minutes ago he would have heard me admit that in the last resort the consumer pays for everything. Every increase in. the excise duty upon sugar diminishes the price paid to the labour engaged in its production. Every additional£1 per ton that we impose by way of excise means that£1 per ton less is paid to the producer of the raw material. If we remove both the bounty and the excise we shall revert to the state of things which existed prior to Federation, when the white man had to compete directly with the coloured man in producing the same commodity. We have always strenuously resisted that. Many men have spent the best part of their lives in endeavouring to secure for Queensland what was secured for her by the legislation of this Parliament. It is quite a mistake to suppose that the sugar bounty is offered to that State by way of compensation. I venture to say that the action of this Parliament was not regarded in that light by a majority of honorable members. It was looked upon as part of a great policy to which the people of the Commonwealth were pledged. It was a portion of the White Australia policy. I justify differential treatment being meted out to Queensland in connexion with the sugar industry, upon the ground that, according to the statement of Dr. Maxwell, sugar can be produced by black labour for £2 per ton less than it can be grown by white labour. If we are not prepared to pay the price that is necessary to enable the industry to be carried on by white labour, we may very reasonably say to the white growers in New South Wales and Queensland. “You must compete locally with the cheapest coloured labour in the world without any protection whatever.”
– They have the advantage of an import duty.
– I admit that, but does not the honorable and learned member see that to force white men into competition with that class of labour is tantamount to saying to them, “ You shall no longer continue in the sugar industry ‘ ‘ ? The whole point of my argument is that the competition is absolutely unfair. Surely the honorable and learned member would not ask a white man to rear his family under conditions similar to those under which kanakas and Chinamen live? Surely he would not ask him to live under similar conditions to those under which Japanese live? This Bill is intended to enable the sugar industry to be carried on by white labour. I believe that ultimately white labour will produce more sugar than will suffice for the requirements of Australia, and it will produce it as cheaply as it can be grown by coloured labour.
– But if black labour did not increase, there would still be a good market for white labour. The duty would regulate the price.
– The honorable member seems to overlook the point that there is a class of labour engaged in producing the same commodity whose standard of living is such that it is absolutely impossible for white mento compete with it.
– Is all the available coloured labour in Queensland now employed?
– There are about 70,000 coloured adult persons in Australia.
– But is not alt the coloured labour formerly engaged in North Queensland now employed ?
– I should like to make a precise reply tothat question.
– What is the basis of the honorable member’s calculation as to the difference between the cost of white and coloured labour engaged in producing a ton of sugar ?
– If the honorable member takes Dr. Maxwell’s figures and makes a fair calculation, he will find that! the wages paid to kanakas engaged in producing a ton of sugar amount to a little more than£2 less than wouldbe paid to white men receiving a reasonable rate of pay. In reply to the question put by the honorable and learned member for Corinella as to the number of coloured labourers in Queensland. I desire to read the following telegraphic message from Brisbane, which appeared in yesterday’s issue of the Melbourne daily newspapers: -
A return issued by the Government Statistician shows that the estimated number of coloured aliens in Queensland on September 30th was 21,530, of whom 20,008 were males. The Chinese number 9,457, Pacific Islanders 7,085, Japanese 2,055, natives of India and Ceylon, 983, and other Asiatics 1,950.
These are all adults, and a number of them have a tendency to drift into the sugar industry. Honorable members should seriously ask themselves whether their purpose is to encourage white settlement in the production of a commodity that! is most valuable to Australia - whether they are prepared to encourage white people to engage in an industry that will build up in the North of Queensland a race of men who will be able, not onlyto defend a part of our coast-line, but tosuccessfully produce a tropical product. This is the first experiment of the kind of which the world knows. I am aware that the honorable and learnedmember for Parkes holds very different views from those which I entertain upon this question. He has frequently said that white men will never be successful in producing any commodity in the tropical parts of Australia.
– Without destroying their physique.
– The honorable and learned member suggests that white men are physiologically incompetent to labour in the tropics. I am not in agreement with him on that point. During my residence in Queensland,I have frequently seen such statements disproved. There is no material deterioration in the races working at the present time in North Queensland.
– I do not think that Dr. Maxwell’s report bears out that contention.
– During my residence in North Queensland, I have seen the honorable and learned member’s contention again and again disproved. Astill more important point is that during my twenty years’ residence in Queensland, I have seen the advocates of coloured labour gradually extend a thousand miles northward, the point beyond which, in their opinion, white men could not work. . Twenty-five or thirty years ago it was contended that no white man could grow sugar in the south of Queensland - that is to say, on the Logan River. Then it was said that it was quite impossible for white men to produce it on the Mary River, or the Burnett River, because it was impossible for them to live and labour there. Since that time the colour line has gradually been pushed further north by the advocates of black labour. It was said first that white men could not work in the cane-fields in the Bundaberg district, and then it was urged that it would be impossible for them to labour in the cane- fields of the Mackay district. At the present time the contention of these people is that it is utterly impossible for white men to labour north of Townsville. But we should hesitate, upon such evidence, to say that even north of Townsville white men will not be able to successfully produce tropical products of all kinds.
– Why should they expend their efforts in the north when there are many other opportunities for them in other parts of the Commonwealth ?
– There would be if they could get on the land.
– That is the point that I was about to make. Perhaps the honorable and learned member will venture to tell the House how these men could improve their position. I am sure that he would be the last one to say that they go to the far north for amusement. They go there to earn a living by engaging in an honest industry - an agricultural industry of first importance to Australia.
– The honorable member and those who think with him are asking the public of Australia to offer artificial attractions to men to do unnatural things.
– I do not hold that these attractions are artificial. I am aware that the honorable member does not believe in the imposition of duties designed to give any assistance to the producer, although on one celebrated occasion he stated that a 15 per cent. duty was a fair thing.
– I said that it was when we had to collect our revenue through the Customs.
– Although I am not considered to be an out-and-out protectionist, I. am so far from being a revenue tariffist that I would prefer to impose such a duty on any commodity as would enable it to be locally produced. That is the position I have always taken up. I am no believer in the imposition of a duty merely as a means of obtaining revenue.
– I do not wish the honorable member to misquote me. What I said was that a revenue tariff of 15 per cent. was a fair compromise between two States such as Victoria and New South Wales, one of which had been accustomed to protection and the other to free-trade.
– I have never in the course of my political career tried to misrepresent any one, and I trust that I shall never do so. We may differ in our opinions, but I do not wish to attribute to the honorable and learned member that which he has not said. I think it will be admitted that the whole of the arguments of the honorable and learned member for Angas were based on the supposition that Queensland had herself forbidden the continuance of kanaka labour ; that in 1892 the Parliament of that State decreed that coloured labour should be continued for a period of only ten years. I sought to correct the honorable and learned member, but he said that his statement was made on the authority of Sir Edmund Barton. As a matter of fact, his contention is not correct. In 1892, the State Parliament passed an Act to further amend the Pacific Island Labourers Acts 1880-1885. The first three sections of that Act are as follows: -
The11th section of the Pacific Islanders Act of 1880 Amendment Act of 1885 which was thus repealed read as follows: -
After the Thirty-first day of December One thousand eight hundred and ninety no licence to introduce islanders shall be granted.
That provision was absolutely repealed by the Act of 1892, so that there was no limit to the introduction of Polynesians.
– Is it the policy of Queensland to go on importing Pacific Islanders ?
– I am speaking of the law. So far as the policy is concerned, in my opinion, a majority of the adults of Queensland has never at any time believed in the introduction of kanaka labour, though others hold the contrary opinion, and the State franchise did not permit the true ascertainment of the facts. I need not argue the point further to show that the honorable and learned member for Angas was incorrect in saying that in 1892 the Queensland Legislature had determined to end this traffic in ten years. The honorable member for Franklin asked if the Commonwealth policy has been a success, and what is the evidence of that success. No onecan view the results which have been made public from time to time without admitting the marvellous progress which that policy has caused. Figures have been quoted again and again, giving the production of sugar in white and in black plantations. Honorable members must know that every plantation is a black plantation in which any coloured man at all is employed, no matter how many white men may also be employed there. Consequently, the production by white labour is really greater than is shown by the returns. In 1902 the production of white plantations was 12,250 tons, and of black plantations 65,581 tons. These figures deal with Queensland alone; I am not giving figures for New South Wales, because the difference there is so slight that it is not worth disputing. In 3.903 the production of white plantations had nearly doubled, being 24,406 tons ; and the production of black plantations was 65,456 tons. In 1904, the production of white plantations was 39,404 tons, and of black plantations 305,616 tons. The estimated production for 1905 is 52,685 tons from white plantations, and 107,380 tons from black plantations. The ratio of progress is as two to one, comparing the white with the black plantations. Many honorable members seem tobe troubled by the fact that the production of the black plantations has increased, but there is no reason to be alarmed at that; 1902 was the most distressful year that the Commonwealth has experienced, and the producers of sugar suffered in common with the producers of other agricultural commodities. In that year the Commonwealth collected over £500,000 in grain duties - a state of affairs which every honorable member, no matter what his fiscal views, must have deplored. The increase in the production of the black plantations is only the increase naturally due to the following of the worst season which we have had for many years by a good season, but it has not been extraordinary. This is shown by the following figures, taken from the report of the Government Statistician on the sugar industry in 1904, which show that in 1900 the production of black plantations was 92,554 tons; in 1901, 120,558 tons; and in 1902, 76,726 tons. The year 1902 is frequently quoted, because it was practically the worst year on record during recent times.
– Mr. Chamberlain took the statistics of the year 1871 as his starting-point for similar reasons.
– I do not wish to follow that distinguished statesman in that respect. I desire to put before honorable members every fact that I know of for and against the proposal, because I do not think that any policy will last unless Parliament is genuinely convinced that it is the best one to adopt, and whatever is done will be worth nothing unless stability is guaranteed. I appeal to honorable members not to make the period less than the Government have proposed. In the life of a nation five years is as nothing, and the experiment has so far proved successful.
– Would the honorable member approve of an extension and the introduction of a sliding scale, as an indication that the bounty will not always be paid?
– We have insufficient data as yet to say whether it should or should not continue to be paid, and it will not betoo costly a thing, considering the magnitude of the issues involved, to continue the experiment for another five years. I think that the honorable and learned gentleman is one of those who would decline to bind a future Parliament.
– What is necessary is to indicate to the growers that the bounty is not to be perpetual.
– I do not contend that our legislation creates any vested interests on the part of the producers of sugar; but I hold the view that we should extend the period for the payment of the bounty for another five years, when I believe we shall have such information as will enable us to determine what policy should be adopted.
– We were told that four years ago.
– Five years is not a very long time. The excise question is complicated with that of the bounty. The white grower has at present to pay £1 on every ton of sugar that he produces.
– Why cannot we remove that burden?
– Because of the excise. The Government have adopted a certain policy, on theadvice of experts, and I am prepared to give my support to it.
– The bounty is paid out of the excise, and £1 a ton is the difference between the bounty and the excise.
– Why cannot the excise be reduced by that amount ?
– We do not ask for that. Originally my idea was to ask for another £1 ; but the present arrangement has been so successful that I think that a continuance of it for fiveyears is desirable. Thequestion is full of technicalities and difficulties, as honorable members who have looked into it must know, and no doubt the Bill can be better dealt with in Committee than on the second reading. But in order to make honorable members a.ware of some of the difficulties under which white men have to labour, I wish to read part of a report recently submitted by Dr. Maxwell to the State Parliament. This report was not prepared with a view to influencing the Federal Parliament, because it was thought that the Sugar Bounty Bill would have been passed before it could be presented to the State Parliament. His remarks show that, wherever subject labour is employed, it is considered by the employers that any white persons undertaking similar work should conform to the same conditions as are accepted by the coloured labourers. This is what Dr. Maxwell says on the subject - and I quote from the Brisbane Courier’s statement of his report, laid on the table of the Queensland Legislative Assembly on the 8th inst. : -
At the time that the Treasurer entered into the possession of the Central sugar mills, and the management was placed absolutely under the Comptroller of the Bureau of Central Sugar Mills, it was found that the conditions of living of the white workmen were not such as to induce white men to remain permanently in the service of the mills, neither were they calculated to promote the interests of the mills themselves. The provisions such as existed a year ago showed that hardly any practical distinction had been exercised between coloured labour and white labour, so faras the living conditions were concerned.
– Does the honorable member wish us to think that white men have sunk to the standard of living adopted by coloured men?
– No; but wherever subject labour is employed the white persons engaging in similar work find themselves offered the same conditions.
– The two cannot exist side by side.
– That is the point. We have been brought face to face with the necessity of doing something to prevent, white workers from being required to work under degrading conditions. Dr. Maxwell uses language quite as strong as that employed by the strongest advocates of the White Australia policy. He says-
The improved conditions provided for the welfare of the workmen have been only a short time in operation, and at certain mills are only coming into operation with the present crushing season. It is already apparent, however, that the men are ready to appreciate and to give practical evidence of appreciation for the provisions of comfort that have been and are now being made for them.
– Does that refer to house accommodation ?
– It refers to various kinds of accommodation which should be provided for men who are accustomed to the ordinary comforts of civilization. Dr.
Maxwell then indicates the beneficial effects that have been brought about by these changes. He says: -
It is also placed beyond any question that these provisions will be an excellent business investment, no less than a just and humane consideration for the men upon whose work the activity and success of the mills depend. Some time before the crushing season was to commence applications from the best class of workmen were coming, asking to be employed for the coming crushing season. The applicants are mostly men who are prepared and wish to go through the crushing season with the mills, and the mills are endeavouring to select such men as will do so. As an aid in such selections, instructions have been issued by the Comptroller to each mill that, in addition to the usual rates of wage, a bonus of 10 per cent. will be paid at the close of the crushing to all workmen who have gone through the crushing season from beginning to end.
There are six central mills in absolute possession of the Government, at all of which the alterations and improvements described have been carried out by the control. A total sum of something over£1,600 has been expended at the six mills solely for the purpose of providing increased well-being and better sanitary conditions for the workmen.
He shows that the present condition of affairs is satisfactory, and that there are now no complaints on the score of drunkenness, except in the case of one mill. I am very sorry to say that in some cases the men are subjected to the strongest temptations, because the licensing authorities have granted licences to hotels right alongside the mills. Under the circumstances, the men, who have to work in a tropical climate, cannot be altogether blamed if they occasionally go on the spree.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that licences are granted for hotels right alongside the mills ?
– Yes. In many cases that has been done. I quote from memory when I say that Dr. Maxwell on one occasion, when speaking at Beenleigh, said that the conditions under which the white men had to labour were worse than those to which the niggers in Louisiana had to submit. I do not wish to prejudice the minds of honorable members, but I contend that, in view of the facts I have mentioned, it must be conceded that we havethe best of reasons for advocating a policy of this kind. No one can accuse Dr. Maxwell of being a violent white labour advocate. Rightly or wrongly, both sides have accused him of being a partisan.
– That is the strongest recommendation he could have.
– I am sure that the honorable member will agree with me that we are endeavouring to remedy a serious social evil, and that we are performing a work of national importance. No State has benefited more than has Tasmania from the trade with Queensland.
– I know that Queensland is one of our best markets.
– I believe that most of the jam imported into Queensland comes from Tasmania. No State has been more ready than Queensland to purchase its commodities from other States. It is well known that a large amount of Victorian capital has been invested in Queensland, and the interests of the two States are therefore, to a large degree, mutual. That is as it should be, and Queensland no doubt derives great advantage from her close trade relationships with other States.
– But that is a matter quite apart from the sugar industry.
– The honorable member must admit that if South Australia produces one commodity and Queensland another, and the two States interchange them, mutual benefit must result. We contend that the sugar industry cannot be maintained without some such legislation as that now proposed, and I am pointing out that Queensland does not derive all the advantage from the payment of the bounty. We purchase the protected commodities of other States, and, in turn, supply them with our sugar. Therefore the advantages are mutual, instead of being all on the one side, as has been represented by the honorable and learned member for Angas.
– We cannot use Queensland sugarin Tasmania.
– I am quite aware of the position of the jam industry there, andI am entirely in accord with the honorable member in his suggestion that the drawback should be allowed to the extent of the full amount of duty paid on the sugar contained in jam intended for export. I have always been in favour of adopting that course.
– I intend to give the full amount of the drawback.
– I am pleased to hear it. I would remind the honorable member for Franklin that the jam manufacturers are not very badly off. They are protected by a duty of £14 per ton on jam, and, in view of the fact that sugar cannot form more than one-half of their manufactured product, they are not called upon to pay more than £3 duty upon the sugar contained in a ton of jam. I would not willingly do anything to retard any manufacturing or producing industry. I am as anxious as any one to see the fruit-growing industry prosper, and I would do everything I could to assist it. I trust that honorable members will look upon this question as one bearing not only upon our immediate future, but upon our history in the centuries to come. We are laying down a policy which will have a most marked influence in moulding our fate as a nation. I would point out that the advantages to be derived from the sugar bounty are not confined to Queensland. The bounty is payable in respect not only of cane sugar, but also of beet sugar, and as beet sugar could be grown in many parts of Australia, there is no reason why all the States should not derive some benefit from the bounty. The cane growers of Queensland have to compete against the products of tropical countries in which cheap labour is invariably employed. The protection afforded by the Tariff is not in itself sufficient to insure the employment of white labour on our plantations, because we have the black labourer in our midst, and the white labourer cannot possibly compete against him upon anything like even terms. I trust that the white workers in the cane fields will never be required to submit to the conditions of’ life which prevail among the coloured labourers. If we direct our best energies to bringing about a settlement of this great question upon fair economic conditions, we shall earn the warm approval of a majority of the people of the Commonwealth.
– I have always admitted that the sugar question is one of the most difficult with which we have to deal. Australia is not the only country which has experienced difficulties in connexion with the sugar industry. Even in England the question of the production and consumption of sugar has exercised the minds ofsome ofthe very best men. There are two points which we ought to carefully consider in connexion with this matter. The real objective was to insure that the sugar industry in Queensland shall be carried on by white labour. But we must not lose sight of the effect which this class of legislation has upon other industries. In spite of what has been said by the honorable member for Herbert and the honorable member for Wide Bay, I fail to see that the bounty is achieving the object for which it was granted. Undoubtedly that object was the practical abolition of black labour in the sugar plantations. Is the bounty having the desired effect? Dr. Maxwell, whose report appears to be a very fair one, points out very clearly that, whilst in the southern, or cooler portions of Queensland, the white labour employed upon the plantations is increasing, the black labour which it is displacing is simply being transferred to the northern parts of that State.
– The position is the reverse.
– According to the figures quoted by the honorable member for Kennedy, no decrease has taken place in the number of coloured aliens in Queensland. If anything, there has been a slight increase. My point is that though we may legislate to drive the kanakas, Chinese, and Japanese out of the sugar industry, we shall not benefit Queensland one iota if we merely force them into competition with some other class of labour.
– The legislation which this Parliament enacted in respect of the sugar industry has been the means of placing hundreds of families on the land, who would not otherwise have been settled there.
– That does not apply to the northern portions of Queensland. According to Dr. Maxwell’s report, there has been practically! no increase in the number of white settlers engaged in the production of sugar in the northern areas. Although there has been a considerable increase in the quantity of sugar produced by white labour during the years the bounty has been operative, there has actually been a larger increase in the output of sugar grown by black labour. Between 1902 and 1905 the increase in the production of sugar grown by white labour was 40,634 tons, arid during the same period the increase in the quantity produced by black labour was 41,799 tons.
– In 1901 there was more sugar produced by coloured labour than was produced this year.
– In his report Dr. Maxwell discusses one aspect of the case which we must consider. He says : -
The situation in the North includes a further condition and problem. So far these considerations have dealt with, first - White cane growers, producing with white labour, and earning bonus ; and second - White farmers producing with coloured labour, and not earning bonus. But a third class of cane growers exist, comprised of alien occupiers and growers, who are producing by the aid of alien labour, and this class is confined almost wholly to the localities of the Northern District.
There we have disclosed the real effect of the bounty system. Whilst we are driving the black labourers out of the temperate portions of Queensland, we are forcing them into the northern areas, where they are themselves becoming the producers ofsugar, and the employers of other aliens.
– There is a clause in the Bill which will stop that kind of thing.
– Is the Minister going to absolutely prevent the production of sugar by alien races ? If so, what will be the result? He will simply drive the kanakas out of the sugar industry, and they will enter into competition with white people in other occupations.
– He would only prevent them from earning the bounty.
– If a Syrian, a kanaka, or a Chinaman takes up land, and employs his own countrymen, he cannot obtain the bounty. If I were offered the choice, I would rather see a’ white man employing a Chinaman or kanaka than a black man employing a white man. If the number of aliens in Queensland is about stationary, or if it is increasing, I contend that our legislation is failing to accomplish the purpose for which it was enacted. Then again we have to consider the effect of the assistance we are granting to the sugar industry upon kindred industries. Some time ago I pointed out that the fruit industry is suffering very severely on account of the policy which we are adopting. But before dealing with that aspect of the question, I should like to direct special attention to the real cost in which that policy is involving this country. Last year some 30,000 tons of sugar were imported, upon which a revenue of £183,000 was collected. The excise paid upon 100,000 tons of Australian sugar was £300,000.
– There were 45,000 tons imported last year, and 12,000 tons have been imported during nine months of the present year.
– Those figures represent an importation of about 30,000 tons for each year. Altogether the policy which we have adopted costs the Commonwealth annually about £1,250,000. Admitting that the price of sugar was abnormally high during a portion of last year, it is quite safe tosay that the public of Australia have paid that amount to the sugar producers, but more particularly to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company to whom the great bulk of the money has gone. Now I have said that the total cost to Australia of the sugar bounty and the sugar excise and import duties imposed in connexion with this industry is about £1,250,000.
– But the Sugar Refining Company cannot touch the bounty.
– I do not wish to weary honorable members by quoting all the figures, but I have here a return, from a perusal of which honorable members will ascertain the enormous profits made by the Sugar Refining Company. I hold it to be the greatest monopoly in Australia. I believe that it is making more out of a primary industry in Australia than is any other monopoly in the Southern Hemisphere.
– And we shall not be able to get at it by means of the Anti-Trust Bill.
MrMcWILLIAMS.- If that Bill be passed, I sincerely hope that it will be general in its application. When I dealt with this question on a previous occasion, some honorable members held the opinion that the fruit-growing industry of Australia was not by any means as important as is the sugar industry; but they will probably be surprised to learn that, whilst the sugar-growing industry employs, according to Coghlan, about 5,540 persons-
– That is the registered number. There are14,522 white people employed in the sugar industry, and over 8.000 coloured labourers.
– There are considerably over 20,000 persons engaged in connexion with the fruit-growing industry of Tasmania, South Australia, and Victoria, so that the number ofpersons employed in each industry is practically the same. I have never taken up a position of antagonism to the sugar-growing industry of Queensland. My desire is that it shall progress, and be worked, as far as possible, by white labour; but I wish honorable members to assist me in an effort to bring into much closer union than at present exists the great natural products of the tropical parts of the Commonwealth and the great natural products of our temperate zone. At the present time, the amount paid by way of duty on sugar used in the manufacture of jam in Australia is practical ly equivalent to the value of the fruit so used. At the last Conference, certain figures were produced, which were checked by delegates from Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania, and they showed that the value of the product of an acre of quince trees was about £12, whilst the duty paid on sugar used in converting that output into preserves would be practically £24.
– Do these figures apply to a particular State?
– They apply chiefly to the three States producing these fruits. The value of the fruit obtained from an acre of plum trees is about £15, and to convert that fruit into preserves involves art expenditure of £19 by way of the duty on the sugar used. The value of apricots obtained from one acre is about £26, and the duty on the sugar used in converting that quantity into preserves is about £20. Again, the value of peaches obtained fromone acre is £25, and the sugar used in converting them into preserve bears duty to the extent of about £19. I would ask honorable members to seriously consider what these figures mean. They mean that when a man has planted an orchard, and waited four or five years for it to come into bearing, he has to pay £1 by way of duty before he can convert £1 worth of that which he produces into preserves.
– The position in Victoria and Tasmania was practically the same prior to the imposition of the Federal Tariff.
– No. Speaking subject to correction, I believe that a duty of £6 per ton was imposed on sugar by Victoria, but that there was a full rebate allowed on all sugar used in the production of jams for export, and a rebate of £3 per ton on the sugar used in preserves for home consumption. I obtained these figures from a gentleman connected with the trade in this State, and I believe them to be correct. In Tasmania, we allowed a full rebate of duty on all sugar used in the manufacture of jam for export, and as practically the whole of our preserves were exported, the sugar used by the jam manufacturers was virtually free of duty ; whilst their raw material was absolutely free. At the present time, we obtain a rebate of five-sixths of. the duty on sugar used in jams exported beyond Australia; but the full duty has to be paid on that used in jams consumed within the Commonwealth.
– But did not Tasmania have intercolonial duties operating against her prior to Federation ?
– Certainly. But our position has been greatly altered. If the land now devoted to fruit-growing were thrown into disuse, its capital value would not be worth more than from £3 to £5 per acre; £6 per acre would be a very high value to place upon it. That being so, the duty on sugar used to convert the produce of our orchards into jam is about three times as much as is the value of the land. No industry has ever been so heavily handicapped as the fruitgrowing industry is, by reason of the difficulties we are placing in its way.
– What was the Tasmanian duty on sugar ?
– £6 per ton, with a full rebate on the sugar used in manufacturing jam for export.
– So that in that respect Tasmania had practically free-trade.
– That is so.
– In other words, the foreigner got his jam made with duty-free sugar, while the sugar used in jam for home consumption bore a heavy duty?
– The quantity used locally was so small that I think the jammakers, as a rule, were allowed a full rebate.
– The quantity made for home consumption was so small that I do not think it was ever taken into account. In the fruit-growing district’s every man makes his own preserves. Nearly the whole of Tasmania’s output of jam is exported.
– Those who made jams for their own use received no rebate on the sugar used, so that the Tasmanian had to make his jam with dear sugar, while the foreigner was able to procure jam made with cheap sugar.
– My point is that Australia was then, as it is at present, a market for Tasmanian jam, and that we had a full rebate allowed on the sugar used in that exported to the other States. We sent outa large quantity to New South Wales, which, prior to Federation, offered us practically an open market. At the present time, however, we are allowed no rebate in respect of sugar used in jam sent out to the other States. In 1900, the price of sugar in Queensland was, roughly speaking, £13 per ton. The markets of the other States were closed to the Queensland product, so that it had to compete with the imported article. But, to-day, under Federation, Queensland has all the markets of Australia open to her, and yet the price of sugar produced there is about £18 per ton.
– What is Tasmania’s proportion of the bounty ?
– We lose about £23,000 per annum.
– Tasmania receives more by way of Excise duty than she pays in respect of the bounty.
– I have before me a statement issued on the 10th ultimo. by the Government Statistician of Tasmania, as to the probable effect of the proposed increase in the bounty to growers of sugar by white labour. In this he gives the following table showing -
– How could there be a loss from the bounty?
– This is the loss which Tasmania is suffering under the operation of the present duties and the bounty system.
– It is owing not to the bounty, or the Excise duty, but to the fact that no Inter-State duty is collected.
– That is so.
– It is only fair to point out that Tasmania can now send her jam to every partof Australia without having to pay duty on it
– The honorable member for Franklin can go too far in considering this question from the Tasmanian stand-point.
– The point I wish to make is that a primary industry is being unfairly handicapped. So far as the duty is concerned, it is unnecessary to point out that when 98 per cent. of the production of a State is exported, an import duty is of no value to the producers.
– Tasmania pays £5,000 towards the bounty, and gets £24,570 from the excise duty.
– To show the effect of our present policy on the consumers of sugar in Australia, let me quote the prices of sugar in England, where it is not produced, and in Australia, where it is produced. These are the Colonial Sugar Refining Company’s prices for1a, best granulated sugar. In 1900 the price of sugar in Australia was £15 5s. per ton, and in London £11 per ton; in 1901 the price in Australia was £16 10s., and in London £11 5s.; in 1902 the price in Australia was £15, and in London £8 15s. ; in 1903 the price in Australia was £1410s., and in London £9 5s. ; and in 1904 the price in Australia was £14 5s., and in London £10 5s. In January, 1905., there was a great increase in prices, owing to the comparativefailure of the world’s crop, and to something approaching a corner taking place, the price then being £17 in Australia, and £16 5s. in London. In August, however, prices had fallen to £15 in Australia, and £11 8s. in London. Those figures show that consumers and manufacturers in Australia pay from £4 to £5 a ton more for their sugar than is paid by consumers and manufacturers in England. The fact is that, having regardto the import and excise duties, and the bounty, Australia pays £1,250,000 a year for the maintenance of a White Australia. But, even if it be the right thing to give a bounty to one industry for the maintenance of this policy, another industry should not be crucified. The fruit industry employs, quite as many men as are employed in the sugar industry, and at present, while the latter is receiving a bounty, the former has to pay an enormous tribute to provide that bounty. I am opposed to the imposition of an excise duty on sugar. I do not think that there should be an excise duty on sugar any more than that there should be an excise duty on wool, wheat, butter, fruit, potatoes, or any other primary product. The excise on sugar was adopted in furtherance of the White Australia policy ; but I have shown that we have not secured the object which we have had in view. The number of coloured aliens in Queensland has not decreased, and in the northern districts the sugar industry is falling into the hands of aliens, who have been driven out of the southern districts. It is said that, because the production of sugar by white labour is increasing, we are securing a White Australia ; but in the northern districts of Queensland aliens are taking up land and cultivating it for the production of sugar, while other aliens have been driven from the sugar industry into other industries. The honorable member for Kennedy, who has given considerable attention to this subject, and as the representative of the northern portion of Queensland should know something about it, stated distinctly in this Chamber, a short time ago, that the number of aliens in Queensland is practically stationary, and the figures given by the honorable member for Wide Bay show that the number there to-day is practically the same as the number there four or five years ago.
– There has been a decrease of some hundreds.
– The number has fluctuated between 21,000 and 22,000 for very many years.
– It is down to about 20,000 now.
– The point I wish to emphasize is that the money which we are spending to secure a White Australia is being used merely to drive aliens from one part of Queensland to another or from one industryto another. Iask honorable members to consider if it is not possible to devise means to give the manufacturers of fruits and preserves an opportunity to obtain sugar at a lower price, and to remove the unfair handicap which is now placed on their industry.
– In dealing with this question, we have first to consider what has been the effect of the present legislation; how far the bounties have had the effect of discouraging the employment of coloured labour in the canefields. We have next to consider what would be the effect of adopting the proposals now before us, and whether they are the best for attaining the object which we have in view - the maintenance of a White Australia. I do not know that they are the best. The recent visit of honorable members to Queensland, at the invitation of the Government of the State, should be very helpful to us in dealing with the subject. We were treated with the utmost generosity by the State Government, and by both the advocates of coloured and the advocates of white labour, by whom we were flooded with information of the most conflicting character. We found that, with very few exceptions, the large planters think that without coloured labour their industry must come to an end, while those who use white labour - and they are chiefly the small farmers - assert that, with the continuation of the bounty, the industry will assuredly prosper. The difference between these two views is as pronounced as that between the views of free-traders and protectionists. The advocates of white labour can show that the white growers have increased from 1,521 in 1902 to 2,68:1 in 1905 - an increase, as stated by Dr. Maxwell, of 78 per cent, on the total number of cane-growers. On the other hand, the advocates of black labour can point out that, in spite of the bounty, there has been an increase in the acreage planted with black labour, and that the production of cane grown by black labour in 1904 was 71.38 per cent, of the whole crop, while there has been no diminution worth speaking of in the number of planters employing coloured labour. In fact, the number of planters employing black labour has increased. We have to consider why the process of substituting white for black labour has been so slowly carried out. Before I visited Queensland we were constantly being told, not by the planters of North Queensland, but by the press, that white labourers could not work in the cane-fields of Queensland. When we arrived in that State, however, we found that that cry had been abandoned. It was reported, not that white labourers could not do the work, but that reliable men could not be obtained.
– The honorable member is dealing with the whole of the fields, instead of differentiating between the far northern fields and those in the southern districts.
– I am speaking generally. Some of the southern planters say that they cannot obtain white labour, and I wish to show why they are not likely to do so. Very little patriotism was shown by the big planters. They appeared to me to be cold, calculating, and, in some instances, inhumane money-makers. They raised exactly the same cry that came from the American planters when it was proposed to abolish slavery, namely, that they could not possibly carry on -without slave labour. The kanaka is undoubtedly a slave in a modified degree. One planter stated that he had seen kanakas sold as chattels in bygone days.
– In what they called the “ blackbirding “ days.
– Yes; and those days were not so very long ago - they are not in the dim and distant past. At one place which the party visited, we found that the kanakas had to sleep in a large galvanized iron shed. They had to recline on shelves, which were destitute of mattresses, and they were, in fact, stowed away like so many bales of goods. I did not care to reflect upon what the conditions must be in that shed during the hotter months. They were bad enough when I was there.
– Were not the kanakas allowed to sleep in the open if they pleased ?
– No. I understand, however, that they prefer to build their own houses, and I must say that those I saw were very comfortable, because they were suited to the climatic conditions. Among the scores of kanakas questioned by myself and others, not one was found who did not wish to get back to his island home.. I find that the Queensland Government were under the impression that we were much misled with regard to the treatment meted out to the kanakas, and. I have here some’ ‘Correspondence from the Chief Secretary’s Department, containing a report from the Pacific Island branch of the Immigration Department, which reports that the kanakas are well treated, and that they have no difficulty in getting, back to their homes. ‘ The report does not disprove the representations made to us. We found that the kanakas sometimes experienced the greatest difficulty in returning to their homes; in other words, that the legislation of Queensland was very badly administered. The kanakas were allowed to come into the State under agreement, upon the expiry of which they were at liberty to go back to their homes or to re-engage for a. further term of service. When their time expired-, however, th’ey were often told that there was no ship. I am glad to say that the inspector admitted that a good deal of trouble had been experienced, but he contended that that was largely due to the kanakas, who, after agreeing to go. home, would suddenly re-engage for service. These time-expired kanakas are a. great menace to the people of Queensland.
– Owing to their conduct ?
– Yes. Their conduct has been very bad. I heard a great deal about the danger to be apprehended from the kanakas. I did not believe ali that was said, and, therefore, upon one occasion, I left the party, and, in company with a justice of the peace, whom I took with me as a witness, went out to obtain information that could be relied upon. I went out to see some families near Ingham, the heads of which had asserted that their children had been molested by time-expired kanakas. In the first house we visited we found eleven children, who, we were told, could not be sent” to school. Upon asking the reason, I was informed that they were afraid of being molested by kanakas.
– What was the justice of the peace doing whilst all that was going on ?
– He was sitting on the Bench, and performing his duty as best he could, but he was always overruled by the police magistrate, whom I afterwards interviewed. I asked what proof ;he parents could give that their children had been molested, and all they could tell me was that they had complained to the ‘police some little time before. I grant that that was not satisfactory evidence, because the parents might have allowed their fears to get the better of their judgment. Upon visiting the next residence, I put the same question, and had my attention directed to a little girl of eleven years, who had recently been interfered with by a kanaka, who had been sentenced to three months’ imprisonment. I was also informed that a similar case had occurred in the same family two or three weeks before. Although, in the latter case, the kanaka pleaded guilty, the magistrate, -who had every sympathy with the employers of black labour, merely told him that if he came there again he would be strung up, and ordered him to be deported. The father of the child told me that, after he had attended a banquet in the town, he dared not return home by himself, and that his wife had had to barricade her house, and have a gun always at hand, whilst her husband was away.
– Does the honorable member connect these matters with the Bill?
– Yes. My point is that if we deport the kanakas we shall not do away with the coloured labour evil - the coloured labour that will be substituted will be no great improvement.
– It will be worse.
– That is what some of the planters told us. They asked us why we did not get rid of the Hindoos and the Chinese, who were worse than the kanakas. I asked the magistrate previously referred to whether he had many cases of the kind described. He told me that he had been in the district three years, and had been called upon to deal with only forty of such cases. I expressed the opinion that that was a fairly big record, and he told me that far more offences were committed by whites. He admitted, however, that they were not of the character I have been describing. He admitted, further, that many of the parents of children who were molested would not give information to the police, on account of the stigma that would attach to their children if the cases were made public. He asked what we could expect, in view of the fact that the kanakas came to Queensland, as did the Hindoos and Chinese, without their wives. He asked us what we could expect to happen if a regiment of soldiers were stationed in the district without their wives. The treatment to which the kanakas are subjected is bad enough ; but I wish to direct the attention “of honorable members to the statements of Dr. Maxwell with regard to the treatment of white labourers on the plantations. He says -
He found the living and sleeping conditions arranged for white labourers in a really shocking state in many instances. The house provisions were inadequate, and in many cases the men had to sleep where they could. Where there was, sufficient house accommodation we found 40. and 50 men sleeping on canetops or bagasse, which very soon filled the whole place with vermin and uncleanliness.
Is it a matter for wonder that the planters cannot secure white labourers to work in the cane-fields when such conditions prevail ? One man told us that he had been in the employment of one of the leading planters in the Bundaberg district, who was reported on good authority to have made a profit of £30,000 or £35,000 during the previous season. According to this labourer’s statement, he, along with fifteen others, had had to live in a room 12 feet by 14 feet. The rations served out to the men did not include potatoes, which are almost a necessity to workers on the cane-fields. I do not know that the men were provided with any meat at all - at any rate, the quantity was very small. They were provided with trashy tea., sweetened with the refuse of the sugar. Yet the planters wonder why they cannot get reliable white workers. I was introduced to one planter, who had in his employment three boys from Townsville. They were the sons of poor people, and their ages ranged between sixteen and eighteen years. They were receiving 5s. per week, and had to work from early morning until late in the evening.
– What does all this go to show?
– It accounts for the difficulty experienced in obtaining white labour. The honorable member for Bland can bear me out when I say that we found able-bodied men working for 12s. 6d. per week and their keep.
– Have the men no unions up there?
– They had not at the time, but I am glad to say that the sugar-workers have since formed a union ; and I feel proud of the fact that they have elected me as an honorary member. I am sure that the honorable and learned member for Parkes does not approve of conditions such as I have been describihg. We found that the average wages for ploughmen were 25s. per week and their keep, and that £1 per week was the ordinary wage for other workers. In some exceptional cases the men were paid 30s. per week. When the men were sick, or could not work on account of wet weather, their wages were docked in proportion to the time they were idle. I asked the manager of one of the largest plantations, who told me that he could not obtain white labour, what he had done in that direction. He honestly admitted that he had done nothing, because black labour was available, and he had not bothered about getting white labourers. I asked him if it were true that 25s. per week and keep was the average wage for workers in the cane-fields of the North of Queensland, and he replied “ Yes. “ I then said, “ If I were out of work, and were physically qualified to work on the plantations, under the conditions I have quoted, and you were to offer me the wages which you are now paying, I would turn round to you and say,’ Mr. Robinson, I will see you damned first.’ “ I asked him if that would not be his answer to me if the positions were reversed, and he replied “Yes.”
Then, again, Mr. Shannon, of Mackay, one of the most reputable gentlemen whom we met during our trip, told me that there were planters there who declared that they would not employ white labour. They would rather let the industry perish than part with kanaka labour. These are the class of individuals to whom we are asked to extend a protection of £2 per ton. I am very sorry that I have not the power to move an amendment which would have the effect of placing the black planters upon the same footing as is the black planter outside of Australia.
– Cannot the honorable member move an amendment in the Sugar Excise Bill ?
– I should like to equalize the Excise and the import duties. If we are compelled to use sugar produced by black labour, I want to buy the sugar which is produced at the cheapest price. I am sorry that the Government have not seen fit to adopt the course which I have suggested. They maintain that the bounty is being paid for the purpose of maintaining a White Australia. Will it have that effect? Undoubtedly it will not.
Mr.Lee. - Not if the workers in the northern portions of Queensland are to be treated in the way that the honorable member has described.
– That treatment will continue. The Hindoo, I admit, is a little better paid than the kanakas. Whilst the planters will pay white men only£1 per week, time-expired kanakas are receiving 15s. per week in addition to medical attendance, and are being employed the whole year.
– Does the honorable member think that the payment of a bounty to sugar produced by white labour will assist to keep the blacks here?
– No. It is the protection which we extend to the industry under the Tariff that is keeping them here. I should have liked to move that the Excise duty be made the same as the import duty, and’ that the bounty be increased to £5.
– Why is the honorable member prevented from moving an amendment ?
– The Sugar Excise Bill is a money Bill, and, though an honorable member is at liberty to move for a reduction of the duty, he cannot move in the direction of increasing it. I admit that it is necessary to raise some revenue from sugar. If we cannot secure revenue from direct taxation, we must raise it by indirect means. I find that the duty upon imported sugar in 1902-3 was£502,93i, and that the Excise upon Australian sugar during the same period was £277,517, or, a total of £780,448 upon 176,328 tons.’ But in 1905 the duty collected upon 29,174 tons of imported sugar was £174,884, whilst the excise paid was £453,627, or a total of £628,511. ‘ The loss of revenue sustained between those years was £151,937- We cannot afford to make losses of that description, unless they are made up in some other direction. Either we must ‘ compel the States to increase their land taxation or we must devise some means of increasing the Customs revenue. I would further point out that, whereas in 1902 the bounty paid was £60,826, it had increased to £121,408 in 1904.
– That is an argument in favour of the increase of white growers.
– Undoubtedly. But, unfortunately, the legislation which is now proposed will not increase the number of white growers to any appreciable extent in the more northern districts. When the parliamentary party , visited the Cairns district, a deputation waited upon us, at which the principal speaker was. Mr. A. J. Draper, the chairman of directors of the Mulgrave Central Mill, and these are the words which he addressed to us: - “To hell with your legislation”; and he uttered them most energetically. He continued - “We want no protection, and no bonus. Give us free labour, and we will compete against the world.” I should like to have taken him at his word.
– Now he has registered as a white grower.
– That fact serves to show that the Government are unwise in submitting these proposals. The planters of Queensland are likely, to obtain all the coloured labour that they require for many years.
– The Chinese growers are increasing by leaps and bounds.
– Even if they are not, the tendency in all the States is to pass legislation which will have the effect of driving the Chinese out of the furniture and other trades. When that result has been accomplished, they will undoubtedly drift to the plantations of Northern Queensland.
– Does the honorable member advocate driving them out of the furniture trade?
– Certainly I do, because they are not only competing unfairly with’ the white workers, but they are evading all the laws which have been enacted for the protection of the latter. I believe in the Chinamen and the kanaka living under as happy conditions as do the white workers. It was the worst thing that ever happened to the kanaka when he was taken from his island home.
– The honorable member would prefer to have the Chinaman die of slow starvation.
– No; I would feed him well. I would say to him - “If you wish to see what our country is like, I am willing to extend to you the right hand of fellowship, and I expect you to do the same to me if I desire to visit your country.”
– Is that what was done in the case of the six hatters?
– In spite of the fact that it is against the law of Queensland to introduce kanakas, except by owners, of land for the purpose of engaging in tropical agriculture, Mr. Draper and his codirectors imported a large number of them. They had no intention whatever of employing these men in tropical agriculture, as they were not land-owners, and thev actually said to the white growers of cane: “ Before we will allow you to register for the bonus, you must pay the cost of importing these kanakas^.” The kanaka is engaged in a hundred occupations which are against the law of the land. That will continue to be the position, as long as we have the black men there. I found that but little attempt had been made to substitute white for coloured labour. When I asked individual planters what they had done, I was informed by some of them that they had done nothing, while others said that they had advertised in the local newspapers, but had found that white labour was not available. I cannot understand why thev should expect to find white labour available in that part of Queensland, when they have not got rid of even one kanaka.
– Then the honorable member thinks that the policy we have adopted has failed?
– It has practically failed, and that which we are now proposing will also fail in its object. If we pass this Bill we shall find five years hence that something still remains to be done. I believe that, when- the kanakas leave us, there will not be the slightest difficulty in obtaining all the white labour required for the cane-fields of the Commonwealth, provided that the planters go the right way to work. When another measure was under discussion, I pointed out that the Chillagoe Company advertised for 700 men at the moderate wage of 6s. per day, and had not the slightest difficulty in obtaining them. I do not think that 63. a day is a very high wage, because the work which the men have to do for the company is much harder than that which those employed in the cane-fields have to do. Whan the planters have got rid of the kanakas, and are willing to pay white men a fair wage, they will have no difficulty in finding all the white labour they require.
– Did the men required by the Chillagoe Company receive 6s. per day and their keep?
– No; and yet the company could have secured thousands more than they wanted; thousands of men went there in search of work. I believe that thousands will go to tr”» cane-fields when reasonable wages are offered, because the employment there is far more pleasant than the work at Chillagoe. Some of the men whom I saw on the occasion of the parliamentary visit to Queensland said that they had worked as navvies on railway lines, and also on the cane-fields^, and they were determined to remain on the latter.
– When was the honorable member there?
– At the best part of the year ; but I conversed with those who, for a very long time, had worked all the year round. Since my return I have received several extracts from North Queensland newspapers, which will be of interest to honorable members. The foi-, lowing is from the Townsville Herald, of June last : -
Yesterday morning three men waited upon the Townsville Police Magistrate, Mr. J. A. Boyce, with a request that he would devise some means of putting them in communication with any cultivators of sugar-cane who might be in want of white labourers for the approaching harvesting season. They stated to his Worship that several gangs of men could be formed in Townsville ready to engage in such work and to go wherever they might be wanted. Mr. Boyce, in reply, promised to make the men’s statement known as widely as possible, and in the meantime advised them to make application for work such as they desired to the local Superintendent of the Government Labour Bureau.
Here were three men, who, with gangs of others, were anxious to work in the canefields, but unable to learn of any planter who required white labour. The next paragraph sent to me is from the Planter. and it is of still greater importance. It is headed - “Available White Labour,” and it set forth that Mr. Lacaze, whose hospitality I had the pleasure of accepting has shown us a copy of a communication received by the local Police Magistrate from Mr. Young, of the Townsville Labour Bureau, in which is stated that there is plenty of white labour available in Townsville. Any one in want of labourers should communicate at once with Mr. Young. Mr. Lacaze assures us that eleven men procured by him through this source are giving the utmost satisfaction.
Mr. Lacaze is a successful planter, who has h’ad experience in Mauritius. He introduced’ us to his white workers, and stood aside whilst we conversed with them. They told us that they were thoroughly satisfied with their treatment, and that it was ‘a pleasure to work in the cane-fields. Then, in a telegraphic message from Brisbane, dated nth July, it- was stated! that-
Mr. G. Barber, M.L.A., has returned from the Bundaberg sugar district, and states that the opening of the various mills is tending to absorb most of the unemployed labour, although it looks as if some men will not get places.
– That is further south.
– That is so. The kanakas are available in the north, and, therefore, the planters there do not want white labour. According to a telegram from Brisbane, dated 15th June, and published in an Adelaide newspaper -
The Treasurer states that inquiries made as to the supply of labour for the cane-crushing season go to show that it is more than likely that there will be plenty of men available locally. In one or two cases mills have commenced to crush with the full complement of men. In many districts men were waiting in camp a month ago for the season to start.
I think that shows that there will not be much difficulty in obtaining men for the cane-fields of Queensland, if the planters go the right way to work. We saw white gangs doing well in the Isis district, where 60 per cent, of the cane was harvested by white labour.
-I could show the honorable member where 80 per cent. is grown and harvested by white labour.
– Quite so. I am satisfied that the remaining 40 per cent. would have been harvested in the same way but for the fact that some of the growers were opposed to white labour. Although the men received only 3s. 4d. per ton for cutting and loading - and that was the lowest price paid in Queensland - they earned £1 18s. per week, plus their rations and camp utensils. Reasonable wages were offered, and the planters found no difficultyin obtaining white men to do the work.
– In what latitude was this ?
– In the southern districts of Queensland. An experienced gang made £2 7s. per week, after deducting the cost of their rations. In the district represented by the honorable member for Herbert, we saw a white gang at work, and I never wish to meet a finer lot of fellows. The manager of the plantation blew a whistle, and the whole of the men paraded before the parliamentary party. They told us they were doing well; that they had no sickness ; that they liked the work, and that they were making 35s. per week, after paying for first-class “tucker.”
– That was down south ?
– It was in the tropical part of Queensland. They earned 35s. per week, after allowing for loss of time in respect of bad weather.
– How does the honorable member account for the disparity in the wages paid there?
– Just as I account for the disparity in the wages paid in the various cities. There are good and bad employers in Northern Queensland, just as there are in other parts of the Commonwealth.
– How does the honorable member account for men working for 12s. per week, when others can earn 25s. per week?.
– As a rule, those who work for 12s. 6d.per week are miserable individuals, so far as their mental capacity is concerned.
– Then, perhaps, the wage of 12s. per week in the cases to which the honorable member has referred, represented the true value of the labour?
– No. The man receiving 12s. 6d. per week was strong, and was admitted by his employer to be a hardworking fellow, whilst the three lads were strapping boys. At the Burdekin, I found that Mr. Gibson’s men were averaging £2 17s. per week, whilst Mr. Noack said that his men averaged £3 per week. He had a very heavy crop, and cheerfully paid that wage. As bearing on the value of white as against coloured labour, I wish to read the following letter addressed by Mr. F. Holmes, of the Proserpine, to a conference - “ In 1898 I had Chinamen cutting my cane, the cropaveraging about 37 tons to the acre, and they averaged one ton of cane per day, that was cutting and loading. In 1900 I had kanakas in a 20-ton to the acre crop, and they averaged1 ton 7 cwt. per man per day. In 1903 I had white men cutting and loading a 21 ton to the acre crop, and they averaged three tons each man per day. From this it will be seen that one white man was equal to two kanakas, or three Chinamen.” Evidence as to the efficiency of white labour could be multiplied, but it is needless.
And yet a kanaka receives 15s. per week, together with his keep and medical attendance ! Kanakas are kept in employment all the year round, whilst white men receive only 25s. or£1 per week. Is it any wonder that white men cannot be obtained in some of the sugar-growing districts? When they are treated as human beings there will be no difficulty in securing their services.
– The position is improving.
– Certainly, but no improvement has taken place in the quarters occupied by the Chinese. I am astounded that a Christian community should tolerate such quarters as we saw the Chinese occupying in Queensland.
– I felt the same in regard to Sussex-street, Sydney.
– I know that the street to which the honorable and learned member refers was in a bad state.
– But I do not believe in attributing all these faults to an Eastern people, when some of our own countrymen are as bad.
– I have never seen white men living in quarters so bad as are those occupied by some of the Chinese whom we saw in Queensland, nor have I known them to gamble and smoke opium in the way that the Chinese in the worst parts of Melbourne, Sydney, and other
States capitals do. I was disgusted to find that a large proportion of the storekeeping trade in Queensland was in the hands of aliens. Surely it cannot be denied that our own countrymen are capable of conducting such a business. We have heard a great deal about the climate.
– The honorable member is a free-trader?
– No; 1 am an out-and-out protectionist, but I would i.ot protect articles of food used by the poor which cannot be produced here. It is said that owing to the climate white men are incapable of working in the cane-fields of Northern Queensland. During the parliamentary tour, I attended several dances in the north, and I have never seen a healthier looking lot of young ladies than assembled at those gatherings. Then again, the gentlemen who attended the banquets and dinners to which we were invited would compare with those living in any other part of the Commonwealth. Dr. McDonald, of Geraldton, who has had many years’ experience of life in Northern Queensland, says that - the climate of North Queensland, correctly understood and intelligently handled, is not only the best, but absolutely the very best climate in the whole round world. . . . What has given rise to opinions freely expressed at times in political quarters and in the southern press that here in North Queensland the pioneers of an Australian Empire yet to be are doomed to toil in a tropical hell? An earthly paradise were surely nearer the mark. . . . It is not the climatic conditions, not the heat, moisture, nor peculiarity of sun rays, that sap the life of the men and women and children in tropical countries. The very conditions which favour biological development generally of what we may term useful plants and animals bring into existence also, and cultivate with the usual tropical munificence, the whole breed of parasites, great and small, which lie at the root of tropical disease.
Dr. Lloyd, of Mackay, who seems to be a great friend of the sugar-growers who employ coloured labour, asserts that the white race degenerates in the tropics.
– And yet the honorable member desires that Europeans shall be employed there.
– The conditions under which, according to Dr. Lloyd, the degeneration, has taken place can be altered. I saw no signs of degeneracy.
– Degeneracy is not brought about in one generation.
– Even in. England the race is degenerating. That is shown by the physique of those who offer themselves as’ recruits for the army.
– A Royal Commission, appointed to inquire into that alleged degeneration, said that there is no evidence of it.
– Half of those who offer as recruits have to be rejected, and many of those who are accepted have to be fed up and specially treated.
– Good men do not offer themselves.
– During the Boer war, good, bad, and indifferent men could be obtained; but the experience of the Army authorities was the same then.
– The honorable member makes his deductions from too little data, or too hurriedly.
– If it were in. order to go into the matter, I could show that that is not so. This is what Dr. Lloyd says -
Children whose parents have the means to house, feed, and clothe them adequately suffer little by comparison with those of the -poorer class. . . The houses are generally built of wood, often of iron. Few of those belonging to the poorer farmers or labouring men are ceiled, and in the greater part of the day they are little less than ovens.
Is it any wonder that the race is deteriorating under those conditions, and that white persons would be ill-advised to go to work there? I should not advise any working man to take his family to Queensland unless he were provided with a house fit to live in.
– The honorable member speaks as if the workmen were children, and had to be washed and dressed and put to bed. Why do they not provide these things for themselves?
– Because they have not the wherewithal. I did not find any one living in a poor house who would not like to live in a better one.
– The honorable member also spoke of men living under insanitary conditions. Every man can live healthily if he chooses to do so.
– The only accommodation provided for the men at one Queensland Central Mill was a room, in which fifty of them slept on cane tops and bagasse, which could not be kept free from vermin. I am glad to say that the Queensland Government have determined that this sort of thing shall not continue, and that Dr. Maxwell has been given authority to effect an alteration. The men themselves could do nothing. Hindoos, Chinamen, and Japanese are going to be a greater curse to Queensland than are the kanakas, and the employers of kanakas there asked us why we did not pass the same restrictive legislation in respect to other aliens as we have passed in regard to kanakas. The answer is that the kanakas are labourers who were indented under certain conditions, whereas the other aliens in Queensland have been permitted to come here unconditionally, and to exercise the right of citizens which we enjoy. I am not going to break that compact. I would be the last to say that we should drive out the Hindoos and Chinese, when they have been allowed to come in here as free men. The kanakas, however,, have been allowed in only under certain conditions. Some of the planters told us that if we got rid of the kanakas they would hand over their land to Hindoos and Chinese in preference to white men, and we saw a planta-tion of 6,000 acres which had been so handed over to Chinese, although white men had applied for it. My authority for that statement is a member of the Queensland Parliament, who is a sugargrower, and was anxious to obtain part of that land, though he did not apply for it; but he gave me the name of a gentleman who did apply for some of it, and was refused, being told by those who held it, “ We prefer to give it to the Chinamen. “ I am glad that there is a clause in the Bill preventing coloured persons from taking advantage of the bounty. But the measure will do very little to bring about a White Australia, so long as there are large areas of land in the hands of bitter opponents of that policy. The tendency is to impose oppressive conditions on the coloured: workers engaged in different occupations in the cities, and this is having the effect of driving them to Northern Queensland!, where they are doing well. But to secure that object we must do more than is proposed in the Bill. As was hinted by the honorable member for Franklin, the cane-growers are practically in the hands of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and it is useless to say that that company does not get part of the bounty, seeing that in six months it made £171,000 upon the sugar industry, after providing for the payment of interest and all other charges. Unless we do something with that company, the position of the sugar-grower will remain as bad as ever it was. If the business of refining sugar were in the hands of the Government, we should obtain sugar more cheaply, and the cane-growers would get better prices than they now receive. It is not satisfactory to know that in New South Wales the employers of black labour have increased from 115 in 1902 to 203 in the present year, while in Queensland they have increased from 975 to 1,100 in the same period. I admit that the employers of white labour have also increased - in New South Wales from 1,005 to 1,177, and in Queensland from 1,521 to 2,600 - _ but my main point is that the employers of coloured labour are increasing, and not decreasing, under our legislation. Clause 4 does something to remedy the neglect of the Queensland1 Government to perform its part in bringing about a White Australia, by preventing aliens from registering and claiming the bounty. I would, however, draw attention to the provision in respect to black labour unavoidably employed to save a crop. A stricter definition is required there.
– I am going to amend that provision to limit it to the saving of crops from fires or floods.
– The only other amendment I would like to see in the Bill would make the excise equal to the import duty ; but as that cannot be done now, I shall support the proposals of the Government. At the same time, I state clearly that, in my opinion, they will not accomplish the purpose for which they were introduced.
– Would the honorable member support the application of a sliding scale?
– No. If at the end of five years we have not made a much greater advance towards securing a White Australia, I hope that legislation of a different kind will be introduced. A sliding scale would operate in favour of the employers of coloured labour.
– If the employers of white labour could not carry on now without a bounty, thev will not be able to do so in the near future.
– Then the bounty must be perpetual.
– No. I regard this legislation as a mistake, because it will not do what its framers wish to do.
– Yet the honorable member is going to vote for it.
– I have no alternative. The Bill will do something. If it is not passed, nothing will be done.
– A sliding scale would bring the excise very near to the duty in time.
– It would not bring it up to the duty. If we desire to bring about a White Australia, no protection should be given to the employer of coloured labour. The Queensland Administration has been flouted in the past by the employment of coloured persons in occupations in which they were prohibited from engaging. Kanakas have beenemployed as coachmen and servants, and by so employing them the planters have systematically broken the law. While they have the coloured labour there, they will, as in the past, consistently break the law, and snap their fingers at the Government. I am glad that the Minister intends to allow aborigines to be employed. I would not do anything to interfere with the employment of the natives of the country of which we have taken possession. I have every sympathy with the cane-growers of Northern Queensland, who have shown a patriotic desire to carry out the wishes of the community, namely, that this Continent shall be- preserved as a home for the white races. Whilst there are many large landholders, who, backed up by that huge octopus, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, are bitterly opposed to the White Australia policy, and would have no hesitation in inflicting upon this fair country all the evils that have been introduced into South Africa and America-
– What does the honorable member know about the Colonial Sugar Refining Company?
– I know a good deal about their balance-sheet.
– The honorable member is making a most extraordinary statement. He implies that the company is willing to impose all sorts of evils upon the community for the sake of money.
– No. I say that the company is a huge octopus. I know that the main share of the profits derived from sugar-growing flows into the pockets of the company. Their balance-sheet shows that it has made £171,000 in six months.
– It has £2,000,000 of capital invested, and, I suppose, is entitled to interest on that.
– It has paid dividends which represent 10 per cent. upon its capital; it made more like 40 per cent. per annum.
– Nothing of the kind. It has paid no more than 10 per cent. for many years past, with the exception that last year it gave the shareholders a small bonus.
– No one can gather from the balance-sheets how much profit is made. The company has built up a sick and accident fund of £75,000 for its workers. Why does it not distribute that money amongst its employes, not onehalf of whom will ever derive much benefit from the fund?
– The honorable member does not know what he is talking about. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company has one of the most beneficent sick and accident funds in Australia.
– I believe in the workers having the money paid to them direct. No concern in Australia yields bigger profits than does the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and its operations are carried on very largely at the expense of the cane-growers. If the work of sugarrefining were in the hands of the Government, we should be able to give the people cheaper sugar, and pay the grower a better price for his cane. I hold that the worker in the cane-fields of Queensland will never get anything like a fair share of the profits derived from his labour until a radical alteration is made in the laws governing our primary industries.
– The proposal now before us is being viewed from a standpoint quite different from that assumed by honorable members when the bounties were first proposed. Honorable members were then almost unanimously of opinion that bounties should be provided for, in order to encourage the employment of white labour in the cane-fields. It is now urged that the bounties have not had the desired effect, and that, instead of the employment of white labour having been extended, the production of sugar by the employment of black labour has largely increased. The Government consider that it is necessary to increase the bounty in order to provide a wider margin of advantage for the employer of white labour. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has placed his finger upon the weak point in the whole situation. He has indicated that the conditions under which white men are required to work in the cane-fields of Queensland are such as should not be tolerated in any civilized community; and that until they are improved and better remuneration is offered, we cannot expect white labour to replace black labour to any appreciable extent. 1 hold many of those who are now very anxious to bring about the employment of white labour partly to blame for the present state of affairs. The people of Queensland in times gone by permitted the blacks to be treated as if they were slaves, and the honorable member for Hindmarsh has indicated that the conditions under which they have to Jive and work involve disgrace upon all those responsible for them. The cane-growers in New South Wales - especially those on the Clarence River - are not very much concerned about the bounty, so long as the Excise duty is done away with. The majority of the planters, however, are favorable to the continued payment of the bounty under existing conditions, and as their ideas are not incompatible with the principles of free-trade, I shall support the Bill. It will be impossible to bring about the growth of the cane by white labour unless the bounty is continued. Even under present conditions, we know that many of the planters prefer to employ black labour, and to pay the full amount of Excise duty, than to employ white labour, and to receive the bounty. Therefore, unless some change is made, there is no chance of any improvement being brought about. I thoroughly agree with the Government proposals, because I think, in view of all the circumstances, that they are the best that could be brought forward. _ The honorable member for Franklin pointed out that the jam manufacturers of Tasmania were labouring under a great disadvantage in being called upon to pay a duty of £6 per ton upon all the sugar used by them. But I would call his attention to the fact that there is nothing to prevent the manufacturers from buying imported sugar, and obtaining a refund of the whole amount of the duty paid in respect of the ‘sugar contents of the jam exported by them. I would also remind the honorable member that so far as the home market is concerned, the jam manufacturers of Tasmania are protected, by a duty which represents £14 per ton, and that they are now free to send their product into all the States. The honorable member laid great stress upon the fact that Queensland was deriving great benefit from the contributions which had to be paid by the other States towards the bounty. No doubt Queensland has reaped many benefits under Federation; but the other States have also had immense advantages conferred upon them. The Victorian manufacturers have had the ports of all the States thrown open to them, and Tasmania is able to send! her fruit and other products to Queensland, which is amongst the best of her customers, and to other States. I was very pleased to hear the remarks of the honorable member1, for” Hindmarsh, who has given honorable members the benefit of the valuable experience he gained during his recent visit to Northern Queensland. He has demonstrated clearly that sugar-growing cannot be carried on in Northern Queensland unless proper provision is made for the accommodation of white labourers. I shall support the second reading of the Bill.
– The question now under discussion affects Queensland to a greater degree than any other State. It must be recognised that the sugar industry is of the utmost importance, not only to Queensland, but to the whole Commonwealth. I am surprised to find honorable members who profess to favour a White Australia practically opposing’ the payment of this bounty to the white growers of sugar in Queensland. In other parts of the world the industry is conducted by black labour, and it is that fact which is responsible for the idea that white men cannot successfully engage in it. The majority of the employers of black labour in Queensland naturally desire a high duty to be imposed upon sugar, in order that thev may make larger profits. When the industry was started there large areas which were likely to prove suitable for the production of sugar) cane were secured by wealthy companies. These companies obtained the permission of the Government to indent black labour from the Pacific Islands. ‘ The introduction of the kanakas was prompted by a desire to secure cheap labour. At the present time the companies to which I have referred will not part with any of their land to white mein, except at exorbitant prices. They pay the kanakas whom they employ from £6 per year upwards, and the food which the latter receive would be a revelation to most people. Sweet potatoes are their principal article of diet. During the course of this debate frequent reference has been made to the jam industry. I contend that the jam manufacturers of the Southern States have nothing whatever to complain of. Prior to the establishment of the Federation there were several jam factories in Queensland, but since the Commonwealth Tariff came into operation they have been compelled to cease operations. If jam manufacturers wish to export their goods they have merely to use imported sugar, in order to secure a rebate of five-sixths of the amount paid by them. There is nothing to justify their complaints. I do not think that the fruit-grower has anything for which to thank the jam manufacturer. The jam factories purchase fruit at the very lowest possible price.
– The lower the sugar, the cheaper the jam.
– I do not think so. My experience is that commercial people study their own interests primarily. They do not care how the fruit-grower fares. The Government of Queensland have advanced £500,000 to central sugar mills under the Sugar Guarantee, Act, and there is no doubt that if the industry perishes the Government of that State will suffer. In the absence of the payment of a bounty to encourage the production of sugar by white labour, I feel convinced that the industry will be wiped out. To my mind it is a very singular fact that so far we have heard nothing from honorable members in reference to the duty. Some protectionists are quibbling over the payment of the bounty without assigning any reasons for their action. If Queensland could produce sufficient sugar to supply the requirements of the Commonwealth, and if an import duty of £6 per ton were operative the consumer would pay just as much for his, sugar as he is paying now. Yet honorable members quibble over the payment of the bounty. The fact that after four years’ experience of existing legislation one-third of the sugar crop of Queensland is grown by white labour, is in itself eloquent testimony to the success of the policy we have adopted. Some years ago an Act was passed, at the instance of Sir Samuel Griffith, providing that no more kanakas should be imported into Queensland. That legislation was enacted just prior to a general election.
After the election, however, fresh legislation was introduced, under which the prohibition upon kanakas was removed. Some of the sugar-planters in that State appear to think that the same thing will happen in connexion with Commonwealth legislation. Until the end of 1907 arrives, and they realize that the kanakas are to be deported to their homes, we shall continue to hear the cry that white men cannot successfully labour in the cane-fields. As a matter of fact, it has been repeatedly demonstrated that white men can do the work that is demanded of them. The truth is that when they go into the northern por-: tion, or even into the central districts of Queensland, they cannot secure employment. I know some men who wandered all over that State last year in search of employment in. the cane-fields, and who were offered only a miserable wage of from 12s. to 15s. per week. Another point is that the housing accommodation in some cases is unfit for human beings. I am sure that if reasonable rates of wages were offered, and fair accommodation were provided, no difficulty would be experienced in procuring white labour for the cane-fields of Northern Queensland. Under existing conditions there is no inducement for white workers to go there. Mining is carried on in some parts, but there are no sheep stations ; and as the wages offered by many planters are not by any means reasonable, white workers are not encouraged to seek employment there. Travelling during the rainy season is also very inconvenient, as rain falls for weeks almost continuously. Some of the planters declare that white workers are unreliable, and hard to find; but the truth is that these men will not pay fair wages, preferring rather to employ kanakas, Chinese, and other Asiatics. If the large estates surrounding the sugar mills were cut up, the way would be open to the employment of a number of white men; but at the present time the Company rules the country served by the tramways, and asks such exhorbitant rates for its land that it is practically impossible for white men to secure it. It has been asserted by the honorable member for New England that on the occasion of a recent visit to Queensland, he made the startling discovery that white men could not work in the cane-fields because the sun was vertical. That must have been news to most honorable members. It is only during December that the sun is vertical, and as the cane-cutting commences in the early part of June, and is concluded, at the latest, in November, the honorable member for New England will have to search for some other reason. It is those who have but little knowledge of the conditions prevailing in Queensland who are continually bringing forward absurd arguments against the employment of white labour in the cane-fields. As to the terrible climatic conditions of Northern Queensland, of which we hear so much, I am sure that those honorable members who visited that part of the Commonwealth some time ago will agree that the men and women whom they met there would compare favorably with those living in any other part of the Commonwealth. Personally, I prefer the climate of Queensland to that of Victoria. I do not wish to prolong the debate, because I feel that my fellow representatives of Queensland, as well as the honorable member for Hindmarsh and others, have placed the question in its true light before the House. I earnestly hope that the House will have some consideration for the interests of Queensland. Any one who has seen the black, brown, and brindle people living in many of the towns in Northern Queensland must recognise the virtue of the policy of a White Australia. The sooner we get rid of these coloured aliens the better for the Commonwealth. I am sure that no honorable member would care to have to associate with such a class. We have heard a great deal about the cleanly habits of the Japanese, but when they reach Queensland they do not appear to differ in any way from the Hindoos and other Asiatics who flock to the northern part of that State. As to the kanakas, I may say that during the parliamentary tour of inspection, I did not hear of one who, when questioned on the subject, said, that he had no desire to return to his island home. That being so, why should we attempt to keep them here. We can do nothing, so far as the Chinese and other Asiatics already in the Commonwealth are concerned ; it simply remains for us to see that the Immigration Restruction Act is vigorously administered, so that we may have no increase in their numbers. I trust that the House will favorably consider the position of Queensland, and agree to the passing of this Bill.
– I fully recognise the reasonableness of the des,ire of the House that this debate should end as soon as possible ; and I do not intend to make a very lengthy addition to it. But I feel that, as a free-trader, it is due to myself, and to those who sent me here, to offer some explanation of the reasons that prompt me to support this measure. I intend to support the second reading, in the hope and belief that certain amendments will be made which may, at all events, show the Queensland people who are at present enjoying the bounty that there is a limit to the time during which the Commonwealth will continue to pay such an enormous annual s.um by bonus and increased cost of sugar, in order, by artificial means, to maintain the “ white “ sugar industry. I recognise that this measure is one of the results of the policy of a “White Australia.” If the Commonwealth had not adopted that policy, and, in a measure, produced results detrimental to the sugar-growers of Queensland, I should be one of the first to oppose the Bill as being in many respects a protectionist proposal, which I, as a free-trader, could not support. But I think that, although the White Australia policy has necessitated this, measure, as well as the existing Act, the country should realize what this system is costing. It should also recognise the opinions of men who, we must admit, are capable, after collecting all the data to enable them to make a tolerably sound deduction, of judging the effect of the White Australia policy upon the Commonwealth. I find that, alt-hough the consumption of sugar in Australia varies sometimes to the extent of 100 per cent. - from 60,000 tons to 120,000 tons a year - an average of 100,000 tons may be taken as a fair one. It has, been very clearly shown by the honorable member for Franklin that the difference between the price of sugar in England and Australia averages about £4 per ton. If we take it that the average consumption of sugar in the Commonwealth is about 100,000 tons per annum, that means, from a free-trade point of view, that, as a people, we are deliberately paying £400,000 per annum in sugar alone in order to secure the policy of a White Australia. I am not going, at this stage, to carp at that policy, because, subject to very considerable modifications, that are obviously taking place in public opinion, it has become the policy of the Australian people. An honorable member of the Labour Party, in the course of a speech literally bristling with data and statistics bearing on the condition of the people of Queensland, made the notable confession this evening that after a lengthy visit to that State and a very careful investigation of the effect of the White Australia policy upon that part of the Commonwealth, he had reluctantly come to the conclusion that it - the White Australia policy - was practically a failure. These are two facts which the impartial public outside cannot afford to ignore. It is very natural that honorable members, who have almost violently advocated this policy, should continue to try to persuade themselves that they believe in its efficacy ; but a member of the Labour Party has made the confession, which I value very highly, that, in his opinion, it has practically proved a failure.
– I did not understand him to say that.
– That is quite compatible with his having said it. I heard him say it, and I remarked to those who sat near me : “ That is a very valuable admission,” and then he repeated it. If the facts that the Commonwealth is paying about £400,000 a year under this policy, and that this so-called method of “ preserving the purity “ of the race is proving a failure, are put together, the public will be able to estimate the desirability of continuing it. As an opponent of the more hysterical form of a White Australia policy, I am satisfied that the public is gradually becoming educated to the extreme character of the view taken by Parliament in 1901, and that in a few’ more years it will be satisfied that we have attempted an impossible ideal. It is all very well for legislators to aspire to ideal conditions, and to try to realize an Utopia in this corner of the world; but the practical man must ask himself whether these aspirations are possible of achievement. In my opinion, in a few years, it will be evident to the public of Australia, as it is already evident to the outside world, that we have attempted the impossible, and when that time arrives I shall have the satisfaction of being able to say that I foresaw this impossibility. As a free-trader, I have no hesitation in characterizing this legislation as protective, and on principle objectionable ; but I recognise that, as the policy which Parliament has adopted affects an important Queensland industry, it is only fair that the loss should be borne, on the principle of “ general average “ by the whole of the people of Australia. That has been done for the last five years ; but it is clear, from the testimony of Dr. Maxwell, whose opinion as a fair and impartial one, I have no reason to doubt, that our legislation has not yet had the effect which it was, intended to produce. He says that a renewal of the bounty for at least five years is necessary. I am hopeful that before the Bill leaves this House certain amendments will be made in it which will make it clear to the people of Queensland that we favour a limitation of the period for which the bounty will be paid, and that the time is coming when they must either demonstrate that they can do without it, or give up the attempt as a failure. The Minister, in calling for a report from Dr. Maxwell, evidently anticipated that, there was’ to be some limitation of the bounty ; because the first question he put to him was not, whether, in his opinion, it is necessary to indefinitely extend the bounty, but, for what further period, it appears necessary to extend it. That form of the question satisfies me that either the Government, whose mouthpiece the Minister was, or the Minister himself, recognises that the bounty is not to be a’ permanent buttress for the “white’ ‘ sugar industry. I shall deal with Dr. Maxwell’s answer presently. The honorable member for Gippsland delivered a short, but very practical speech, which I value very much because of the point of view from which- it was conceived. The honorable member is a protectionist - not an extreme or rabid one, but one who believes in the principle of giving State assistance to industries - and it was to be supposed that he would favorably regard a measure of- this sort. But I was pleased to find that he recognised that there is a danger in continuing such a bounty for an unlimited period, and that he went so far as to say that he would advocate its gradual reduction, with a view to ultimately abolishing it.
– Because it does not assist a Victorian industry.
– I do not think that that is a just observation. I am prepared to admit that there are many protectionist members in this House, some of them occupying very high positions, who do not seem to be capable of recognising the complaints of any industry outside Victoria ; but I acquit the honorable member for Gippsland of taking so selfish, parochial, and narrow a view. If proof were wanted for that statement, it is supplied in the fact that he is willing to continue a bounty for another period of years for the assistance of an industry in another State, which requires the people of Victoria to pay £4 per ton more for their sugar than they would otherwise have to pay. The honorable member made the suggestion that, if a sliding scale were applied, the bounty need not be limited to five years. In his opinion, the present arrangements should be continued for at least two or three years before the application of the sliding scale ; and he proposed that it should be then reduced by about 12 J per cent, per annum, which would involve the bounty not being finally abolished until eight years after the commencement of the sliding scale, or something like eleven years hence. The House is to be congratulated upon the very temperate, level-headed, and serious manner in which this subject has been discussed. I have remained in the Chamber the whole time, as I wished to hear all that could be said by what I may term the “ sugar members,” and because I felt that the representatives of Queensland must of necessity have given special care to the study of this subject. .They have, however, shown a fairly strong leaning towards the interests of their own State; and not one of them commented upon the enormous cost which the Commonwealth has to bear to give their State the advantage which it enjoys. They claim to be entitled to the bounty, because of the effect of the White Australia policy upon one of the industries of their State; but they did not even acknowledge the great cost which the bounty imposes on the other States. I think that we have heard too much to-day about the effect of this policy upon particular States. The honorable member for Franklin gave us a great deal of interesting information about the jam industry, and the effect of this legislation upon it, scarcely all of which was apropos. He, however, gave us the important information that the difference between the cost of sugar in England, and its cost in Australia ranges from £4 to £6 or £7 a ton. If he had quoted the prices ruling during the time when the European bounties were in operation, under which the manufacturers of England were able to secure European sugar for less than it cost in the countries of production, his figures would have been less useful ; but they covered a later period. -
I submit that this matter is simply one of cost. One could grow pine-apples or bananas in Iceland, or do anything else: by artificial means ; but would it pay to do so? Is it worth our while to persist in trying to carry on the sugar industry by white labour in competition with countries like Java, Fiji, and New Guinea, where cheap, coloured labour can be employed? I do not advocate the abandonment of the “ white “ sugar industry in Queensland; but every Australian citizen must sooner or later ask himself : “ How t long are we to continue to attempt to grow sugar with white labour at an expenditure in wages four or five times as large as h paid in the industry outside Australia?”
– That argument will apply all round.
– As sugar can be grown in Java, Fiji, and New Guinea, with cheap coloured labour, we must ask ourselves whether it is worth while to continue to pay nearly £400,000 a year to grow sugar in Australia with white labour. It is not as if we were deficient in other industries. Every one knows that this country is as yet in long clothes, so far as the development of industries is concerned. Without referring to the causes which have, in my opinion, operated to discourage the introduction: of capital and the carrying on of industries in this country, I have no hesitation in saying that we shall, in the future, when our legislature is less disposed to interfere with economic laws, be astonished at the output of the results of our industries, as compared with what we are doing at present. It is not as if we had exhausted the industries for which Australia is suited, and in which white labour can be appropriately employed. We are deliberately trying to provide employment for white labour in a portion of Australia, which, as President Roosevelt says, ought to be utilized by people of other nationalities than our own. The question we have to consider is whether we are going for generation after generation to carry on this industry under abnormal and unnatural conditions. Dr. Maxwell, towards the close of his report,, says -
The undertaking of substituting white for coloured labour, and of placing a tropical industry upon a basis of white production, constitutes a great experiment. The experiment, in its execution, traverses natural and economic conditions that have to be consulted at every step.
It is not for me to object to the people of Australia trying this experiment if they wish to do so; but, as practical men, we have to consider whether, on the ground of sentiment, we should authorize the expenditure of £400,000 per annum, in order to carry on an experiment which, on the face of it, appears unlikely to succeed. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has come to the conclusion that the experiment has failed. He has formed that opinion against his own inclination and aspirations, and in spite of his former convictions. I <have no feeling one way or the other; and it does not matter to me what the public decide to do, after I have made my protest, and have pointed out the industrial anomalies of the situation. Dr. Maxwell says that this is an experiment, and that it is merely a matter of cost. If honorable members will refer to his report they will find that in answer to question 2, Dr. Maxwell says: -
The purpose of the bonus is to substitute white for coloured labour, making it thus in the first place a matter of cost.
Then he goes on to quote some figures which, to my mind, demonstrate the futility of the experiments. He says that white labour can be obtained at, on the average, _£i 10s. 1 id. per week, whilst black labour, even in Australia, costs on the average only 14s. ijd. per week. Therefore white labour is more expensive than black labour by more than 100 per cent. A great deal has been said1 on the sentimental side of this question, about the wretched provision made for Europeans employed on the plantations. Honorable members have painted harrowing pictures, and have spoken of their fellow men as if they were a helpless lot of creatures, who had to be fed and put to bed by their employers; as if the conditions under which they slept and the sanitary conditions surrounding them” were matters in which they could not help themselves at all. I have yet to be convinced that a genuine British workman, whether of first, second, or third grade, will live in insanitary conditions, like the lowest class of Chinese, unless he chooses to do so.
– They have to do it or give way to the blackfellow.
– We were told by the honorable member for Hindmarsh that some of these men were receiving as much as 35s. per week, and it is absurd to ask us to believe that where a body of British workmen are grouped together in an industry of any kind with continuous . employment, they cannot afford enough out of even moderate wages to supplement in some way the accommodation supplied by their employers. Is it not farcical to attempt to appeal to our sympathies by telling us that these men have to sleep on bare boards? Have we not seen men on) selections sew bags together, and by filling them with ferns, make ai very respectable bed ? Have we not also seen them erect four posts, and by spreading a corn sack over the top, construct a very comfortable hammock?
– The conditions on the sugar plantations are quite different.
– The honorable member should not fight this question at $he sacrifice of reason and logic. He knows very well that corn sacks can be obtained for “a song “ in any part of Australia; and it is absurd to say that European workmen are subjected1 to incurable hardships bv being called upon to sleep on “bare boards.” Men who would put up with such conditions can be nothing more than hopeless idiots. I am using a practical argument, based on personal experience, and I say that the men referred to could improve their conditions, so far as bedding is concerned, by the expenditure of 6d. each. We are told that the men are required to live in the midst of insanitary surroundings. How can that state of affairs be brought about if the men take the trouble to look after themselves? Is it to be believed that fifty British workmen living together cannot obviate insanitary conditions by taking a little extra trouble as to how they conduct some small part of their daily life. The conditions in such circumstances depend to a verv large extent upon the men themselves. The more remote a man is from civilization, the easier it is for him to keep the place in which he eats and sleeps in a sanitary condition - as sweet and clean, indeed as any drawingroom in the city. This attempt to excite our sympathy upon a point which does not touch the question before the House, is an indication of a somewhat weak case. It has no real application to the issue before us, -because any one with any knowledge of practical life must know that the inconveniences and discomforts to which reference has been made, could easily be obviated.
– Then why does not the employer obviate them?
– Why do not the workmen help themselves?
– The accommodation provided forms part of their payment.
– All I suggest is that each of the men should spend 6d. on a gunny bag.
– Why should they?
– If the honorable member’s remark indicates the class of workmen that is employed on the canefields, I am not surprised at what we have been told as to the condition’s in which they live.
– I contend that the honorable and learned member is not putting the case fairly.
– I shall leave the House to judge for itself. The honorable member for Wide Bay made an exceedingly sensible speech, but I think even he has exaggerated the facts to which I have referred, though perhaps less than any other honorable member. He said that the bounty had proved a great success, and I should like to refer to Dr. Maxwell’s report, in order tosee whether that statement is borne out. Opinions differ considerably upon the question as to the results brought about in the more northern districts. We know that in the northern parts of New South Wales sugar-growing by means of white labour has been a success, without any bonus at all . As we move northwards, however, we find that the success or non-success of white labour is merely a question of degree. In the southern districts of Queensland no great difficulty has been experienced. In the middle districts, no doubt, a good deal of difference of opinion has existed as to the suitability of white labour for performing work in the cane-fields. But so far as the northerndistricts are concerned, I think it would be futile to attempt to grow sugar profitably by means of white labour; unless, of course, the Commonwealth is to go on paying bonuses to enable growers to pay un-economic wages.
– The people up there do not say so.
– No; and honorable members who come from there do not say so. I know that they are imbued with a theory to which they hold with the tenacity of bigots.
– There are bigots on both sides.
– I have not heard of any bigots on the other side of the White Australia question, so far as this House is concerned. I suppose that I am about as rigid a free-trader as any one in the Chamber; and yet I am willing to extend the period for the payment of the bounty so long as conditions are appended whichwill prevent false hopes from being raised in the minds of the people of Queensland. I should like to direct attention to two or three passages in Dr. Maxwell’s report, bearing upon the question whether or not the experiment which has been carried on during the last four years has proved successful in the northern portion of Queensland. I findthat in the northern district there were thirty-six growers in 1892, and only 124in 1905. With all the artificial aid given, there has been an increase of only eighty-eight growers in that district. I do not think that that indicates very great success. Dr. Maxwell says -
In the Northern District, the situation is otherwise. In that district settlement is sparse ; and, so far, has not been increased by the provisions in favour of white sugar production.Neither white people prepared to settle upon the land, nor white labour ready to work at the higher wage that the bonus would provide, are on the ground, in the same proportionate state of readiness that obtains in the Southern District.
He says further -
Therefore, if an increase of excise,with a corresponding increase of bonus, is made, it is likely to induce or force an immediate substitution of white for coloured production in those districts where the natural and economic conditions allow at once of the change.
He thereby differentiates between those districts in which the natural economic conditions would allow of the change being made and those which do not offer any such possibilities. Upon page 4 he says -
But a third class of cane-growers exists, comprised of alien occupiers and growers, who are producing by the aid of alien labour, and this class is confined almost wholly to the localities of the Northern District. The question essentially arises whether protection should be extended to this class of producers; and, if so, what proportion of the amount that is being given to those white farmers, who, although they have not yet adopted, are eligible to, and are in part preparing to adopt those conditions that are required to place the sugar industry upon a permanent white basis. . . . The undertaking of substituting white for coloured labour, and of placing a tropical industry upon a basis of white production, constitutes a great experiment. The experiment, in its execution, traverses natural and economic conditions that have to be consulted at every step.
I suppose that there is no man in Australia who combines a special knowledge of this industry with a thorough grasp of the economic and natural conditions of Queensland in a higher degree than does Dr. Maxwell. His testimony appears to confirm the opinion, which some of us have formed; that the production of sugar bywhite labour in certain latitudes of Queensland is an attempt to fly in the very teeth of nature. I shall be very glad if anything can be done to differentiate the northern portion of that State from the remainder. In his report, Dr. Maxwell gives some very valuable information, to which previous reference has not been made. In reply to the question put to him as to the period over which it was necessary to extend the bounty system, he says -
In view of the facts sets forth”, it is made apparent that sufficient data and results are not yet in our possession, enabling it to be said, with an approach to exactness, “ for what further period it appears necessary to extend the payment of bonus.” It, therefore, can only be advised that a further extension shall be adopted.
That statement seems to confirm the view which is entertained by the honorable member for Gippsland, that the period over which this Bill proposes to extend the bounty is not long enough. Though I am a ‘free-trader, I so clearly recognise the justice of continuing the bounty for a time - even though it has been pronounced a failure, by one member of the Labour Party, and even though Dr. Maxwell is doubtful as to whether it will ultimately succeed - that I am willing to support its extension for more than five years, provided that the amendment outlined by the honorable and learned member for Corinella be adopted. Under his proposal, a sliding scale would be introduced at the end of three years, and under that sliding scale the bounty would gradually diminish, until it absolutely disappeared. Dr. Maxwell points out -
It is the possibility of failure of the present measure of bonus to meet the difference in cost between coloured and white labour which is, in part, confirming the larger employers of_ wage earning labour in holding to the use of aliens.
That is a very important passage in his report. I do not know whether the Minister attaches as much importance to it as it deserves. Dr. Maxwell points out that, sp long as uncertainty exists in the minds of the cane-growers as to the period during which this assistance will continue to be given, they will” hold on to alien labour,” lest the bounty should be suddenly withdrawn. I ask those honorable members, who are more sanguine about the effect of this measure than I am, to note that particular passage. It is practically an intimation that if we limit the bounty to a further term of five years, without notifying the canegrowers whether or not it is likely to be again renewed, they will hesitate to part with black labour, lest at the end of that period they may find themselves in a similar position to that which they occupied before this Parliament legislated for the industry.
– Does not the honorable and learned member think that it is wise to limit the bounty to a further term of five years, seeing that the Braddon section of the Constitution will then terminate ?
– I do not. I am very much impressed with the argument of the honorable member for Gippsland1, that the existing state of things ought to be continued for two or three years longer, and that then the term of the bounty should be extended for a longer period than five years, but only on condition that each year it -is diminished. Some intimation of what is going to take place should be given to the cane-growers. I am quite satisfied that when the people of Australia realize what this experiment is costing, they will not consent to pay ^400,000 a year to continue it. I recognise the merit of the Bill, in view of the fact that the policy of a White Australia has been made the law of this country. Therefore, I am quite willing to extend the period during which the bounty shall be operative for eight or nine years, conditionally upon, the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella being adopted’. I know from experience the disappointment which usually follows the adoption of a sliding scale. I took a very great interest in politics in this State as far back as 1866, and I can remember when the protective policy of Victoria was introduced. I ‘recollect the arguments that were used by protectionists at that time, when the free-traders were a much more important section of the Victorian public than they are to-day. The latter argued that all the talk about protection Was merely intended to secure the insertion of the thin end of the wedge. ‘ They declared that if a protective policy were adopted by, Victoria, it would become a permanent institution. We know that it has continued in force from 1866 until the’ present time. The protection afforded to industries during that period has not been diminished; on the contrary, theyare crying out for more. I remember that a number of the, more plausible protectionists used to say : “ We ask for only a little assistance at first. You should treat us as you do a child which is endeavouring to walk. Hold us up for a little while, and withdraw your support gradually, and we shall be able to walk alone. Give us protection now, and we shall be perfectly satisfied in a few years to have it withdrawn.” What has been the result? Not only has no sliding scale been in existence, but from 1866 till the present time - a period of nearly forty years - the people of this. State have lived under a protective policy, and every year they have sought more protection. At the present time the industries of Victoria are crying out like puking children for “ assistance,” and threatening that they will be utterly ruined unless the duties upon the commodities they produce are increased. I recognise that, although we may provide in this measure that after a period of three years a sliding scale shall come into operation, under which the bounty payable upon the production of sugar grown by white labour will gradually diminish until it finally disappears, the composition of this House may be entirely changed before that time arrives. In that event, there will probably be a strong popularity-hunting attempt made to revert to the system which at present obtains. That, however, is not our concern. We must throw upon any Parliament, which chooses to adopt that course, the responsibility attaching to its action.
– I am very glad that I have been able to put in an appearance in the House before the close of the session, and I am particularly pleased to have an opportunity of saying a few words in support of this Bill. Of course, I cannot speak upon it with the same intimate knowledge and authority as can the Queensland representatives, who have grown up with the sugar industry, and who are thoroughly acquainted with its details. Whilst I was on duty in Queensland, in connexion with the Tariff Commission, I availed myself of the opportunity to make personal inquiries for my own guidance, and was particularly fortunate in being brought into communication with most of the leading State officials and others interested in the industry from whom I obtained much valuable information. I propose to place some of this before the House. I am one of those who believe that Queensland, as a State, has made more sacrifices for Federation than has any other State of the Union. Not only has she suffered a loss of revenue, but as one of the results of Inter-State free-trade, she has been the happy hunting-ground, so to speak, of commercial travellers and others, who have found there a very rich market for the disposal of the produce, wares, and merchandise of the Southern States. That is one of the results of Federation which was quite inevitable, and cannot be cavilled at; but since Queensland has suffered to such a large extent as the result of the establishment of the Commonwealth, her interests should be taken into consideration upon such a great occasion as this. The Federal Parliament has imposed upon Queensland the principle of a White Australia, in which I believe, and with which I am sure thebulk of honorable members are thoroughly in accord. That policy has undoubtedly involved a large expenditure of money; but when we entered upon it the price was calculated, and we haveto pay it. Such an immense revolution as the substitution of white for the coloured labour which existed in Queensland, could not be brought about except at some financial sacrifice. The honorable and learned member who has just resumed his seat has said that the difference between the price of sugar in England and Australia amounts to £4 per ton, the inference being that this has been brought about as the result of the bounty, and the difference between excise and import duties.
– I made this mistake - that, according to the right honorable member for Balaclava, I should have taken the average consumption at 170,000 tons a year instead of 100,000 tons.
– Assuming that the price thatwe have to pay for the policy of a White Australia is £400,000 per annum -and that is not admitted - it must be remembered that the Parliament could not have been asked to consent to a policy which would have involved the annihilation of the sugar-growing industry; that would have been an outrage upon the principles of common justice. If Australia wishes to be white, it is only reasonable that the people of the whole Commonwealth, and not merely those of Queensland, should pay for it. I believe that the bounty has helped to save the sugar-growing industry from complete destruction, and it has been something in the nature of a setoff to the sacrifices which Queensland has made for Federation. Although it has not completely compensated for those sacrifices, it has helped the State to keep going, and has given the people heart. The people of the Southern States have not been without their quid pro quo, since they have found in Queensland a ready market for their produce and industrial output - a market which would not have been available had the Inter-State barriers prevailed. The honorable and learned member for Parkes has quoted the honorable member for Hindmarsh as saying that he believed the policy of a White Australia, as embodied in the Sugar Excise Act, had been a failure.
– No; I said that it had not realized the anticipations of the framers of the Bill.
– I did not hear the speech made by the honorable member, but the honorable and learned member for Parkes asserted that he had declared that the White Australia policy had been a failure. The information which I collected in Queensland does not sustain that contention. I found that, as the result of the bounty system, the number of white cane-growers had increased from 2,610 in 1 901 to 3,422 in 1904. That does not bespeak failure. Then, again, I find that in 1902, 105,303 tons of white-grown cane were produced, whilst in 1904 the output jumped up to 379,884 tons.
– I presume that the honorable and learned member took care to ascertain the extent to which the output of black-grown sugar had increased?
– I am quoting these figures in order to show the result of the bounty.
– If it has increased the output of black-grown sugar in the same proportion, does that prove that it has been a success?
– The bounty could not have increased the output of blackgrown sugar ; but the £3 per ton difference between the Customs duty and the Excise duty has undoubtedly assisted it.
– Will the honorable and learned member tell us what has been the increase in the output of black-grown sugar?
– I am not here to account for the increase in that direction; but I have admitted that black-grown sugar must necessarily have increased, as the result of the difference between the Excise and the import duties. The point I wish to make, however, is that the bounty has not been responsible for that increase. In 1902, over £24,000 was paid away by way of bounty, whereas in 1904 the expenditure in this respect exceeded £85,000. This is another indication of the substantial increase that has occurred in the production of white-grown sugar.
– There has been a general increase in the output of both black and white-grown sugar.
– But no bounty has been paid on black-grown sugar. The following figures may serve to some extent to show what is the present position. In the No. 1 district - that is, the Cairns district - in 1904, 52350 tons of sugar were produced, of which only 4,001 tons were grown by white labour, and the bounty paid upon the latter amounted to £8,002. In the No. 2, or Mackay district, for the same year, 43,230 tons of sugar were produced, of which 19,310 tons were grown by white labour, and upon which £38,620 were paid by way of bonus. In the No. 3, or Bundaberg district, 47,881 tons of sugar were produced. Of this quantity, 15,527 tons were produced by white labour, and the bounty paid upon it amounted to £31,055. In the No. 4, or Southern district, 3,728 tons of sugar were produced. The whole output was grown by white labour, the bounty paid being £7,534. I should like to draw the attention of the House to two facts which stand out conspicuously in connexion with these figures. The first relates to the Southern, or Logan district, south of Brisbane, and including the sugar-growing area in New South Wales. In that district every ton of sugar produced was grown by white labour; and earned the bounty. The explanation which I have received for this is that it is owing to the existence of small farms, and to the more temperate climatic conditions that prevail there. There the farms do not exceed 15 acres of cane each. A third reason for this result is that theSouthern district is more accessible to white-paid labour. With a small area, the farmer, assisted by his family, does his own labour. He is not dependent upon hired labour; but if he wishes it he may obtain it more reasonably than can the planters in the north. The important point is the absence of coloured labour from the Southern district.
– Was there any coloured labour there prior to the granting of the bounty ?
– There was in the Queensland part of the district.
– And also in New South Wales.
– In the Northern district - that is to say, the Cairns district, in the extreme tropical north - the production of cane by white labour has not made any notable progress. This, I am informed, is due to the thinness of white settlement, and the relative scarcity of white labour. Both these facts are governed by the extreme tropical conditions that prevail. I have made a comparison between the two intermediate sugar-growing districts, namely, the Mackay, or No. 2 district, and the No. 3, or Bundaberg district. It will be seen from the figures I have quoted that the white-grown sugar in the Bundaberg district is only one-third of the total quantity produced there, whilst in the No. 2, or Mackay district, it comprises nearly onehalf of the total production there. It is, to say the least, singular that the Mackay district, which is much further north than Bundaberg, has a greater output of whitegrown sugar. The explanation is that in the No. 3district the plantations are, for the most part, large ones and are owned by planters who, in all cases, are employers of coloured labour. In the No. 2, or Mackay district, there are no large plantations, but farms only. These farms are very much larger than in the No. 4, or Logan district. The owners of the big plantations encourage the use of coloured labour.
– It is the small farmer who is the white-labour man.
– Apparently so. I asked why it is that coloured labour has persisted to a greater extent in some districts than in others, and the reply I received was that in the No. 3, or Bundaberg district, the influence of the holders of bigplantations is against the employment of white labour. In that district the climatic conditions suit the employment of white labour, being better than those of the No. 2, or Mackay district, which is further north, while sufficient white labour is available there. I was told by a State official, however, that last year the owners of one of the big plantations in this district sent agents to the No. 1, or Cairns district, to bring down Hindoos and other coloured men, although, at the time, there were a number of white men in the Bundaberg district who were unemployed, and were receiving Government rations. The coloured men were brought by steamer to Gladstone, and carried from there to Bundaberg by train. I was further assured that, if the planters offered better wages, provided better houses, and gave better conditions, they would obtain efficient and reliable white labour. The same authority told me that the planters who employ coloured labour in the Bundaberg district deserve no sympathy, because they are not forced to do so, since white labour is available. He said, however, that in the No. 1, or Cairns district, the planters deserve every consideration and sympathy, because of the real difficulties which they have to face. As a proof that white labour is available in the Bundaberg district, it was mentioned to me that four central sugar-mills controlled by the State Government there are earning the bounty. These mills are used by the small farmers, whilst the big plantations have their own mills, and employ coloured labour.
– Why do the big plantations employ coloured labour?
– Because they are owned by large capitalists, who do not engage in the work themselves, whereas the small man, who farms twenty-five or thirty acres engages in the actual work of the field, with members of his family, and employs white labour to assist him.
– The big plantations are trying to destroy the White Australia policy.
– It has been said that, if the big plantations are broken up into small farms, the farmers will be able to obtain sufficient white men for their purposes. There is no comparison between the difficulties under which white labour has to work in the No. 3, or Bundaberg district, and those under which it has to work in the No. 1, or Cairns district. I do not think that this Parliament will be able to solve the problem which confronts us in dealing with the Cairns district, though I believe that it is capable of solution, and that the solution will be found in the steady substitution of white for black labour, which is complete in the No. 4, or Logan district. This will be brought about by encouraging small farmers.
– The Mayor of Cairns told me that plenty of white men could be obtained there if proper wages were paid.
– In the No. 1, or Cairns, district, the population is very sparse, and each farm contains seventy acres, as against twenty-five in the southern districts. So far, white labour has not been largely used in the Cairns district. It is remarkable that the production of sugar by white labour is larger in the Mackay than in the Bundaberg district. That fact is evidence of the tendency for small holders to employ white labour. They work in the fields, and assist each other, keeping together groups of men to help them all the year round. What is wanted is a policy which will keep labour in these districts, instead of merely utilizing it for the season, and then turning it adrift to shift for itself during the remainder of the year. I find that, in Cairns, white men are paid £1 15s. 4d. a week; in Mackay,£1 9s. 11d. per week; and in Bundaberg, £1 7s. 10d. per week, the labourer keeping himself.
-Are those the wages for the season?
– Yes, for the season. The rates are not very high, seeing that the labourers keep themselves.
– The men could get better wages down south.
– Of course they could. I was informed by Dr. Maxwell, who is the great authority on the subject, that thirty-five acres of cane, giving an average yield of fifteen tons to the acre, at a value of £8 a ton, would return a farmer an annual income of £208. He thinks that necessity alone will bring about the subdivision of the large plantations, and that thatnecessity can be created by increasing the Excise duty. That opinion is the secret of his recommendation of the increase of the Excise duty, an experiment which he proposes should be extended over five years. From the facts which are embodied in his report - I had an interview with’ him before he wrote it - I think that we must regard this second period of five years only as an experimental, and not as a final, period. The effect of extending the bounty, however, will be to increase the number of white growers, and production by white labour, and probably the subdivision of the large plantations will be brought about by a higher Excise duty. The imposition of a higher excise is pro posed as a. mild pressure to bring about that subdivision. If it be brought about, I think that it will be possible to establish the white sugar industry in the Mackay and Bundaberg districts, as it has been established in the Logan district ; but I do not think any one can with safety indulge in predictions regarding the tropical Cairns district. We must be content to await developments, and to see the effect of our legislation. At first I was disposed to favorably consider the application of a sliding scale for the gradual reduction of the bounty ; but I do not think that we have sufficient data on which to frame such a scale. It is no use fixing in the dark the period when the bounty shall end. It may be that after five years we shall be able to say, “ The sugar-growers in the Mackay, Bundaberg, and Logan districts are no longer entitled to a bounty.” I do not say that that will happen, but the drift of events is in that direction. I should like to draw attention to the fact that the quality of the cane, and the number of tons required to produce a ton of sugar, varies in the four districts, so that the bounty is distributed unequally. In the No. 4, or Logan, district, and in New South Wales, the bounty amounts to 4s. per ton of cane, because ten tons of cane are required to give a ton of sugar. In the No. 3, or Bundaberg, district, the bounty is 4s. 4d. per ton of cane, because nine tons of cane are required to give a ton of sugar. In the No. 2, or Mackay, district, the bounty is 4s. 8d. per ton of cane, because eight and a half tons of cane arerequired to give a ton of sugar ; and in the No.1, or Cairns, district, the bounty is equal to 5s. per ton of cane. It has occurred to me to suggest to the House that it would be well to consider whether the amount of the bounty, instead of being regulated, as at present, by the sugar contents of the cane, should be regulated by the labour and climatic conditions of the districts.
– Has cultivation nothing to do with the sugar contents?
– No. I think it depends entirely on climatic conditions and the quality of the soil. There is a greater variation in the industrial conditions of the different districts than there is in the sugar contents of their cane, and a fair and just distribution of the bounty would pay regard to economic and industrial conditions. It might be found, if consideration were paid to that difference, that the grower in the Cairns district should receive twice as much bounty as the grower in the Logan district. I am not prepared to submit a scheme of distribution, but I think that a more equitable distribution could be arranged on the lines I suggest than that which takes place at present. I think we should extend the bounty for another five years, and, further, that we should increase the. Excise duty in order to offer some inducementtoemployers to substitute white for coloured labour. There is no guarantee that a further extension of the bounty will not be required in the case of No. 1 district ; but there is some hope that, at the end of five years, we shall be able to discontinue it so far as it applies to the southern districts.. It seems to me that the only hope for white labour in connexion with the sugar industry of Queensland lies in the gradual subdivision of the plantations, and closer settlement on. smaller holdings. I shall support the Bill, which, I think, will do an act of justice to Queensland and to the sugar planters who have established their plantations, under the protection of a State law, and in the just expectation that that law would not be altered to their irreparable injury, and in a way involving the confiscation of their estates.
– I was somewhat surprised to hear the honorable and learned member for Bendigo dilate upon the hardships of Queensland. I would remind him that other States have suffered just as much as Queensland has done from the exploitations of bagmen from Victoria. I was astonished to hear the honorable and learned member for Parkes, whom I have always regarded as a staunch free-trader, announce that he would support the Bill. As I have always endeavoured to act in accord with the views I have advocated, and I have been a staunch free-trader all through the piece, I shall oppose the Bill. I am aware that honorable members have practically made up their minds, and that no argument that I could bring forward would have any effect upon them. But, at the same time, I should like to point out that the bounty is, having the most disastrous effect on the revenues of some of the States. Tasmania has suffered very severely since Federation was established; but I have never made on her behalf any such piteous appeal as that which has emanated from the representatives of Queensland. We should be quite satisfied if the other States, and particularly Queensland, refrained from robbing us, and requiring us, to act the part of the camel and bear their burdens. Heavy financial loss is being inflicted upon some of the States, whilst the consumers of sugar are reaping no benefit. It is well known that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company has been making enormous profits, which itis afraid to disclose. Only recently the company offered a rebate of 5s. per ton to a large consumer of Tasmania if he would take their product instead of importing his sugar and paying the duty of £6 per ton upon 4,000 or 5,000 tons per annum. That arrangement has, resulted in a considerable loss of revenue to Tasmania. By legislation of this kind we are bolstering up persons who do not deserve our support, and are enabling them to make large profits at the expense of the poor. I do not think it is fair to drag in the White Australia question in order to secure the passing of this measure. I look upon the White Australia cry as sheer nonsense, in view of the number of coloured aliens we already have amongst us. I regard this proposal as not only wrong, but an actual robbery, and I shall certainly divide the House upon the motion for the second reading of the Bill.
Question - That the Bill be read a second time - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 34
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause 1 agreed to.
Clause 2 (Definitions).
– I notice that the definition of “black labour” includes all forms of coloured labour, whether halfcaste or full blood. I think that the definition should, as in the Act of 1901, be limited to black labour brought into Australia under contract. If the Minister will not accept an amendment in that direction, I recognise that it will be useless to press the point.
– That would defeat the whole purpose of the Bill.
– I quite agree with the honorable and learned member for Angas, but I recognise that it is useless to press the matter, in view of the large majority in favour of the Bill.
– I merely wish to point out that if the amendment suggested by the honorable and learned member for Angas were adopted, the sugar produced by every class of alien labour would be entitled to participate in the bounty. I am sure that he does not desire that.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 -
After the first day of January one thousand nine hundred and seven, there shall be paid out of the consolidated revenue fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly to every grower of white grown cane or beet within the Commonwealth, a bounty at the rates provided by this Act on all such cane or beet delivered for manufacture after that date, and before the first day of January one thousand nine hundred and twelve.
– In the absence of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, I move the amendment of which he has given notice. As honorable members have already discussed the principle involved, there is no necessity for me to further explain the object of the proposal. The only question at issue is as to whether the bounty shall be continued for five years, and then abruptly withdrawn, or be further renewed, or whether it shall be made to automatically vanish by means of a sliding-scale. Of course all who desire that the bounty shall cease at some time or other will support the adoption of a sliding-scale.
– Not necessarily.
– In my opinion it would be utterly impossible for us to abruptly discontinue the bounty. The only way in which it can be terminated without affecting a serious disturbance in trade conditions is by means of a sliding-scale. I ask honorable members not to vote against the amendment, because they may not happen to agree with the suggestion of the honorable and learned member for Corinella as to the form which the slidingscale should take. That is a matter which we can settle after we have decided the principle of the amendment. I move -
That after the word “rates,” line 6, the words “ on the sliding scale “ be inserted.
– I intend to support the amendment. Whilst I was in the north of Queensland with the Federal parliamentary party, if there was one thing more than another of which I became convinced, it was that the employers of black labour had made no serious attempt to adapt themselves to the altered conditions which would obtain at the end of the bounty period. Most of them seemed to believe that the legislation of this Parliament would be reversed. Whilst I am prepared to extend to those engaged in the sugar industry liberal consideration, I hold that now is our opportunity to finallydetermine whether the bounty system is to be continued indefinitely. In the interests of the cane-growers, we should indicate the nature of the treatment they are likely to receive at our hands when the term covered by the bounty expires. I agree thatwe ought to adopt the principle of a sliding-scale, and for that reason I shall support the amendment. If the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Corinella be approved, we shall then be able to consider the particular method by which a sliding-scale may be brought into operation.
– I trust that the Committee will not agree to the amendment. I know that some honorable members entertain the view that if we do not adopt a sliding-scale, it will be impossible for us to terminate the bounty. They are altogether forgetful of the fact that closely allied with the bounty system is the payment of an excise duty by the white growers in excess of that bounty. There is no other instance in the world where a bounty is paid out of the excise levied upon the individual. I venture to say that the amendment would have the effect of restoring the old state of things under which the white grower was compelled to compete directly with coloured labour. Of the 70,000 adult aliens in Australia, a large proportion will always be found upon the cane-fields of Queensland. Why should we endeavour to deceive ourselves upon that point? Why should we not say to the white growers of sugar there, “ We will not do you an injustice by asking you to compete against that class of labour, except upon the terms which have been outlined by experts who are absolutely free from political bias”? Dr. Maxwell declares that the white grower derives no advantage from the bounty if he pays his labourers a reasonable wage.
– He also says that the uncertainty which at present exists as to the term during which the bounty will operate induces the growers to hold on to black labour.
– The amendment, if adopted, will increase that uncertainty. No proposal has been made to reduce the excise at present levied upon Australian sugar. If the bounty were entirely removed there would remain an excise which the white growers would have to pay without deriving any advantage whatever in return.
– We can reduce the excise-
– If we do that, we shall derive no revenue whatever from Australiangrown sugar
– If we do not adopt a sliding scale, when, will the bounty cease to operate?
– Need I remind honorable members that we have already enacted legislation which prohibits aliens from entering the Commonwealth?
– When will the bounty system terminate?
– It will terminate when the alien population dies out, and I trust that it will terminate peacefully. There is no section of this House which desires to continue the bounty indefinitely. That being so, there is a period at which it must terminate. That period, however, is not at the end of five years. I appeal to the honorable and learned member for Boothby not to press the amendment.
– The amendment proposes to extend the bounty for seven years.
– As the honorable and learned member for Bendigo pointed out, we are proceeding on insufficient data. The white growers expect the bounty to be extended over a further period of five years, and I appeal to honorable members not to agree to the introduction of a slidingscale.
An Honorable Member. - What about the abolition of the Excise duty?
– I shall be prepared to debate that question when it arises. If the Excise is to be removed, the Commonwealth will be deprived of revenue, which it would be allowed to collect if the bounty were continued.
– I think that the honorable member for Wide Bay has quite overlooked the fact that we started by proposing a protective duty of £6 per ton on sugar. At that time Queensland was over-supplied, and the records show that the imposition of the duty led immediately to an increase in the price of sugar grown in that State. That increased price had to be borne by some one, and it is clear that the only persons who could pay it were the white people living in the other States. This system has continued for some years. Because we confused the question with that of the employment of black labour, we made the mistake of deciding to pay a bounty to white growers of sugar, and so to offer an inducement to persons unsuited for the work to enter into competition with the alien races who were already engaged in the industry. I should have thought that the House would recognise that it is a bad policy to induce white people to enter an industry which experience has shown can be more fitly carried on by black labour. I refer more particularly to the experience of the United States. Mr. Hamilton, who was at the time one of the great apostles of protection in America, pointed out that a country could not enter into a policy more foolish than is that of seeking to persuade its white inhabitants to take up an industry which flourishes only under the poorest conditions of labour.
– Order ! The question is whether there shall be a slidingscale.
– As the result of our fixing the import dutv at £6 per ton. and imposing an Excise duty of only £3 per ton, we have encouraged the growth of sugar by black labour. We have given it an advantage of £3 per ton as compared with imported _ sugar, and this difference in favour of alien workers in Australia has had to be made good by the white people of the Commonwealth. It is now proposed to increase the Excise to £4 per ton, so that we shall still give the growers of sugar by black labour an advantage of £2 per ton as compared with the imported article, which the people of the other States will have to provide.
– We thus encourage black labour.
– Most certainly we do. Whilst on the one hand we have passed an Act for the abolition of black labour, we are, on the other hand, encouraging it by taxing the white people to the extent of £2 per ton on sugar grown by coloured aliens in Australia. Why should we be asked to pay a bounty to the holders of some of the richest land in the Commonwealth? It would be most unjust to continue the bounty for one day longer than is absolutely necessary. We were asked, in the first place, to allow it to be paid up to 1907, when the deportation of kanakas would commence under the Pacific Island Labourers Act. But, although that law has not been repealed, the Government are now urging the Committee to continue the bounty for a further period of five years.
Mr.Fisher. - What would the honorable member give by way of a protective duty to the white labour employed in the canefields?
– Why should we single out any one section of the community for especial treatment? We are told that the competition still continues, but the difference is that it is now between the holders of some of the richest land, and the owners of some of the poorest. The honorable member for Wide Bay has simply asserted that as the growers of sugar by white labour have to find a market in competition with others, they should be assisted. The assistance which he proposes to give them will have to be paid for by the other white inhabitants of Australia.
– The honorable and learned member might apply that argument to every protective proposal.
– So I do.
– It is the usual free-trade argument.
– Surely the honorable member is aware that it is anticipated that this year £151,000 will be paid by way of bounty to the white sugar-growers. That will be made up by the contributions of the rest of the people of Australia.
– Would the honorable and learned member compel the grower of sugar by white labour to pay an Excise duty of £4 per ton - the same duty as the black grower has to pay?
– As he is the owner of some of the richest land in Australia, I would compel him to pay exactly that amount of excise that he might fairly be called upon to pay.
– The same as the black grower ?
– Once these coloured men have come here we should not treat them differently from white men. There is sound reason for adopting the proposed sliding scale; but, personally, I would favour the abolition of the bounty forthwith. Even with the payment of this bounty the competition between the white and the black grower will continue. We are asked to continue the payment of a bounty to the owners of some of the richest land in Australia. What would be said if the holders of some of the rich land in the neighbourhood of Tower Hill, or on the Murray, demanded a bounty ?
– They secure a bounty in the shape of special railway freights.
– Who pays the fax?
– The people to whom the honorable and learned member has referred.
– Incidentally, I might point out, as is shown by a letter appearing in to-day’s newspapers, that in Canada, even on some of the private lines, the rates are very much lower than they are here. But if the holders of rich land, such as that at Warrnambool, Kyneton, or on the Murray, were to ask for a bounty, or, being in possession of a bounty, were to object to its discontinuance by means of a sliding scale, they would be told that the sooner it was taken off the better, as they were not entitled to it at all. That should be our answer to the sugar-growers.
– A fair compromise has been offered.
– Yes. If the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Corinella is adopted, the white growers will receive the full bounty for a period of seven years in all, at the end of which time it will be reduced by 20 per cent. for each of five succeeding years.
– Would the honorable and learned member leave the excise at £4?
– I should like to see the excise on black-grown sugar made equal to the import duty.
– We cannot do that.
– No, because we cannot increase any tax. The Committee should recognise what a heavy tax is now being borne by the people of Australia to provide this bounty. It is now proposed to make the excise £4 a ton, and to return the white growers £3, leaving them a protection of £5. But surely it cannot be soundly argued that that arrangement should continue in force for ever? Honorable members should unite to put an end to it as soon as they can. There is, no mysterious fund out of which the bounty can be provided. The people have to pay it, and the sooner we remove this burden from them, the better it will be for every one.
– I shall oppose the amendment, because I think that it will have an effect opposite to that intended, and that directly the sliding scale comes into operation, and the bounty is reduced, . we shall commence to get back to the old conditions.
– Then, is the bounty to be permanent?
– I contend that we are going on altogether wrong lines, and that at the end of five years we shall have to take a different course to secure the maintenance of a White Australia. Our legislation, so far, has. not displaced a single coloured labourer, although it was intended to substitute white for black labour in the sugar industry. At the end of another five years, however, the Government will have had more experience. They will have seen the effect of the deportation of the kanakas, and they will know how the land has been dealt with. I shall not be a party to the extension of the bounty then, unless it can be seen that it is doing what it was introduced to do. It certainly was not given merely to encourage the production of sugar in Queensland, because it was believed that the sugar industry could hold its own. I am sorry that we cannot remove all protection from black labour, by making the Excise duty on the sugar it produces, equal to the import duty, which would compel it to face the competition of the world. If we cannot produce sugar except with the help of black labour, why not obtain our sugar from abroad, so that the poor people, who. use large quantities of it, may get it as cheaply as possible, and there may be no excuse at all for the employment of black labour in Australia.
– The honorable member for Wide Bay has told us that this bounty is to be continued practically for ever. We were not told that in the debate on the original Bill. When the original Bill was under discussion, we were told by the representatives of Queensland that at the end of 1.907 no bounty would be required. If the bounty is to go on continuously, the constituencies should be consulted on the question. I have never known a bounty which was not very difficult to get rid of, and I think that the proposition that this bounty should be abolished by a sliding scale a very fair one. We have been told a hundred times to-day that the bounty is paid out of the Excise on sugar. We imposed a Customs duty of £6 per ton upon sugar for the purpose of protecting the local producers. It is idle to say that the bounty is paid out of the Extcise duty, whilst the growers are getting the full benefit of the Customs duty of £6 per ton. I am strongly in favour of increasing the Excise duty to the full amount of £6, so far as black-grown sugar is concerned, and of remitting it altogether in the case of white-grown sugar. We are told that we cannot increase the Excise duty,, but I think that, if a majority of honorable, members are in favour of adopting that course, the Bill should be amended in accordance with their wishes. The Government would then be compelled to bring down another measure. I shall certainly vote in favour of a sliding scale, and I shall support any honorable member who proposes to increase the Excise cm blackgrown sugar.
– ‘i shall support the sliding s;ale. I was not a member of this Parliament when the present Act was passed, with the object of securing the substitution of white for black labour on the sugar plantations. We know very well that the bounty has not brought’ about the results expected, and I want to know for how long the people of Australia are to be taxed in order to bring about the employment of white labour in a black man’s country? We shall never succeed in carrying oh the sugar industry by means
Of white labour until we can change the climate of Northern Queensland. The white man can labour with advantage only in the temperate zone, whereas the sugar industry belongs to the tropics. The representatives of Queensland seem to desire that the bounty should go on for ever.
– New South Wales has had her fair share of the bounty.
– I am aware of that. But I am consistent in opposing the bounty system altogether. The sugar-growers of New South Wales, who have never employed black labour to any extent worth mentioning, are not entitled to the bounty, and, if I had my way, I should entirely abolish the present system. We are impoverishing the great majority of the people, and disregarding economic laws, in order to give employment to a few white men in the sugar industry.
– I was surprised to hear the honorable member for New England, who professes to regard this Bill as an outrageous measure, express his intention to vote in favour of the sliding scale. I was still more astonished to find that extreme free-trader, the honorable and learned member for Parkes, voting for the second reading of a Bill the principle of which he has so strongly denounced. I am utterly unable to reconcile the attitude of some honorable members with my knowledge of their opinions, except on the theory that some time ago the free-trade flag was hauled down at Geelong, never to be hoisted again. If the honorable member for New England wishes to be consistent, he should not support the sliding scale, but should seek to bring about the termination of the bounty period some years earlier than is proposed. I object to the sliding scale mainly because I think that we are not justified in limiting the action of future Parliaments. If we adopt the proposal for the sliding scale, we shall pledge the word and credit of Australia for an unduly long period. Those interested in the sugar industry, and those who might enter upon it after this Bill became law, would have reason to complain if any alteration were made before the end of the period fixed under the sliding scale proposal. I am opposed to the Bill and to the clause now under discussion, and I am particularly hostile to the sliding scale. The hands of Parliament will be tied to a certain extent if the clause be passed, but that does, not make the other proposals any more acceptable to me. On the contrary, the extension of the bounty period for two years longer renders it the more objectionable. I am opposed to the principle of the bounty on the ground that it has failed in the object for which it was originally designed - the substitution of white for black labour in the sugar industry in the tropics.
– I am surprised at the inconsistency of some honorable members. They are prepared to concede the fullest amount of protection to some industries, and to deny it to others. I am willing to extend to the growers of white sugar in Queensland a fair amount of protection, and, if we were not prevented from doing so by the Constitution, I should be in favour of increasing the Excise duty on black-grown sugar, and abolishing it altogether so far as the whitegrown product is concerned. However, according to high constitutional authorities, we are prevented from adopting that course. It has often been stated that we are giving a bonus to the sugargrowers. But that does not fairly represent the case. As a matter of fact, the planters are paying the Excise duty upon their product, and are receiving threefourths of the amount ba:k in the form of a bounty. If honorable members had to pay their £400 a year into the Treasury, and had only £300 returned to them, they would not consider that they were receiving a bonus.
– What about the £6 per ton protection which they enjoy ?
– I am not dealing with the question of protection at the present time. If I attempted to do so, I should be promptly ruled out of order. I favour the adoption of the sliding-scale ‘ by increasing the Exciseduty, so as to render it more difficult for the planters to employ black labour.
Mr. BATCHELOR (Boothby). - We have had a most interesting discussion, and I am bound to. confess that the diverse reasons advanced by honorable members who wish to see the bounty discontinued have been to me a revelation.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted, be so inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the negative.
Mr. MAHON (Coolgardie).- By this clause it is proposed to continue the bounty system until the 1st January, 1912. To my mind, we should not tie the hands of Parliament for so long a period. It seems tome that as the Braddon section of the Constitution will expire in 1910, and as the whole of the financial arrangements of the Commonwealth will then come under review, we should not extend the bounty beyond that period. In his report, Dr. Maxwell says -
In view of the facts set forth, it is made apparent that sufficient data and results are not yet in possession enabling it tobe said, with an approach to exactness, for what further period it appears necessary to extend the payment of bonuses.” It, therefore, can only be advised that a further extension shall be adopted, providing for the continuing and “ maturing of the purpose of the Federal legislation,” the period of the extension to be determined by certain cardinal considerations.
That being the case, I think that it is desirable to limit the operation of the bounty to a shorter period than is proposed, so that all the circumstances surrounding the position may be considered in 1 910. Under my amendment the planters of Queensland will have the advantage of the bounty for a period of at least five years.
That the word “ twelve “ at the end of the clause be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ ten.”
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).When I spoke upon the second reading of this Bill, I stated that I would support the application of a sliding scale to the payment of the bounty. That proposal having been defeated, I do not feel any longer bound to support the measure. I intend to vote for the amendment of the honorable member for Coolgardie.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa). - I shall certainly support the amendment, and I only wish that it limited the operation of the bounty to a shorter period. It is wrong for any Parliament to bind its successors. In this Bill we are invited to bind at least two successive Parliaments. To my mind, any such action would be absolutely unjustifiable. In view of therecent division, which indicates that it would be impossible to substitute an earlier date, I shall vote for the amendment; otherwise I should certainly have supported a proposal that the bounty shall cease in 1907.
Mr. FRAZER (Kalgoorlie).- As the result of the division just taken will prevent our carrying out the desire of the representatives of Queensland, whilst at the same time placing the granting of this bounty on a satisfactory basis, I think that the proposal embodied in this clause is a most extreme one. Under the existing Act the bounty will terminate in 1907, and it is proposed by this Bill to continue it until 1 9 12. In other words, six years must elapse before the conditions for which it provides may be varied, unless we are to break faith with the people whom it is designed to serve. During that period we shall have two, and possibly three, general elections. The question has been brought before the Committee at a time when it is exceedingly difficult to give it that consideration which it ought to receive. Sir William Lyne. - Let us divide ! Mr. FRAZER.- The Minister of Trade and Customs has displayed a remarkable anxiety to secure the passing of this and other Bills without debate; but while we may have a great admiration for his ability to draft a measure in a form that ought to be acceptable to the country, we cannot lose sight of our duty to our constituents. We are asked by the Government to give a vote which must bind the next two Parliaments unless faith is to be broken with the people whom this measure is designed to assist. I respectfully urge that the proposal to extend the bounty until 19 12 is an extreme one, and that the Ministry might well accept the compromise proposed by the honorable member for Coolgardie, whose amendment I shall certainly support.
Mr. HUTCHISON (Hindmarsh). - I would point out that by agreeing to this clause we shall not tie the hands of future Parliaments to any serious extent. In the first place, if the amendment be accepted, it will be necessary for the Parliament to again deal with this question in 1909.
– I intend to support the amendment, and, in doing so, feel that my vote will be perfectly consistent with the two that I have already given on this Bill. I supported the second reading against my fiscal convictions, looked at from an abstract point of view, but I did so because I recognised that the House has affirmed the principle of a White Australia, and had attempted, for a period of five years to compensate the sugar-growers for the disadvantage at which that policy has placed them. I was also induced to vote for the second reading, because I anticipated that the Committee would affirm the principle of a slidingscale of payments. Had that course been adopted, the bounty would have been paid at the full rate for two years, after the expiration of the period fixed by the present Act; then it would have gradually tapered off and terminated. Finality, would thus have been reached. The Government are now taking a course which is most undesirable; because it has been recognised both by the House and by Dr. Maxwell that the uncertainty in the minds of the sugar-growers as to. whether or not the bounty will be renewed is causing a great many of them to retain their hold on black labour, and to prevent it leaving the country. The adoption of a sliding scale would have been a clear indication of the intentions of the Parliament.
– The honorable and learned member cannot now discuss the question of the sliding scale.
– I submit, sir, that I am entitled to refer to it in order to show that the vote which I propose to give will be perfectly consistent with the others that I have cast. The adoption of a sliding scale would have ‘been an intimation to the sugar-growers that the bounty would begin to taper off two years after the term fixed by the existing Act. I am not prepared to vote for the continuance of the bounty for a further period of five years in such a way as to lead the sugar-growers of Queensland to believe that all they will have to do at the expiration of that time is to seek another five years’ extension from this House. We are giving them no indication that the system is to come to an end. We could have done so by providing that the bounty, after a certain period, shall gradually taper off, until it finally disappears. I shall vote for the amendment, believing that, if carried, it will be a sufficient intimation to the sugar-growers, of
Queensland that some definite limit to the continuance of this artificial support is to be decreed by the Federal Parliament.
– In view of the experience that I gained on the occasion of the interesting parliamentary trip through Queensland, I should have liked to address myself to the motion for the second reading of the Bill; but I refrained from doing so because of a desire to conserve the time of the House. When in Queensland, I stated that I was in favour of the adoption of a sliding scale, and I think it is to be deeply regretted that that proposal has not been accepted. However, we have to deal with the position that now confronts us, and, having listened to the debate, I have arrived at the conclusion that it would be well to provide for the extension of the bounty for a further period of three years. I trust that the amendment will be carried, and that before the time fixed has elapsed the Parliament will have determined upon the adoption of a sliding scale. The question should be dealt with some time before the period fixed by this Bill expires, in order that the sugar-growers may have at least two or three years’ warning of the decision of the Legislature.
Question - That the word “twelve,” proposed to be left out, stand part of the clause - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Mr. BRUCE SMITH (Parkes).- I do not think that this matter has been fairly treated, and the only course open to the Opposition now is to negative the clause, which I shall ask honorable members to do by calling for a division.
Mr. FRAZER (Kalgoorlie). - I wish to know, Mr. Chairman, if, in the event of the clause being negatived, it will be competent to move the insertion of another clause, providing that the bounty shall terminate in. 1911 ?
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).The recommittal of the Bill is obviously the best way to meet the difficulty. The Opposition lost the division which has just been taken because of the absence of two members who were prevented from reaching the chamber owing to the crowded state of thelift. Under these circumstances, I should think the Government would very readily consent to recommit the clause.
– Then I hope we shall be able to compel the Minister to do that which he is unwilling to do. Nobody expects the Minister of Trade and Customs, to do a fair thing at any time.
– If the honorable member wants to kill the Bill, let him kill it, if he can.
– The Minister has no right to make that remark. We do notwant to kill the Bill, but only to make it as fair as we may in the interests of the whole of Australia. I hope that we shall always treat matters of great importance in a reasonable way, but we are not to be compelled to do what the Minister requires. I suggest to all concerned that we should now content ourselves by allowing the Bill to go through Committee, and then endeavour to have it recommitted. We may be able to recommit the Bill, not only for the purpose of trying to make the improvement we sought to make just now, but also to insert the original proposal in regard to the sliding scale.
Question - That clause 3, as read, stand part of the Bill - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 4 agreed to.
Bounty shall not be claimable or payable in the case of sugar-cane or beet produced on any white plantation by any person who has obtained bounty under this Act in respect of sugar-cane or beet produced on the plantation and has afterwards employed black labour in the cultivation of sugarcane or beet on such plantation.
Provided that the Minister may, if he is satisfied that black labour was unavoidably employed to save the crop growing thereon, exempt any sugar-cane or beet from this section subject to such conditions as he directs, or as are prescribed.
– I wish to test the question whether we should continue to pay a bounty where there has been no substitution of white labour for coloured labour. In my opinion, if there has been no such substitution, it is a pure waste of money to continue the payment. In New South Wales, in 1902, there were produced 19,423 tons of white-grown, and1,526 tons of blackgrown sugar, while at the end of 1905, according to the Treasurer’s estimate, when he delivered his Budget speech, there will have been produced 20,150 tons of whitegrown and 2,475tons of black-grown sugar. During, the four years the bonus paid to the sugar-growers of New South Wales amounts to £152,594, or an average of about £38,000 a year. In almost all cases that money has been paid for nothing - simply because the Government apparently thought that, under the Constitution, no exception could be made in the case of New South Wales. As a matter of fact, the Constitution does not prescribe anything of the sort. While our laws are to be uniform-, there is nothing in the Constitution which says that their operation must be the same throughout the States. I mention this because, when the Treasurer was making his Budget speech, I interjected something on this point, which led him to make the remark that the bounty must be uniform. I immediately saw the fallacy of his position, but there was no opportunity to take any step on that occasion. Now, however, an opportunity is presented; and I cannot see what objection there can be to so framing the law that those who employed white labour only prior to, say, the date on which the Pacific island Labourers’ Act came into force, shall not receive the bounty. Those growers are not entitled to a penny ; and, although I have no absolute information on the point, I believe that the holdings of those who do employ white labour, throughout New South Wales, have acquired a speculative value, conferred by the Commonwealth in return for absolutely nothing. A mistake was made in the drafting of the original Act, and I do not think we should perpetuate it by paying, the bounty to those who have done nothing to deserve it. I move -
That after the word “ labour,” line 6, the words “ or during the twelve months immediately preceding the 17th December, 1901, employed only white labour,” be inserted.
I have selected the date of the coming into operation of the Pacific Island Labourers Act, because I think that that is a fair course to adopt.
– I am not lawyer enough to know whether the honorable and learned member’s proposal can be carried out; but if it is necessary that our laws should be uniform I am afraid that his amendment would be unconstitutional. I am prepared to vote against bounties altogether, but at present I doubt whether we shall be justified under the Constitution in proceeding to the length that the honorable and learned member desires.
– I shall support the amendment, on the ground that it was never contemplated that a gift of £2perton should be conferred upon planters who have always employed white labour. The real object of the Parliament was to secure the substitution of white labour for black labour.
– The honorable member would penalize the man who has consistently endeavoured to maintain a White Australia.
– The question of penalty does not enter into consideration, except so far as the consumers of sugar throughout the Commonwealth are being penalized in order that we may make a free gift to men who are merely pursuing the course which they have adopted from the very inception of the industry. What would honorable members think if the honorable member for Yarra proposed that a bounty should be given to every white cabinet-maker in Melbourne?
– If an Excise duty were levied upon the product of Chinese cabinetmakers, I would support a proposal to pay a bounty to white cabinet-makers.
– The imposition of an Excise duty upon cabinet-makers might be justified if - as in the case of sugar - that industry were protected by a 40 per cent. Customs duty. Ever since the sugar bounty was introduced we have been making a free gift of £40,000 per annum to the sugar-planters of New South Wales for carrying on their industry under the same conditions that have prevailed from the outset.
– The amendment is simply a device for penalizing men who have struggled on withwhite labour for many years past, and have done their best in the direction of maintaining a White Australia, and also for rewarding those who have hung on to black labour until the last moment. If honorable members think that would be right, I shall have nothing more to say.
– The Minister has utterly misconceived the situation. We have no right to, hand over to one body of citizens the money belonging to another section of the community. The payment of the bounty upon white-grown sugar has resulted in increasing the value of the land used for sugar-growing in the northern part of New South Wales and the southern part of Queensland; and in view of the fact that the amendment would have the effect of saving £90,000 a year to the Commonwealth Treasury, I shall vote for it.
– The proposal of the honorable and learned member for Angas is not only an extraordinary one, but it would be most drastic in its operation. A number of men in the north of Queensland have been struggling on for years against adverse conditions, and the persistency of their efforts to maintain a White Australia has almost excited the hatred of their neighbours. If the amendment were adopted, these men, as well as thewhite sugar-growers of New South Wales, would be penalized. I believe that a number of planters in New South Wales are deriving more benefit than they are entitled to from the bounty, and I should not object to depriving them of the advantage they now derive if we could do so without inflicting hardship on others who are entitled to our fullest consideration.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That after the word “ thereon,” line 10, the following words be inserted, “ from destruction by flood or fire.”
Mr. GLYNN (Angas). - I wish to draw attention to a matter of drafting. It seems to me that it might be advisable to insert a definition at the end of the clause to the effect that “ person “ shall include successors in title or assignees.
– I think the honorable member for Angas, is mistaken. I took special care to put the point he has raised to the draftsman, and he assured me that the word “ person “ was the right one to use.
– If the Minister is satisfied, I am.
– If it turns out, on further inquiry, that the honorable member’s view is right, I shall have an alteration made.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 6 -
The rates of bounty payable under this Act shall be as follows : -
In the case of sugar-cane - six shillings per ton calculated on cane giving ten per centum of sugar, to be increased or decreased proportionately according to any variation from this standard; and
In the case of beet - sixty shillings per ton on the sugar-giving contents of the beet.
– I wish to take a vote on this clause, to test the point whether the Committee is in favour of granting any protection to sugar produced by black labour. The only way in which I can do thai is., I think, to move that the word “six” be left out.
– No sugar is absolutely produced by black labour in Australia. The cane may be grown by black labour; but probably the mill-hands, artisans, &c., who are concerned in its production are white men.
– In some districts two-thirds of the sugar grown is produced by black labour. I do not desire to make any difference in the proportion between the Excise and the protection, but, at the same time. I do not desire that growers who use black labour shall have any protection whatever. If we struck out the word “ six, “ and substituted “ ten,” it would indicate the opinion of the Committee that all white-grown sugar should get the same protection as it now receives, whilst black-grown sugar should receive no advantage. I move -
That the word “ six,” line 3, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ ten.”
– If the word “six” were struck out, I submit that this Committee would have no power to insert “ ten “ in lieu of it. The proposition of the honorable member for Grey hinges upon what he desires to substitute for “ six.”
– The question is simply that a certain word shall be omitted ; but I point out to the honorable member for Grey that if that word were omitted, and he desired to insert a figure higher than the one omitted, it would not be competent for him to do so. While it would be competent for the Committee to reduce a proposed amount, the universal practice is against the acceptance of a proposal to increase it at this stage.
– May I be allowed, as a matter of order, to point out, without prejudice - becauseI am not in favour of the honorable member’s proposal - that when we were discussing the Tariff some years ago, Mr. Speaker ruled that it was quite competent to increase a proposed duty ?
– That was in Committee of Ways and Means.
– There is a great difference between Excise and Customs duties.
– Whilst I am against the suggestion of the honorable member for Grey, I think it would not be well to curtail privileges which honorable members have had granted to them by the decisions of the House itself, and of Mr. Speaker.
– I refer honorable members to standing order 171, under the heading, “ What amendments not admissible”
No amendment for the imposition or for the increase of a tax, rate, or duty, shall be proposed by any non-official member in any Committee on any Bill.
– We did it, and Mr. Speaker ruled it in order.
– I point out that on the occasion to which the honorable gentleman refers the House was in Committee of Ways and Means, whereas we are now in Committee on a Bill.
– I had given notice of an amendment to effect the same purpose, but I was informed that it could not be moved, and that I could not adopt the alternative of reducing the duties, because that would mean the introduction of a Tariff Bill.
– What does the honorable member for Grey desire to move?
Mr. POYNTON (Grey).- It will be for the Government to consider what shall be done if the amendment I propose is accepted. I wish to test the opinion of the Committee as to whether honorable members are prepared to allow any pro- tection for sugar grown by black labour. The Bill is so framed that I do not see that I can do what I desire in any other way. If the Committee agrees to strike out the word “six,” it will be for the Government to take whatever steps are necessary to give effect to the amendment. I do not believe honorable members are in favour of giving protection to the extent of £2 per ton to sugar grown by black labour. If we really desire to secure a White Australia, the sooner we remove all protection upon sugar grown by black labour the better. What I suggest is that the word “six” be struck out, and the Committee will understand my object.
– Is the honorable member in favour of the Bill at all?
– That is rather an impertinent question to address to me. I voted for the Bill to-night, but whether I am in favour of it or not, I tarn not in favour of protection for sugar grown by black labour.
– What does the honorable member propose by way of bonus?
– It would be increased to10s. My proposal would enable honorable members to give practical effect to what they have been talking about for the last six months.
– No, it would not.
– If we do not take advantage of this opportunity, the Bill will be out of our hands within the next twenty-four hours. I honestly believe that what I propose should be done; but, of course, if the Standing Orders are against me. I must submit to them.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I should like honorable members to consider the effect of the Braddon section of the Constitution in its relation to this matter. It is, with me, a matter of principle that those who get the advantage of cheap labour should be prepared to compete with the cheap labour of other countries, and I, for one, am not anxious to extend protection to sugar produced by coloured labour. But honorable members must recollect that all the revenue derived from Excise that the Commonwealth has a right to retain for its own purposes is 5s. in the £1 - one-fourth of the total sum received. That means that from an Excise duty of £6 per ton we should receive only 30s. Assuming that the employment of white labour increases as we have every reason tohope that it will, the proposed amendment would mean the giving of a bonus of £5, and we should be paying away 100s. in respect of every ton of sugar, and receiving only 30s. ; so that the Commonwealth would lose 70s. on every ton of sugar during the currency of the Braddon section.
– We should kill black labour.
– We should kill our own finances. With all respect to the honorable member for Gwydir, until we have an opportunity to alter the Braddon section of the Constitution, and adjust financial matters in a more sensible way, it does not seem to me to be practicable to carry out the scheme now suggested.
– How would it affect the taxpayer ?
– Sofar as the taxpayer is concerned, I admit that the States Governments would get what we should not receive, but so far as the finances of the Commonwealth are concerned, if we were to take over now the functions which, in the interests of the Federation we should have taken over long ago, the expenditure necessarily involved would severely tax our financial resources, limited, as they are, under the Braddon section. If that is so, it would be the height of folly to further restrict our revenue in the manner suggested by the honorable member for Grey - that is, by paying away the sum of 70s. in respect of every ton of sugar produced by white labour above what we should receive in revenue by way of Excise.
– We should get £3 per ton more.
– I admit that the States would get it, but we should not, and there can be no doubt that our finances would be hampered in the way I have described. Until the ten years’ period, during which the Braddon section is to operate, has expired, it would be absolutely unwise to adopt a proposal of this character.
– I trust that the amendment will be accepted. I take, for instance, the estimated production of sugar by black labour for 1905 at 110,000 tons. On that we are paying at the present time a tax, after deducting Excise, of £2 perton, which the whole of the white people of Australia have to pay. As that money is paid by the people, why should not the £220,000 involved be handed over to the white growers ? It is true that we could’ only retain about £55,000 of the £220,000, but is it not far better that the whole of the £220,000 should be given to the white growers than that the protection to black-grown sugar should continue?
– Where would the honorable member get the money to pay it?
– We should have to get it out of the pockets of the other citizens of the Commonwealth as we now get the money required to pay the bounty.
– How would the honorable member get it?
– Forms of taxation are infinitely various, and it is not for me to suggest the ways and means. My object is to absolutely deprive black-grown sugar of the protection which it at present enjoys. If we gave effect to the suggestion of the honorable member for Grey, we should be able to secure exactly what we desire in the Sugar Excise Bill. Whilst a private member cannot move to increase the rate of Excise specified in that measure, a Minister can do so. The effect of adopting the honorable member’s suggestion would be to compel the Government to increase the rate of duty provided for i’n that measure. In order to test the question, I move -
That the word “ six,” line 3, and the word “ ten,” line 4, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ five.”
Mr. POYNTON (Grey). - I cannot support the proposal of the honorable and learned member, because it would involve the payment of the bounty of 5s. per ton upon “ rubbishy “ cane - material which is of very little use. Under the circumstances, I shall not press my amendment.
– I suggest to the honorable and learned memTier for Werriwa that he should withdraw his amendment. However much we may differ as to the methods which should be employed to achieve our object, there is one limitation that we must all recognise, and that is the limitation which applies to our finances. In this connexion, I refer more particularly to the statement made by the honorable member for Bland. He pointed out that this proposal would injuriously affect the revenues of Australia. Having regard to the very serious situation which would arise if any such proposal were adopted, I ask the honorable and learned member to withdraw it.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- It seems to me that my point has been utterly misunderstood. Whilst it is true - as the honorable member for Bland has pointed out - that under the operation of this amendment the Commonwealth would suffer so far as the amount which it would be called upon to expend was concerned, I maintain that the revenues of Australia would be increased by £220,000, if the alteration to which I have referred were made in the Sugar Excise Bill.
– The net result to the Commonwealth finances would be a big loss.
– The net result to the Commonwealth’ Treasury would be a gain, but as regards the amount which the Federation was called upon to expend, it would be a loss. It would mean that an extra sum of £220,000 would go to the Treasury, instead of to the black growers of sugar.
– But three-fourths of that amount would have to be returned to the States.
– That sum is how being paid by white people, but is not going to the Treasury. The only reason why I ask leave to withdraw my amendment is because it is quite plain that there is no hope of its being carried. If it were carried, it would compel an increase in the other duty, and the enormous sum which is being paid in bounties would be made so manifest to the public that within the next year this very Government would have to come forward with a proposal to cut them down.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 7 and 8 agreed to.
Clause 9 -
The employment of any aboriginal native of Australia in the growing of sugar-cane or beet shall not prejudice any claim to bounty under this Act.
-^ have read in the press that descendants of aboriginals - half-castes, and so on - have not been permitted to work on the sugar plantations, and I wish this clause to be altered so that they may enjoy that right.
– Clause n deals with that subject.
– I only wanted ‘to make sure of the clause in which it is dealt with.
– This clause deals with the employment of aboriginals.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 10 agreed to.
The Minister may in special cases, if he is satisfied that there are special circumstances rendering it desirable for Kim so to do, permit any halfcaste born in Australia having one white parent to be employed on a white plantation and thereupon such half-caste may be so employed, without prejudice to any claim for bounty in respect of sugar-cane or beet produced on the plantation.
– I think it would have been better to deal with the employment of half-castes in clause 9. Surely the descendants of the original owners of the soil of this continent have a right to be allowed to work on sugar plantations without getting a special permit from the Minister ! There have been a number of hard cases which have been brought to light, but which I cannot remember at this moment. It is an outrage that half-castes should be required to apply for a permit to work. We ought to show that we have a sense of justice and right, by allowing the descendants of the original owners of this country the right to work.
– This clause was specially inserted in order to provide for thesecases.
– What is an “aboriginal”? The term does not mean a half-caste.
– What the honorable member wants is provided in the Bill.
– If the Minister can point to a provision to the effect that the descendants of the aborigines can work upon sugar plantations without a permit, as a matter of right, I shall be content. What I wished to provide in clause 9, when I was “bluffed,” was that the descendants of aboriginals should be allowed to work upon the plantations.
– I move-
That the following words be left out : - “ in special cases, if he is satisfied that there are special circumstances rendering it desirable for him so to do.”
The omission of these words would not limit the power of the Minister, any more than is absolutely necessary. Certainly it would give him all the power which he needs to possess.
– I regret that I cannot accept the amendment. I inserted this clause because of special cases which came before me in the Department, and which seemed to me to be very hard indeed.
In my speech on the second reading, I referred to the case of a white man who had married a half-caste kanaka, and who could not be allowed to have his child on the plantation simply on account of there being no such provision as this in the law. I took the responsibility of allowing him to remain. I think the wording of the clause is more liberal than is necessary, and I cannot possibly accept the amendment. I have gone a long way in inserting this provision in opposition to the views of many honorable members.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 12 agreed to.
Bill reported, with an amendment.
Motion (by Mr. Isaacs) agreed to -
That the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the Bill to pass through its remaining stages without delay.
Bill read a third time.
Sir WILLIAM LYNE (Hume- Minister of Trade and Customs). - Perhaps the deputy leader of the Opposition will not object to my going on with the Excise Bill.
– I certainly shall do so. I am anxious to sit here after Christmas.
Mr. EWING laid upon the table the following paper: -
Motion (by Mr. Isaacs) agreed to -
That the House at its rising adjourn until tomorrow at 10.30 a.m.
Motion (by Mr. Isaacs) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I wish to know when we shall have an opportunity to deal with the question of the site of the Federal Capital. Before certain proceedings which took place recently, the honorable and learned member for Illawarra and some half-dozen other honorable members, with myself, were taking steps to ascertain whether a compromise could not be arrived at. At the outset I thought that both Lake George and Yass were more suitable than the site selected, but when the
Seat of Government! Bill was before us the honorable and learned member for Illawarra, was the only one who supported my advocacy of those sites. There has been a growing feeling , in the House that a compromise should be arrived at.
– Carruthers has killed all that. ‘
– If honorable members thought that a certain compromise should be accepted, surely their decision cannot be affected by what Mr. Carruthers has said.
– They were merely willing to allow the matter to be again discussed. They did not say that; they would accept a certain site.
– I shall not at this late hour discuss the matter, but I wish to know whether the Bill dealing with the question is to be presented to-morrow, and when we shall have an opportunity to deal with it.
– I think that the Prime Minister has already said that, after the Anti-Trust Bill has been dealt with, there will be an opportunity for honorable members tb consider the Bill relating to the Federal Capital. It will be introduced this session, and dealt with.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.55 P m-
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 December 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1905/19051213_reps_2_30/>.