2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker rook lnc chair at 3.30 p.m., anil read prayers. recognition of literary work.
Mr. HIGGINS. - i wish to ask the Prime Minister, without notice, if he can see his wai to putting on the Estimates, and recommending to the House, a grant in aid of the family of the late Victor Daley, who has added so much to the intellectual treasures of Australia. i do not nsk the honorable and learned gentleman to give me a definite answer now, but i shall be glad if he will look into the matter.
Mr. DEAKIN. - The recognition by this Government of the claims of literary men, et their families, in the manner in which the. Imperial Government recognises such claims in Great Britain, is worthy of consideration. Australia has produced fewgeniuses, and as the lives of those who are so gifted are seldom richly rewarded in a pecuniary sense, they have a claim on the conscience of the community. i shall be glad to consider the matter.
Mr. WILKS. - Will the honorable and learned gentleman do the same for the family of the late John Farrell?
Mr’. DEAKIN - The provision of which i speak would not bc confined to any par ticular case, but would be open to all deserving, and necessitous Australian literary mcn. I am glad to have been personally associated, from the beginning, with ih’e movement for mi recognition of Da lev’s work.
– For some year* past girls have been in attendance at the switch-boards at the Brisbane telephone exchange, and have given the utmost satisfaction to the subscribers ; but, during the past few months, the services of some of them have been dispensed with, and boys and youths have been taken on in their places. I wish to know, therefore from the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, whether it is intended to dispense entirely with girls in the Brisbane telephone exchange, seeing that girls only are employed on the Melbourne staff.
– I shall endeavour to give the honorable member an answer tomorrow.
– In view of the considerable misunderstandings as to the Commonwealth law among many of the passengers on the vessels coming from England: to Australia, will the Government supply to the directors of the steam-ship companies notices explaining the inducements held nutto intending sett lei’s here, and refuting the slanders concerning our immigration laws which have been circulated bv the defamers of the Commonwealth?
– The suggestion that .ir brief epitome of the Commonwealth law and practice on this subject should be available on the mail steamers is a good one. and I shall be happy to see if effectcan be given to it.
– Has the Prime Minister 1*en furnished with a COP of the memorandum in reference to the federalization of the debts of the States sent by the AgentGeneral of New South Wales to the SlatePremier, and, if so. will he make it available to honorable members?
– A copy of the memorandum is in our possession, and is beingexamined fo determine whether it is complete If it is so, T will lay it be fore Parliament
– Has the Prime Minister yet received from Messrs. Webster and Co., of Brisbane, a communication asking that if Australian brandy be admitted into New Zealand under a reciprocal arrangement on payment of a duty of ils. per gallon, which is equal to the excise rate, instead of the present rate of 16s., a similar arrangement will be made in regard to Queensland rum. When reciprocity is arranged for, will he see that this is done?
– So far as I can remember, no such letter has yet reached me. The reciprocal treaty between the Commonwealth and New Zealand has been settled, and cannot be re-opened by us.
– Do I understand that the reciprocal treaty with New Zealand has been completed, and that South Australian spirit is to be given an advantage over other Australian spirit?
– This Government entered into an agreement with the late Prime Minister of New Zealand which cannot “be re-opened without the consent of the Government of that Colon ;. but no distinction is, ot could be, made between the treatment given to South Australia and that given to other Australian spirit. Every arrangement made by the Government extends to the whole Commonwealth.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General lay on the table of the Library the papers relating to the recent removal of Messrs. Snook and Stephens, of the Telegraph Department of Western Australia, and the report furnished bv Mr. Young last year on the administration of the Department
– T think that the papers are before the Public Service Commissioner, but I shall obtain them as soon as possible, and have them laid on the Library table.
– Last week the “Minister for Home Affairs read a statement from the Electoral Office to the effect that the general elections cannot take place is early as October. /Has an estimate been made as to the earliest date at which they ran take place?
– Information has not yet been obtained which enables me to give the exact date on which the general elections can be held. I was asked last week if they could be held in October, but the information in the possession of tha Department shows that to be impracticable.
– The Minister last week merely gave us the opinion of an official on this very important matter. Will. he look into it, and: satisfy himself as to the possibility or otherwise of holding the elections before the harvesting season?
– What about the shearers? Have they not the right to vote?
– Yes. But the wool will not fall off the backs of the sheep if there is half-a-day’s delay in shearing them, whereas the grain will fall out of the ears.
– Harvesting takes place at different time’s in the different States, and we must therefore look at this matter from the Australian point of view. I thought it advisable to give, last week, the opinion of the expert whom Parliament has appointed to deal with electoral matters; but I have looked into the matter myself, and, upon the information supplied’ to me, think that it will not be possible to hold the! general elections as early as October.
– Will the honorable gentleman give us his reasons?
– I could do so if it were considered desirable; but I do not think that I should give a long explanation at this stage, as. we at* making further inquiries. I shall, however, be ready to answer n n , question on the subject
– Will the Minister endeavour to obtain, for the benefit of the House and the country, an opinion as to the earliest period at which the elections cam be held?
– That step is being taken, and the Prime Minister has announced that the information will be made public as soon as it is available.
– Has the Minister considered whether there are not certain constitutional reasons which make it impossible to hold the elections of both the Senate and the House, of Representatives in October next? If he has not already done so. will he refer the matter to the AttorneyGeneral ?
– It is desirable, in order to save expense, to fix a date which will enable the elections of both Houses to be held on the same day. The answer I gave the other day was a reply to a ques- tion asking if the elections could, from a practical point of view, be held in October next
– I do not think that the Minister has answered the question of the honorable and learned member for West Sydney, which was whether the constitutional position has been considered, with a view to determining whether there are constitutional difficulties in the way of holding the general elections before December next.
– I shall take into consideration every aspect of the question before furnishing, the information which I have promised.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Report from the Royal Commission on OldAge Pensions ; with proceedings, minutes of evidence, appendices, and a synopsis of the evidence.
Recommendations, &c, and approval of the promotion and appointment of P. J. De Gruchy as telegraph manager at Perth, Western Australia.
The Clerk laid upon the table :
Return to an order of the House, dated 14th
September, 1905, relating to “contract” post and telegraph offices.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
In view of the result obtained by avoiding sworn evidence in the Major Hawker Inquiry, does the Ministry of the Commonwealth intend to abolish sworn evidence in the couTts of the Commonwealth ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The Government has no such intention.. Evidence in the inquiry referred to would have been taken on oath if there had been legal power to administer it.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to thehonorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. Yes.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s! questions are as follow : -
Priddle demanded payment from Major Hawker for six bags of coal delivered at the Barracks in error during December last. Major Hawker paid the account, and issued instructions for the six bags to be sent to his quarters from the Barracks, which was done on the 26th ultimo.
asked the Minister, representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
Whether it is intended to increase the number of Senior Cadet Corps apportioned to the State of Queensland, so as to make it possible for a large number of youths, resident in populous centres which are excluded under present arrangements, becoming members, and so qualifying themselves for future military service?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
After the establishment of senior cadets provided for in the present scheme has, been allotted, the question of increasing ihe numbers will at once receive full consideration. The Government will do nil that is possible to further the end in view.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
South Wales, in receipt of £ibo per annum and upwards, not one officer in receipt of less than ^185 per annum participated?
– The answers furnished by the Public Service Commissioner are as follow : -
asked the Acting PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable and learned member’s questions are as follow : -
” CERES “ POWDER.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether his attention has been drawn to a paragraph in the Age of the 14th inst., wherein it is staled that a powder known as “ Ceres Powder” has been successfully used by the Danish Department of Agriculture as a preventive for smut disease in cereals, and also for increasing the yield. Will he bring this matter under the notice of the several State Departments of Agriculture with the view of a supply being obtained for experimental purposes ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
A sample of Ceres powder analyzed by the Department of Agriculture, Victoria, gave the following result : -
Experiments have been carried out by the Department with sulphide of potash as a preventive for smut. It is not so good as sulphate of copper for this purpose. Many experiments have been tried with potash salts to test their effect on the yield of wheat. . In most cases they have had no beneficial result sufficient to cover their cost to the farmer.
asked the Acting PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
In view of the fact that the Orient Steamship Company is under contract to carry the mails of the Commonwealth to London, how is it that the steamships of the said company when at sea, and when travelling between Australian ports, accept letters for transmission in the ships’ letter-boxes, such letters being stamped with British and not Australian postage stamps?
-The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
In the UniveralPostal Union Principal Convention (Washington revision) it is provided that correspondence posted on the high seas in the letter box on board a packet, orplaced in the hands of the commanders of ships, may be prepaid by means of the postage stamps, and according to the tariff, of the country to which the said packet belongs, or by which it is maintained, but if the posting on boardtakes place during the stay at one of the two extreme points of the voyage, or at any intermediate port of call, prepayment can only be effected by means of the postage stamps, and according to the tariff, of the country in the waters of which the packet happens to be.
In April last the general manager of the Orient Company was informed, in reply to a question as to whether letters posted on board the company’s mail steamers between Fremantle and Adelaide should bear Commonwealth postage stamps, that postal articles posted on board those vessels whilst on the high seas, or when in any port of the Commonwealth, or between two ports of the Commonwealth, should, in accordance with the above-mentioned provision, be prepaid by means of Commonwealth postage stamps.
asked the Acting PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Is he aware -
– The Public Service Commissioner advises as follows : -
The other telegraphists referred to, who are fourth class officers, are not promoted on the report of an advisory board alone. They, likewise, are required to pass a practical examination as conditional to promotion, but of a much more difficult standard. In addition, they are examined in the theory of telegraphy, and as supervisory capacity is essential in the higher position, a report is furnished by an advisory board under this latter heading only. 3. (a) Yes, for the reason that it produces more perfect signals than can be obtained by hand sending, and absolute uniformity is obtained.
I may add that I have again directed the attention of the Public Service Commissioner to this matter.
asked the Minister of
Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Acting PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Motion (by Mr. Isaacs) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an Act to amend the Judiciary Act 1903.
Debate resumed! from 14th June (vide page 257), on motion by Sir William Lyne -
That the Hill be now reada second time.
– I very much regret thatthe Minister in charge of the Bill is not in his place to-day.I am aware that the AttorneyGeneral is quite capable of appreciating any suggestions or criticisms that may be offered, but I think that as the Minister of Trade and Customs has been absent on one or two similar occasions he should atleast have endeavoured to be present when in important measure of his own, which mav have serious effects upon the commerce and industries of Australia, is under consideration. We have had examples of the confusion that may arise through the absence of a Minister whilst the House is considering a Bill which he will have to administer. When the Commerce Bill was before us. the Attorney-General, on one occasion, had charge of the measure, and gave assurances - genuine assurances I have not the least doubt - as to the effect of the proposals embodied in the Bill, but with regard to grading, for instance, the Minister of Trade and Customs has since acted in a manner absolutely contrary to the view expressed bv the Attornev-General . Such confusion is apt to arise when the Minister in charge of a measure has to ask one of his colleagues, who may not have given the Bill full consideration, to conduct it through certain stages. I am sorry that I have not had an opportunity of perusing the Hansard report of the Minister’s speech. Possibly, however, I have not lost much. The Minister did not favour us with much information regarding the details of some of the most complex clauses. He read the measure through - in fact, his was a literal second reading, because I assume that he had read it once before - but he failed to furnish honorable members with information which should have been forthcoming as to the incidence, the intent and the possible effect of the provisions. In addition to reading the Bill, he gave us a few samples of statistics, and then handed over the bulk of his figures for publication in that inoffensive volume, Hansard - a proceeding which I think is rather questionable. I shall possibly have to deal more with the clauses of the measure, and less with the Minister’s arguments, than I would have done had his remarks been more enlightening. A measure, such as that before us, however good its object may be, must be viewed most critically by honorable members. It seeks to confer upon the Minister powers which Parliament has hitherto fought first to obtain ; and, secondly, to retain in its own hands. It mav l>e that some of the powers sought to lae taken could be exercised with good effect, but the proposal to surrender to a. Minister powers which affect even the control of the public purse, of which Parliament has been especially jealous, must be regarded as a serious one, and if agreed to, should be surrounded with the fullest safeguards. I do not desire that my remarks should be regarded as having anypersonal application to the present Minister. 1 am not referring personally either to himself or to any future occupant of the office, tout I think I shall be able to show that it is proposed by this Bill to confer upon the Minister powers that Parliament will have to resign if the measure be passed as it stands1 - powers that we should hesitate to give. It may be said, of course, that Parliament can always rescind the action of the Minister, that it may take back any power which he has abused. Yet, while that is the position of every Parliament, we know that all Legislatures are exceedingly loth, even in such circumstances, to part with powers that mav seriously affect the commerce, trade, and industry of the community. Another point I should like to bring under the notice of the Minister is that we are asked to deal with this measure without having thrown upon it that full light which would have been obtained had we waited for the reports of the Tariff Commission - a Commission appointed by Parliament for the express purpose of inquiring into the conditions of Australian industries, and suggesting remedies for any anomalies or injustices under which they may labour.
– There will be no necessity for a Tariff Act if we pass this Bill.
– At all events, the necessity will largely disappear. The Tariff Commission has been sitting, for months. lt has already furnished reports relating to certain trades, and I understand that it is preparing others which will shortly be available. That being so, surely we should have had the advantage of its labours before being asked to pass a measure which largely affects the Tariff. Passing from those matters, and doming to the Bill itself, I may say that I, and also, I believe, every honorable member on this side of the House, recognise the great danger of the modern development of trusts and combines to the people of a nation, the industry of a nation, and the nation itself. This development is new in system, but not in essence. In the past, and even in the present day, it has been, and is, a common thing in misruled countries for the Government to farm out taxation - to allow certain persons, in return for the payment of a lump sum, the right to impose taxes within a given area, and to permit those persons to drag from the unfortunate people whatever they can over and above that amount. At other times there have been grants of monopolies to individuals. The right to trade in a certain article has been given to one particular firm or individual, and that individual, in return for a lump sum, or some considered advantage, has been permitted practically to tax the people by his charges. In modern times, where reformers have abolished these systems, we find that there have arisen, especially in the most energetic of the nations, men of large brain power, and few scruples, who endeavour to take that which was previously given, and by obtaining power or control over the sources of supply, the means of production, and also, it may be, the means of conveyance and distribution, seek to place themselves in a position to make not a legitimate profit, on their industry, but to tax the whole community, regardless of the wrong they do to the people, and the injury they inflict on their country. I admit that, although that evil has not arisen to any extent ‘in Australia, it is perfectly right that, before it does so, we should seek a means of resist- ing it. So far as I think the Bill goes in that direction I shall support it; but to the extent that it goes beyond or is not likely to effect that object I shall criticise it and try to secure its amendment. I can assure the Minister in charge, however, that so far as this one object of the Bill is concerned,he will have no opposition from me, nor do I think he will meet with any from any honorable member on this side of the House. But we have to remember that there are combinations that are beneficent in their objects and effect, and we must be careful not to confuse the beneficent with the destructive ones.
– How many are beneficent ?
– The honorablemember has used the same argument. I have not plagiarized, but I have repeated the statement of a sound authority.
– I said that some combinations might be beneficent, but I do not know of any.
– Some of them are.
– Where are they?
– In different parts of the world. I could name some of them if the honorable member desired, but I am not prepared at present to give a detailed list. The honorable member for Bland will admit that a combination which is formed to reduc? the cost of production - as combines often can do - and which effects n. reduction both in the cost of manufacture, and it may be in distribution, thus being able to secure a better price for the producer, andto give the goods at a reduced price to the consumer, is a beneficent one.
– It might be able and yet not willing to do these things.
– There are a number of cases in which they have been both able and willing to do so, and it is these T have in mind. I am referring to those which, refusing to take advantage of opportunities to mulct the people in heavy charges, confer a benefit on the producer, the consumer, and the country in which they are formed, creating as they do an industry that can not only supply the wants of their own country, but can export their products to other parts of the world. Having in mind these two classes of combines. I propose to glance at the provisions of the Bill, which, as I have already said, I may have to scrutinize more closely than I should have had to do if the Minister had dealt fully with them. In the first place, PartII. of the Bill is headed “ Repression of Monopolies.” The persons dealt with in this part are covered by clauses 4, 5, 8, and 9. They are - Any person orfirm engaged in trade with other countries, or among the States; any foreign corporation or trading or financial corporation formed, and trading within the Commonwealth, and those who wilfully monopolize or combine or conspire to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce with other countries or among the States. Then we have foreign corporations or trading or financial corporations formed within the Commonwealth, and trading within it, who are guilty of this last offence. It will be recognised that an attempt is being made here - I suppose it is the AttorneyGeneral, who, with considerable ingenuity, has made it - to use the provision in the Constitution giving the Commonwealth power over foreign corporations or trading or financial corporations formed within the Commonwealth. But even if that attempt be legally sound - and I am not questioning it - the Commonwealth will still be unable to interfere with combines operating in only one State.
– If they are corporations, it will be able to do so.
– But not if they are not corporations. Even if we pass this legislation, all the objectionable practices of a. combine will still be possible within a single State. I am not suggesting that this is the fault of the Bill-
– The brick combine in Melbourne, for instance, would still go on.
– Any of the combinations whose operations are confined to one State would still be able to carry on.
– So that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company would not be affected bv the Bill.
– Its operations are not confined to one State; but I shall deal with it later on.
– If a combine is a registered company, it will be struck by the Bill.
– If it is not a corporation - if it consists of individuals or firms - it will still be able to carry on its operations within anv one State. I recognise that under the Constitution the States themselves will have to take action to perfect any measure in this direction that may be passed by us. I draw attention to the fact that whilst corporations carrying on operations within a State can be dealt with if they combine, individuals or firms cannot. The Minister will agree that that is so.
– If it be purely Intra-State in its operations, a firm cannot be dealt with.
– Quite so. The offences are shown in clauses 4, 7 and 8. They comprise anything done in restraint of trade or commerce to the detriment of the public or anything with the design of destroying or injuring by means of unfair competition any Australian industry the preservation of which in the Opinion of the jury is advantageous to the Commonwealth, having due regard to the interests of producers, workers, and consumers.
I need not refer to the offences named in clauses 7 and 8, as I have already alluded to them, further than to say that under them the doing of anything to the detriment of the public in regard to the supply or price of any merchandise or commodity is an indictable offence. It seems to me that in paragraphs a and b of clause 4 there are two entirely opposite policies outlined. In the first place, a penalty is imposed by paragraph a upon any person doing anything in restraint of trade or commerce, to the detriment of the public.
That would include the raising of prices unduly to the consumer. But in paragraph b the policy is quite opposite. If an Australian industry is interfered with, and it is one which it is desired to preserve; if prices are lowered by the competition of a trust or by the importation of the goods of a trust, then a penalty will be imposed upon the trust!. It seems to me that there is a very narrow plank to walk there. In the first place, prices must not go up to the detriment of the public. That I quite agree with, and that is the provision in the Sherman Act in America. But a condition is added : that there must not be interference or unfair competition with any Australian industry by any corporation or trust, and the further provisions make it evident that that unfair competition will consist in forcing down the price of the Australian article to the consumer.
– What is the definition of “ unfair competition “ ?
– It is dealt with in a later clause. That, I re peat, is a very narrow plank between the two provisions. How any one administering the Act is going to distinguish I do not know. I think that the first provision is quite sufficient, at any rate to begin operations with, and that is that nothing should be done to the detriment of the public. I would ask the Attorney-General how far paragraph b is meant to extend? Evidently it does extend to preventing unfair competition with an Australian industry by any outside trust or any corporation within the Commonwealth. Is it intended to extend to a corporation engaged in an industry in Australia interfering with the other members of that industry, to its detriment ? For instance, there may be a corporation conducting a boot industry. Would competition with that industry be considered unfair if it were carried on by a corporation or firm in the Australian trade?
– What clause is the honorable member referring to?
– I am re’ferring to paragraph b of clause 4, which reads in these terms -
Any person who wifully, either as principal or as agent, makes or enters into any contract . . .
with the design of destroying or injuring, by means of unfair competition, any Australian industry, the preservation of which, in the opinion of the jury, is advantageous to the Commonwealth, having due regard to the interests of producers, workers, and consumers.
Suppose that a person were engaged in the Inter-State trade in that very industry, would he, by reducing prices^ - unduly as the others might think - be considered to be unfairly competing with the industry? I cannot get at the sense of the clause, and I want the Attorney-General, if he can by interjection, to tell me what it really means.
– It would need a very long interjection, and I would prefer to wait until I speak.
– I think the honorable and learned gentleman understands the difficulty.
– I think I do.
– If a person be engaged in the Inter-State trade in an industry, must the unfair competition with the industry come from outside, or, if an individual member of the trade within Australia engaged in the Inter- State trade, were to reduce his prices, could he be then brought up for unfair competition in the industry? That I think the AttorneyGeneral will admit, whatever his answer may be, is an important point.
– In each case it would be for the jury to decide.
– Is everybody who lowers a price to be liable to be haled before a court? Surely that would not be in the interests of the public.
Mir. Skene. - No clearing sales.
– No. I do not think it is a power which is intended to be extended by the House.
– It does not go as far as that.
– I am not si lawyer, and, therefore, I do not profess to be able to give a legal reading of the clause. I have found difficulty in interpreting its meaning, and I want enlightenment on that point, because, if the Bill be meant to deal, not merely with attempts to destroy an industry from outside the industry, but with every fluctuation of price within the industry, it would be impossible to conduct business. I do not think that the House, if it understood that to be the intention, and I do not say that it is, would pass the clause in its present form. There is another point which I have had difficul tv in deciding from my reading of the Bill. Clause 5 says : -
Any foreign corporation, or trading or financial corporation, formed within the Commonwealth, which wilfully, either as principal or agent, makes or enters into any contract, or engages in any competition to do any act or thing - («) in restraint of trade or commerce within the Commonwealth to the detriment of the public, or
with the design of destroying or injur ing by means of unfair competition any Australian industry.
Under that clause, would a bill of lading be a contract ‘, or must it be a contract for a combine? Suppose, for instance, that a bill of lading were .signed at a lower rate of freight by one steam-ship company than by another, would it become a contract within the meaning of the clause, and would the party signing it at a lower rate be guilty of unfair competition? I do not think that this is meant, but I should like an assurance from the Attorney-General on that point. Otherwise we shall be in this absurd position: that whilst it is sought to reach combines in Australia which are thought to be detrimental to the public, or to be doing things detrimental to the public, under this other provision we should be preventing a man from doing anything which might be considered unfair competition, al though it might be a reduction of prices or rates of freight which were deemed too high, and he might be trying to benefit the public.
– How could that possibly be to the detriment of the public?
– Not the reduction ; but there might, be said to be an interference with an Australian industry.
– How could’ that be wilfully done with the desire of destroying an Australian industry ?
– It might be said at once that if the freights or prices were reduced as the person proposed then he was injuring the industry.
– But paragraph b says’ that it must be done “ with the design of destroying.”
– How could one prove design ? It could only be inferred, and it might be inferred that the design was the destruction of the industry. When we find a. Bill of this sort, we have to remember that powers previously given to Ministers, where it was not absolutely clear as to the extent to which they were meant to be applied, have been applied in a very extreme manner, therefore we ought not only to know what the intention is-, but, if there is any ambiguity in the clauses, we ought to remove it. Again, I think the Attorney-General will recognise that the proposed penalties, which ever is right, are very unequal, namely, a. penalty of ^500 and imprisonment, or both, in the case of an individual, and a penalty of £500 in the case of a corporation.
– That has been said very often, but a corporation can only act through individuals. and these persons, whether directors of managers, or holding other offices, are met by clause 9. You cannot do anything more to the corporation themselves, but you can affect those persons who, being members of the corporation, were parties to the act.
– I very much doubt whether when you have imposed a penalty of ^500 upon the corporation you can impose a separate penalty upon an individual.
– That is the maximum penalty. There is an Act which defines all penalties.
– I know that is the maximum, but in the case of an individual the penalty is a fine of ^,”500 and a year’s imprisonment.
– But persons controlling the affairs of a corporation may be severally liable for a joint act.
– When a clause states that the penalty in the case of a corporation shall be up to .£500, I tlo not see how it would be possible to bring individual members of the corporation into the matter.
– Not under that clause.
– If it could be done at all, it could only be done under a succeeding clause. Then there is a special reference - which is, I think, unusual in a case of this sort - to the opinion of the jury. Does the honorable and learned gentleman intend that these cases shall always be heard before a jury ?
– Yes, for criminal purposes, certain! v.
– But thev will not all be criminal cases. Paragraph b reads -
The preservation of which, in the opinion of the jury, is advantageous to the Commonwealth, having due regard to the interests of producers, workers, and consumers.
That is what the jury will have to decide. Apparently there is nothing else intended to be decided by them.
– These words are, perhaps, superfluous. It is only to indicate to the House that we mean that it would be for the jury to adjudicate upon criminal cases. In substance, the honorable member is right, I think. The cases would have to go before a jury if thev were made indict-“ able offences*.
– Does this clause applyto corporations outside the Commonwealth?
– No, but paragraph b of clause 9 does. It would seem that that is all that the jury has to decide.
– Oh, no.
– By expressing the powers of the jury the Bill seems to limit them.
– I will make a note of that point.
– But apart from the question of criminal law altogether, some of the matters dealt with by this Bill ought to be decided bv a judge. They are intricate; if the Bill is passed, they will be brought under a law operating for the first time in Australia; they will require the keenest attention of trained minds ; and the Judges will have, as in the case of other laws and in other countries they have had to do, to create precedents, which in time will be recognised as the standards of the law itself. There may be some reason in what the Attorney-General says - that in criminal cases a jury should act.
– If we make it an indictable offence, the Constitution says it shall be tried by a jury.
– Without proposing to say how the object should be accomplished, I think that a Judge is the proper authority to try the great bulk of such cases.
– Will the honorable member look at section 80 of the Constitution ?
– We ha.ve imposed penalties in other cases without their being tried by a jury ; but in this Bill we specifically state that the cases shall be tried by a jury. It would be difficult in such matters to get even independent juries - juries that were not personally affected by some of the results of the decisions. But even if we could get independent juries, some of the questions that will arise are so intricate, and require such research and examination, that a Judge ought to deal with them ; and in my opinion we could not have too good a Judge for the purpose. A clause upon which a good deal of the previous provision hangs is that which declares what is “ unfair competition.” The unfair competition is very delightfully explained as being competition’ “ which is, in the opinion of the jury, unfair in the circumstances; “ which really amounts to saying that unfair competition! is unfair competition. But the clause goes, on to say that competition shall be deemed to toe unfair - until the contrary is proved, if the defendant is> a commercial trust or agent of a commercial! trust ; and also -
If the competition would probably or does infact result in a lower remuneration for labour ;-
If the competition would probably or does infact result in greatly disorganizing Australian industry, or throwing workers out of employment.
I think that the principle there stated isvery undesirable - that a man is to be considered guilty until he is proved to beinnocent.
– Very necessary sometimes.
– It is necessary in some cases, but it can be, and has been, improperly used. I see no necessity for it here. Surely the Government should prove its case, if it has a case, where it is necessary, and where it is so difficult as I will show, under the sub-clause, for the defendant to disprove the charge, then I think there is likely to be gross injustice to individuals, and that harm and wrong will be inflicted. Of course, we deal with a matter of fact in sub-clause a. It is, perhaps, a little difficult to prove sometimes, and perhaps not so difficult to disprove, whether the defendant is “a commercial trust or agent of a commercial trust.” But there are two sub-clauses, according to which, unless the person charged can prove the contrary, he is to be held guilty and punished, not perhaps for the fact that he has done what is charged against him, but because he is unable, owing to its being beyond his knowledge, to prove the contrary. The Minister has simply to assert, without any supporting evidence, that the competition of the defendant would probably - not actually does, even, but probably would - or does, in fact, result in lowering the remuneration for labour. I should like to know how a man who was not in the particular business in connexion with which the charge arose could prove the contrary.
– He could get assessors, I suppose.
– He might get other people to express their opinions, but he could not prove the contrary. He would have to rely on. other people. Why should he be held guilty under such circumstances? Why should not the Government put in their assessors, and prove that the charge is probably true?
– In any case, such a matter is one of political opinion
– Not necessarilv.
– It may be on some occasions that these matters are largely matters of Tariff.
– The question of the effect of prices on wages mav be free, from Tariff considerations; altogether.
– It may; but even then it might have Tariff aspects. If the competition does result in greatly disorganizing Australian industry, or throwing workers out of employment, and if the defendant cannot prove the contrary, he is to be found guilty. Now, any competition - and there is surely not going to be an abolition of ‘competition - must to some extent disorganize an industry which it affects. It may throw out of employment some workers in a particular industry ; though, on the other hand, they may find employment in the concern which is taking that part of the trade, and which others are losing, and the loss of which is disorganizing the industry to some extent. The Minister has only to say, for any reason or no reason, that a man is disorganizing Australian industry, and charge him with it ; whereupon he is brought before the Court, and if he cannot prove that the result of his operations is not to disorganize industry, and not to cause some workers to be thrown out of employment, he is to be found guilty. Well, that will tend to create glorious monopolies in Australia. The very evil we are trying to avoid and suppress by this measure will be created by it within our Tariff wall. What will be the effect of such a provision? If firms with new and active ideas, carrying on business outside Australia, or even within Australia, doing Inter-Stale tradeintroduced new systems, new processes - it might be a patent process - they would, of course, disorganize, to some extent, Australian industry, and might throwsome men out of employment. Is that to be prevented ? Is a man to be found .guilty, punished severely, and hindered from continuing his operations, because certain forms of industry hang back or are unable to develop processes equal to those of the competing firm ? If I read a previous clause aright it need not be an outside firm that effects this. I say that it would be bad for Australia if we were to offer such restrictions to inside or outside enterprise. The best thing for Australian industry is that it should have to keep up-to-dai?, and on an equality with other similar industries in the world; that its activities should be maintained ; that it should go in for development, and employ new processes, and by that means be able to compete with other industries elsewhere. Anything that restricts this does not tend to’ the development of Australia, and especially does not tend to benefit the consumers 6f Australia1. I am sure that if honorable members find that the Bill has that effect in any particular they will endeavour to amend it. We can often best see what we are doing, its bearing and its reasonableness or unreasonableness, by looking at the probable effect upon ourselves, if others were to apply the same principle to our trade. We export very large quantities of wheat to England. We know that wheat can be grown in England. It is not the lower wages paid in Australia that prevent its being grown there; but it is die variety of advantages which we possess that enable us to put our wheat into the English market at a cheaper rate than that at which it can be produced there. As a consequence, if wheat is to be produced in England it must be at beggarly wages. We are placing England in that condition by our competition. England might turn round and say, “ You are disorganizing English production; you are throwing our workers out of employment ; you are forcing a lower remuneration to be. given for labour than our workmen ought to get. We intend to bring the industry under the provisions of such a Bill as your Australian Industries Preservation Bill, and to exclude your wheat altogether from our markets.” Such, I am sure, is not the intent of most of the members of this House in connexion with a Bill of this sort, and if by the insertion of such clauses as I have specified, it can be used in a most arbitrary and drastic manner, it ought to be amended. The only object of the Bill ought to be simply to repress the gigantic and unfair interference by trusts, anxious to destroy an opponent by any means, which we all recognise to be injurious. It shows the danger of measures of this sort when these provisions can be used as I have explained. Whether they will be so used or not must depend on the administration. But we, have to look at the powers which we give. Some Ministers would take full advantage of those powers; and, as I have said already, Parliament should reserve to itself the right in connexion with a measure of this sort, dealing with the trade and commerce, and the industries of Australia, to fix the lines on which interference would be justified, and not give too ample powers to any Minister. Clauses 7 and 8 deal with wilful monopoly, or attempts to monopolize, and clause 7 provides that -
Any person who wilfully monopolizes or attempts to monopolize, or combines or conspires with any other person to monopolize, .any part of the trade or commerce wilh other countries, or among the States, with the design of con- trolling, to the detriment of the public, the supply or price of any merchandise or commodity, is guilty of an indictable offence.
In connexion with these provisions, I heard the Minister state that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company was one of those concerns which he had in his mind when these provisions were inserted in the Bill. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company is a New South Wales company, or, at any rate, commenced operations originally in New South Wales, and I have in my possession information which was supplied at a recent meeting of- the company, and has been amplified since, showing the manycharges made against the company to be altogether unfounded. I have not the information with me now, but I may give from memory some of the replies to the charges which have been made. I should say that I have no interest- whatever, direct or indirect, in the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, but I contend that if this Bill is to be used to interfere with and destroy a company which has done so much for Australian industry as the Colonial Sugar Refining Company has, we are getting into a very serious position indeed. This company was founded in 1855. and its growth has been gradual. From personal experience, for a time, as one occupying a supervising position in connexion with a competitor of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, I am aware of the fact that itssuccess was not gained by cutting down the price paid to the producers of sugar in Australia, and by taking advantage of its position to make gigantic profits. The authorities of the company state that thev are willing to show that their profits per ton are not gigantic but reasonable.
– They are certainly very large as compared with the profits derived from sugar refining in other countries.
– Not per ton.
– Yes, per ton.
– I am not prepared to say that they are. Will the honorable member for Bland say that the profits of the Colonial Sugar Perming Company are large compared with those of Spreckles. of California?
– I do not think that they are.
– I have expert authority for the statement that they charge for refining double the price charged by Spreckles.
– We shall see whether that is so directly I was saying that, having had some supervision of the business of a competitor of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, 1 know that the difficulty with competitors of the company was not that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company cut down the prices of cane to the growers, but that they gave higher prices than their competitors could afford ro pav.
– Then, they have altered their policv.
– I shall deal with that also. I arn afraid that in connexion with these matters, there is a good deal of misapprehension abroad. At all events, if my statements are wrong, they can be contradicted. As tha result of the prices they had to give growers, and as a result also of the sugar crisis in the early ‘eighties, when prices abroad, which affected these markets, came down to a very low level, practically the whole of the competing, sugar-mills in New South Wales ceased operations. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company did not take advantage of that position lo lower the rate paid to the growers. Immediately after that, and since that time, they have actually been giving the growers higher prices than they paid them when the competition of other nui] ls was going on.-. The success of the company is easily accounted for. It. has been an enterprising company in the hands of men greatly experienced in the sugar industry. Some of the ablest men in the industry have been brought up in the service of the company. They have encouraged invention, and when they had an invention of their own, or when inventions were discovered elsewhere, to Improve processes, they have never hesitated to immediately sacrifice machinery, the original cost of which was very large, in order to put in improved machinery at whatever outlay. Thev have thus been able not only to secure a very large share of the sugar trade of Australia, but, as I know from the experience I speak of, they have saved the industry for Australia, when,, in the hands of a less progressive and less capable concern during the sugar crisis, it might have gone out of existence.
– Is it not a fact that they have only increased the prices to the grower since the Queensland Central Mills were started?
– I am speaking of New South Wales a.t present, and’ I know that they have increased prices in Queensland since the imposition of the Federal duty.
– But prior to that - since the Central Mills were started in Queensland?
– I believe that is not so, but the honorable? member can submit evidence to the contrary if he pleases. I am informed that they have increased prices to the grower since the Federal Government took the matter in hand in Queensland. There is no protective d’utv now on refining. A great deal of sugar is now refined in Australia in bond, and the ^6 per ton duty is paid upon it. I may mention that one of the competitors of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company finds it to its advantage to import sugar from Java and refine it in bond. There were no duties that protected previously in Queensland, but when the Federal duties were imposed, the sugar-grower got the advantage of them to the extent of 3s. rod. per ton of cane.
– There were duties on sugar in Queensland; but they were not operative.
– That is so; they afforded no protection, because the supply was infinitely beyond the consumption of sugar in Queensland.
– Then low prices are sometimes consistent with, a protective policv ?
– When there is an export of the article concerned. That is what we always say. When you come to export an article, the protection afforded by Customs duties ceases, and prices must come down to the prices in the markets of the world.
– Low prices are not inconsistent with high wages, either.
– Thev had no protection really in Queensland, but the growers were given protection under the Federal Customs Act, because the whole of the markets of Australia were then opened to Queensland sugar producers, and the Queensland supply was not equal to the demands of those markets. Then the protection of the sugar duty operated, and the growers got 3s. iod. per ton more for their cane.
– Does 3s. iod. per ton of cane represent the whole of the difference in the price of sugar plus the duty ?
– I remember that the Minister of Trade and Customs stated that they should divide the duty between them, but what the Colonial Sugar Refining Company say in this connexion is thai the difference is retained by them ro cover the loss anticipated if the abolition of black labour causes them to withdraw their refineries from Queensland.
– That bears out what I said a little time ago - that they are getting too great a profit under present conditions.
– If conditions are imposed from which a loss may be anticipated, the honorable gentleman will admit that the company must prepare for that loss.
– It is problematical whether any loss will be sustained.
– The authorities of the company are acting on their knowledge of the business, and I believe that they have recently offered still higher prices to the grower.
– To whom will they hand the accumulated profits if there is found to be no such loss as is anticipated.
-They will no doubt set them against some’ other unexpected loss, which the honorable member knows is always occuring in business.
– It is one of their inner reserves.
– Dealing with a question of opinion differences may exist, but we will come to practical issues, and to practical comparisons. From a return obtained of the operations of the Central Mills, during the period from .1901 to 1904, showing the total number of tons of cane handled and the prices given for it, it was found that the Central Mills paid the growers 3d. per ton less for their cane than the prices paid by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company during the same period. The company, in the first place, are charged with giving too little to the grower, although it is shown that they have given 3d. per ton more than has been given by the Central Mills, established with Government money at low rates of interest, and in which the Queensland Government have some interest since the liabilities of <“he mills have not all been mei. If the Colonial Sugar Refining Company can he accused of making too much out of the buyer then .what do the Central Mills, which are assisted by the Queensland Government, make out of them, when it is shown that they get their cane for less, while they obtain the same price as the Colonial Sugar Refining Company for their sugar? It must be remembered that some 12 J tons of cane go to a ton of sugar, so every penny or shilling per ton of cane has to be multiplied accordingly to arrive at the effect on a ton of sugar. I do not give this explanation merely because the Colonial Sugar Refining Companyare operating an industry originating in New South Wales, but I do think that, when an industry started early in our history, which has been only a short one, has been gradually and successfully established, and has been the means of creating interests not in Australia alone, but outside of Australia, in New Zealand and Fiji, instead of attacking it when there is no good reason for doing so, we should be proud of it, and should desire to encourage it. We do not find the people of New Zealand, in connexion with their great industries such as that of the_ Union Steamship Company, taking so little pride in them, and we do not find them trying to destroy them, especially when no good and sufficient reason can be shown for any such action. Of course, it is said that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is a company of capitalists. I have not the information with me. but particulars have been published in the press which show that, so far from that being the case, the company is composed of some 1,300 odd shareholders. It is admitted that less than one-fourth of the number maybe described as capitalists, but the rest are trustees and others interested .for families, widows, and so on, and the employes of the company have a considerable interest in its shares. They have a provident fund alone holding 3,000 of the shares. In these circumstances, if this Bill is to be used to attempt the destruction of an industry of that nature, it will be a very unfortunate application of its provisions.
– Is it not a first condition that this corporation must be doing something detrimental to the public before it can be interfered with?
– I am replying to certain charges that have been made, and to a remark of the Minister in connexion with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. I am sure that the honorable member for Moira will bear with me in putting forward what are stated to be facts to which the Colonial Sugar Refining Company have given publicity. I think that any aompany attacked in this House is entitled to have its side of the case put before honorable members, especially when a Bill is being brought in one of whose objects has been indicated to be to deal with that company. I pass now to the third part of the measure, which requires the most keen examination, since the powers given in it are extraordinary. If Parliament passes this part as it stands, it will no longer have occasion to consider the Tariff, because the Minister will be independent of any Tariff. Hitherto, Parliament has been supposed, according to the opinions and lights of its members, freetraders and protectionists, to fix what are considered reasonable duties to impose for purposes of revenue or to enable Australian industries to compete with manufactures from abroad. We have arranged such a Tariff, and have appointed Commissioners to investigate its working, but, after we have dealt with their report, it will, under the Bill, be competent for the Minister, whenever he chooses to do so, to come in, and say to any importer, “You are unduly interfering with an industry in Australia; you are doing what I term dumping.” He can then refer the case to a Board of his own appointing, the views of whose members he may know before he .appoints them, and he can act on the decision of that Board. The Board will not decide what is to be done; it is the Minister who will do that. The Minister alone acts, and he can absolutely exclude goods to whose importation he objects, or he can place such conditions on their admission as he sees fit.
– The members of the Board may be trade rivals of the importer.
– Yes. I shall presently deal with that aspect of the case. This is an extraordinary power for the Minister to ask for. No Minister has a right to have such authority. If such provisions were agreed to, Parliament should have the right to decide when they should be imposed. But there is no need for great hurry in these matters. Even looking at the matter from the Minister’s stand-point - personally I do not agree with many of his proposals - it is not one shipment but continued shipments which would do injury, if injury is to be done, and therefore Parliament would have plenty of time to deal with any abuse that might arise. The parties to be dealt with under these clauses of the Bill are not those in regard to whom the previous parts of the Bill take effect ; they are the importers of goods, or the sellers of imported goods - everybody who imports goods, or sells imported goods. The offence for which they will be liable to penalties is unfair competition with Australian industries. We have determined by the Tariff what is fair or unfair competition; but it is here proposed to set tip a tribunal, with practically no responsibility, to settle that matter for us. Then it is provided that the Comptroller-General, or the Board, shall decide what industries may be advantageous to the Commonwealth, having due regard to the interests of producers, workers, and consumers, and1 that they shall also decide what is unfair to Australian industries. This is a most extraordinary provision, as I think the Attorney-General will see if he looks at it. Under clause 13 the Comptroller-General, or the Board, as the case may be, is to decide what industries are advantageous to the Commonwealth, while in the other portion of the Bill similar questions are to be decided by a jury.
– No jury is provided for in this part of the Bill.
– No, but there is a Board, though the ComptrollerGeneral can decide these questions independently of the Board. He has no such power under the other portions of the Bil!’.
– He decides matters only for the purpose of his own certificates, not for the purpose of the Board, or for the purpose of the Minister.
– That is not at all clear. The clause says, “ industries, the preservation of which, in the opinion of the Comptroller-General.” The Comptroller-General, or the Board, as the case mav be, may also decide what is unfair competition. That power is given in paragraph b of sub-clause 2 of clause 14.
– For the purposes of his own action.
– The clause does not say so.
– “As the case may be” shows, that.
– It seems to be very involved.
– There is no question as to what the object is.
– No, that may be ; but the meaning might be made clearer.
– -If any words can be suggested which would make it clearer, I will accept them.
– The honorable and learned member, if he sets out to make a thing clear, can do so without the help of any suggestion. Paragraph a of clause 14 is the most extraordinary provision in the Bill. Competition shall be deemed unfair, not only if it may lead to Australian goods being withdrawn from -he market or sold at a loss1, unless produced at a lower remuneration for labour, but if it would probably lead to that. This has nothing to do with the legislation against trusts. This is anti-dumping legislation. ifr. Page. - Who .is to decide the matter?
– The members of the Board, who are to be experts, and. consequently, interested parties, and possibly competitors of those concerned.
– The Minister is not serious about the clause.
– Competition is to be deemed unfair if importation is likely to lead to goods being withdrawn from the market, or sold at a loss, unless produced at a lower remuneration for labour.
– In other words, unless the goods cannot be produced if labour is not ground down. Is the honorable member prepared to allow that?
– The AttorneyGeneral is wrong again. The first provision deals with goods being withdrawn from the market. How can goods be imported and sold without causing other goods to be withdrawn, for the time at any rate, supposing the market to be already full ?
– Things adjust themselves again.
– Yes; but any importation under such circumstances must for a time cause other goods to be withdrawn from the market. This provision would allow a Minister to keep out goods, and importers would not know what to do. We must depend to some extent upon importations. I am in sympathy with the desire to create Australian industries; but a large amount of our requirements must be brought from abroad, and we shall be the most extraordinary Parliament under the sun if we hamper our business people, and prevent our merchants from trading effectively. Under this provision anything and everything could be shut out, either on the ground that its importation would lead to goods being withdrawn from the market, or that it would lead to goods being sold at a loss unless produced at a lower remuneration for labour. We know perfectly well that occasional shipments of goods do not affect the remuneration for labour ; in other words, that wages are not thereby altered. Every firm, paying what wages it may, has now and then to lose money in consequence of competition ; but it looks to reap a larger profit on some other occasion. The proposed measure may be administered by a free-trader, who will not be anxious to bring into force any of its provisions ; or it may be administered by a protectionist, who willi be anxious to bring them all into force, and, by doing so, if he appoints a Board of the same views as he himself holds, he will practically shut out everything. Surely these powers are too serious to place in the hands of any Minister, or of any Board. According to the Minister, the Board is to consist of experts - men who understand the business with which they are dealing. Where are we going to get these men, if we do not get men who are interested in some, way or another in the matters with which they would have to deal ? They will have to decide cases on which depend the livings of other men, who may be their trade rivals. If matters have to be dealt with in this way - .though I do not see the necessity, even from the Minister’s stand-point - they should be dealt with by the most honorable and intelligent Judge that we can find. Even if an article is not produced here, its importation could, under this provision, be prohibited on the ground that importation might prevent the manufacture of Australian goods ;. or a little of the article might be manufactured here for the sake of excluding a similar article manufactured abroad, in regard to which it might be perfectly true to say that it could not be manufactured here without lowering the rates of wages, because its manufacture might be absolutely unsuited to Australian conditions. What is proposed is to provide for prohibition, which we have not hitherto attempted to bring about. I have never yet heard a protectionist argue in this House in favour of prohibition for the exclusion of anything. Protectionists recognise that we must import many things, if only for the development of our own industries, and for that reason have allowed certain articles to be placed on the free list.
– If the proposed measure is put into full operation, the Commonwealth will ha.ve to look beyond the Customs duties for a new means of revenue.
– Yes. I do not mean to say that the Minister intends to press its provisions so far. The decisions of the Board would have to be in accordance with the clause, and the Minister would have to act in keeping with its provisions. That would bring about a very serious position. Certain articles which form the bases of industries, can be produced in some parts of the world much more advantageously than in others, and many of our industries would be seriously affected if, because such goods could be produced in Australia, though at a much higher cost, some one could come along and demand their exclusion, or the imposition of such conditions that they could not very well be imported. Therefore, we should be careful not to confer any such powers. It must be remembered -also that the competition with which our manufacturers have to contend, does not always come from countries where low* wages are paid. Some of She competition complained of by the Minister comes from countries which pay high wages, and in which the trusts’ operations are conducted. Therefore, if we attempt to interfere with the operation of natural laws, so far as Australian trade is concerned, we shall prejudice our own interests. Clause 14 contains some extraordinary provisions. The second sub-clause reads as follows : -
In the following cases the competition shall be deemed unfair until the contrary is proved : - («) If the person importing goods or selling imported goods is a commercial trust : (/>) If the competition would probably or does in fact result in a lower remuneration for labour :
If the competition would probably or does in fact result in greatly disorganizing Australian industry or throwing workers out of employment :
In other words, guilt is assumed unless the contrary is proved. Paragraph d provides that competition shall be deemed unfair until the contrary is proved, if the imported goods have been purchased abroad at prices greatly below their ordinary cost of production where produced, or the market price where purchased. In such cases, goods can be absolutely excluded I should like honorable members to consider how such a provision, if literally construed, would affect trade. Goods are often sold abroad in the same way that they are frequently sold in Australia, below the cost of production. The market may go against a producer, and id may be impossible for him to sell at or over the cost of production. In the event of the market going back, perishable goods must frequently be sold at less than the cost of purchase or production.; otherwise they will deteriorate and involve the holder in serious loss. Then, again, goods frequently go out of season or out of fashion, and it is well recognised among, the wholesale houses in England and elsewhere, thai at the end of the season certain goods must be sold for what they will fetch, even if the price be below the cost of production. Some of these goods reach Australia in season, because our fashions generally follow those of the older countries. Is it contended that goods should not be admitted here if thev have been purchased below the cost of production ?
– Who gets the benefit of that?
– -The consumer gets the benefit in a case such as I have mentioned, in the same way that he loses when the market goes up.
– Not if there is a monopoly.
– It is of no use talking to the honorable member as to the course of trade and the markets, because he cannot for a moment claim to be an authority upon such subjects. If an article such as wheat or rice-
– Say clothing.
– T shall deal with clothing afterwards. If the market goes against the holder of, say, wheat, nothing on earth will enable him to obtain a price equivalent to the cost of production.
– Except a monopoly.
– A mo- .nopoly could not be brought about if there were markets throughout the world to which purchasers could go, or if there were overproduction. No man could hold his goods for ever, especially perishable goods.
– But a ring could do so.
– No, it could not. It would be impossible for a ring to hold grain for ever. Another ring would soon operate - a ring of small insects - and quickly relieve the owner of his goods, if not of his obligations. There should be no need for me to repeat what I have said on this subject, because it is really the A B C of business. If the market goes absolutely against the holder of perishable goods, which can be purchased from others at rates lower than he has paid, he must reduce to sell. That is perfectly clear. As regards seasonable goods, such as clothing, it is well known that at the end of the season in London or Paris-
– Say in Berlin.
– It does not matter which. When it is anticipated or known that there will be a change of the fashion - and a change usually does take place - the wholesale houses fmd it necessary at the end of the season to get rid of their goods at whatever prices they can obtain.
– That is business.
– Of course. In the same way, if the honorable member had certain liabilities to meet when low prices ruled in the sheep market, he would have to sell his stock at the prevailing rates. Many of the goods such as I have mentioned reach us in time for our season, which usually follows that of the older countries. Should all these goods be excluded? If that course is to be followed the Bill will provide one of the greatest means of taxation that has ever been submitted to this Parliament.
– The provision referred to by the honorable member would not exclude such goods.
-I should have read paragraph e in conjunction with paragraph d. Paragraph e reads as follows : -
If the imported goods are being sold in Australia at a price which is less than gives the person importing or selling them a fair profit upon their fair foreign market value, or their cost of production, together wilh all charges after shipment from the place whence die goods are exported directly to Australia (including Customs duty) :
I contend that it would be impossible for any Department to follow trade through all ils ramifications.
– If an Austalian merchant went to an English warehouse and found that he could purchase at a much reduced price certain goods that had teen in stock for some time, could he bring them out here ?
– Not if the price were below the fair market value of such goods. If a. merchant went to England or America, his object would be not to buy his goods as cheaply as possible, because they might be shut out of the Commonwealth, -but to see that he paid enough for ll> .’m.
– And also ta see afterwards that the consumer paid enough.
– Exactly. It seems to me that the Bill goes altogether beyond anything that Ave should attempt in a measure ofl this kind. A merchant might incur verv heavy losses through failing to avail himself of an opportunity to sell his goods at less than their cost to him. Is it right that we should interfere with all these operations of trade. Clause 14 contains another astonishing provision. Paragraph / reads-
If the person importing or selling the imported goods directly or indirectly gives to agents or intermediaries disproportionately large reward or remuneration for selling or recommending the goods.
That provision would have the effect of reducing the remuneration of brokers, agents, or travellers I should like to know who is to decide what is a proper remuneration? In some cases per cent, might be an excellent remuneration, whereas in other instances 25 per cent, would not be a good return for services. Why should we attempt to reduce the rate of remuneration? Those who hold goods do not pay more than they find it necessary to give in order to sell them.
– Under certain circumstances they pay more than they need for a specific purpose.
– They pay in order to sell. If they find that one man can sell two machines where another can sell only one, thev are satisfied to pay more money to’ a tetter salesman.
– That is not the practice that is aimed at.
Mr. DUGALD THOMSON.Surely we ought to deal with competition with some honor and reasonableness. Why is no restriction placed upon the Australian competitor? Why should he be allowed to pay what commission he likes?
– He is an Australian, and he is all right
– Then what is improper in the one case is legitimate in the other.
– I do not OV that.
– I am speaking of the Bill. The provision as it stands is an absurdity, and I shall te astonished if Ministers persist in retaining it. I need not refer further to the operations nf the Board. I need only say that whilst T would not accuse any member of this Parliament of wilfully doing wrong as a
Minister. I consider that we shall act unwisely if we afford opportunities or inducements to future Ministers, whoever they may be, to allow corruption to enter into their administration. The Less Ministers have to do directly with these drastic powers - powers which may be so severely exercised, and will inflict enormous monetary losses - the better, and the less they have to do with them through boards, which are the creatures of their appointment, the better for themselves, for the Parliament, and for our commerce. If such provisions are to remain - and I hope most of them will not - by all means1 let us have a Judge to deal with these matters. There has been no occasion to introduce special legislation in Australia for what is described as clumping. Some honorable members doubtless hold a different opinion; but if we are to have such legislation it would be better for us to follow the provisions of the Canadian Act, which the Minister cited as one of his authorities, although it seemed to have been regarded by him as a warning rather than an example, a warning judging by the desire on his part to depart altogether from its provisions. The Canadian Act simply provides that where it is considered that goods have been purchased at Ieas than their legitimate market value, duties which to some extent may counterbalance the difference between the purchase price and the market value shall be imposed. I do not think that such a law is necessary, but if a majority of honorable ‘ members hold that it is, why not let us adopt it? If we follow the Canadian law we shall determine for ourselves what is to be clone in such cases. It will not be left to a Minister, nor to a Board appointed by a Minister, to decide, as a kind of jury, whether the competition is unfair or not. The Minister will not have power subsequently to do what he chooses, and to take action that may interfere with the very provisions of our Tariff. Instead of this, if we adopt the Canadian precedent, we shall in such cases fix a duty that will, to some extent, counterbalance the lower cost of the goods. Surely it will commend . itself to most honorable members that we should retain in our own hands the power that we are now able to exercise when dealing with the Tariff, and determine for ourselves how the difference between the purchase price and the market value of any goods im ported is to be equalized, if it be necessary to equalize it. I do not think that it is, but if the majority of honorable members differ from me, I hold that we should follow the Canadian law rather than confer on a Board to be .appointed by the Minister these enormous powers, which, at some time or other, even if not in the immediate future, will lead to corruption in the Federal sphere. I have nothing more to say with respect to the Bill itself. I would only repeat that, so far as its provisions against destructive trusts are concerned, anything that can be effectively done, without injury to beneficent combines, will be readily undertaken by myself, and, I think, by most honorable members on this side of the House. I regret, however, that, whilst making what I believe is, whether successful or not, a genuine effort to deal with this question, Ministers have burdened the Bill with the most extreme proposals relating to imports that I have ever seen in an Act of Parliament. I trust that this Legislature will not grant the powers that are sought. In some respects, and in so far as it relates to trusts, this is not a party measure, and I therefore hope that Ministers, finding a willingness on the part of honorable members to fairly consider their proposals in connexion with what are recognised on all sides of the House to be laudable objects, will not insist on carrying by the weight of their numbers provisions such as are to be found in Part III. of the Bill, which would not only take out of the hands of Parliament a power dearly achieved, but would create opportunities for wrong-doing, and for inflicting injury, the like of which should never be allowed by any of our Legislatures.
.- I do not intend to occupy the time of the House very long, but I cannot allow the opportunity to pass without saying that which I think requires to be said in connexion with this measure With every desire to be as friendly to the Government as possible, I must, nevertheless, express my great surprise that a member of it has introduced a Bill of this kind. Not only does it seem to be protection run stark staring mad, but the ordinary safeguards against extravagance on either side of the fiscal issue have been deliberately set aside. When we think things are done that ought not to be done, we appeal to. Parliament in the last resort, but the extraordinary power to take action in this regard is by this Bill to be placed in the hands of a few irresponsible individuals. I must confess that I see a great difficulty in securing disinterested persons to deal with these matters. The members of the Board will have also to deal with some of the most difficult and intricate problems of modern commercial conditions - problems which ought to be threshed out in this Parliament, and not remitted to individuals who/before they approach their consideration, may have adopted a biased view, rendering them totally incapable of coming to that decision that ought to be given in respect of such large and grave issues. I do not wish to go into many details, but one of the very first clauses of the Bill appears to me to be profoundly absurd. Clause 4 provides that -
Any person who wilfully, either as principal or as agent, makes or enters into any contract, or is a member of or engages in any combination to do any act or thing, in relation to trade or commerce with other countries or among the States - (a) in restraint of trade or commerce to the detriment of the public - shall be guilty of an indictable offence. Any person who proposes to do anything in connexion with the trade or commerce of this country - in restraint of trade it is assumed - may be dealt with. If we take these provisions as they stand, I believe that any member of a protectionist association might be prosecuted, or, on the other hand, any member of a free-trade organization might be assumed, in pursuit of bis particular ideas, to be doing something in restraint of trade or commerce.
– And so with a trade unionist.
– Undoubtedly a trade unionist who might take certain steps which from his point of view appeared legitimate, would be liable, as I read the clause. Another objection to this measure is that it is based almost entirely on certain premises, the correctness of which, adopting even the friendliest attitude towards them, are, to’ say the least, very doubtful. It is assumed, for instance, that a commercial trust is necessarily objectionable. My political views and sympathies cause me to take a rather definite stand against organizations of this nature, but still I am careful to discriminate between trusts that operate in an objectionable way, and trusts that are rather beneficent than otherwise to the public. There are undoubtedly organizations that may be called trusts, the only result of whose work has been to reduce to the public the cost of the article which they produce. It may be almost taken for granted that, in the case of certain commercial interests, firms carrying on the same work, can achieve as good, or even better,, results by combining, and at the same time giving the public advantages corresponding with those which they obtain for themselves.
– Hear, hear; that is all provided for in the Bill.
– If it is, then it is done in a way that is not very apparent to a layman. In the circumstances, it ought to be more plainly provided than it is. Another purely gratuitous assumption is that if, under competition, wages in Australia are reduced the issue is resolved into a matter of wages. Suppose that a certain machine is invented which reduces the cost of an article. The machine is very expensive, and can only be operated where the demand for the article is verylarge. That means that the machine can only be introduced into those countries which have a much larger trade than has Australia at the present time. Assuming that the machine is introduced into America, and results in a certain product which is -sold in Australia being reduced in price. The Australian manufacturer who wants to compete is placed in this position, that he has either to get the new machine or to reduce the wages of his employes. I regret: that I am unable fo go into details of evidence given before the Tariff Commission, but I may say, incidentally, that frequently it has been told that the demand. for a certain class of goods is so limited in Australia that to put in the best and most up-to-date machinery would not be justified. Accordingly, under paragraph a of clause 6 of this Bill, the Australian manufacturer would be compelled to reduce wages and that reduction of wages is assumed as the radical factor in competition with the outsider, whereas the true factor is simply that the man outside was in a position to get up-to-date machinery to do his work, while the local manufacturer was not in that situation. Therefore, I contend that the whole issue is begged, and it is misleading to talk about a reduction in the remuneration of labour necessitating the prohibition of the article imported.
– Does the honorable member assume that the Australian industry is one advantageous to be preserved or not?
– Again, the honorable and learned member introduces matter which ought to be discussed in relation to ihe evidence submitted before the Tari’ff Commission.
– It is a necessary condition in the Bill that the industry ought to be preserved in the interests of all.
– The honorable and learned gentleman is, I repeat, introducing, matter which ought to be discussed in connexion with the evidence submitted to the Tariff Commission. It has been represented to that body even by protectionists that the time has not arrived in Australia when certain industries can be successfully carried on under ordinary conditions. That, as I think the honorable and learned gentleman will admit, opens up the very large question as to what is the particular time in the development of an industry when the imposition of the duty which it requires for its prosperity will be justified. Of course, I know that extreme protectionists contend that the duty should be put on in order to bring an industry into existence, but there are not very many of these gentlemen in the House at the present time. I believe the majority of the protectionists in the House contend that only where an industry has a chance of existing under reasonable conditions is the imposition of a dutv justified. So I hold that until the evidence submitted to the Tariff Commission comes down in connexion with te. good man v of the premises upon which this Bill is built it is unfair to the House to bring forward these matters. A suggestion has been made here that in order to prove the justification for the exclusion of certain articles from Australia, all documents necessary to prow- the case against the unfortunate individual who may be trying to get them introduced, shall be available for examination bv the Board which is appointed I should like to know from the Attorney-General, who is at present in charge of this Bill, whether that necessarily means that the documents in possession of- Australian manufacturers of the same articles are also going to be examined. Because, in some cases, in order to prove a case against (he importer it will be very necessary, indeed, to examine the books of his Australian competitor. Here is another illustration of the peculiar methods in which the Bill is drawn. Paragraph / of clause T4 provides that certain penalties sh;i 11 be inflicted -
If the person importing or selling the imported articles directly or indirectly gives to agents or intermediaries disproportionately large reward or remuneration for selling or recommending the goods.
How is this disproportionately large reward going to be proved? In the case of certain industries and also certain imports the House will find on reference to the evidence laid before the Tariff Commission that disproportionate rewards, to all appearances, pertain. In other words, the cost of selling these articles seems to be altogether out of proportion to their value, and yet, no doubt, there is a very good commercial reason for that. Now, if a certain reward is customary in connexion with an Australian-made article, will a similar reward in connexion with the imported article be regarded as disproportionate if it seems out of proportion to the value of the article sold ? I should say that here, again, you have a case in which necessarily the locally-made article and the custom in connexion with the sale thereof will have to be balanced up against the circumstances of the imported article. Apparently no provision for that is made. It seems to me that the importer is to be regarded as a person who is to be hounded into a corner, and then, if he chooses, he can turn round, and make a fight in the best way open to him. That, I would suggest to the Government, is hardly an attitude that might be expected in connexion with the industries anc! the commerce of Australia. I did not think that Ministers were prepared to go so far as to say that all importers are to be regarded in the first place as natural enemies of Australian manufacturers. Again., I think it will be shown in the evidence laid before the Tariff Commission that the importer frequently plays a very important part in the assisting and development of Australian manufactures. If it is intended to treat him in this fashion I can assure Ministers that sometimes they will hit Australian industries pretty hard. The principal reason why I rose was to suggest very earnestly that this is a measure which should not be brought forward until members of Parliament are in possession of at least the greater part of the evidence taken by the Tariff Commission. I can assure honorable members through you, sir, that they will find a considerable amount of evidence submitted by the Commission which will assist them very materially in arriving at a very safe decision with regard to a measure of this kind. I can assure them, on the other hand, that if they proceed with this Bill- without the advantage of seeing that evidence they will be groping in the dark and making mistakes corresponding to that particular action. I would urge the Government to allow the consideration of the Bill to stand over until that evidence is available for the benefit of honorable members. I make this request, not as a fiscal bigot in any sense, or as one who is prepared to always look at the fiscal issue from the same side, but in the interests of good government and safe legislation, lt is a concession to which this Parliament is entitled from the Government in order to save it from committing mistakes, otherwise we shall have a measure which will have to be altered very materially after further evidence is submitted. That, I take it, is. a position which would not be creditable to the Government or to Parliament. I hope, therefore, that what I have urged will receive consideration from those responsible for the Bill.
.- I am in thorough accord with the views which have just been expressed by the honorabe member for Perth. I believe that it would have been far better for the Government to wait until the reports of the Tariff Commission had been distributed to honorable members to find out first, whether there is any necessity for legislation of this kind, and next, what is the best way to deal with any matters which need to be dealt with as the result of any disclosures in those reports. But so far there has been nothing shown by the Minister of Trade and Customs to justify the introduction of a Bill of this kind. It has been brought in to deal with matters which so far as we know Have only an imaginary existence. There is one thing to which I wish specially to refer, and that is the absence of the Minister of Trade and Customs, who should be here in his place to listen to the criticism passed upon his Bill. It is a piece of gross discourtesy to the House that after he has moved the second reading of a Bill of this kind, and in a long and laboured speech pointed out the meaning of its provisions, he should riot remain to hear the criticisms of other honorable members. This afternoon we have listened to a close scrutiny and analysis of the measure from two speakers, and the Minister should have been here to listen to and reply to them. It is a. singular thing that no Minister has risen to deal with the objections which have been urged against the Bill. The honorable member for North Sydney made a careful and able criticism of its provisions - it was exhaustive, thoroughly fair, and absolutely temperate in tone - and was of such a character as to demand an answer either from the Minister responsible for the introduction of the Bill or from the Minister temporarily in charge of it during his absence. Yet we have heard not one word in reply to that criticism, or to that of the honorable member for Perth. This is entitled a Bill for the preservation of Australian Industries. It might more properly be described as a Bill to strangle trade in Australia and to raise the prices of agricultural implements to the farmers. That is not the only- purpose of the Bill. We know perfectly well that this measure was brought forward, not because Australian trade is suffering to any appreciable extent from the operations of trusts, either forei.gr. or local, but because it is desired to unfairly bolster up manufacturing industries in Victoria, principally in Melbourne, at the expense of the Commonwealth. The Bill had its origin in the demand of a firm of harvester makers in Victoria that a heavy additional duty should be levied upon imported harvesters and parts of harvesters for the purpose of keeping up the price of goods which this firm made. That demand was made in November last, and was followed up by meetings engineered by the same firm calling upon the Government to introduce legislation for the purpose of keeping out imported harvesters. Why ? Not for the purpose of preserving Australian industries ; not for the purpose ot promoting the interests of the public of Australia ; not for any good’, laudable, Or worthy purpose whatever; but simply to create a monopoly in the hands of one firm bv shutting out competition from abroad. The movement was initiated in the interests of the Sunshine Harvester Company, and was engineered principally by Mr. McKay, who is the proprietor pf those works. In the speech of the Minister of Trade and Customs in introducing this Bill, the intention which I have indicated is made absolutely clear. We are told about the strangling of Australian industries under the Tariff, how they are declining, and how necessary it is to preserve them. Yet there is not a tittle of evidence to show that any Australian industry has yet suffered from competition from abroad. On the contrary, those who take the trouble to inquire will find that there is abundant evidence to show that no Australian industries require any legislation for their preservation, or are in the slightest danger. The harvester industry in particular is in a most flourishing condition. I propose to give a few figures bearing upon these points. Special provision has been made in this Bill to guard against dumping; the ostensible reason being that, through the alleged dumping process, articles are sold in Australian markets at a lower rate than that for which similar articles of Australian manufacture can be sold. Even assuming that that is true, who gets the benefit of that underselling? Does not the purchaser of the articles benefit? If harvesters are being dumped and sold in Australia for lower prices than the Australian harvesters, who benefits? Does not the Australian farmer? If this legislation is for the purpose of preventing the Australian farmer from getting his agricultural implements at the cheapest rate, for keeping up prices, and for making the farmer pay prices over and above those for which Australian-made harvesters are sold out of Australia, a great wrong is’ done to him. For it is a wellknown fact that the locally-made harvesters are sold at a certain price in Victoria whilst outside this State, and outside the Commonwealth, they are sold at a lower price. If these manufacturing firms can afford to sell these machines at a lower price after paying freight to other countries, they have a right to allow the Australian farmer to get the benefit of that lower price, so that he may be upon the same footing as are farmers in the Argentine and other foreign countries. The farming industry is already too heavily handicapped by legislative truckling to Melbourne manufacturers. In regard to the alleged dumping of harvesters by the International Harvester Trust, I find, upon examination, that before1904 only a few samples of harvesters were imported by this firm. During 1904 and 1905 the importations of the firm did not exceed 8 per cent, of the total annual sales in the Commonwealth. That being so, the company whose operations ha.ve been referred to bythe Minister of Customs as furnishing reasons for the introduction of legislation of this character, reallv affords no justification for the Bill. As to the Victorian iron-workers generally, whose industry it has been alleged in on the down grade, and requires special nursing by the Commonwealth Parliament, I find upon investigation that up till last year more establishments had been created, more hands employed, more capital invested in plantand machinery and buildings, and that there had been a larger output since the Federal Commonwealth Tariff came into existence than under the old Victorian Tariff before Federation. I propose to furnish comparative figures for the nine years dating from 1896 to 1904. I have not the figures for last year, but I believe they would show an even more favorable comparison. The number of establishments increased from 326 in 1896 to 436 in 1904 - an increase of 110, equal to 30 per cent. The number of hands employed increased in the same period from 6,151 to 8.378 - an increase of 2,227, equal to 30 per cent. The value of machinery, which is another great test, as well as of plant and buildings, in the same period, increased from £1 , 099,400 to £1, 247, 641 ; or an increase of £148,241. Comparing the value of the output, in 1900, the year before Federation, I find that the result is £1,879,825. In 1904 the value was £2,030,329, or an increase of £150,504. Those are the figures as regards the iron-working industry, which is supposed to have suffered with exceptional severity, and in the interests of which this proposed legislation is alleged So be necessary. Coming to the engineering trades, I find that they show an equally satisfactory condition. In 1896 the number of hands employed in the engineering trades in Victoria was 4,112; in 1904 the number was 4,676 - an increase of 564 in the period named. In the year 1896 the number of separate establishments was 159 ; in 1904, 233 - an increase of 74. That is the way in which these industries of Victoria are being “strangled” under the present Tariff ! They have been “ strangled “ to such an extent that there have been increase in many cases ranging from 30 to 50 per cent. !
– Why is more protection wanted, then?
– The honorable member should ask the Minister of Trade and Customs. I also should like an answer to the question. The only reason that I can see is to still further bleed the farmer and wage-earners of the Commonwealth. In the year beforethe Federal Tariff, 1900, the value of the agricultural implements made in Victoria was £244,544. In 1904 the value of the implements manufactured arose to £431,476 - an increase of £186,932.
– That does not look very much like declining industry.
– It does not. The figures show an increase of upwards of 40 per cent. An industry of that character does not seem to me to call for any special legislation to preserve it from damage from competition. In 1896 the number of hands employed in the agricultural implement trades was 852. In 1904 the number rose to 1,496, showing an increase of 644, or over 43 per cent. That does not look very much like a languishing industry. Of course, the Federal Tariff is being blamed for closing down a number of engineering establishments which rose and had their being at about the boom period. But it is very evident, from an examination of the causes of failure in those cases, that they were due partly to the financial crash of 1893, and also to extravagance and overcapitalization. I may mention, in passing, that a large proportion of the imports under the heading of agricultural implements consist of implements and machinery which are not, and cannot be, manufactured in this country, and should not be taken into account if we are going to be absolutely fair. But those imports are all dumped in by our opponents when they want to make out a case in favour of special legislation for the purpose of bolstering up existing monopolies in Victoria. In 1903 the total value of imports of agricultural implements amounted to £240,710, and of this sum £91,537 covered the value of reapers and binders which are not made in Australia. Another large proportion of the value of these imports includes grain mills, which are not made to any extent here, but which are extensivelv used, and for which there is an increasing demand. As they are not classified separately in the returns, it is impossible to estimate the actual value of imports under this head. Traction engines and other machinery also are included for which Ensrlish makers have established a world-wide reputation for special excellence and economv of cost. In the same period, so far from imports increasing to such an alarming extent as to seriouslv interfere with home production, as a matter of fact there has been a great decrease. The figures are as follow: - For theperiod of ten months ending 31st October the value of the imports from other States in 1904 totalled £11,740, and in 1905 £17,000. These figures show an increase of imports from the other States, but a decrease is shown in the value of oversea imports. The figures for 1904 are £216,261, and for 1905 only £110,000. The total value of imports under this head for 1904 was , £228,000, and for 1905, £127,000, or a decrease for the period of £101,000, equal to 50 per cent. With respect to the actual industrial conditions in connexion with these trades, the evidence, so far from being discouraging, is altogether of a highly satisfactory nature. Of course we know perfectly well that there was a period of depression due to drought and other causes having no connexion whatever with the Tariff. These conditions existed before Federation was brought about, but thousands of men lost their employment under the old Victorian Tariff. In 1890 the number of hands employed in the iron works trade in Victoria was 7,593. In 1892 the number had fallen off to 5,423; in 1893 to 4,419, and in 1894 to 3,536 - a total falling off for the’ period named of 4,057, or upwardis of 50 per cent. These figures are supplied bv the Inspector of Factories - Mr. Harrison Ord. Since Federation there has been a steadv improvement in employment in all the trades to which I have referred. I propose now to deal with Australian harvesters, because that industry has been specially singled out to reap immense pecuniary advantage from legislation of this kind by this benevolent Government which hasalways displayed the utmost interest for the advancement of the monopolistic manufacturing industries established in and around Melbourne. . It is a significant fact to which I wish to draw attention that the present Minister of Trade and Customs has alwavs had a most tender regard for the interests of Victoria as against the interests of his own State. If the electors of that State could only make a present of him holus bolus to Victoria it would be one of the best things that could happen to New South Wales. One of the honorable gentleman’s especial pets is the Sunshine Harvester Company of Victoria. This is one of the industries which is said to be suffering most seriously from the effects of the Tariff, and from foreign clumping and to assist which we are asked to pass the Bill now before us. What are the facts in connexion with this industry? Tt is well known that Mr. McKay sells the Sunshine Harvester abroad to the foreign farmer at a price considerably below that for which he sells it to the Australian farmer. The cost of the Sunshine Harvester to the foreign farmer is only £72, whilst the Australian farmer has to pay £8r for it, a difference of £9, when he pays cash. The difference is much more if he wants credit. I take it that the Sunshine Harvester firm, who have to oay freight, insurance, and other charges on machines exported, do not sell them abroad at a loss. If they can make a profit by selling to the foreigner at . £72, it is clear that they charge the Australian farmer at least £9 more than he is entitled to pay for every harvester they sell him. £81 is the price that the Australian farmer has to pay when he pays cash. When he pays on a system of extended payments, the price of the harvester is raised to from£85 to £99, according to the length of the period for which he wants credit. When we consider the cost of manufacture of these harvesters, we can form some approximate idea of the enormous sums annually netted by the Sunshine Harvester people from their industry, under the operation of the existing Tariff. According to an estimate published. I think in the Argus, some time during last year, and made upon a statement which Mr. McKay gave to the Tariff Commission in sworn evidence, the manufactured cost of a Sunshine harvester works out in this way : The cost in wages, at the rate of from 8s. to11s. per day to the operatives employed, was estimated at £11 2s.10d. The cost of distribution, &c, was estimated at £21 17s. 4d. ; cost of material at something lake £26; and charges coming under the heading of factory burdens were estimated to amount to £3 14s. 3d. This brings the total manufactured cost of a Sunshine harvester up to , £62 14s. 5d. I forget the exact circumstances, but if my memory serves me some exception waa taken to the accuracy of these figures at the time thev were published. Against that I must point out that it was subsequently explained that the figures and percentages supplied by Mr. McKav himself were taken as the basis of the calculation. I believe that Mr. McKay worked them out to a somewhat higher total, and estimated the cost in wages to amount to £14 3s. 8d., instead of £11 2s10d. The other figures were not disputed, and all the figures were subsequently. I believe, found do be substantially accurate. Taking Mr. McKay’s estimate of the cost of wages, however, viz., £14 3s. 8d., and adding the cost of material, £26, which I believe he does not dispute, and the cost of distribution, £21 17s 4d., we get a total of £62 is. as the manufactured cost of a Sunshine harvester. The price of the machine to the Australian farmer is £8r cash, whilst the cost of production upon the latter basis is £621s., leaving a clear profit of £19 on every harvester manufactured and sold. Calculated on the percentages given in Mr. McKay’s evidence, the average wages work out at about 37 s. per week to those employed in the industry, although Mr. McKay claims that the average wages paid amount to . £2 per week. The figures which he supplied to the Tariff Commission do not bear out his contention in this respect. What Mr. McKay makes annually out of his profits is not definitely known, because, although he is always whining, he will not allow his books to be inspected, but it is known that the output of harvesters by the firm is about 2,000 a year, and if we estimate the profit on each harvester at £18 instead of £19, it is clear that the profits which Mr. McKay makes from the manufacture of Sunshine harvesters alone amount to something like £36,000 a year. I contend that a man who can show a profit of £36,000 a year from the operation of an industrv of this character has no reason to complain, and has no right to come to this House to ask that he should be protected from the competition of others for the purpose of still further entrenching himself in a monopoly which he has enjoyed for so long with so much advantage to himself, and at such a heavv cost to the producers of this country. Referring to the conditions of trade here, I may perhaps be permitted to quota a statement which appeared in the Argus of the 8th November last, in the report of an interview with representatives of Messrs. Thompson and Company, an engineering firm, whose works are situated at Castlemaine. I propose to quote, also, from the representatives of another firm, Messrs. Roberts and Sons, of Bendigo. This is the statement which appeared in thu Argus at the latter end of last year -
One of the maTked features of the trade since the financial crisis of 1893, which sealed the doom of big over-capitalized and badlymanaged concerns, has been the increase in number, both in Melbourne and the country centres, of small well-managed undertakings, and the remarkable rise of two or three of the larger enterprises in the provinces, notably Messrs. Thompson and Co.’s engineering works at Castlemaine, and Messrs. A. Roberts and Sons’ at Bendigo. It is like a whiff of wholesome country air to learn at first hand what these firms are doing.
Messrs. Thompson and Co. have 300 hands engaged ; they are working night and day, and orders are coming in just as fast as they can be profitably dealt with. “ We specialize on mining machinery and pumps; but do other work as well,” sai’d Mr. J. S. Thompson. “For many years we have secured the tenders for the railway points and plates used throughout the State. At present nothing is being done in this line, but it will come again. In the meantime, we have plenty of other work to engage our attention. We receive orders from all the other States of the Commonwealth. Even Borneo and other Eastern countries send us orders. The Federal Tariff has not injured us. On the contrary, the freeing of Inter-State trade from restrictions has been a gain. We put little faith in Tariff assistance. The point of view we lake is that if we cannot compete against all-comers there will be no strength or stability in our trade. Our enterprise began 2S years ago with eight men, in a little shanty. The works now cover five acres, and we still want room. We employ 300 persons, and we are kept fully employed year after year. Our trade is growing all the time. We have kept up to date in methods, tools, and appliances. The railway track runs into the works. We generate the electricity for lighting, compressed air is used in working cranes, tools, and appliances all over the place. No detail which will cheapen production is overlooked. Our men, too, grow up wilh the business, and give us no trouble. There is not the unrest and agitation which appear to exist in large centres, and this is a great gain, both to employers and employes in important enterprises.”
In the face of a statement of that kind, by a Victorian firm of undoubted repute, it is monstrous for the Government to propose a Bill of this character to deal especially with trades of the description to which I have just referred. The firm has shown that it has done excellent business, that its trade has given good results, and has been in every way satisfactory, and that it has been able to pay good wages. Then Messrs. Roberts and Son, of Bendigo, have a similar story to tell. In 1895 they had sixtymen employed. Last vear they had 190, and it was the best fo’r business ‘they have ever known, though their work is almost exclusively confined to Victoria. They specialize in mining machinery and steam boilers of all patterns and sizes, and draw orders from all parts of the’ State, all. the orders in hand but one at the time the report was made being from places outside Bendigo. The secret of this firm’s success is that all the members of it are practical workers. Forty years ago the late Mr. Abraham Roberts began with a small blacksmith’s business; then he put up a moulding shop, and by slow degrees added to the tools and appliances as the business grew. Pluck, enterprise, and self-reliance have enabled the firm to hold their own against all competition. They have an up-to-date boilermaking plant, and claim that they cao turn out boilers as cheaply and as durable as in the heart of the Black country, the home of boiler-making in England. There is no complaint from Messrs. Roberts of injury to their business from low duties. They direct attention, however, to what looks like excessive shipping freights on boilers to Iner-State ports. They state that a recent quotation for carrying a 15-ton boiler to Port Adelaide was ^87 5s., and that the rates from Melbourne to Perth are twothirds greater than from London to the same port, and are thus a handicap on Interstate business. This firm also states that it has had no trouble with its employés who are perfectly satisfied with their rates of wages, and the conditions under which they work, so that there has been no friction of any kind. Here is another industry which, instead of affording evidence of the need for State coddling or interference, shows that it is in a thoroughly robust condition, being increasingly successful year after year, so that it only desires to be let alone to continue to flourish. I wish now to refer to another aspect of the question, and that is the cost to which the country is put by legislation of this character. A ‘Bill of this kind is intended to keep up the price of articles to purchasers at abnormal rates. The public are not to be considered in the slightest degree, but are to be called upon to pay the highest prices for the various goods which they have to buy, whether these have been imported or have been manufactured locally. I maintain, however, that it is no part of the business of a Government or of a Parliament to interfere in matters of trade or commerce, except to prevent unfair practices, such as the adulteration of food or the importation and sale of goods under fraudulent conditions, such as misdescriptions leading purchasers to think that they are buying something which they are not. Attempts to regulate prices and fo prevent competition are not within the province of Government interference, and ‘the only result of such attempts must be that the public must suffer. The public suffer in two ways - first, by having to pay very high prices ; and, secondly, by getting only inferior articles. To show She extent to which the public have had sometimes to pay for preferential treatment of local manufacturers, I shall make a comparison in connexion with the prices paid for iron pipes in New South Wales during a period when the present protectionist Minister of Trade and Customs was Secretary for Public Works in that State. Tenders were submitted by Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Co. for the supply of English-made pipes, while other tenders were submitted by local manufacturers. The cost at which Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Co. were ready to supply 4-in., 6-in., 10-in., 12-in., and 15-in. pipes was j£6 is. 9d. a ton ; whereas the colonial price for 4-in., S-in., and 8-in. pipes was, for a first period of five years, .£7 2s. 6d., for a second period of five years £fi 9s., and for a third period £8 12s. ; while, in the case of 10-in., 12-in., and 15-in. pipes, the price charged was £7 12s. fon the first five years, £6 14s. 6d. for the second five years, and £8 15s. for the third five years. It must be remembered, too, that Messrs. Burns, Philp, and Co. received an order for only 6,843 tons °f iron pipes, which was a smaller order than any. given to the local firms. Tenders were also called for special castings, and £9 9s. od. per ton was the price asked for imported castings, while the price asked for locally-made castings was £9 17s. 6d. a ton for the first period of five years, £9 9s. a ton for the second period of five years, and £.14 12s. 6d. a ton for the third period of five years. Moreover, while the English pipes were found to be quite sound after forty years use, and had required no repairs during that period, the locallymade pipes had fractured sixty or seventy times, each break costing from £50 to £100 to repair, while hundreds of pounds had also to be expended in strengthening them with iron bands. I have no objection to preference being given to local tenderers over outside tenderers if they can give as good a service, or as good an article, for the price asked by the outside tenderer who is quite sufficiently handicapped with the cost of freight, customs, and insurance, but it is little . short of a criminal action for the custodians of the public purse to give a preference which means unnecessary loss and expense to the taxpayers of the country. I could quote many more figures, but I think
I have sufficiently. shown that no advantage would be conferred upon the people of the Commonwealth by legislation of this kind. The only persons who would! benefit would be such local firms as already enjoy a monopoly. They would be enriched at the expense of the general community. I decidedly object to anything of that kind. It was pointed out by the honorable member for Perth that it would be necessary to examine the books of importing firms in order to ascertain, the commercial value of imported articles. As I take it that the complaints against the competition of importers will probably invariably come from local manufacturers, I hold that if the books of importers are to be examined those of the local manufacturers should also be open to inspection. This cannot be too strongly insisted upon. Some time ago an effort was made to induce certain local manufacturers to throw open their books for inspection, with a view of verifying certain statements given in sworn evidence before the Tariff Commission. Some of the firms were ready to comply with this request provided that the Sunshine Harvester Company, which was making the loudest outcry, would agree to follow that course. That company, however, absolutely refused to entertain the idea. Any firm that has a grievance arising out of foreign competition, and applies to Parliament for assistance, should be prepared to submit its books to a searching examination.
– The Bill gives the fullest power to the Board to do anything of that kind with regard to either importing; firms or local manufacturers. If the honorable member will look at clause 17 he will find that the Board is empowered to inquire into any matters whatever that they consider pertinent or material.
– If the clause is adopted in its present form, I trust that that power will be brought into operation, and that we shall have ample means of ascertaining the truth or otherwise of the statements made by persons who say that their industries are languishing, and that legislation of this kind is necessary. Figures have been produced which tend to show that the Sunshine Harvester Company, so far from suffering severely from foreign competition, is making enormous profits - upwards of ^£30,000 per annum - under the operation of the Tariff. If this be true, the company should not come crying to this
Parliament for assistance. When the last Bill of a similar character was before the House, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports said that the object was to destrov foreign trade. I do not know if that is the intention of the Government, but the measure, if passed in its present form, must, to a very large extent, destroy all trade with parts beyond the Commonwealth, including Great Britain. I would point out that if this result were brought about it would involve the displacement of a large number of wharf labourers, coal miners, sailors, carters, warehousemen, shipping clerks, Customs officers, and many others who are engaged in occupations more or less dependent upon our shipping and commerce. I would ask honorable members to consider this aspect of the Question, when they contemplate the strangulation of foreign trade. Whilst the Minister of Trade and Customs was speaking in support of the motion for the second reading of the Bill, it was asserted bv the honorable and learned member for Werriwa that the shares in a locallv formed steel trust had jumped up to a high value, owing to some promise made by the Minister. The Minister stated that he knew nothing about any promise, and the honorable and learned member for Werriwa retorted that the Minister must have made a promise, or, otherwise, the shares in the trust would not have increased in value from . £250,000 to nearly £2,000,000. I do not know whether the facts are as stated by the honorable and learned member, but, as he is not in the habit of making rash and unfounded statements, I think that some explanation is due to the House. I do not imply that anything improper has been done, but I think that we are entitled to know in what way the Minister’s action has operated to produce the result indicated. If any reliance is to be attached to the statement of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, some members of the community must be making huge sums of money at the expense of the general taxpayer. All this goes to show how dangerous it is to interfere with trade in such a way as to cause fluctuations in the market. It always tends to engender suspicion in the public mind that there is a pecuniary advantage for people in high places in such legislation. The Prime Minister stated that the intention of the Bill was to protect the manufacturer, the employe, and the public. I should like to know in what way it can protect the public . If the object is to prevent goods from being sold at low prices, I cannot understand how the general public are to be benefited. The only persons who will derive any advantage will be those engaged in local manufactures. We cannot benefit the consumer, by legislating in the direction of making him pay more than, in the ordinary course of competition, he would be required to give for his goods. If goods were dumped into this country and sold at below cost, the general public would not suffer. Those who sent the goods here to be sacrificed at less than the cost of production would be the losers. The ladies who throng round the bargain counters at sale time do so because they believe that they will receive some benefit. They think that the purchasing power of their money will be increased to an extent corresponding with the reduction in the prices at which the goods are offered, and they are right If goods were dumped here and given away the general public would not be injured. This would apply to agricultural implements, pianos, sewing machines, or any other class of goods. The lower the prices at which goods are placed on the market the better for the consumer. If it became the practice of importers to give away goods they would open up a royal road to wealth which would not be available under any other conceivable circumstances, to every one of their customers whatever might happen to themselves. The Bill contains a number of clauses which will require very drastic treatment in Committee. Clause 4, which deals with the repression of monopolies, readis as follows : -
Any person who wilfully, either as principal or as agent, makes or enters into any contract, or is a member of or engages in any combination to do any act or thing, in relation to trade or commerce with other countries or among the States -
This sub-clause is extremely wide in its application, and covers an area which I think its framers never contemplated. It refers, not to corporations or trusts or combines, but to individuals. “ Any person “ who wifully commits any of the acts named will be guilty of an offence. As the honorable member for Perth has pointed out, these words may apply to a member of a trade union or of a protectionist or any other political organization. Let us take, for instance, the case of a person engaged in the hat-making industry, and desiring to prevent the importation from abroad of hats that will come into competition with his own production. With that object in view, we will assume, he takes steps, either directly or through an agent, to restrain trade by means of a proposal that the Tariff shall be raised to curtail these importations. I take it that under this clause he would be guilty of an offence.
– Would a proposal to alter the Tariff be a contract?
– The sub-clause provides that anv person who “ enters into any contract “ to do these things shall be guilty of an offence. It may not necessarily mean entering into a written contract. It may mean a mutual arrangement or understanding.
– The person concerned must have entered into a contract or have become a member of a combination.
– A man might enter into a contract with a member of the Legislature to bring forward a measure to amend the Tariff.
– Is not that rather thin ?
– Not at all; such a thing might be done; such things are being done continually. A defect or a grievance is brought under a member’s notice, and he agrees to endeavour to remedy it by Tariff or other legislation. Is that not in essence a contract to do a certain thing? We shall have to define the word “ contract,” because a contract might mean an agreement or arrangement made by an individual to secure the imposition of a duty to restrict the importation of goods coming into competition with those of his production. I can conceive it possible that under this clause such an agreement would be an indictable offence, just as would a combination among trade unionists to keep up the rates of wages or to secure special privileges in any industry in which they are engaged. I do not know whether it is intended that the clause shall have such an application, but the Attorney-General might well consider whether it is not capable of that interpretation. Clause 7 provides that -
Any person who wilfully monopolizes or attempts to monopolize, or combines or conspires with any other person to monopolize, any part of the trade or commerce with other countries or among the States, 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.
I do not know whether this provision will apply to Mr. McKay’s monopoly, but I sincerely hope that it will.
– The honorable member need not worry about that.
– If I thought the clause would apply to it I should be inclined to support it. Clause 13, which deals with dumping, sets forth that; -
Unfair competition has in all cases reference to competition with those Australian industries, the preservation of which, in the opinion of the Comptroller-General or the Board, as the case may be, is advantageous to the Commonwealth, having due regard to the interests of producers, workers, and consumers.
Then, in clause 14, we have the provision -
For the purposes of this Tart of this Act, competition shall be deemed to be unfair if -
under ordinary circumstances of trade it would probably lead to the Australian goods beingeither withdrawn fTom the market or sold at a loss unless produced at a lower remuneration for labour ; or
the means adopted by the person importing or selling the imported goods are, in the opinion of the ComptrollerGeneral or the Board as the case may be, unfair in the circumstances.
The honorable member for North Sydney dealt fully with these clauses, and, while I do not intend to repeat his criticisms, I may say at once that I am thoroughly in agreement with them. I recognise the very serious danger we should run in allowing such powers to be exercised by the ComptrollerGeneral or a Board of his creation, or that of the Minister of Trade and Customs. I should like now to draw attention to sub-clause 2 of clause 15, which provides that -
The certificate of the Comptroller-General shall specify the imported goods and the Australian goods referred to, and the person whom he believes to be importing goods with the intention aforesaid.
Thereupon the Minister may -
appoint a Board of three persons to investigate and report upon all matters of fact material to the question whether the goods are being imported with the intention aforesaid ; and
notify in the Gazette that a Board has been so appointed for the purpose of the said investigation and report.
Clause 15 practically makes the selling of imported goods at a price below their market value a crime. It is thus proposed to manufacture a new crime to be added to a number of acts which are not, properly speaking, criminal, but have been made such by legislation - acts which in essence are perfectly innocent and fair, and should not be dealt with in this way. The provision in sub-section (a) of this clause is one to” which I most strongly object. It relates to the appointment of a Board of experts, who might be peculiarly susceptible to the influences of bribery and corruption. I can conceive the possibility of our obtaining men of high character who would not be open to such influences; but, taking human nature om the average, there is a very strong probability that a Board of this character would be susceptible to such considerations. This is certainly offering every incentive to those who wish to bring such a Board into operation to make it worth the while of that Board to give a decision that will be to their pecuniary advantage. We should not place such a power for bribery and corruption in the hands of either a Minister or a ComptrollerGeneral. The power should rest with the Parliament alone; but if the Legislature deems it wise to relegate its powers in this connexion to some person outside, a Judge of a Supreme Court should be selected to deal with these matters. We certainly ought not to have such a Board as is contemplated. At the best, its members would be only the creatures of the Minister appointing it. Taking human nature again as the stand-point of our criticism, it is reasonable to believe that a Minister might designedly select as members of the. Board men who were biased, and could be relied upon to give a decision in a certain way. The power thus proposed to be placed in the hands of a Minister is a tremendous one, which might or might not be used corruptly ; but, having regard to all the circumstances, it would be likely to be used corruptly than otherwise. For these reasons, I have a very strong objection! to this clause, and trust that it will be radically amended in Committee. Speaking generally, I think the Government have made a mistake in introducing the Bill at all, but especially at the present juncture. They have shown no reason for doing so, and
I strongly urge them to postpone its further consideration until we. have had an opportunity to read and digest the reports of the Tariff Commission, andi so to learn what justification, if any, there is for its introduction. I intend to vote against the second reading of the Bill.
– I rise, Mr. Speaker, not to exercise my right to speak to the motion “that the Bill be now read a second time,” because I cannot be in the House immediately after the adjournment for dinner, but to suggest that, in the circumstances, the Government might reasonably be expected to give the House some further information.-
– The honorable member will be held to have exercised his right to speak to the motion if he proceeds.
– Judging by the slight interest that appears to be taken in it by the members of the great party which supports the Government, one would imagine that this ©ill is of absolutely no concern to the people of Australia. There has been on their part, so far, a conspiracy of silence concerning a measure which affects the whole of Australia and its industries as no Bill introduced either in the Federal or any State Parliament has ever done before. This is without question the most important measure that has ever been introduced in this House, and in the circumstances we might reasonably ask that there should be a quorum to listen to what is said concerning it. [Quorum formed.] lt is remarkable to me that honorable members seem to take very little interest in a question of this kind.
– Why does not the honorable member, bring his friends in ; his benches are emptY ?
– So far to-day, the Opposition have been conducting the discussion. It occurs to me that those who take an interest in a. measure of this kind ought to be those who profess to take under their wing and under their charge outside the House all matters relating to industries and industrial life, and who want to take a verv short cut to bring about an industrial Elysium. One would think that these honorable gentlemen inside this Chamber would at least pretend to make some study of a Bill of this kind, and take some part in a thorough discussion of its provisions.
– A thorough discussion !
– I admit that when it comes to a thorough discussion of any question, we do not look in the direction of the honorable member. I have had no time in which to collect my papers, so as to be able to address myself to this question as I should like to do ; and it was only when the debate seemed to be on the point of collapsing that I rose to continue it. 1 am labouring under some disadvantage, as I have outside the House some information which I wish to use. However, as there appears to be no possibility of getting it, I must proceed. In the first place. I join with those, honorable members in the Chamber who have made a protest against proceeding with this Bill until the Tariff Commission shall have reported on metals and machinery. At the close 0 last session there was a tacit understanding in the House that that should be done. It was anticipated that the Tariff Commission would be able to report during the recess and the understanding was that this matter should be left over, not only because of the lateness of the time when it was introduced here, but because that body was sitting and collecting evidence concerning some of the industries at which this Bill is particularly directed. It was well known, in fact, that the genesis of the Bill had to do with the importation of harvesters. That matter has, I believe, been fought out before the Tariff Commission, and if it has not already reported it is now in a position to do so, with a full knowledge of how importation bears upon the question of agricultural machinery production here. Since the Governor-General appointed that Commission, especially to investigate the doings of the harvester trust and every other trust, both here and elsewhere, which has controlled, or controls, the importation of metals and machinery in any shape or form; since my honorable friends took that responsibility, thev have no moral right, in ray judgment, to proceed with the discussion of this measure pending the receipt of a report from that body. I do not understand the marvellous celerity which the Government is displaying in bringing this matter before the House.
– It was stated last session when the Bill was abandoned that it would be the first measure of this session.
– I know that, but where is the foundation or justification for such a statement. The justification is not apparent from any figures which have been presented1 to us. One of the things
I asked the Minister to do the other day was to supply some figures concerning the importation of these harvesters, and the importations which the Bill is intended specially to meet. He professed to reply to my request for information, but what was the nature of his, reply? It is true that he gave some figures, but they did not touch the point I raised, as they merely related to ordinary importations into the country. Thev were such figures as we have been accustomed to be deluged with when we have been considering any matter relating to the Tariff. What I wish to have, and what I think the House ought to be in possession of, is a. statement showing whence the danger arises from the operations of foreign trusts. This Bill is supposed to be intended to meet some menace to Australian industries and workmen. Where are the evidences of that menace? Surely they can be tabulated in figures ; surely we can be shown that these importations are on the increase if they are increasing. But all the figures submitted, so far, by the Minister, show that in the last two or three years there has been an actual decrease in the importation of metals and machinery. From £8,000,000 in 1903, the importation of these articles went down to a little, over £6,000,000 last year. These figures do not show that any other menace has arisen than that to which we have been subjected iii past times. There is nothing fresh to show that these foreign corporations are crushing out Australian makers of implements and workmen, to indicate that anything special has arisen to warrant drastic legislation of this kind. With regard to harvesters, instead of giving the figures for several years as the Minister did in the case of metals and machinery, he simplyquoted the imports for last year only. These figures. I submit, disclose nothing that is alarming even in connexion with the matter of harvesters. The honorable gentleman showed that last year we imported £85,000 worth of harvesters. How are we to see what that has to do particularly with the maintenance of Australian industries? Why does .not the Minister give us the figures for a period of six or seven years, so that we could make a comparison with a view to seeing whether a menace has arisen which the Government purport to meet bv means of this Bill.
– Six years ago there were no importations of harvesters.
– Since then the importation of the machine has taken place, and it’ there had been no quarrel between McKay and the other harvester trust people the probability is that we should never have heard of this Bill. I do not think that there will be any two thoughts about that iu the House. I have yet to learn that any one or two individuals outside may so pui 1 the political strings, and manipulate a Ministry as to lead it to introduce drastic measures of this kind into the Parliament of Australia. Everything points to the necessity of further information being supplied to the House concerning the depredations, if any, of these trusts; we ought to be shown what further justification there is for drastic legislation of this kind. That car. only be furnished to the House authoritatively, and with all the facts and circumstances surrounding the statistics, bv the Royal Commission which was specially set to inquire into them. We have had already a protest on this very point from a member of the Tariff Commission. I have never seen a Tariff Commission treated so scurvily as that body has been by the present Government. It has set the Commissioners aside, and flouted them time and again. Here is another instance of this treatment. Instead of waiting a few weeks or asking them to facilitate their report on this particular matter, no notice was taken of their proceedings or apparently of the fact that they are making a special investigation thereon. I think that, even now, the Ministry might well consent to postpone the consideration of this Bill until the Tariff Commission has reported, and the House is therefore in possession of all the facts and figures bearing on this important question. The Minister supplied the imports of iron, metal, and machinery. We have had those figures almost ad nauseam, time and again, in connexion! with general Tariff matters. He also supplied some figures about tobacco, but there, again, the information was only such as had been supplied in an ordinary Tariff debate. We have a right to know whether these trusts are interfering with Australian manufacturers, and threatening the total collapse of many of those industries to which we ali would greatly regret to see any injury come, and which we all. I think, should do our best to see are given every proper chance to compete and to prosper.
Sitting suspended f to m C28 to 7 -jo p.m.
– There is .nothing, I repeat, in the figures presented to us by the Minister of Trade and Customs to furnish the slightest warranty for the introduction of this Bill. According to the Minister’s own statement, the total value of the harvesters imported last year for the whole of Australia, was £[85,000.
– That represents about 1,300 machines.
– I do not know how many it represents; but, if we take the statistics of the farming population of Australia, those importations amount to about 7s. 6d., or including all agricultural implements, about 30s. per farmer for the year.
– Did the Minister give figures concerning the number of machines made in Australia?
– No; but Mr. McKay himself has furnished some data by which we may ascertain that. I find that Mr. McKay, in his evidence before the Tariff Commission, said that his works turned out harvesters at the rate of about ten per day. That would mean, roughly speaking - supposing, he works full time - about 3,000 machines per year, and the value of them would be about £[250,000. We may, therefore, say that, all our local makers are turning out £[300,000 worth nf harvesters per annum, as against £[85,000 worth imported. So far as I am con:cerned. I could heartily wish that we were producing them all. I would not mind if Mr. McKay could beat the importer right out, of the market, so long as he does it fairly. “ More power to him ! “ I should say. But (he figures furnished by the Minister show no overwhelming menace to the interests of Australia such as should lead to the introduction of a Bill of this kind. I should like to make one other observation before entering upon the consideration of the Bill. It is an observation of protest against the Bill taking precedence of the question of Tariff revision. Reports’ have been laid upon the table rea d v for the House to proceed with them. Others. I believe, are in course of preparation, and are approaching a state of completion. Yet this Bill is thrust before attempts to rectify Tariff anomalies, and to deal with those matters which have been declared bv the Prime Minister to containso much menace to our Australian industries, and in particular so much menace to those who are wanting work and are unable to find it. I should like to know from the Prime Minister what he contemplates doing in this matter of Tariff revision?
From end to end of the Commonwealth he has been preaching the doctrine that at the earliest possible moment we ought to attend to our imperfect Tariff, and make it more perfect in the interest of those who manufacture here. Is he saving this - shall I call it this fiscal apple of discord? - for the elections? It is too good a thing to throw awa)’ upon a moribund House like this, waiting only to be dissolved ? ls he going to make this the first’ and only plank in his platform ? 1 charge the Prime Minister now with trading upon this matter of Tariff revision for purely political and personal end’s. If he is sincere about it - if he wants these anomalies rectified - why not proceed at the earliest possible moment with the consideration of the reports of the Commission? Why not get. this matter placed upon a proper footing, as early as possible? But, as I have already said, it is far too good a thing to let loose at the present moment, and it has to do duty at the next election as a battle-cry, in order to get the Prime Minister and his followers back to this House, in conjunction with the Socialist Party of Australia, who are moving heaven and earth to achieve that end. Ministers ought to give some explanation as to the supreme haste with which they are proceeding with this Bill, and the extreme dilatoriness with which they are dealing with the matter of Tariff revision and Tariff settlement. With regard to the immediate question before the House, I do not propose to deal with the details of the measure. Thev have already been ably traversed by the honorable member for North Sydney ; and there is no man in this Chamber who can address himself to a question of this kind with so much business experience, and with so much ability to use that experience, and to bring it to bear upon the consideration of these difficult and important matters, as that honorable member does. I think I do no injustice to any other honorable member when I say that he appears to stand almost alone in this respect. I, therefore, shall not trouble so much about the details of this measure. I wish to address myself to its main and fundamental principles ; to see how this. Bill is affected bv a consideration of the principles of trade “trustification “ - if I may use a term coined the other day bv the Prime Minister - to see now far those fundamental principles are contravened by this Bill, and to try, if possible, so to shape the measure as to make it accord with such, principles as appear to have the force and effect of natural laws. It will be admitted, I think, that we are living to-day in a peculiar era. While those natural laws which sweep through the world, and have to do with everything mundane, are unchangeable, their application is of a very multiform character, and is constantly varying with the changing needs and moods of the moment and of the times. All our old customs, and methods of thought, have to be brought face to face with the sweep of those great natural laws. And it does * seem, looking over the world just now, as if, the more need there was to pay attention to these natural laws, to try to understand them, the more readily and the more peremptorily it is sought to set them aside entirely. All that we seem to trust to nowadays is what is expedient for the passing hour. But whether we like it or not, these natural laws will in the long run be obeyed ; and if Parliaments or individuals seek to subvert them, or to run contrary to them, so much the worse for the individual, and so much the worse for Parliament. Yet in spite of this great fact, we seek to rear our puny legislative enactments from time to time against them as if we could in some way alter the whole scope and purpose of their intent and change their course altogether.
– That is a magnificent Anarchist utterance - natural law with no modification at all bv human intelligence !
– I, of course, made no such foolish remark. I hope the honorable member will wait until I am through, and will then judge whether I seem to be Anarchist or not. The fundamental principle of this Bill, as I take it, is that all commercial trusts are bad. That is the first thing that I find fault with in the Bill. It makes no distinction between trusts. It makes no inquiry into them as to whether they are good or not. It indicts them all as trusts, good or bad. There, I think, the framers of the Bill make the first great fundamental mistake. What are these trusts but simply the embodiment of the spirit of concentration which is abroad. All the currents of the time seem to run towards centralized control and centralized operation. I do not know whether this tendency can be avoided or not. I am afraid it cannot. Because the whole world just now seems to be moving in that direction. Every current, social, political, and religious, seems to be trending in the one direction - that of centralized control, and large, capable management. It is said, for instance, that the day of small empires has gone. At any rate, empires seem to be growing larger in extent and in authority, and small empires are becoming rapidly a thing of the past. We may be told that that can be checked or altered. But there is (he broad fact - it is going on at present all over the world, wherever we care to turn our eyes, and it applies to almost every department of human life. What is the direction of thought in connexion with our churches? Clearly and unmistakeably towards union. Larger churches are absorbing smaller ones. We find this tendency operating in the industrial world as it operates in every other department of life in its social, 1 religious, moral, and industrial aspects. When we find a law operating in that way, it is, at any rate, very good evidence that it is a natural law which inheres in the very structure of things, and which is unalterable and ineradicable by any mere human effort. We find the same tendency operating in relation to many other matters. For instance,, the wealth of the world has a tendency to concentrate itself. We find the realm of finance limiting itself to definite and clearly-defined areas. The same thing applies to the world’s fashion. It is a common saying that one has to go to Paris for latest fashions. It applies to printing. Nearly everything has this tendency to concentrate itself in some particular locality where it may find its most advantageous sco;pe. The same law applies to wealth, to science, to art, and to industrial production. What are our great educational institutions, our universities? What are they but great educational trusts, where every species of learning is highly specialized, and where the greatest possible educational achievements) are arrived at only bv the process of specialization? Our universities do in the matter of education what the lower schools could not possibly do, because thev have these means of specializing learning and collecting it all under one central control or management.
– That is what we are fighting for.
– If the honorable member is fighting for that I shalt be glad to hear him say something in criticism of this Bill, which I am afraid will in no way contribute to that end.
– It is an outside affair that we are dealing with.
– Do I understand that the party to which the honorable member for Fremantle belongs is in favour of this Bill?
– The honorable member wild find that out when the vote is taken.
– I always understood that the fundamental principle of that party was the taking over and nationalization of the operations of these trusts, and not their regulation, control, or supervision.
– According to the honorable member’s argument the nationalization of these industries would be a good) thing, because it would lead to more centralization! and more specialization.
– I am afraid that we shall part company shortly. I am pointing out now what seems !io be the operation of a great natural law as applied to our industrial life. I am as fre’e to admit the operation of such laws as is any member of the Labour Party, and I differ from that party only as to what is the bes way in which to treat these great corporations. I believe this principle of concentration, or co-operation, shall I say, to be a great natural law. The question arises: If it is such a law, ought we to attempt to repress it ? Can we do so if wetry ? When we have tried our best, we shall, I fear, find that all our puny legislative efforts have not enabled us to do so. But ought we to try to suppress these natural laws, or ought we not rather to attempt to guide or control them, and to get them to operate in our way, and bring to us all the advantages which they are capable of conferring?
– A natural law should take its course, and should not be controlled.
– Does the honorable member think that we do not requirelightning conductors ?
– I am afraid the honorable member is not following me. A natural law will take its course inevitably, but we can control and guide its effects uponourselves. That is the point I wish tomake. This is a proposal for trade repres- sion. That is the title of this Bill, which is a Bill to suppress what are called “ destructive monopolies.” The only place in which there is any mention of the word “destructive” is in the title of the Till. There is nothing in the clauses of the measure to suggest what its title so clearly indicates.
– There is no definition of the word “monopoly,” either.
– As bearing upon this matter, I do not thinkI can do better than quote a few words of the President of that great country where these trusts are operating to-day. Dealing with this matter in a message which he addressed to Congress a little while ago, President Roosevelt said distinctly thatthese trusts were part of the natural order of things, that the most they could do would be to eliminate their abuses, and that in no circumstances should they attempt to deal with them in any other than a regulative fashion. Speaking of the efforts which had been made in the various’ States from time to time to control the trusts, he went on to say -
Dealing with the important question of corporations, it is an absurdity to expect to eliminate the abuses of any of the great corporations by Slate action. The National Government alone can deal adequately with them. To try to deal with them in an intemperate, destructive, or demagogic spirit would, in all probability, mean that nothing whatever would be accomplished, and with absolute certainty that if anything were accomplished it would be of a harmful nature.
I am inclined to think that this Bill comes under the category of the measures so heartilv and cordially denounced by President Roosevelt. I think it is an intemperate and destructive spirit in which the House is being asked to approach the consideration of this question. At any rate, that describes the spirit in which the Government is approaching it. President Roosevelt pointed out that that is the way not to do things, and that the results of such action would be worse than the condition of things which it is sought to remedy. We find theP resident of the United States defending trusts as such, for he says -
Great corporations are necessary, and only men of great and singular mental power can manage such corporations successfully. And such men must have great rewards.
This Bill says that ifa man has a great reward he should be indicted for it.
– How long is it since the President used those words?
– They were used in theyear before last.
– He. is fighting the trusts now for! all he is worth.
– Of course he is fighting them, but in what way?
– By legislation.
– There is nothing in the legislation which he has suggested which comes under the category of repression of trusts. All he is asking for is drastic powers of investigation, so that in the interests of public health the fullest possible Government inspection may take place. I should imagine that nobody objects to that kind of thing.
– He is dealing with trusts in his own country, whilst we have foreign trusts to deal with.
– What is the distinction ?
– The distinction is a verv important one.
– Does mere locality enter into the consideration of this question? Are they only foreign trusts that my honorable friends are seeking to circumvent by this Bill ? Is it not supposed to aim also at Australian trusts?
– We have Australian industries entering into combination with foreign trusts.
– And, as I remarked before dinner, if it had not been that that combination broke up I daresay that nothing would ever have been heard of this Bill. This Bill originated with the complaints of Mr. McKay.
– But for him nothing would have been heard of it.
– It is the result of a meeting held last November at the instigation of Mr. McKay.
– President Roosevelt, speaking of the Bureau of Corporations, goes on to say in his message that this Bureau will inquire into the beef trust. . We have heard a good deal at one time and another about these beef trusts.
– We are hearing a good deal about them now.
– President Roosevelt savs that this Bureau will inquire into the beef trust, and is to accomplish its purposes by co-operation, not antagonism, by making constructive legislation, not destructive prosecution, the immediate object of its inquiries. Now the purpose of this Bill is destructive. It is framed to be destructive of trusts as such. There is, therefore, nothing in the attitude assumed by President Roosevelt which can be found to correspond with a Bill of this description. We have heard a good deal from time to time about this Bill following precedents, but there is no indication in it that it follows the latest utterances of the man who is confessedly a good judge in all these matters, and in whose supreme control a great part of the industrial life of America is centred just now. All he says is that the abuses of trusts should be eliminated, and these monopolies approached in a co-operative, and not an antagonistic spirit. He says -
Above all, we must strive to keep the highways of commerce open to all on equal terms.
In this Bill we have an attempt to close the highways of commerce. It proposes to keep them’ open only on impossible terms, on terms which could not be subscribed to by any foreign manufacturer or worker.
– It proposes to prevent trusts from closing the highways of commerce to others.
– As I pointed out, the figures show that there are no highways closed at the present time. In connexion with imported harvesters, against which this Bill is specially aimed, the highways of commerce were so open last year that we imported harvesters to the value only of £[85,000, whilst Mr. McKay manufactured’ them’ to the value cf £[250,000. I was glad to learn that hp is holding his own. But I see in all this no menace to our Australian industries. There is certainly nothing which could not be controlled by Tariff operations, and certainly nothing which calls for a Bill of this drastic character. However, the Bill is here, and I am not going to vote against the second reading; but I say it is a fair challenge to the Government to ask them to prove the necessity for the measures which they bring before the Chamber. I make the challenge for the reason that, while there are many of our legitimate Federal functions yet to be developed, we are still straining and tugging on the marginal line between the States and the Commonwealth to set further and further powers to deal with matters with which we have no immediate concern, and which certainly do not press for solution. Such a mea sure was put through this House last session in the shape of the Commerce Bill. I say, therefore, that, instead of legislating on important urgent needs as they arise from time to time in the sane and steady development of our proper Federal functions, we are going out of our way to deal with matters which will bring us some sort of temporary political kudos, and which will contribute in some degree to the purely political issues being raised at the moment by the Government in power. Will any one tell me that had the alliance between the present and the late Prime Minister lasted we should have heard Mr. Deakin calling out for a measure such as this ?
– Why, Mr. Reid would have brought it in.
– I am sure that, if he had done so, the honorable member for Barrier would not have supported him.
– Probably not.
– There is no probability about it; it is absolutely certain that the honorable member would not. Coming back to the underlying principle of this kind of legislation, I ask what are these trusts for? We are told that large management is more economical than small management. One management and one board are cheaper and more effective in their operations than are many managers and many boards. We get unity instead of diversity in the control of these great concerns. We get “single and thorough organization, instead of inharmonious variety,” as one writer has put it. Or, to use his expression again, ‘ ‘ one large wheel means a great deal less friction than a number of small ones, whilst it has a great deal more power and a great deal more momentum.” It seems as though these trusts, in some shape or form, are destined to continue, in spite of all we may do to prevent them. If they are simply savers of power, and mean a shorter cut to securing all that we require to satisfy our demands, why should they be suppressed? Why should thev be closed up and their operations brought to an end ? Their organization is more exact and complete, and their specialization more thorough, than that of smaller concerns, and organization everywhere means force and utility. My friends in the Labour corner have realized, and are to-day realizing that.
– And the honorable member’s party is realizing that they have the power.
– -Yes; and we are paying them the compliment of imitation. What applies to the organization of a political party applies to the organization of an industrial concern, and to every aspect of Our social and economic life. It seems as if this special and thorough organization, and this large management of which I speak, the world would get a great set-back. This Bill aims at the destruction of this large management as such, without taking into account whether it be fair or unfair. Repression is the key-note of the measure. That word is written in its very title, and appears on its foremost page. The question is, ought these organizations to be repressed ? The Government say that they should be repressed, whilst the Socialist says, “No; they should be nationalized.”
– Hear, hear.
– I should like to know what the honorable member is going to do with the Bill, since it aims, not at nationalization, but at repression?
– I prefer nationalization every time.
– Is the honorable member, in the absence of nationalization, going to support repression ? No other honorable member is more continually pointing out the advantages of co-operative control in industrial life.
– Under our Constitution we have no power to nationalize.
– Then let us get the power.
– If we have no constitutional power to nationalize, why did the Minister of Trade and Customs, in his speech, say that we could nationalize the tobacco industry ?
– The members of the Government, more clearly than any other members in this Chamber, know .that nationalization is impossible under our Constitution. Why, then, have thev played the farce of letting loose Commissions to inquire into the possibility of nationalizing various industries ? Why did they incur the huge expense attaching to these inquiries, since they knew that nothing could come of them ?
– Who appointed the Tobacco Commission - which Government?
– The present Government.
– A Select Committee to inquire into the tobacco monopolywas appointed by the House when the Reid-
McLean Administration was in power; but that Committee w:as turned into a Royal Commission by the present Government. Although they knew that under our Constitution we have no power to nationalize industries, the Government and the Labour Party have played the hollow farce of supporting these elaborate inquiries. Every one knows that Socialism is part of the programme of the Labour Party. I do not wish to do them an injustice.
– Hear, hear. We would not believe that.
– Well, I talk pretty directly to them; I think that they will give me credit for that. I do not cover anything up ; but I would not willingly make an untrue statement about them. It is only fair to them to say that they think that, if they can make out a case for nationalization, they will, later on, successfully appeal to the country for an alteration of the Constitution, which will give them the requisite power to nationalize. In my opinion, the abuses attaching to large corporations will not be removed by the nationalization! of industries, but, if anything, will be increased. We shall do very much better if we deal with these industrial concerns as outside interests coming within the scope of our regulation and legislative control. If trusts are in themselves evil they should be suppressed ; but is a large corporation necessarily a bad thing? Is it an inherently evil thing? Are the evils which accompany spaciousness of control inherent in the operations of a trust? Are those operations necessarily conducted upon a moral plane different from that upon which similar operations, but of smaller dimensions, are conducted ? There seems to be in the mind of the Government who framed the Bill, and in the minds of many of those who are supporting it, the idea that trusts are in themselves bad things. But are all trusts bad things? That is the question which we must face in, dealing with this very important matter. Almost every primary effort to establish new material forces for the advancement of our civilization seems at first to have something in them of the nature of a. monopoly. But that is only a process, because the after effect is always diffusive, and not monopolistic. The early stages of development always partake more or Jess of the nature of monopolies. This, however, is only a process. The after effect is always diffusive. In this connexion I should like to hear our patent and copyright laws explained from a socialistic stand-point. It has always seemed to me anomalous that men who believe in the socialization of industrial pursuits should support the granting of patents and copyrights to .individuals.
– Socialists desire to give inventors the benefit of their inventions.
– Is there no other way of doing so than by preventing the rest of the community from using their inventions for a period of fourteen years? Very often the result of the patent laws is that men are forced to work with inferior tools after better too’.s have been invented. I could give an illustration in support of this statement in connexion with the working of our post-offices, if time permitted, and if it were strictly relevant to the question at issue. But what I am chiefly concerned in pointing out now is that honorable members who believe in the nationalization of industrial operations, and are opposed to the granting of individual rights, are willing to give inventors the sole monopoly of their inventions for a period of fourteen years.
– It is a great mistake. There ought to be no patent laws.
– Then there would be no inventors.
– I would encourage the inventor.
– The attitude of the honorable member for Hindmarsh is that which every Socialist should take up. No Socialist should grant an individual monopolistic right against the rest of the community, and protect those rights by legislative enactment.
– Under Socialism, when persons are entitled to such rights they will get them: but they will get no more than their rights, and other persons will not be able to deprive them of those rights.
– The fundamental tenet of Socialism is that there should be no rights of individuals as against society.
– Those are the only rights under individualism.
– The honorable member for Parramatta is wandering from the question.
– I think so, too, Mr. Speaker. But I should like to mention in passing that I have seen it stated, and I believe it to be a fact, that the American aggregations of wealth to-day are founded mole or less on patent rights.
– No. What patent rights do the railway combinations, or the Standard Oil Trust hold ?
– The statement seemed to me a very probable explanation of the present condition of affairs.
– It is not nearly correct, if one may judge by what has been written of American conditions.
– I have no doubt that the honorable member could quote some strong examples to the contrary ; but I should like to know whether the Standard Oil Company is not in possession of patent rights which have helped it in its accumulations?
– Ridiculous !
– I venture to say that it is not ridiculous. Patent rights are held in connexion with every phase of industrial life, including the handling of products, and it seems to me extremely probable that a great many of the operations of the Standard Oil Company depend for their effectiveness upon the possession of such rights. That statement is not material to mv argument, though, if it be not true in regard to the Standard Oil Company, it is probably true in regard to many other companies. Who does not know of the great fortunes which have been built up by the possession of patent rights in connexion with railway carriages, engines, and other transport facilities. If one rides on the front seat of a Sydney electric tram-car, he cannot fail to notice that the handle by which the current is switched on to the motor passes, in it’s circuit of the under.lying plate, the dates of ten or twelve different patent registrations applying to that particular device. All industrial concerns rely largely for their protection on patent rights, upon the possession of which largely rests to-day the possibility of huge accumulations of wealth.
– Can the honorable member say that the half-dozen richest men in the United States of America have obtained their fortunes by the possession of patent rights?
-I cannot; but it is very probable that the aggregations of wealth rest largely upon patent rights, though the point is not- material, and was worthy of notice only in passing. No sane man would justify the villany which now and again attaches itself to the conduct of industrial operations. But is it a necessary accompaniment of these large cor- porations? ls it like the barnacles on a ship, merely an attachment, or does :i inhere in the very nature of their operations ? I do not believe that, if these large concerns could be nationalized, we should thereby get rid of the villany sometimes attached to their operations. We hear occasionally of strange things being done by those controlling Government Departments.
– What about the management of the Fitzroy dock?
– The management of Government Departments sometimes necessitates strict inquiry, and prosecutions.
– That is because they are nearly all run bv individualists.
– This villany does not attach itself to Socialism as such, or to individualism as such. It is common to our human nature, and I am afraid that nationalization will not tend to eliminate it. After all, these evils have their roots in personal character, and do not necessarily inhere in a system as such.
– In its turn human nature is derived from somewhere - is dependent on something.
– I do not think, as the honorable member does, that it is dependent altogether upon environment. That is one of the fundamental differences between myself and him. He preaches ‘he doctrine that men will necessarily become better if you improve their environment. I think that that is begging a great moral question.
– Wesley said “But for the grace of God there go you and I.”
– Oh! Wesley, what things have been said in thy name.
– John Bradford said that - not Wesley
– I think the Prime Minister is right. However, that statement has done duty under all the circumstances that could be imagined, and I do not think that it can be regarded as a conclusive argument applying to the question of the effect of environment on Hie development of personal character.
– We prefer to take the conclusions of scientists rather than the haphazard remarks of the honorable member upon them.
– I did not know that I was making any remarks with regard to the conclusions of scientists. I was stating that if you altered the environment of these trusts you would not eliminate personal villanv, and I was pointing out that there was villany in governmental concerns as well as’ in private concerns.
– We can remove the temptation to villany.
– You can remove the temptation only when you remove the whole thing to which temptation attaches. So long as there is human nature, human greed, and human desire for power and possession, so long will there be temptation. That would apply to a socialistic condition of affairs as much as to any other.
– We shall all be angels under Socialism.
– We are more likely to become devils.
– If we abolished trusts to-morrow, we should not necessarily abolish the evils associated with them. We should merely transfer them to some other channel. I should like to say a word, in passing, upon one of the popular misconceptions with regard to trusts. It seeme to be supposed that all these trusts are successful in their operations, but, so far as I can ascertain, very few of them are prosperous. In the Daily Express, I find this statement : -
Only twenty-three out of 143 of the large trusts of the United States are paying dividends. Many are in difficulties, and capital aggregating £340,000,000 is earning absolutely nothing at all.
– It will do them good if we crush them.
– I venture to express a doubt as to whether we can crush them. In the United States attempts have been made for the last dozen years to crush out the trusts, but they are carrying on in spite of everything. Instead of crushing the trusts, we should try and crush the evil out of them and guide and control them, and limit their scope of operations.
– If the United States do not crush the trusts, the trusts will crush the United”” “States. They will subvert the whole Government, and themselves become the controlling power.
– What does the Prime Minister mean by “crushing” the trusts ?
– I mean that they must be forced to confine themselves to the limits of honest business and honest profit.
– Exactly. We all wish that that could be accomplished, but the Bill aims at nothing of the kind.
– Indeed it does.
– The Bill, according to its title, deads with the repression of trusts, and not their regulation or control, or their restriction to justifiable operations. .
– It aims at the repression of trusts if they are detrimental to the people.
– The honorable member has not got hold of the night title of the Bill.
– The Bill professes to aim at the repression of destructive monopolies, but the word “ destructive “ is only an ugly adjective, which did not appear in the first measure that was introduced. The title has been amended, and theevil with which the measure professes to deal has been made to appear much more menacing than on the former occasion. I am reminded of an incident which occurred a short time ago, when I was taking my children to Manly. I could not get them to pass a confectioner’s shop, in which there was displayed a small sugar lion, which was wagging its head in a most menacing manner. The Government have introduced into the title of the Bill a lion in the shape of destructive monopolies, in order to make the measure appear more necessarv. If there are destructive monopolies operating to the detriment of Australian trade, let us know all about them. We have asked for particulars, and cannot obtain them. All the figures that have been supplied to us show that very little is going on beyond healthy, normal competition. Last year we imported £85,000 worth of harvesters, as against £250,000 worth of similar machines that were made in Australia. That does not look as if the menacing lion of destructive monopoly was swallowing up Messrs. McKay and Co. On the other hand, it appears that, in spite of foreign competition, Messrs. McKay and Co. are driving a good profitable business.
– We are following the advice of the right honorable member for East Sydney, who says, “ Kill the tiger while it is young.”
– My trouble is that there is a conflict of opinion amongst Socialists as to what they ought to do in this case. Some of them have indicated that the supposed tiger ought to be put on the socialistic chain. Now the honorable and learned member wants to kill it.
– I said that the Bill was designed to kill it.
– The honorable and learned member used the personal pronoun “ we.”
– The honorable member is not criticising me, but the Bill.
– I am commenting on the honorable and learned member’s interjection, and I shall be glad to hear him make some reply, if he can. So far, those honorable members who are supposed to be most deeply concerned in this proposal have been as dumb as Jeremiah.
– I spoke last session. Surely the honorable member does not want me to make two speeches on the same Bill?
– Is this the same Bill that was introduced last session?
– The Minister says that it is a more drastic measure; and the honorable member must admit that there is a verv great difference in the title of the Bill.
– That is nothing.
– If it can be proved that a menace exists, no opposition to any attempt to combat it will be raised from this side of the House. The facts ought to be provable by statistics. That is the only test that can be applied in a matter of this kind. The figures that have been supplied by the Minister, in response to my request, so far from indicating that there is any menace, show that there is nothing more than normal competition. As I have stated, most of the trusts in the United States are failures. For every one that is a success twenty are failures, and the reason is not far to seek. No more difficult course could possiblv be conceived than that upon which a trust sets out when it proceeds in the teeth of the law of supply and demand, which regulates the whole business of the world in spite of all Tariffsi and other legislation. You cannot subvert that law. If you do. it will be so much the worse for you, and that very speedily. Therefore, it happens that these trusts, which began with watered capital and inflated prices, have failed. They have sought to raise a few miles of the ocean. As one writer has said, they have exchanged financial loss for educational experience.
All combinations that are intended to force up values to an abnormal extent are to be condemned. To fleece is to cheat, and is immoral, and any combinations setting out to inflate prices beyond their fair normal value violate not only the industrial law of fair competition, but also a higher moral law, and every effort should be made to suppress them.
– Very often, by the time they assume such proportions as to enable them to do that, they are so powerful that they cannot be suppressed.
– We should not be prevented from attempting to do so. Our problem is to eliminate the abuses from these large industrial combinations, and to try and make them square with some broad standard of industrial morality. That is our problem, and in the prosecution of it we ought to do our very utmost to eliminate abuses. The ‘Bill, however, does not attempt to do any such thing. It, indicts combinations as combinations, and trusts as trusts, and aims at their repression rather than their regulation or control. As I have already said, I think that the regulation of these trusts is within our province, and I admit that we are confronted with great difficulty. Nothing is more difficult than to regulate huge trusts such as are developing upon the American continent, and the trouble arises from the fact that no two of them are alike as to their material and financial conditions. Every trust is on a basis peculiar to itself, and has peculiar financial and material standards. Our laws are not flexible. They operate in the same way in regard to all, and thus render it difficult to regulate huge concerns such as are indicated. Take’ the Commerce Bill which was passed last session. It was framed very largely upon the lines of legislation which it was claimed had been successful in New Zealand. But will any one say that there is any parallel between New Zealand and Australia, either as to size, territory, climate. configuration, or in anyother respect? There is absolutely none, and yet we have adopted for this huge continent a law which has been regarded as suited to the circumstances of New Zealand. I am not saying that the New Zealand Act has had all the good results that are claimed. In any case, it does not follow that a law which is good for New Zealand is a proper one to bring into operation in the Commonwealth.
No two States of Australia are alike. The conditions under which produce goes to market from the States of Australia, and in the States themselves differ in every case. There are climates in some of our States which are the very antithesis of one another, and to make one plain enactment to apply to every condition of trade in Australia is almost impossible. The Minister himself is finding this out, now that he comes to frame the regulations under the Commerce Act. He cannot carry out the Act. It is another superincumbent piece of legislative machinery, of which this Government, I am sure, will make the most when their placard is put before the country. It is an excellent thing at a time when the people are being led to believe that the more we reel off legislative enactments the more good we are necessarily doing them. It will serve its purpose as a placard of that kind, but it has long since proved itself to the Minister to be impossible of realization in the way he at first intended!. He is finding the greatest difficulty in getting it into operation, for the simple reason that there are so many varying conditions to which these rigid laws have to be applied. It is impossible to do it, and it is not being .done. The Act today is being in large measure ignored. I am glad that it is. While it is a waste of time to pass measures which cannot be carried out, I would rather see those measures resting quietly upon the legislative rubbish heap than witness an, effort to enforce them to the infinite injury of our diversified industrial life. In the Bill now before us it is proposed to invest a few men with autocratic control. They are to settle questions involving millions of money on lines of mere expediency, and where there is no issue of right and wrong necessarilv involved. It may be requisite, from time to time, to call in these autocratic and personal powers of Government, where vital conditions, such as affect the life and continuity of a nation, have to be met. But here we are calling them into operation to control the industrial operations of a country where thousands, nay, millions of money - and only questions of property and finance - are involved. We ought to be very careful how we call out, shall I say, these reserve powers of the people, in order l.o meet the ordinary normal conditions of trade and business. Our problem is, as I have said, one of regulation - one of purifica- tion - so far as abuses are concerned. Our problem is to eliminate from trusts everything that would! make them operate in a direction contrary to the interests of the people as a whole. In our complex modern life this intervention of the Government is needed more than ever. People try to make it appear on the public platform that we who range ourselves upon the anti-Socialist side of the. political controversy are averse to all State action. The Attorney-General, when addressing his constituents the other day, spoke of a good Socialism and a bad Socialism. We are just as much in favour of that good Socialism as he is. The mistake he makes is in defining our position for us, in attacking his own definition and not our own.
– The honorable member and his party call themselves anti-Socialists.
– We do.
– Then thev must be against all Socialism.
– There is a very definite meaning attached to anti-Socialism. “ Anti-Socialism “ does not mean - and no one knows this better than does the honorable member - objection to the carrying out of such Government functions as will enable the people to develop their individual private concerns.
– That is not antiSocialism ; it is only a bogus anti-Socialism.
– The Socialism to which we object is that of the honorable member, who aims at the destruction of private enterprise.
– The honorable member is bogus again. This is the second time.
– To use the honorable member’s own formula for realizing this ideal-
– The honorable member was once a bogus Labour member, and now he is a bogus Socialist.
– Now the honorable member is becoming abusive. Anti-Socialism is against the honorable member’s formula, in which he describes his objective as the condition of things in which we produce for use, and not for profit.
– I did not so describe my objective. The honorable member’s statement, like something else he has said, is untrue.
– I must ask the honorable member for Bland to withdraw that remark.
– I see no wrong in saying that; the statement is untrue. I do not suggest that the honorable member is wilfully misrepresenting me, but I do say that as a matter of fact his statement is incorrect.
– Will the honorable member kindly withdraw the remark?
– I shall do so, sir, if you wish it ; but I do not see anything wrong in saving that a statement is incorrect.
– I shall make no remark as to the- honorable member’s contention, but shall ask leave later on to make a personal explanation, and to quote the honorable member.
– The statement is incorrect; the honorable member cannot quote me.
– I suppose that that of which we read as having taken place in Bendigo the other night, in connexion with the Political Labour Council, is also incorrect.
– I must ask the honorable member to discuss the Bill, and not the question of what is or is not Socialism.
– I submit, Mr. Speaker, that in discussing the fundamental principles’ of governmental control, regulation, and repression, I may be allowed to furnish illustrations. That is all I am doing.
– I have already allowed the honorable member very considerable latitude. I think that for some time he has been on the border-line of irrelevancy ; but as I assumed that he was simply referring incidentally to the various points, I took no steps to stop him. As the course he is at present pursuing is producing somefeeling in the House I must ask him tO’ confine his attention to the discussion of the Bill itself.
– I have already said that in our modern arrangements, complex as they are, the intervention of Government becomes necessary. No one recognises that more clearly that” do those who range themselves on the an ti -Socialist side of this controversy. Private liberty - and I say it frankly - must always go down before the liberty of others the moment it infringes that liberty. That is the true position in relation to these matters.
– Hear, hear ;. Socialismsays no more than that.
– I wish to say, further - and this is what Socialism does not say - that that boundary-line must be fixed by a wise and prudent expediency, and must not follow any blind principle, such as is enunciated by the Socialists in this House.
– One would not expect the anti-Socialists to follow any principle.
– Our great aim should always be to leave private enterprise as free as possible consistently with the elimination of those abuses which fasten themselves on all the enterprises in which individuals take part. This is an AntiCompetition Bill. It does not merely regulate competition; it deems all possible competition between Australia and elsewhere as being, in itself a thing to be repressed, and it proposes accordingly to repress it. As I described it last session, it is an Anti-Trade Bill, not an Anti-Trust Bill. All competition is not .bad. There is a constructive, as well as a . destructive competition, and the mistake my honorable friends opposite make, is in girding at all competition as necessarily evil, and, therefore, a matter for complete suppression. They see only one side to this competition ; they see the iron wheels going over good people, and they conclude, therefore, that all competition is evil. There is a good as well as an evil kind of competition. Constructive competition
– That is emulation.
– I am referring to constructive competition which is not emulation or anything like it - to competition which results in the employment of improved machinery-
– That is emulation.
– I was not aware that people revolutionized their industrial concerns purely for emulative purposes. I thought that they did it for private profit and advantage. I venture to say that that is what influences; the honorable member. There is a constructive competition which means better skill and better machines, and if we abolish the constructive side of these competitive enterprises, the world, it seems to me, must slip back again to semi-barbarism. It is the one thing, that keeps us from drifting back. In this Bill, successful competition is regarded as unfair, merely because it is successful. That is one of its fundamental mistakes. No distinction is made; competition has only to be successful, and then, no matter how fair it- mav be from every industrial and moral stand-point, it is deemed in this
Bill to be unfair. It is unfair because it happens to be successful. In other words, the word “ unfair” as used in the Bill ;s so elastic as to include all competition, whether constructive or destructive. The title of the Bill, to begin with, indicates that it has a dual function. It aims first at the preservation of Australian industries. Here we have a new departure in connexion with our legislation. lt has always been peculiarly the function of the Tariff to arrange for the preservation of Australian industries. The sole aim of the protectionists has been to preserve Australian industries by means of Tariffs, and until now they have always proclaimed upon the hustings that Tariffs were sufficient for the purpose. It was left to the Minister in charge of this Bill the other night to say that it was designed to do what thev could not do in that direction. I believe that there is no protectionist here who will subscribe to that doctrine; nor would the Minister subscribe to it if its immediate use was not the putting through of this Anti-Trade Bill. At any other time he would be one of the most eloquent advocates of the imposition of duties for the purpose for which he has ostensibly introduced this Bil!’ - the preservation of Australian industries. What is the fact ? The question of harvesters has already been before the House. It declined to- increase the duty on the article, and now the Ministry is attempting to do by a. special Bill what it deliberately declined to do when the Tariff was under consideration. Ministers are getting behind the back of Parliament, if I may so put it. in trying to get through under an entirely different title a higher duty for the benefit of the harvestermakers in Australia. They ought straightforwardly to come to the House with a higher Tariff if they want that industry to be further protected, and not to do it in a Bill of this kind. I have yet to learn that the House is going lightly to surrender its powers of taxation in this way - to hand over its control by -means of a Tariff to a board, necessarily autocratic in its composition and its personnel. For the first time an Australian Parliament - for the first time. I venture to say, the Parliament of a British community - is asked to deliberately surrender .its right of controlling the Tariff and of regulating industrial concerns. But here it is in this Bill as its first and principal function. It occurs to me that during this Parliament we are mak- ing a very great stride forward in the direction of setting up personal in place of responsible government. If we take these ordinary affairs relating to social and industrial life away from Parliament, and place them under the control of a few autocratic men, we shall have gone far towards preparing the conditions for the absolute destruction of responsible government. One of these affairs after another will be put under the control of persons outside, and if we go on as we are doing we shall soon be ripe for a dictator to come along and take charge of the whole affairs of Australia and work them from a purely personal^ stand-point and consideration. Under this Bill no competition is allowable except with countries’ with equal industrial conditions. As the industrial conditions of no two countries are alike, trade between them will become impossible.
– This is a short cut to prohibition.
– The logic of the Bill is trade prohibition - there is no escape from that conclusion - if its provisions are carried out strictly. We are told, for instance, in the Bill that if there is any difference in the wage rate of any other country - and wage rate is to include hours of labour and general conditions surrounding the industry - that is to be regarded as unfair competition.
Mp. Isaacs. - What clause is the honorable member referring to?
– I am referring to the interpretation clause, which says - “ Lower remuneration for labour “ includes less pay or longer hours or any terms or conditions of labour or employment more disadvantageous to workers.
– That does not bear out what the honorable member said.
– It does bear out what I say. The Bill instructs the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs - an instruction which we ought not to give him, because, as head of the Customs Department, he has no right to concern himself in these things - if he suspects that imports have come here from any country where lower remuneration of labour obtains, to indict the instrumentality of their coming. Because the competition is successful it is indicted as unfair under the Bill. Is it right to set up as a legislative standard that anything which competes on conditions, however fair, honorable, and reasonable, must be regarded as unfair until a whole process of inquiry to prove the contrary is undertaken? It may mean that you are indicting a better machine and superior skill. At the same time, you are in danger of trying to bolster up an inferior machine, and to keep it in operation at the cost of the community and at the expense of people outside. Therefore the Bill is going right in the teeth of that constructive competition which has played so large a part in the upbuilding’ of the industrial prosperity of the nations of the world. Then, too, there is a fallacy lurking in clause 3, I think. The assumption is that lower remuneration of labour gives better competing conditions. It is a false assumption. The best paid labour is the most successful, and produces more cheaply than any_ other kind of labour. Our trouble to-day is not with low-paid countries - and the figures show that - but with highly-paid countries. But the assumption in this Bill is that if labour is remunerated at a lower rate, therefore- that low-remunerated labour has a better competing status than if it were paid more highly. All the experience of the world proves that that assumption is fallacious. Our statistics show that we have more to fear from the competition of the highlypaid than from that of the low-paid labour of the world. Then who is to say what is the cause of our disorganization ? Is. there to be an inquiry into the calibre of our machine, into the acquired skill and experience that we possess here? The Bill does not say that these things are to be taken into consideration. It says that if our industry is likely to be disorganized, therefore that trade must be stopped. It does not mean that we must wait until the disorganization has actually taken place, but that if, in the opinion of the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs, it would probably take place, therefore this repression must go on. Disorganization always will, and must, take place where there is a clash of a good machine with a bad one, of superior skill with inferior skill. If you check the consequences arising from that inter-play of the education and skill of the world, it will drive the nation back a long stage to barbarism. I do not want to go into all the “details of the Bill, but wish to say a few words about the question of dumping. Here, again, the Bill makes no distinctions. It aims a blow at dumping, from whatever quarter it may come, under whatever conditions it may happen to come, and whether its effects may be harmful or good. There are two kinds of dumping - aggressive dumping and compulsory . dumping. Aggressive dumping may be described as that into which a rich nation enters in order to try to beat to industrial earth a poorer nation. With that kind of dumping no one has any sympathy, and there must always be power inherent in any Government to try to prevent the complete overthrow and destruction of its industrial life by that means. But you have to take care, even in connexion with this matter, that the remedy to be applied is not worse than the disease. Great caution and the utmost ability are required to apply any provisions which are aimed at the repression of even aggressive dumping from outside. Compulsory clumping may be described as the sale of bankrupt and surplus stocks in countries which have over-produced, and’ which, therefore, must pay to bring the goods here and sell them at whatever prices they will fetch. This Bill is designed to stop all thai kind of thing. If it be stopped here you have to take care that you have not to meet it elsewhere, particularly in this matter of harvesters. I understand Mr. McKay to be an exporter of harvesters to-day. If the importation of harvesters be stopped, outside manufacturers must necessarily find a market elsewhere for surplus stocks, and if they do not compete with Mr. McKay here, the probability is that they will compete with him in other quarters of the world.
– He is competing with them now.
– He is beating them in open competition in South America.
– They will cornpete all the more keenly if they are shut out of Australia, since they must find an outlet for their surplus products elsewhere. All these are difficulties to be faced even when dealing with apparently so simple a matter as the dumping of goods. But is it right to make the Comptroller-General of Customs a political officer and a partisan ? What right have we to put upon him the duty of saying that in his opinion an imported article will disorganize an industry here, or that an article from abroad has been produced at a lower wage-rate than that paid in the production of a similar article here? In spite of himself he must become a political partisan if he is to undertake this duty which is sought to be thrust upon him by the Government. Then, again, there are some things taboo in the Bill as to which the contrary has not to be proved. The Minister has only to hear one side of the matter. The Bill actually goes the length of laying down hard and fast lines upon which a jury shall proceed’. First of all the Bill gives the jury a definition wide enough to cover everything. It says that they must inquire into the question of what is “ unfair in the circumstances.” Surely the phrase “ in the circumstances “ includes every circumstance surrounding a trade. After telling the jury in that general direction that they must inquire into every circumstance concerning a. trade, if need be, the Bill goes on to say that such and such things shall be observed by them in conducting their inquiry. Again it says that if a man is paid a very large salary that also is a matter for investigation. Large salaries or large rewards, are indicated by the Bill. President Roosevelt says in his message that you must have large rewards to attract men of special talent and skill. This is a levelling process with a vengeance ! This cutting down of wages, if they happen to be big wages, is socialistic enough for anybody. Speaking generally, you get this position under the Bill, that a man believing that he is not breaking any law, knowing nothing of some of the intentions and purposes of this autocratic body out here, may send out his goods, and find that thev are prevented from being landed. He may have his trade strangled and destroyed, and that through no fault of his own. but simply because he is not able to gauge the whims, moods and tenses of a body which is set up here with limitless control and almost limitless scope. It will be our object in Committee to tri to tone down some of these defects of the Bill. We are going to try to eliminate some of the possible dangers of trusts in Australia, but we shall, iti doing that, take care that, in addressing ourselves primarily to an attempt to deal with the cupidity of the individual, we do not contravene these great natural laws which will crush us if we disobey them, but which, if harnessed, guided, controlled, are capable of bringing us greater prosperity and greater peace.
– I should like to say at the outset that I do not complain at all about the criticism which the honorable members of the Opposition have thought fit to urge with regard to this measure. I quite acknowledge that it is a Bill of very great importance. In fact, the undertaking of the Prime Minister last session - an undertaking which he has faithfully kept - that this should be the first measure to be introduced during the present session, is sufficient evidence of the opinion of the Government that it is of great importance. Its scope and meaning are, I think, truly indicated by its title. It is “ for the preservation, of Australian industries, and for the suppression of destructive monopolies.”
– It is a bit fiscal, then?
– It is a Bill which, I think, ought to be supported by every honorable member, whatever .his fiscal opinions may be, so long as he believes in the development of this country. I will show the House why I express that opinion. If we have any desire to make this country what I think it may well become - perhaps not in the immediate future, but it can commence now - a great manufacturing country, a country that can hold its many millions of people as other continents do, a country that can have diversity of occupation and diversity of employment, with a population not confined to the margin of the Continent, but spreading far over its interior - then I say that it is necessary to see that its manufacturing industries and its natural resources, which may easily be turned into secondary sources of production, are not stifled, perhaps in the very first years of the Commonwealth, by the power of numbers and the power of aggregated wealth wrongly used to the repression of honest individual effort properly directed. I will call upon my honorable friends, who are very strong in the support of individual liberty, to join with the Government in passing this Bill, which is for the maintenance of true individual liberty. The measure has points of difference as compared with that which the Government ‘presented last session. It is wider in its scope. It is not, however, different in its intention. Its intention now is, as it then was, to protect Australian industries, and. to repress commercial trusts. It is now wider, but, I say, of the same import. It more effectively carries out the intention embodied in the Bill of last year. I will now do what I did last session - endeavour to put before the House, as clearly as I can, the purport and meaning of the various parts of the Bill. The preliminary part contains a short interpretation clause, which applies to the whole Bill. It applies to Part II., relating to monopolies,, and to Part III., relating to dumping. It defines the term “ commercial trusts,” with which honorable members’ are fully acquainted ; it defines “ lower remuneration for labour,” and it defines “ person.” When we come to clause 4, which is the first of a series of clauses extending to clause 11, dealing ;with the repression, of monopolies, we find provisions which are partly framed under the trade and commerce section of the Constitution, and partly framed under the corporation section. Whatever the Federal Parliament has power over, whether it be with regard to subjectmatter, or with regard to any particular person, it has full power over. When it has power over trade and commerce with foreign countries, and among the States, it has full power over that subject-matter, no matter what person, individuals, or corporations are carrying on that trade and commerce ; and when it has power over corporations, it has, I take it, full power over the operations of those corporations, whether thev are carrying on Inter-State trade, foreign trade, or trade within a State. So that we have endeavoured in this portion of the Bill to cope with monopolies, if they relate to Inter-State and1 foreign trade, and whether they are carried on by individuals or corporations ; and we have endeavoured to cope with monopolies even within a State when carried on by corporations. But we cannot deal - the Constitution does not give us power to deal - with monopolies, carried on purely within a State by individuals only. I take it, however, that1 it is a very small portion which is left uncovered. It must, if dealt with at all, be dealt with by the States; but it is a small thing in comparison with the larger issue, that an individual should have a monopoly within a State the operation of which does not extend beyond the limits of that State. We have gone as far as we can in regard to the nature of the matters with which we are dealing.
– Does the AttorneyGeneral regard as a corporation a single company that is not acting in conjunction with other companies ?
– Certainly. An ordinary trading company registered under a trading company’s Act would be a corporation.
– Our power would apply notwithstanding that the company did not operate outside the borders of one State ?
– Yes, because we have full power to deal with corporations.
– Is that a power under our Constitution ?
– Yes, under section 51, sub-section xx., we have power to legislate with regard to foreign corporations and trading and financial corporations formed within the limits of the Commonwealth.
– I very much doubt whether that covers this particular Bill, though. It does not in the United States.
– The Federal Government has not such a power in the United States. It is because we have that power that we can make the additional provisions in this Bill, and I take it that if they had such a power the United States Government would be free from many of the difficulties that now confront them in their legislation.
– I take it that the AttorneyGeneral has only discovered that power since last year.
Mir. ISAACS. By no means; but it is since then that we have decided to use it.
– It was a discovery in extremis, I think.
– It was no new discovery at all. I was asked last year by the honorable member for Kennedy whether the Bill would apply to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and I replied that it would not, but that a few words could be introduced to make if apply.
– I do not think that the Attorney-General indicated last year that those powers were in the Constitution.
– I can assure the honorable and learned member that I did, and he will find my statement in Hansard. I said that a very few words could make the Bill apply to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. In the United States the sole! power depends upon the trade and commerce section, but as I have said, there is a power in our Constitution to deal with corporations - foreign corporations and trading and financial corporations - formed within the Commonwealth; and I take it that we can deal with those corporations in regard to any of their operations. I have explained so far the nature of the ground that we intend to cover, and now I will poin’t out how we propose to deal with it.
– Would the AttorneyGeneral mind explaining what is the position of an individual within a State? Is he to be restricted?
– I have just explained that the Commonwealth has no power to deal with the trade of an individual, which trade is confined solely to a State; but if his trade extends1 beyond the limits of a State, it is dealt with by this Bill.
– Only so far as his trade extends, I suppose?
– If he is doing InterState trade, of course, that is what we deal with. I should, like to put the case succinctly to the House at this stage, and I shall have much pleasure in going into further details in Committee if desired bv honorable members. Clause 4 deals with t,rade and commerce with other countries and among States, and it provides that -
Any person who wilfully either as principal or as agent, makes or enters into any contract or is a member of, or engages in any combination to do any act or thing in relation to trade or commerce with other countries, or among the States - in either of two matters - first - in restraint of trade or commerce to the detriment of the public, or secondly - with the design of destroying or injuring by means of unfair competition, any Australian industry, the preservation of which, in the opinion of the jury, is advantageous to the Commonwealth, having due regard to the interests of producers, workers, and consumers, shall be guilty of an indictable offence.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral explain what is meant by “ to the detriment of the public”?
– There are several American Acts dealing with the question, but in the Sherman Act, which is the main Act, a provision is made that restraints of Inter-State or foreign commerce are criminal, and the Courts there have held that it does not matter whether the restraints! are beneficial to the’ public - or are not prejudicial to the public - so long as they are restraints, they are hit by the Act. In American cases, to which I shall make a very short reference presently, that principle is laid down time after time. I personally, and the members of the Government, agree that there may be combinations whose work is useful and beneficial to the public.
– At all events, not injurious.
– And certainly not injurious. We do not believe that that sort of work should be penalized. Therefore, as the American law, as explained by the Supreme Court and the Federal Courts of the United States, pushes the matter so far as to make no discrimination whatever between what is injurious and what is beneficial, we have inserted these words, “to the detriment of the public.” Under the old British law monopolies which were detrimental to the public were hit at. That is all we wish to do. If there is a restraint of _trade which can be shown to be detrimental to the public, which is injurious to the public - and we cannot define the particular instances in which that detriment will occur or the injury will arise - then we say that the man who wilfully enters into such a contract or joins such a combination, shall be deemed a public malefactor.
– Injury to what section of the public?
– Who is to decide the injury ?
– Injury to the public is a very well-understood term.
– What would injure one section of the public might benefit another.
– Injury to the public is a term well known to British law. The matter can be well worked out and it is impossible, I think, to make it more distinct. It will be left to a jury to determine upon lines of common sense. The jury who will be drawn from the public, will fully understand whether a certain thing is injurious to the public or not. If, as my honorable friends opposite put it, and I quite a.gree with them, this is a matter which ought to be looked at from the public stand-point, I know of no better tribunal than a jury to say what is injurious to the public and what is not.
– A jury in one part of the Commonwealth will hold an opinion different to that of a jury in another.
– The honorable member might say that of every case that could be tried, and it is merely an argument to prove that no cases should be tried by juries at all. It could be said of Judges, and of any human beings whatever. It could be said that one Judge, or one individual, might take one view of a case on questions of fact and another might take an entirely different view.
– A jury in one State might regard the interests of that State, for instance, as opposed to those of another State.
– Does the honorable member propose to allow trusts to run rampant ?
– No one has said so.
– Then we must have human beings to adjudicate upon these cases. The honorable member will not have a Board, and if he will not have a Judge and jury, what will he have? I point out to my honorable friends opposite that they must decide whether they are going to support the repression of injurious monopolies, or to vote for maintaining them. If the honorable member for Wentworth votes, as I believe he will, to help us to repress injurious monopolies, he will have to consider - though I admit he may do so more appropriately in Committee - to what tribunal he will refer these matters.
– Can the honorable and learned gentleman mention a single injurious monopoly operating in Australia at the present time?
– - May I be allowed to continue my explanation? Clause 5 relates to corporations. As I have pointed out already, we consider that a corporation which does these things with regard to any trade or commerce within the Commonwealth should be deemed to be guilty of an offence. I may point out before I go any further that the American decisions of importance commenced in about the year 1895. The Sherman Act was passed in 1890, and for some time it was a matter of great doubt as to how it applied, and how these great corporations could be attacked. The first important case was that of the United States v. Knight and Co.,* the sugar trust case. In that case the American Sugar Refining Company, which was a New Jersey corporation, bought up the stock of some four Philadelphia corporations, and acquired practically the monopoly of manufacture. It came before the Supreme Court of the United States, and the Court absolved the trust. The Court said there was no breach of the Sherman Act, because it held that manufacture is not the same as commerce. Manufacture is not trade or commerce; that it is only the preparation of goods which are to be used in trade or commerce, and that the transaction aimed at bore no direct relation to Inter-State com- merce. It was thought for some considerable time - a year or two, at all events - that the trusts were triumphant, and that under the American Constitution the Congress of the United States was powerless to deal with them. Two other cases came on - one in 1897 and’ the other in 1898 - the transportation rates cases, the United States v. Trans-Missouri Freight Association, 166 U.S. Reports, 290, and the United States v. Joint Traffic Association, i/.r, U.S. Reports, 505. As the decision in the second case followed that given in the first, I may state what was decided in the Trans-Missouri Freight Association case. The Court held that the restraint provisions of the Act did applyto contracts between competing carriers ; that there was no necessity to prove the purpose to restrain, if the necessary effect of the contract or combination was to restrain Inter-State commerce, and that this applied to all restraints, whether they were reasonable or unreasonable.
Mir. Watson. - There have been some decisions somewhat different to that.
– That portion of the decision has been upheld, and it is here, as I have indicated, that this Bill differs from American legislation, because it is not right, so far as I can judge, to apply drastic provisions of this kind to restraints which are not unreasonable.
– Did not the United States Supreme Court hold that there must be evidence in the deed of corporation of a desire or intention to restrain trade?
– In one sense, in a later case ; but the American Courts have upheld the decision that there must be an indication in the contract that it would directly affect Inter-State trade. It is not, however, necessary to prove that that is the purpose of it, but you must prove that that is the effect of it. Then came two other cases, in which certain meat trusts were triumphant The Court held that trusts formed to buy cattle for themselves within their own State were not committing a breach of the Act unless they bought to sell beyond the limits of that State.
– The Sherman Act was really directed against carriers.
-r-It was, but the Court has held that it extends to every sort of contract.
– I am aware that the Act is wider, but it was introduced to deal with carriers.
– The first case which gave a great shock to the trusts was that of the Addvston Pipe and Steel Company v. United States in 1899, 175 United States Reports, 211. There it was decided that a combination of manufacturers and vendors’ to raise prices is in, restraint of Inter-State trade. It was sought to show that, because they were manufacturers agreeing with vendors as to whom they should sell to, and whom they should buy from, the decision in the United Stales v. Knight and Company - the sugar trust case - governed the matter ; but the Court pointed out that there must be no mistake about it, that whilst the decision in the sugar trust case, in which the trust was successful, was entirely based on the fact that there was no proof that the manufacture was connected with Inter-State trade and commerce, although it was a monopoly of manufacture, still if the contract was connected with the disposal of the goods beyond the State that was quite sufficient to bring it within the Act. The Court so held in that case, and it has been so held ever since. Then we come to the case of the United States v. Chesapeake and Ohio FuelCompany, 105 Federal Reporter, 93. There the Court annulled a contract by the corporation to take the entire product of a number of producing firms and corporations engaged .in the mining of coal, intending to sell it at not less than the price to be fixed by an executive committee, and to pay to the parties the entire proceeds over and above a fixed sum retained for compensation. The Court held that it was no defence that the agreement was not injurious to the public, or was actually beneficia.1 to the public. There are other cases, coming down to as late as 1905, in which the same principles are upheld. I shall just name them, in order that honorable members may look them up if they wish, and shall then pass on to the consideration of the Bill. One is the United States v. Swift in 1903, 122 Federal Reporter. 529. That was a meat trust case, and the decision was upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States on the 30th January, 1905. Then there is the case of Montague and Company v. Lowry, in 1904, 195 United States Reports,
– There is no provision of the Sherman Act fairly corresponding to that.
– There is not, except the monopoly portion, and I do not know that it does not to some extent come under it. I am not’ sure that it does not. But while I freely confess that there are no words in the Sherman Act to exactly correspond with that-
– The Sherman Act does not aim at an alleged mischief of that kind.
– I am not sure that the Sherman Act could not reach even that case. I think that restraint of trade may be brought about either by excessive prices or by running industries off the market. You can do a thin.” directive or von can do it indirectly. But there has been no decision to that effect.
– All those cases go upon quite a different ground.
– So far they do: though I do not know what the American Courts may hold in the future. But whether they do or not. the Government is taking the responsibility of setting out clearly what it desires, and it is for honorable members to say whether thev agree to its proposals. We say, “ If you designedly attempt to destroy Australian industries by unfair competition - only those industries, mark you, which it is desirable in the interests of all Australians to preserve-you come within the Act j otherwise you do noi.” We apply the same principle, in clauses 7 and 8, to monopoly. In clause 6 we say that competition is to be deemed unfair, if the defendant is a commercial trust or the agent of a commercial trust, until the contrary is proved. We think that in itself it is unfair for any individual or individuals to have to compete with a trust. We say in paragraph b of clause 6 that if the competition would probably or does in fact result in a lower remuneration for labour, that is prima facie evidence that it is unfair. We take the ground that if competition can be maintained only by lowering the wage standard in Australia, it is prima facie unfair, and the onus of justifying it lies upon those who wish to see how far it can be justified.
– Who fixes the standard ?
– The standard will be that existing in the industry at the time when the competition commences. Then, if the competition would probably or does in fact result in greatly disorganizing Australian industry, or in throwing workers out of employment, that is to be taken as prima facie evidence that it is unfair. The same principle runs through each case. So far we have dealt with the repression of monopolies j but clause 10 is an adaptation of another power given bv the Sherman Act, which enables application to be made to the Court for an injunction to restrain the commission of or prevent the continuance of any act which is unlawful under the Bill. The other portion of it, to which I have already referred, relates to a prosecution. The portion to which I am now referring relates to the power of the Court to prevent the continuance of these acts. Clause it adopts a provision in the Sherman Act bv which any person who is injured bv means of an unlawful net is entitled to get triple damages, and such damages were obtained in the case of Montague v. Lowry to which I have referred. I welcomed a great number of the observations of the honorable mem ber for North Sydney and thought them very fair indeed. He recognised that there are occasions when it is necessary to put some restraint upon the attempts of men of large brain and small scruple to get command of the means of supply and distribution, who seek to tax the people regardless of the injury and wrong, they do. He said that we should seek the means of combating such men. He is absolutely in line with us there, and told us in generous words that there would be no opposition to that part of the Bill.
– I did not express myself in that way. I said, so far as the Bill would effectively carry out that intention.
– I think that it will. I do not wish to carry the honorable member’s words any further than I understood them.
– I took exception to that part of the Bill.
M!r. ISAACS. - My honorable friend said that we must not confuse beneficent with destructive combines. I agree with him there, and the Bill all through makes a distinction between them. No stroke is levelled by it at any beneficent combine. No attempt is made to strike at any combination, however powerful, unless its action is wilfully directed to the detriment of the public, or to the destruction of Australian industries, which we regard it as necessary to preserve. I think it important to retain that fact in mind. While I thoroughly agree with the observation of some of my honorable friends opposite, that we must not slash round to destroy aggregations of capital, any more than that we should try to destroy aggregations of labour merely because they are aggregations, we must not hesitate to do so if we find the great power which they possess directed against the common weal.
– Wrongful intention would be pretty hard to prove.
– I do not think so. The intention must be found from the necessary result of the acts at the time. The American Courts have not hesitated to infer intention from necessary results, and every man is presumed to intend the necessary results of his acts. My honorable friend asked me whether we could not leave this matter to a Judge instead of to a jury ; but I do not. favour leaving a question of criminal intent, and its punishment, to a Judge alone.
– My first question was with regard to what the opinion of the jury should be taken on. The Bill says, “as to whether it is advantageous ta the Commonwealth.”
– It is only in that connexion that the opinion of the jury is expressly mentioned, tout, as I have already explained, the-opinion of the jury will have to be taken in regard to many other matters besides.
– Does not the inclusion exclude ?
– I think not; but, as I indicated when my honorable friend was speaking, there is no objection to the elimination of those word’s. They were put in to show honorable members that our view is that the advantage of the Commonwealth is a question which should be left to the jury. It may be that these words can be struck out. Their omission would not alter the fact that the question will have to be left to the jury ; but it might be that other questions of fact would then more distinctly come within the province of the jury. That, however, is purely a Committee matter. Passing on to the anti-dumping provisions of the Bill, I have again to draw attention to clause 13 as the key-note of this particular portion. Although we provide that dumping of foreign goods is not to be allowed, under certain circumstances, it is essential to the application of this portion that the Australian industries which are to be protected shall be industries which, in the opinion of the Comptroller-General, or the Board, as the case may be, are advantageous to the Commonwealth, having due regard to the interests of producers, workers, and consumers. I at once admit that there may be great difference of opinion as to whether the Board is a proper tribunal.
– Does not the honorable and learned member think that Parliament is the proper tribunal to decide that question?
– Is the honorable and learned member prepared to enumerate the industries which he wishes to protect, leaving out all others?
– It will take me too long to enumerate all the industries which I desire to protect.
– If the honorable and learned member willi furnish such a list, we may be able to determine the matter ; but he must remember, in making out his enumeration, that from day to day and from year to year industries alter in importance, and new industries spring up. I think that no one can enumerate all the industries of the Commonwealth which ought to be exclusively protected.
– Not protected - preserved.
– I do not use the word “protected” in a fiscal sense. I mean protected from destruction. Whether you determine it by Parliament, by the ComptrollerGeneral, by a Board, or by a Judge, the only industries designed to be protected in the way provided for are industries proved to be desirable of continuance, in the interests of producers, workers, and consumers alike. We say that no Australian industry which it is desirable to preserve shall be killed, either by internal or externall attack. If an industrv should be preserved, we intend to make the preservation effectual. There is not the slightest use in saying that it should be protected from trusts in Australia if we let it be drowned by importations of dumped goods from abroad. Therefore we start with Australian industries necessary to be preserved, and say, “ If foreign goods are brought in under certain circumstances which are shown to mean unfair competition, that competition shall be stopped.” We define “ unfair competition ‘ ‘ as follows : -
In the following cases the competition shall be deemed unfair until the contrary is proved -
If the person importing goods or selling imported goods is a Commercial Trust ;
If the competition would probably or does in fact result in a lower remuneration of labour.
Assuming that an industry is one which ought to be preserved, we would protect it against such competition as that indicated. Take the iron industry, for example. We want the iron ore to be dug up from the earth, and converted into pig-iron for use in the manufacture of machinery suitable for our manufacturers, our farmers, and every one else. Honorable members will not deny that this is an industry that ought to be preserved. If we found that the introduction of certain goods would result in the Australian product having to be withdrawn from the market, or sold at a loss, unless we cut down the wages of our labourers, or prolonged their hours of labour, we should regard the competition as unfair. If no matter what machinery we might introduce - what methods we might adopt, what advanced system we might bring into operation - we could not possibly maintain an industry which ought to be preserved in the interests of Australia, unless we sweated! our workers, we should have to protect it against unfair competition from outside.
– Would that apply to goods coming from a country in which high wages were paid ?
– I would not care where such goods came from. If their introduction had effects such as I have described, they would compete unfairly with our manufactures. The quarter from which they came would be quite immaterial if they were going to kill an Australian industry which we considered it necessary to preserve.
– Why does not the Minister admit that he believes in prohibition ?
– That question is answered by what I have already said. We provide that, unless the contrary is proved, competition, as defined by us, shall be deemed unfair. In other words, we say that if it is shown that’ the goods are being introduced by a commercial trust or agent of a commercial trust, or if their importation would probably, or does in fact, result in a lower remuneration for labour, or if it would probably, or does in fact, result in greatlv disorganizing Australian industry, or throwing workers out of employment, the competition is unfair. As to these provisions we have had no hostile criticism.
Mn. Dugald Thomson. - There would be difficulty in disproving that the competition was unfair.
– No one can provide evidence beforehand. No doubt the question is a difficult one; but matters quite as complex have been successfully dealt with.
– The importer is to be regarded as guilty until he proves that he is innocent.
– I shall be glad to welcome any suggestion for facilitating proof in these matters. Then we come to another provision. It is provided that the competition shall be deemed unfair until the contrary is proved -
If the imported goods have been purchased abroad at prices greatly below their ordinary cost of production where produced, or their market price where purchased.
All that means is that if goods have been purchased abroad below the ordinary cost of production - I do not care whether they have been bought as bargains or not - and they are brought here and come into conflict with an Australian industry that ought to be preserved, those who are bringing in the goods must prove that the competition is fair.
– If an importer absorbed the whole of the profit on his bargain, would he be regarded as competing fairly ?
– The clause deals solely with the price paid for the goods abroad.
– If a man buys abroad cheaply, and sells here at the current rate, would he be guilty of unfair competition unless the contrary were proved ?
– In the case put by my honorable friend, the importer would immediately answer the whole case by saving, “ I am not entering into unfair competition, because I am selling my good’s at the same price as is every one else.”
– It will be “good-bye” to all bargain sales.
– That is shutting off the consumer with a vengeance.
– Many of these questions answer themselves. It is further provided that competition shall be deemed unfair -
If the imported goods have been purchased abroad at prices greatly below their ordinary cost of production where produced or market price where purchased.
All that provision does is to call upon a person who is selling goods under circumstances which are certainly extraordinary to show that his competition is fair, although on the face of it it appears to be unfair.
– Why do not the Government wind up the Tariff Commission ?
– Why does not the honorable member put a question that has some sense in it?
– The Government are going behind’ the backs of the Tariff Commission.
– Will the Attorney-General kindly point out where it is provided that these provisions shall be applied only to extraordinary cases? I cannot see any limitation in that respect, and that is my objection to this part of the Bill.
– Does my honorable and learned friend think that any person, in the ordinary course of trade, will sell his goods at prices which will not give him a clear profit on the fair foreign market value?
– Traders cannot always obtain a fair profit.
– Business men do not carry on their business from philanthropic motives.
– But they make losses.
– If we find that goods are being brought here in quantities and sold at prices very much below their foreign market value, as it is said they have been recently, we shall be justified in assuming that the importations are intended to run the Australian manufacturer out of the market, in order that the foreign manufacturer may afterwards hold the Australian consumers at his mercy.
– They must be madmen to do such a thing, because they could sell at a, trifle under the prices of the local manufacturers, and effectively compete with them in that way.
– There is method in their madness. I think that my honorable friend will find that the course of conduct I have described comes directly within his own definition of a destructive combine.
– There is no combine at all.
Mi-. ISAACS. - No single individual could afford to do as I have suggested.
M.r. Kelly. - It is done every day in the ordinary course of business.
– I do not wish to enter into a discussion that would be more appropriate to the Committee stage, but I am endeavouring to answer the questions put to me by honorable members. So long as I explain the meaning of these clauses as they appear to me, the advisability and the justice of the provisions may be left for consideration in Committee. The Bill contains a series of clauses providing that the Comptroller may put the Minister in motion, and that the Minister may put the Board in motion, in order that they may arrive at a determination. Clause 37 answers the question put by the honorable member for North Sydney with regard to the power of examination into the affairs of the Australian manufacturers, as well as into those of the importers. The Board has power to order an investigation of the books of both local manufacturers and importers.
– My question related to the provision for restricting the amount of commission paid to agents for selling imported goods. I desired to know whether the Australian manufacturer was also to be prevented from paying too much commission to his agents.
– I shall defer dealing with that matter for the present. As I have said, clause 17 gives the fullest .power to the Board to look into everything. They are not required to show any favour or give any privilege to any person, whether he be an Australian or a foreign trader. Some honorable members have expressed the view that the Board is not the right tribunal to which to refer these questions - that a Judge should be selected. That view was also taken by the Government in the first instance. Long before any Bill of this nature was launched in the House, we decided to refer to a Judge all questions with which if is now proposed the Board shall deal. And we desire that now if we can bring it about. We only fell back on the Board, because we saw no other way of obtaining a (rood tribunal.
– Why? Provision is made for a Judge in the other part of the Bill.
– The other part of the Bill deals with strictly judicial functions.
– Many of the functions to be performed by the Board are similar to those which the Judge will have to discharge.
– My honorable friend will see that the other portion of the Bill deals with strictly judicial functions, because it relates to judicial decisions which will have to be given in a Court of Justice. The Board will not arrive at a judicial decision, but will merely report to the Minister. It isi still our desire to appoint a Judge, if we can see our way to do so.
– The Minister could provide for a judicial decision in regard to the matters which are to be referred to the Board.
Mr- ISAACS. - If we can get the assistance of a Judge, we shall be very glad to do so. Speaking personally, I should have no hesitation in advising my colleagues to so frame the measure as to provide for a judicial decision in all cases. Honorable members must understand, however, that under such circumstances, the Minister would have absolutely no discretion, because we could not expect a Judge to undertake duties of that nature, unless his decisions were regarded as final.
– Then there is the parliamentary! tribunal as well.
– Would the honorable member desire to bring before Parliament all the witnesses in every case, and the whole of the parties concerned? Would he have them give their testimony at the
Bar, and subject them to examination and cross-examination ? That cannot be done.
– Why not bring the report of the Board before Parliament?
– That would certainly be making it a political matter, and would, I think, be the worst solution of the difficulty. It would be undesirable to bring the parties before Parliament after their cases had been threshed out before an impartial Board.
– All I suggested was that Parliament should be substituted for the Governor-General.
– I repeat that if we can possibly arrange that a judicial official shall deal with these matters, that will afford the best solution of the difficulty. The House and the country would have confidence in the Judge. If the Minister could refer to a Judge, as is now done in some cases, and the fudge took the whole matter into his consideration, and upon questions of fact, gave a decision which would not be reviewable, that would be the best way of dealing with the matter. If, however, we cannot obtain the services of a Judge, we must fall back upon the Board, subject, of course, to parliamentary control over the Minister. The Minister is responsible for his actions to Parliament, which always has: it in its power to review his decisions.
– Surely that arrangement would make the matter as much a political question as would the one I suggested ?
– With great respect to my honorable and learned friend, I do not think so. Parliament would have the same power in this case as in regard to any other act of administration bv a. Minister. We know that, if we provide that this House “ may “ deal with the matter, it will not do so ; but if we say that it “ shall “ be the duty of Parliament that will force the function upon it, and that would be disastrous.
– Is this to be a permanent Board? Mr. ISAACS.- No.
– Is it to be peripatetic ?
– There is to be a Board in each case.
– Then we may have opposite decisions in each case?
– We cannot have opposite decisions on questions of fact in different cases.
– Juries arrive at different verdicts on questions of facts.
– As long as we have a human tribunal we shall have difficulties, but the best human tribunal we could h.ive would be one presided over by a Judge if we could get it. It was the desire of the Government that a Judge should deal with these matters, and, if it be possible, I should like to see that desire carried into effect.
– Would that mean the appointment of a Judge or a Board in each of the States?
– No ; the suggestion is that we should have a Federal Judge to deal with a Federal matter. The honorable member would not have a State Judge to deal with a matter that concerned the whole of Australia.
– The appointment of a Judge to deal with these matters would mean that a man’s goods would be impounded pending the settlement of the dispute.
– Whether we had a Federal Judge, a State Judge, a Board, or the Minister to deal with these questions, the same result would follow. We cannot make Australia smaller than it is.
– If we had only a Judge to deal with these matters the work would be done more expeditiously than it would be by an interested Board.
– Undoubtedly; and the decision of one man, of course, is generally unanimous.
– It might be a “yes-no” decision.
– I used the word “ generally.” Honorable members will see from the information we have circulated that in America it was considered so important that these questions should be determined that the Expedition Act was passed to compel appeals from the primary Federal Court to go straight to the Supreme Court without intermediate appeals. On what is practically the direction - the certificate - of the Attorney-General of the United States, the Supreme Court deals at once with these appeals. I recognise, as the honorable member for Grey has pointed out, thai these matters should be dealt with promptly, and that a Board of three would take longer to deal with them than would ji Board of one. But I have indicated the difficulties in our way, and if they are to be overcome I think most honorable members will agree [Ml that it would be a happy thing to solve them.
– The United States has no legislation similar to the part of the Bill now under discussion.
– The Sherman Act is very like it.
– Under section 6 of the Sherman Act, and section 76 of the Wilson Act, passed subsequently, goods imported in contravention of those measures are confiscated.
– That provision relates to trusts.
– That is so in a sense, but the point is that whilst there the goods are confiscated, we do not attempt to secure such a power. All we say is that they are not to be permitted to enter Australia to destroy our manufactures and industriesin the way I have described.
– Why not adopt the Canadian Act?
– I repeat that we do not go to extremes. What we do is to modify the Sherman Act by hitting only at detrimental operations. We modify that Act by declaring that goods are not to be confiscated, but that they are to be prevented from doing damage to Australian industry. They must be taken elsewhere.
– Does that Act deal with anti-dumping ?
– No; but the Wilson Act deals with restraints by foreign companies upon American trade, and provides that the moment the offence is shown the goods in question shall be confiscated. As I have pointed out, there might be an innocent contravention without any intent whatever. There might be what was a restraint of trade, in fact, and yet not an injurious one, but so strong is the determination of the American Legislature to protect their industries, that even in that case the goods would be confiscated.
– Is not the Wilson Act aimed at the very opposite of dumping - at high prices as against low prices?
– I have already said that, so far, the decisions have dealt only with cases relating to high prices, but we can take the restraint of trade in another direction. I think one could say “I am going to drive competition out of the market as much bv cutting prices as bv high prices.” One might cut down competition by saying to a man “ I will not sell to you except at a very high price,” or, “If you will not buy from me I will sell at prices that will run you off the road.” All this amounts to a restraint of trade. It has yet to be considered by the United States Court whether such proceedings would or would not come within the Sherman Act. There has been no case of the kind so far, but one may arise at. any time. I have pointed out clearly to the House that there are no such words expressly embodied in the Sherman Act, but we have put them clearly and strongly in the Bill now before us. I believe that I have explained this measure as far as I possibly can. I have pointed out the difference between American legislation and our own, and I think that in these circumstances we have shown a very good case for the passing of this Bill. I am gratified to hear that we shall have the assistance of some of my honorable friends opposite in establishing at least the main principles of the Bill, and I would point’ out that that having been dope the difficulties can be easily adjusted.
– I should like to hear what is the necessity for this Bill.
– The honorable member himself let fall some encouraging words when he said that there was a distinction between constructive and destructive competition. It is only the destructive competition at which we are aiming.
– The successful competition.
– No; “constructive and destructive competition “ was the expression used by the honorable member.
– That is right; but this Bill aims at successful competition, whether fair or otherwise.
– There are successful burglars, and we should hit at them, too. The honorable member also told us that there was a kind of dumping to which he objected. I was delighted to hear him admit that he was very much opposed to destructive dumping driving industries down to industrial earth. That is what we are seeking to prevent. It is refreshing to hear that dumping is not always beneficial. It has often been pointed out bv my honorable friend, and some of those associated with him, that dumping can never do any harm - that it is beneficial to all consumers ; but I am glad that my honorable friend concedes the point that there is a kind of dumping that drives the native industries down to industrial earth.
– The honorable and learned gentleman evidently did not hear what I said.
– I shall be surprised if we do not find in print the words which I attribute to the honorable member, and which were noted by one or two honorable members on this side of the House. I quite agree with the honorable member for Parramatta that that is the kind of dumping; we should seek to suppress. We have before us a Bill which we regard as of great importance and of enormous interest to. Australia - a Bill which has a value far ‘beyond any fiscal worth. We have been told that we should have waited for the final reports of the Tariff Commission. This measure, however, has nothing to do with the Tariff Commission. A Tariff is intended to give the necessary protection and’ stimulus to native industries in the ordinary operations of commerce. This Bill, on the other hand, is directed, not against the ordinary operations of commerce, but against the extraordinary operations of those who wish to crush our industries at all hazards, and in spite of any Tariff we can pass.
– There is not a tittle of evidence of such a desire.
– I must be forgiven for differing from the honorable member. I have expressly refrained from giving particular cases, because in some instances they are the subject of judicial consideration, and I might do an injustice by mentioning names.
– Is that why the Minister of Trade and Customs dealt rather fully with certain cases?
– I am not going to do so. I have studiously refrained from saying anything about them. I think there is a sufficient basis for the belief that, independently of Tariffs - over and above Tariffs of all kinds, there is a necessity to protect industry. Free-traders and protectionists alike ought to agree that a measure like this should be assisted. Let us take a free-trade industry - one that has no protection at all. Why should those engaged in such an industry be driven out ot it by the overpowering influence of a foreign capitalist? Why should not free-traders sink the fiscal issue in respect to this question at all events, and help to maintain the integrity of Australian industry? The importance of this Bill cannot be overestimated, and instead of its being set aside as a fiscal document, we should all unite and see that Australia, in point of industry, is placed in front of all other considerations in relation to every other part of the world.
– If proof had been given that there is unfair competition in relation to any industry in Australia there would have been some reason for this Bill, but neither of the Ministers who have yet spoken has shown that anything of the kind has occurred’ or even now exists. We have had from the Minister of Trade and Customs the admission that this Bill is aimed especially at two foreign firms carrying on business in Australia.
– What are their names?
– They were mentioned by the Minister of Trade and Customs - the International Harvester Company and the Massey-Harris Company. The statement has been made that they are unfairly competing with manufacturing interests here, and that consequently a drastic Bill like this must be introduced to prevent such competition. The Attorney-General, who has just resumed his seat, gave us a long disquisition on the American law, and what it has done, but he has not attempted to show that unfair competition is taking place here. Although he was invited by’ interjection to do so, he carefully abstained from accepting the invitation. He has indicated practically that notwithstanding all the legislation of the United States, trusts are still rampant and powerful there rr?-day. Every law passed there has failed to prevent trusts from carrying on their operations and securing a firm grip upon the commerce of the country.
– Does the honorable member say that because they have failed no other attempt should be made?
– I say that their failure is perhaps an indication that this Bill will fail. We should base our arguments on experience. The experience of the past is the wisdom of to-dan but I do not expect the honorable member to be guided by it. What injury do the American trusts inflict upon other countries? When one inquires into the operation of trusts in America one finds that they are injuring not foreign countries, but their own people. They keep up the prices of the material to their own people, whilst they sell at cheaper prices to other nations. We have an admission in the speech of the Minister of Trade and Customs that such is the fact. One cannot read American literature without realizing that it is the case. The opinion of those who suffer is that what develops the trusts in America is what we have been trying to fight here to-night. Protective duties enable the American manufacturers to keep out the competition of the world, and to obtain from their own people a higher price for their products, whilst they sell at cost price to the people of other countries. I have taken the trouble to get some information about this subject, and to make some extracts, as I could not find very much information in the Minister’s speech. So far as I can judge, there is no unfair competition here. The two companies I have alluded to were in a combination with the agricultural implement makers in this State. They are placed under no disadvantage, because the importing expenses, with the duty added, amount to about £20 per machine. Although they enjoy all that advantage, yet they claim that they are being interfered with, and that the competition is unfair. It appears to me, however, that they would lae able to completely destroy foreign competition, if they would only sell their machines at a fair price. But, seeking to get the highest possible price, they entered into a combination for that purpose, andi then they appealed to the Minister of Trade and Customs to raise the value of the imported machine, so that the duty might be increased, and he yielded to their request. In the press we read of a cry about how the local industries were being strangled, but when we come to examine the evidence of local manufacturers before the Tariff Commission, we realize that their machines ought to be sold for considerably less, and under the present duty could be sold at such a price as to absolutely shut out foreign harvesters. It is the local manufacturers who have helped to keep up the price against the farmer, but the Bill is brought in to protect the former, and not the latter. Mv objection to its enactment is that it is supporting a local monopoly. In America it is the local trusts which have created all the trouble and difficulty. The Minister of Trade and Customs wanted to make out the other night that the steel trust of America is a great competitor in the Commonwealth. The figures he gave are about the same as those which I took out. In 1904 our total importations of all kinds of agricultural implements, manufactures of metals, machines, and machinery, amounted to between £6, 000,000 and £7,000,000.
– Speaking from memory, the imports for 1905 amounted to £[7,250,000.
– The Minister of Trade and Customs said that in 1904 the imports of these articles amounted to £6,980,000. According to my figures, the imports in that year amounted to £[6-5’7)793j but I left out some articles, such as electric appliances. Out of that sum, £[1,360,441 worth came from America, £[636,327 worth from Germany, £[4.280,255 worth from Great Britain, and £[260,770 from other countries. Threefourths of our total imports of articles came from Great Britain, and as not onefourth came from America the Steel Trust cannot send very much here. A great proportion of the American imports did not come from the Steel Trust, but from such companies as the International Company, the Steel Implement Company, vehicle and motor companies. Even if we were to credit all the American imports to the Steel Trust, not one-fourth of our imports would come from that quarter. Some of those persons who have to take their iron and steel from the Steel Trust make this statement in the Farm Implement News of 28th December, 1905 -
A few brief years ago we could all buy iron as low as $iS per ton, whereas we must now pay approximately $40 per ton, and a corresponding advance for everything in the metal line. When iron was sold for $18 per ton the methods of production were crude and expensive as compared with methods now in use. Improved methods and machinery have greatly reduced the cost of production, -and yet prices continue to advance. Prices should have materially declined.
– Does not the honorable member see that there is some cause for interference there?
– In America there is a cause for interference, and those who are interested point out the steps which should be taken. Of course the argument has been used that when iron and steel was sold at $18 a. ton. it was sold at less than cost, and that, in consequence, a crisis was brought about -
Less than two years ago the President of the Great Steel Corporation testified -
This was before a Select Committee in America, which was dealing with this question - that bar iron and steel could be produced at a profit for $12.50 per ton, and for steel wc must pay $40, or over 200 per cent, profit.
Those who wished to use steel in America had to pay $40 a ton, when, as testified before a Committee, it could be produced at $12.50. The steel magnates, in order to try to excuse themselves, told the story that the low price of iron brought about losses and in consequence depression.
The steel magnates tell us that when iron was sold at $18 per ton it was a breeder of panics, but we recall the fact that in 1893 the Carnegie properties were valued at less than $10,000,000, and that after five years of panic and $iS prices Mr. Carnegie sold his interests alone in these properties for $360,000,000. This was 360 per cent, profit in five years, or 72 per cent, annually, and at panic prices, too.
Out of the American people, the trusts and combines are making their profits, and they are doing that because the world’s competition has been stopped. If we are to have monopolies here, they will be developed in just the same way. If we are to pass a Bill which is to destroy competition with the manufacturing industries of these States it will bring about1 exactly what is brought about in America by means of trusts and corporations. While, of course, it would be of little use for me to vote against the second reading of the Bill. I shall seek to take such a course as will make its provisions very much less drastic than they are. The Farm Implement News of nth January, 1906, says -
Two suggestions are offered relative to conditions that enable the steel trust to rob the public by exacting exorbitant prices from manufacturers. The first is the Tariff.
According to those who have to deal with the Steel Trust, and to purchase their product, the Tariff is the great cause of the evil in America. It is not the fact that thev are able to combine as they do. but the shutting out of the world’s competition, which enables the Steel Trust to increase their prices, to the extent that thev do.
– The next thing they will do will be to capture the railways.
– The article deals with the question of the railways. It says -
If the President succeeds in his efforts to secure a square deal for all shippers, one source of the steel trust’s power to cripple competition will be shut off. . . . But the Tariff stands unchallenged by the President, and warmly* supported by influential statesmen, as statesmen go, who declare that the Dingley schedules shall remain unchanged.
Right through, these gentlemen take up this position, that the one way to get rid of the trusts is by means of altering the Tariff.
The only limit to the price on these semifinished products is the level on which foreign goods can be brought in freight, insurance, duty paid, For instance, in 1902 steel billets were gradually advanced until they reached $33, at Pittsburg. At this crisis Germany and Belgium shipped us several hundred thousand tons of billets, paying freight and $6.72 duty. The trust, realizing that it had carried the game too far, first endeavoured, through its political interference, to secure a ruling raising the duty on billets to $8.g6 per ton by classing them as bars.
That is what was attempted to be done here. But the manufacturers failed to get it done in America. The manufacturers of harvesters in this country, however, did not fail to get it done. In America, those interested fought the trust very strongly, and defeated them. Shortly after that, the price of billets declined, and importing stopped. In other words, when the trust was not able to get an increase in this way, they brought down their price and stopped importation. That is exactly what the harvester people could do here. They make very large profits. They can reduce prices so as to shut out importations under the present duty. Such being the case, there is no reason whatever for this Bill. The company refused to allow its books to be seen even confidentially by the Tariff Commission, because it knew full well that <t had made large profits out of the farming community. Yet this Government, which professes to be the friend of the people, proposes to assist the harvester people to make even larger profits, by bolstering them up and protecting them from foreign competition. We are told what will be unfair competition within the meaning of this Bill. If an importer should happen to buy something cheap in the old world, and bring it out and sell it at a lower price than other people, that will be unfair competition. But let me remind honorable members that the season in England and in France often permits importers to purchase goods at advantageous prices in Europe. Those bargains are brought out to this country and sold in the season following the season in which the goods were fashionable in Europe. If this Bill passes in its present form, that could no longer be done, because such competition would be regarded as unfair. Again, under this Bill, it will be impossible for the people of Australia to get the advantage of cheaper production, arising from improvements in methods of manufacture. Those improvements would not be introduced into Australia if the manufacturers here refused to adopt them, and chose to adhere to their old methods. Under this Bill, cheaper methods of production and improvements’ in machinery would be condemned as unfair competition,because they would be liable to bring down wages. It appears that all the improvements of the old world are to be shut out of Australia, because our Government wants to keep two or three manufacturers living on the people instead of those manufac turers being compelled to keep their ma chinery and plant up-to-date. I remember reading the evidence of the works manager of the Clyde Engineering Company, New South Wales, before the Tariff Commission. He said that it cost> his company ^85 per machine to manufacture harvesters, and yet they had to sell them at £84. each. The manufacturers of harvesters in this State can make them for much less than that. If the Clyde Engineering Company, of New South Wales, cannot make them as cheaply as they are made here, would it be right to shut out the Victorian’ manufacturers from competing in New South Wales? If would be an absurd thing to do. In these days, every industry ought to seek to adopt t ,he most improved methods of carrying on business. Yet this Bill is aimed at preventing the very competition that gives rise to improvements. Cream separators were purchasable some years ago for £50 each’. They can be purchased for about ^25 to-day. The improved cream separators will do twice the amount of work of, and are more easily manipulated than, the older machines. But if we had a company here making cream separators in the old style we could not get the improved machines under this Bill, unless the manufacturers resolved/ to put in the proper kind of machinery. The whole thing is a delusion. The statements in favour of the Bill are simply made to create a panic in the minds of the working men, so as to get their votes, whilst in reality there is no foundation for the allegations. With regard to the position of the agricultural implementmaking industry, I mav state that in 1900 there were 1,151 hand’s employed in Victoria, and the output was of the value of ^244,544. The number of hands employed in 1904 was 1,496, an increase of 345 ; whilst the output was ^431,476, an increase of ^186,932. The total import of agricultural implements into the whole Commonwealth, including harvesters, reapers and binders, rakes, drills, and everything else, was of the value of £[332,156. Those are the figures of the Minister of Trade and Customs. They mean that if the whole of the implement industry were captured by local makers, and all the imports were shut out, only 600 men would be employed in addition to the number employed to-day.
– At what wages?
– At current rates.
– How many would be supported indirectly ?
– If all the men were married and had five children each 3,600 persons would be affected ; but, as a matter of fact, a considerable number of the 600 would be boys. We are passing a Bill of this drastic character to accomplish the purpose of possibly finding employment for 600 additional hands. The thing is an absurdity. As a matter of fact, I do not think that additional employment would be given to 6ob hands, because it is. well known that the output of a factory can be increased with a smaller number of hands proportionately. The more this, proposal is examined the more it will be” realized what a little thing has created all this trouble. I remember the Attorney-General waxing eloquent on the subject last session, and saying that a number of people would not get their Christmas dinner if the Bill then before Parliament was not passed. Any one must see that the manufacturers already enjoy an enormous natural protection. The importing firms must incur considerable expenditure before thev land their goods in Australia. That puts the local manufacturers in a much better position to capture the trade. The honorable member for Bland made a speech in Brisbane some time ago, in which he dealt with this subject. He is reported in the Brisbane Courier on 14th June, 1905, to have said -
There was nothing short of absolute nationalization of these trusts that would cure the evils they represented.
The honorable member means that the State is to take over the manufacture of these goods.
– He cannot support this Bill, then.
– He professes to support it. That is the position he takes up. The idea, of course, is to do away with private enterprise as far as possible. In this matter what we desire is fair competition, and not that we shall be shut off from the best that the old world can give us. We do not desire to be separated entirely from the people of other nations. This cry of “ Australia for the Australians ,r is, to me, a bogus cry. That kind of thing; cannot be brought about. It is merely an election cry, and there is -nothing at all behind it. If honorable members opposite propose to keep Australia entirely separate from the rest of the world, they will1 very soon find themselves in difficulties.. “ China for the Chinese “ has been the cry and the policy of Chinamen in the years which have passed, and if a different policy had not been forced upon them they would have continued in their old exclusiveness. The men who talk of “Australia for theAustralians “ would like to keep this country in the condition in which China has been kept for so long. I would remind honorable members opposite that Socialism is, to a very large extent, in operation in China. If we desire that this country of ours shall progress and reach a higher position, we must adopt some other policy. If we desire to retard its progress in every way, weshall pass such legislation as this, impose high protective duties, and go in for nationalizing our works. We shall thus make aChina of Australia, with all the exclusiveness of the Chinese, and shall reduce this? country to the position occupied by Chinatoday. I shall do all I can to modify the drastic provisions of the Bill. Whileendeavouring; to insure fair competition, I shall not support anything which would stop competition. The intention of the Minister of Trade and Customs in introducing the Bill is to stop competition, whatever the Attorney-General may say. So far as I anr concerned. I shall seek to have its administration placed in the hands of a Judge. I shall certainly not trust the present Minister of Trade and Customs to deal with these matters. So far as I am able, I shall do what can be done to take the administration of the measure out of his hands, because no one can read the honorable gentleman’s speeches without realizing that if he is given the power he will discover that there is some unfair competition in order to prevent importations, and thus, instead of our farmers being benefited, they will be injured.
Debate’ (on motion by Mr. Culpin) adjourned.
House adjourned at ro.49 P-m-
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 19 June 1906, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1906/19060619_reps_2_31/>.