2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m. and read prayers.
Report (No.1)presented by Mr. Watkins, read by the Clerk, and agreed to.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Home Affairs, without notice, a question relating to an answer which he gave yesterday in reference to the possibility of holding the general elections in October next. Does not section 89 of the Electoral Act 1902 provide that writs for a general election are returnable within sixty days after the date of the issue of such writs? Does not section 5 of the Constitution provide that after any general election Parliament shall be summoned to meet within thirty days from the date of return of the writs? If so, would not the holding of a general election on any day in October next involve a meeting of the new Parliament before the end of the present year? Should a new Parliament meet before the end of 1906, will not the persons returned for thefirst time to the Senate at the ensuing election be precluded from sitting therein, seeing that section 13 of the Constitution provides that -
The service of a senator shall be taken to begin on the 1st day of January following his election.
On the other hand, would it not be unconstitutional for senators whose terras expire on 31st December next, and who are not reelected, to sit in a new Parliament to which they were not returned ?
– I ask the honorable member to give notice of his question for to-morrow.
– The American practice provides for the contingency referred to by the honorable member for Coolgardie.
– Under the Constitution a Senator enters upon the discharge of his duties on the 1st January following the date of his election, and continues to hold office thenceforward for. a period of six years, though during the last year a new Senator may be elected.
– That has happened in America.
– Yes. So long as a man is legally a member of the Senate he is entitled to attend any meeting of Parliament to which he is summoned. However, I shall look further into the matter, and give the honorable member an answer tomorrow.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister if steps were taken during the recess to secure reciprocity between South Africa and the Commonwealth.
– Yes ; and the papers relating to the matter have been laid on the table. Trie Convention agreed upon is now under the consideration of the local legislatures, having received the assent of only one out of the four concerned. I have no doubt that, when it has been sanctioned by all, a further communication will reach us.
– Will the Government favour an amendment of the Australian Industries Preservation Hill, making it penal for trusts, corporations, or individuals within the Commonwealth to sell goods abroad for less than they sell them for in Australia ?
– Will the honorable member consider how such a provision could be enforced ?
– Is the Minister representing the Minister of Defence yet prepared to give me a reply to the question which I asked a. few days ago in reference to the non-payment of the artillery men who were recently on parade at Newcastle during the visit of the Governor-General to that city?
– No information is available at head-quarters, and therefore the Commandant in Sydney has been wired to for the necessary explanation.
– Has the Attorney-General any objection to informing the House as to the cost of the inquiries into the cases of Messrs. Gavegan and Hart, which took place in Queensland last year?
– I think that my honorable and learned colleague will have no objection.
– I wish to know from the Acting Postmaster-General what is the reason for the delay which has taken place in connexion with the purchase of machinery for the Commonwealth Stamp Printing ‘Office? An amount for the purpose has appeared on the Estimates during the last two or three years.
– As I do not know definitely the mind of the Postmaster-General in this matter, I am unable to give the honorable member an answer, but the amount to which he refers - ^’.,300 I think - will be again placed on the Estimates this year, so that if it is decided to complete the purchase, there need be no further delay.
– Is the Acting Postmaster-General in a position to reply to the question which I asked a day or two ago in reference to the position of the girls connected wilh the Brisbane Telephone Exchange ?
– The Public Service Commissioner informs me that one-half the positions of telephone switch attendants are to be open to females, while the other half are to be filled by telegraph messengers who have attained the age of eighteen years, and would otherwise, under the provisions of the Public Service Act, have to retire from the service. Effect will be given to this decision as vacancies occur in Brisbane and elsewhere.
– I wish to know from the Treasurer the cause of the delay in paying gratuities to persons in the State of New South Wales who are retiring from the service of the Commonwealth. Will he see that these payments are expedited?
– There has been no delay for which the Treasury officials have been responsible, and, although some months ago it was difficult to obtain information from the Government of New South Wales in regard to certain cases, I do not know that any such difficulty now exists. However, if the honorable member knows of any specific cases, and will mention them to me, I shall be glad to give them my personal attention, and to expedite the necessary payments.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Report by Senator Staniforth Smith on the systems of Government, methods of administration, and economic development of the Malay States and Java
Ordered to be printed.
Military Forces regulations. Amendments of paragraphs 57, 130, and 216, Statutory Rules 1906, No. 44.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, recommending that an appropriation be made from the Consolidated Revenue for the purposes of this Bill.
-I should like to know whether the Minister of Trade and Customs has any information as to the date upon which the report of the Tariff Commission, relating to metals and machinery, is likely to be presented ? If he does not know, will he consider the desirability of inquiring whether the Commission are likely to report at an early date.
– I think that the question might have been addressed to the Prime Minister. I have no information on the subject, but have heard rumours that the report will probably be presented about the end of the current month.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
In view of the demand made by the Premier of Victoria for the sum of ^3,000 a year rental for Government House, will the Government take the necessary steps to arrange for the GovernorGeneral to reside in Sydney and save the expenses entailed by the upkeep of Government House, Melbourne.
– In reply to the honorable member’s question, I have to state that the demand made by the Premier of Victoria is still the subject of correspondence, and until a decision shall have been arrived at, I would’ ask the honorable member to postpone the question.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
When is it proposed to establish a corps of Light Horse in Geelong, as promised some time ago, and for which corps a vacancy has been left in the local scheme of defence?
– In reply to the honorable member’s question, I have to state that the matter is under consideration, and the Minister hopes to give a definite answer shortly.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– In answer to the honorable member’s question, I have to state that the Public Service Commissioner has furnished the following reply: - 1 and 2. The resolutions passed by Parliament were to the effect that it is not desirable to employ public servants more than six days a week, but when they are, and have to attend on Sunday, time and a half is to be paid for it, and the Public Service Regulations provide accordingly. Officers are, therefore, as far as practicable, given one day’s rest in seven, but where this cannot be done, and a Sunday is worked, time and a half is allowed for it.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable member’s questions, I have to state -
asked the Acting PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether it is the intention of the Department to in any way abolish or reduce the utility of the Signal Station at Brisbane, by the removal of the operator?
– No. It is not so intended.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Debate resumed from 19th June (vide page 390), on motion by Sir William Lyne -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I should like to remind honorable members who complain of undue haste on the part of the Government in proceeding with this measure that a similar Bill was discussed last session, and passed through the secondreading stage practically without division. After having listened attentively to the present debate, I venture to say that most of the criticisms launched against the Bill have been directed to proposals that are not embodied in it. As to the necessity for some such measure, I do not think there can be any question. Many years prior to Federation the right honorable member for Balaclava proposed to introduce a similar measure into the Victorian Legislature. The objects of the Bill now before us are clear and well defined, but, notwithstanding this fact, we have been told by the acting leader of the Opposition that the measure is a ruse on the part of the protectionists of Australia to bring about prohibition.
– Who said that?
– The honorable member himself.
– No; I did not say that.
– The honorable member for Lang used words similar to those I have employed, and the honorable member for, Perth stated foat the proposals contained in the Bill were “ protection gone stark, staring mad.”
– Hear, hear, and I am prepared to prove it if an opportunity is presented to me.
– I have no quarrel with the honorable member so far as that is concerned, but the acting leader of the Opposition denies that any such statements were made.
– I denied that I had made any such statements.
– I do not say that the honorable member used the exact words mentioned, but they indicate the ,gist of his argument. I venture to say that the question of fiscalism does not arise in connexion with this measure. It is quite possible for industries, whether under a protectionist or free-trade Tariff, to be practically crushed out of existence by the- operations of trusts or monopolies, or by the dumping of goods, which the Bill seeks- to prevent. With all due deference to the acting leader of the Opposition, I would point out that the necessity for a lecture on Socialism did not arise under this Bill. It appears to be impossible to discuss any matter at present without honorable members opposite raising that question. Even if this Bill be a socialistic measure, I shall have no hesitation in supporting the use in the manner proposed of the powers of government and legislation in the interests of the people.
– There is no Socialism in the Bill.
– The honorable and learned member’s respected leader says there is.
– My leader?
– The acting leader of the Opposition, under whose leadership the honorable and learned member sits-
– The honorable member is quite wrong.
– I was under the impression that the honorable and learned member was sitting as a member of the Opposition. I have no quarrel with him on that account.
– I have stated, over and over again, who is my leader.
– I was under the impression that the honorable and learned member was sitting under the leadership of the leader of the Opposition, but if I am wrong, I readily withdraw my observations.
– There are two parties sitting on this side of the House, as well as on the other side.
– The position occupied by the honorable and learned member affords evidence, if such were necessary, that an.’ honorable member’s political convictions are of more importance than the position in which he sits in the House as an indication of the way in which he will vote. If the Bill, in proposing that the Government should intervene in the best interests of the public, is to be regarded as socialistic, I am afraid that I shall have to be classed as a Socialist, because, although I am not supporting every detail of the measure, I am heartily in sympathy with its broad principles. I listened with deep interest to the speech of the honorable member for North Sydney, whose utterances are always treated with respect, because it is recognised that he speaks with a wide knowledge of trade and commerce. The honorable member raised no serious objection to the portion of the Bill which deals with monopolies, which he divided into two classes - constructive and destructive. Although the honorable member devoted his attention more particularly to constructive monopolies, he did not for a moment argue that such were dealt with by the Bill. The Bill is directed against monopolies that are destructive of the best interests of the Commonwealth, and, consequently, the honorable member’s objections could not be urged with any force against its provisions. The honorable member for Lang stated that if the Bill dealt with monopolies in Australia - and he went so far as to name one alleged monopoly - it would have his hearty support. As a matter of fact, the Bill deals with Australian as well as foreign monopolies. That is made perfectly clear, and therefore the measure should have the support of the honorable member. There is no doubt whatever that the community has derived considerable advantages from large industrial and trading concerns. In modern times if we wish to produce cheaply we must produce upon a large scale.
– Is this the honorable member who was criticising me just now ?
– I criticised a statement of the honorable member, from which I differed.
– And now the honorable member is approving of what I said.
– It may happen that the acting leader of the Opposition is right at times.
– The Honorable member for Moira is giving an improved version of the remarks of the deputy leader of the Opposition.
– I was attempting to give a revised version of his statement.
– We admit that the honorable member Has a difficult role to play just now.
– My path is very clear whilst the honorable member continues to sit in opposition.
– The honorable member is playing a very good game.
– I was about to say that some of the best results that we have secured from industrial and trading operations have been obtained from the concentration of capital and economic management. Where these operations are carried on without detriment to the public, the legislation proposed in this Bill will not interfere with themin the slightest degree. I have no desire to take up the time of the House unnecessarily, but I wish to make my position perfectly clear, because some honorable members and a section of the press are only too ready to declare that whoever supports this class of legislation is a Socialist.
– This sort of legislation is the very antithesis of Socialism.
– Last night we were warned by the deputy leader of the Opposition of the dangerous results that might accrue from the present trend of legislation. I wish to say that if this Bill can be classed as socialistic legislation, I fear that I shall be found approving of it. But I rose more particularly to say a few words in regard to the latter portion of the Bill, which relates to dumping. It is to this part of the measure that the objections of the honorable member for North Sydney and of others have been chiefly directed. They have declared that in interfering in matters of this description the Bill practically usurps the powers of Parliament and overrides our Tariff legislation. But in the light of recent experiences, I ask - “ Of what use is our Tariff, when we are called upon to deal with men or corporations who deliberately set themselves up to evade the law?” Some objection has been raised by various speakers to the proposal to vest certain powers in the Minister. I say at once that I agree with the view expressed by the Attorney -General last evening, that if it be possible to secure the determination of the questions that may be raised under the measure by a judicial authority it will be much preferable to their decision by a Board. But to suggest that, because we cannot secure a judicial award, we should not attempt, by means of legislation, to deal with what may become an evil in the near future, is the acme of folly. If we cannot obtain a judicial award I am quite prepared to approve of the appointment of a Board - at any rate, as an experiment. It is true that this is experimental legislation, but are we to sit idly by and incur the risks with which we are confronted at the present time? We have been told by members of the Opposition that we must not interfere with trade or commerce. But in this connexion I would ask “ Do not all Acts of Parliament interfere with the rights of some individual or other?” Further, do the powers which it is now proposed to confer upon the Minister exceed those which are vested in him under our Customs Act, and which are deemed to be absolutely necessary? Are not the powers of prohibition and confiscation vested in him under that Statute? Are not similar powers conferred upon him in some instances under our Commerce Act ? I do not think it can be urged for one moment that prevention is not much preferable to cure. What is being done at the present time? Reference has already been made to the harvester business, but that business does not represent the whole of the trading operations of Australia. How is it that in Victoria the necessity for legislation of this description was discussed in the State Parliament long before the advent of Federation ?
– How is it that nothing is heard of it outside of Victoria ?
– Except in that little speck which mariners sometimes pass unnoticed, I venture to say that it has been heard of all over the world.
– In what other part of Australia has the honorable member heard of it ?
– In every part.
– In what part?
– I do not require to go very far from my own home to step into the sister State of New South Wales, where I find that the people are more anxious for this Bill than they are in the district in which I reside. The same remark is applicable to the farming districts of Queensland. Throughout the whole civilized world, the rulers of the people are concerning themselves with this very question. The honorable member for Lang stated that if the Bill were to be applied to Australian operations it would command his hearty support. Last night he asserted that the manufacturers of Australian harvesters were selling their machines in Argentine at a less price than that at which our own fanners could purchase them. I cannot understand how any honorable member could make a statement of that sort and allow it to stand alone. I cannot understand why he did not adduce some proof of his assertion more particularly as he must be aware thatrepresentative manufacturers of harvestersin Australia have sworn before the Tariff Commission that the wholesale invoice price of their machines on board ship here is £72 15s. That is the sworn testimony of the manufacturers whose books are available for inspection. Under such circumstances, what is the use of the honorable member declaring that they are selling abroad for £70. His statement is another evidence of how far some persons are prepared to go - irrespective of whether they are right or wrong - in order to establish their positions.
– There is no duty levied upon harvesters in the Argentine.
– That has nothing whatever to do with the hard facts of the case.
– Were the exporters to whom the honorable member refers invoicing their machines to themselves, or to people who were purchasing at that price?
– They were not invoicing the machines to themselves.
– Well, it would be advisable for the honorable member to wait till the official evidence taken by the Commission is available.
– I have read the evidence taken by the Commission, and it is to the effect that the machines were practically sold when they were put on board ship here, and were not being shipped to an agency of the firm in another country. That is the nature of the affidavits of the exporters of these implements.
– The Australian manufacturer can successfully compete with the American machines in the Argentine, where there is no duty levied, and yet he cannot compete with them here, even with the aid of a duty.
– That is not the point at all. I am dealing now with the question of misrepresentation. I shall deal with the other matter when the necessity arises. The portion of the Bill to which I am referring has been introduced to enable the Australian manufacturer to manufacture under fair conditions of trade, whilst fully conserving the interests of the public. But, as a matter of fact, we know that the wealth and influence of some of the. institutions and corporations with which we are confronted, which desire to obtain the trade of Australia for themselves, and to control the Australian farmer, will not permitthem to deal fairly with the local manufacturer if it be possible to crush him out. I will give one illustration in proof of my statement. I venture to say that there is no Australian farmer carrying on operations upon a large scale who will not admit that, but for the inventive genius and enterprise of the local implement manufacturers, his industry would’ never have assumed anything like its present proportions. Wheatrgrowing would not have been possible in the northern district of Victoria, and in the western and southern districts of New South Wales, but for the enterprise and genius of the Australian implement manufacturers. Unfortunately, few of these individuals - I venture to say none of them - have yet become millionaires. I have no specialbrief on behalf of the Australian manufacturer, but I speak of things as I find them, and I belong to a class whose well-being up to the present time has been dependent upon the Australian implement makers. What is going on to-day with regard to the disc plough? It is a recent innovation in Australian farming-
– Is the disc plough an Australian invention ?
– The modern disc plough is. We had a plough brought from America, which was known as the Spalding Robbins plough, but to-day we have a disc plough purely of Australian manufacture, and one which is as far removed from the original disc plough as is the binder from the old reaping machines.
– Is the cream separator an Australian invention? I suppose that the honorable member will want a duty imposed upon that presently.
– I am now dealing only with the position of the Australian implement manufacturers, so far as ploughs are concerned. There are many varieties and grades of disc ploughs made by Australians. There are others which are turned out by American and Canadian manufacturers. If an Australian farmer wishes to have a piece of expensive scrap-iron about his place to-day, he willbuy an American disc plough.
– Does the honorable member know that parts of the disc ploughs manufactured in Australia have to be imported ?
– I know just as much about disc ploughs as does the honorable member. I am not quite sure that he could distinguish between a disc plough and an up-to-date cow-bail.
– I saw a disc plough before the honorable member did.
– If American disc ploughs are so bad, why should we fear their competition ?
– The competition up to date has done no harm. Finding that their disc ploughs have not met with the approval of the Australian farmers, what have they done during the last six months ? They have gone round, and; for experimental purposes, have bought up the ploughs of all the leading makers in Victoria, and the makers of implements in the other States may be represented in their purchases also. The manufacturers of these implements have them covered by patents in Australia. I may say here that, so far as I know, the International Harvester Company have taken no active part in this business, but the Verity Plough Company of America have taken a very keen interest in it. Certain Australian implements have been subjected to tests alongside of American disc ploughs and other Australian disc ploughs. They have taken also what are known as the Australian stump-jump ploughs, and have tested them. Specialists from America, representing the Verity Plough Company, which covers the business to a great extent in the United States, have been conducting these trials, and what is the result? They are to-day shipping to America the best of our Australian ploughs, and for what purpose? Is it a question of philanthrophy with them? Honorable members are aware that it is a question of money. It is not done with a view to bettering the position of the Australian farmer, but with a view to controlling the market here in their own interests. I am not prepared1 to say that, perhaps, for a few years, when their ploughs come back here, we may not get the benefit of some concessions in rates and prices, but I have sufficient experience to know that that will be eventually at the expense of the users of the ploughs. It has been so in other instances. Is it reasonable to assume that American companies, who have harvesters on the market here to-day, and have their agents touring Australia, are doing business at a loss in the interests of the Australian farmer? We know quite well that if it were possible for them to crush the Australian manufacturer out of the market we should experience no philanthrophy at the hands of the American importer. It is to meet such conditions as I have described that Part III. of this Bill is absolutely necessary. We have seen what has been done In America, in Canada, and in New Zealand in dealing with this matter. The honorable member for Franklin stated that only the people of Victoria desired the passing of laws against dumping.
– I asked the honorable member whether be had heard these complaints in any other State than Victoria.
– And I replied that I had. It is well known that the sister Colony of New Zealand has made an attempt to deal with this matter by legislative enactment.
– Would the honorable member favour a like attempt here - referring these matters, not to a board of rivals, but to a board representing everybody in the community ?
– That is not the point in the discussion at the present time.
– It is a very important point.
– It is but a matter of detail. It is with the necessity for legislation to prevent dumping that I am attempting to deal at the present time. If we affirm the principle of the measure, the manner in which it is to be given effect is a matter of detail. In New Zealand effect has been given to the principle, though not exactly on the lines of this Bill. The New
Zealand measure may be said to be of at tentative character, as it has been the policy of New Zealand to feel her way in all legislation. Ardent advocate as I am of this class of legislation, I do not anticipate that the first effort of this Legislature to deal with the question will be entirely effective, because I know that the skill and ingenuity of those engaged in trade will be directed to its circumvention. That has been proved in America and in Canada, and it will be proved here. It is only by making a first step that we can find out what our powers are, and how best to deal with such matters. There is a concensus of agreement as to the necessity of giving effect to the principle embodied in Part II. of this Bill. I have said that in the State Parliament of Victoria the necessity for anti-dumping legislation was seriously considered ten years ago. The honorable member for Melbourne may recollect that the right honorable member for Balaclava at one time made it a plank in his fighting platform. Though we may differ on matters of detail, I trust that the best efforts of honorable members in every part of the House will be directed towards making this measure as effective as possible.
– Does not the honorable member think that dumping should be proved to Parliament, and not to a board or to the Comptroller-General of Customs ?
– Parliament is a very cumbersome machine to deal with matters of that sort.
– It is difficult to prove anything here.
– It is. We know by experience that whenever any attempt is made to deal with a matter involving imports and exports, the question of fiscalism arises. It is like a red rag to a bull. I feel that I can deal with this measure without considering the fiscal question, because I have in mind industries being carried on here under practically free-trade conditions, which may be utterly destroyed if dumping operations are largely carried on.
– It is a pity the honorable member did not send some witnesses along to the Tariff Commission to give them the information in his possession.
– If the honorable member for Perth will allow me to express an opinion, it is that the Tariff Commission has a large order to fill, and, though it has been sitting a considerable time, its life is, so to speak, young yet. If it completes its labours during the life of this Parliament it will do very well. If this proposal of the present Government is not carried before the labours on which the Tariff Commission is now engaged are at an end, it might be possible to refer the measure to that Commission, and thus give it another lease of life.
– No men in Australia have worked harder than have the members of the Tariff Commission.
– I admit that the task set them is a very hard one.
– The least that they could expect is that that should be recognised by members of this House.
– I fully appreciate the arduous nature of the task set the members of the Commission, the difficulties under which they labour, and I realize that if they complete their labours during the life of the present Parliament, even without completing their reports, they will have done fairly well. I am aware that some delay occurred at the outset, and that the Commission was constituted for some time before it commenced to take evidence. I hope that, irrespective of where they may sit in this House, and of the fiscal views they may hold, honorable members will devote their best efforts to perfecting this legislation. I recognise that it is experimental, and that it may be dubbed socialistic, but I believe it to be a measure of that directed to the preservation of the best interests of the community, as against the financial result which may accrue to any particular corporation or individual. The interests of the whole people, the producers, workers, and consumers, as they are designated in this Bill, should be the first consideration of the people of Australia. I venture to believe that the Minister of Trade and Customs, should this Bill be passed, would not venture to do anything, for which he would have to answer eventually to this House, without being absolutely sure that it would be in the best interests of the people of Australia. I have, therefore, no hesitation in saying that I shall support the Bill, and, if it be possible, in Committee to secure a judicial tribunal, instead of the Board provided for in Part III. of the Bill, an amendment with that object in view will have my support.
.- The title of thisBill is “A Bill for an Act for the preservation of Australian Industries, and for the Repression of Destructive Monopolies.” I decline to admit that my honorable friends opposite have any greater desire than I personally claim for the preservation of Australian industries, or any greater desire that monopolies, which are against the public interest, and which are destructive monopolies, should be put down. However, when we come to read the provisions of the Bill, we find that Part II. fairly sets out, without any use of the word “ destructive,” that the measure is one for the repression of monopolies; and in other parts of the Bill there are clauses which are inconsistent with the description supplied in the title. I quite recognise that this is a measure which must be carefully considered in Committee. The objections to it have been well pointed out by honorable members who spoke yesterday afternoon. I should like to protest against a procedure which characterized the close of last session, and which has here again been adopted, of throwing upon the table, without proper, systematic consideration, an important measure, in the hope that the House, sitting as a Committee, may thresh it into some practical shape. In the interests of the consumer, producer, and) manufacturer, who will be affected by a Bill of this importance, I think that the measure should have received greater consideration at the hands of an expert committee, who might have been called in to advise the Minister. The duty will be forced upon honorable members on this side of going through the Bill line by line in Committee, to make it a workable and practicable measure. I resent this, because I consider that such a responsibility is one which the Minister should not have imposed upon the House. I suppose there are few honorable members who do not desire to see Australian industries progress, and who do not desire also to see that monopolies injuriously affecting our workers and manufacturers should be put down with a firm hand. I believe that the Attorney-General had at one time a notice of motion on the business-paper for the appointment of a Committee of Trade and Finance, and such a committee might very well have dealt with a question of this kind. It is impossible, in a House constituted as this is, to seriously consider and deal with the details of this Bill without fuller information, however great our desire may be to make it an effective and workable measure ; and in support of that statement I instance the history of the Commerce Act. I am sure that the Minister has found out in connexion with the framing of regulations under that Act that many of its provisions are utterly unworkable. Why should the commercial community be thrown into confusion, and why should anxiety be created, by the placing before us of an immature and ill-considered measure in regard to which the Minister has not received the advice which he should have sought from capable and expert men, whose life-long experience would have been so serviceable to him? We should not be played with by the introduction of a Bill of this kind. In my opinion, it has been introduced, not for the purposes indicated in its preamble, but merely so that the Government may have a placard with which to go to the country. The Minister should have endeavoured to put before us a workable measure. Practical men, both in the House and. outside, have shown that they are favorable to the principles underlying legislation of this character ; but they cannot support so illconsidered a measure as that which we have now before us. Why should the whole community be disturbed by attempts at class legislation ?
– What is there in the Bill to which the honorable member takes objection ?
– The enormous powers which are proposed to be given to the Minister.
– - I am desirous of giving legitimate support to the manufacturers of Australia.
– The Tariff already gives them all necessary support.
– I shall support, as I have always supported, legislation which I think likely to be of benefit to the whole community, without respect to any one particular class ; but, notwithstanding what the honorable member for Moira has said, the consideration of this Bill cannot be dissociated from the consideration of the fiscal issue, and the measure, if passed, will give the Minister greater powers of interference in commercial matters than he already possesses.
– The powers to which the honorable member refers are proposed to be given to a Board or Judge.
– To a Board whose members may be trade rivals of the parties affected by its decision.
– My first objection to the measure is that it has been introduced as a placard for the Government to take to the country, to show their interest in labour and their readiness to support protection amounting even to prohibition.
– The labour aspect is a mere sham, and has been dragged in on that account.
– I appeal to honorable members and to the Minister if the dominating features of the measure which has been thrown down here for us to wrangle about are not those to which I have just alluded?
– No employes in Australia are more sweated than those working for a firm which the Bill proposes to protect.
Sir William Lyne. - The honorable member is now interjecting as a free-trader before everything else.
– Will the Minister wait until the evidence is before the House?
– I am glad of the honorable member’s interjections in support of my contention, because they come from one of the ablest and most critical men in the House, who has the respect of every section of its members. I do not mean to imply by what I have said that I consider that the Minister is wittingly acting unrighteously in this matter; but, in my opinion, the longer the discussion lasts the better it will suit the honorable gentleman, because it will direct more attention to the prominent fact to which I have alluded, that the object of the Bill is to show the country that the Government are ready to do anything in the labour interest, and are willing to support protection even to the extent of prohibition. I admit that in his office the Minister is not an unreasonable man, and I ask, therefore, why he should be so unreasonable in regard to proposed legislation. What has taken place inconnexion with the framing of the regulations under the Commerce Act will be repeated in connexion with the administration of this measure. The Minister will, after it is passed, have to seek and accept advice from those from whom he should have sought it before introducing the measure. Many of the public bodies from whom that advice will have to be obtained have declared that some legislation of this kind is necessary, but they will not support a drastic measure such as this. The result of the measure, if it comes into operation, will be that prices will be forced up. and that cannot be in the interests of labour. The whole tendency of the commercial legislation which has been submitted to us has been in the direction of building round Australia a great wall to keep out importations; but the chief result of such legislation must be to force up prices. We .have heard a good deal about the harvester trust, and I do not propose to deal with that complicated question at the present time; but the workers will find that they have made a serious mistake if they insist that the people of the Commonwealth shall forego the advantages which would arise from the legitimate rivalry and competition of the world’s merchants. Then, again, the provisions of the Bill are too wholesale in their character. A measure dealing with specific cases of injustice and unfair competition would have had the support of members of all parties. In Committee we must endeavour to substitute for the jury provided for in the Bill a Judge, assisted by competent assessors ; and we should do what we can to lessen the effect of departmental influence and bias, though in saying that I cast no reflection, on our honorable Public Service. In view of the great temptations that would be offered owing to the very extensive powers proposed to be granted under the Bill, provision should be made for a final reference of all questions to some high and independent tribunal. It seems to me that we should have waited until the report of the Tariff Commission was presented. The Bill which was introduced last session, and which was read a second time without much opposition, was allowed to reach, that stage because many honorable members were in favour of its general principles, and were under the belief that we should be in possession of the report of the Tariff Commission before the matter was finally dealt with. I desire that the representations of the Tariff Commission should receive favorable and serious consideration. The action of the Government in introducing this measure has already greatly disturbed the mercantile community, and people are beginning to wonder why the Government should bring forward uncalled-for legislation of this kind. I am authorized to say,’ on behalf of the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce, that they do not in the slightest degree approve of tyrannical trusts and combines such as exist in the United States. I cannot conceive of any man standing here and daring to say that he would oppose legislation that would prevent the growth of such monstrous conditions. The fear enter- tained in regard to this Bill, however, is that the exclusion of foreign goods will lead to the creation of dangerous monopolies within the Commonwealth. It is true that under the Bill power is proposed to be taken to deal with internal monopolies, but unless the States authorities fall into line we may be powerless to restrain large trading combinations which may be brought into existence as the result of the exclusion of foreign goods. I am fully acquainted with the early history of the harvester industry. The action of Canadian manufacturers in pirating the Australian invention is to be resented to the fullest extent, and I have always been an advocate of retaliation so far as that matter is concerned. I. knew the man who invented the harvester which has proved of such advantage to our farmers, and who, unfortunately, did not derive the full fruits of his labours. Honorable members must all agree that we should look after our own people in every legitimate way.
– That is a good protectionist idea.
– Probably it is. We hang up the banner of protection on one side and the free-trade banner on the other, but, after all, upon some occasions, we find ourselves separated by a very fine line of demarcation. I strongly disapprove of the provisions of the Bill under which, it appears to me, any introduction of foreign goods might be regarded as constituting unfair competition. It is quite conceivable that a small Australian manufacturer, who produced inferior -goods at a high price, might, by his representations, secure the exclusion of first-rate low-priced goods, to the great detriment of the consumers of Australia.
– Hear, hear; that Is the object of the Bill.
– I can scarcely credit that I decline to believe that any practical men would knowingly introduce legislation that would have any such effect. Still, under the measure as it now stands, there is si danger such as I have indicated. The measure would preclude any persons from entering into an alliance or a combination for their own self-preservation. It would prevent, say, the shareholders in one or more companies from combining to protect their own interests.
– Not unless it were shown that the combination was ‘detrimental to the public.
– But who is going to be the judge as to what is detrimental or otherwise ?
– Surely the honorable member agrees that detrimental combinations should be prevented?
– Certainly. But combinations whose operations do not exceed legitimate bounds are sometimes necessary for the protection of those engaged in trade.
– Is a shipping combination necessary ?
– I have no brief from the shipping combination. It has many faults, but it has the great advantage of maintaining uniformity in regard to freight charges and conditions, and it affords first class facilities for the carriage, of passengers and cargo.
– And it destroys any one who will not join the ring.
– It also charges exorbitant freights.
– I am not an advocate of the shipping ring. Do I understand that, apart from the harvester combination, the first object of the Bill is to enable the Minister to deal with the shipping ring?
– I do not say that it is the first object, but it is one of them.
– The Minister has made a candid admission that he will immediately attack the shipping ring.
– I did not say that.
– If the Minister finds that the shipping ring is operating detrimentally to the people of Australia, I hope that he will succeed in his efforts against it. He should, however, take care to obtain the fullest and most reliable evidence. If he depends entirely upon the evidence of some officer, who however competent he may be in his own Department, may arrive at an unwarrantable conclusion, and proceeds to disorganize a great undertaking involving interests valued at hundreds of thousand’s of pounds, he will do grave injustice.
– The honorable member always speaks upon the one side - the conservative, and the ring side.
– If the Minister chooses to call me a Conservative, he is perfectly welcome to do so.
– I think that the honorable member is an absolute Conservative.
– The Minister may apply to me any name he likes. He must at least grant that I am absolutely consistent in all I do.
– The honorable member is always consistent.
– Yes, and I wish to place upon our statute-books practical legislation which will be for the general good, and not for the benefit of any particular party.
– The honorable member’s arguments would support the meat scandals in Chicago.
– The honorable member has no justification for making any such statement, and I must ask him to withdraw what I regard as a very offensive remark.
– I do not know what to withdraw.
– Personally I can see nothing objectionable in the remark, but if it is offensive to the honorable member I will ask the Minister to withdraw it.
– I withdraw.
– The Minister has no right to make an ungenerous statement such as has fallen from him. I am sure that every honorable member holds the opinion that the Chicago meat scandals should be sifted to the bottom, and that every one associated with them should ‘be adequately punished. I am in receipt of telegrams from the Sydney, Brisbane, and Adelaide Chambers of Commerce. The Sydney Chamber of Commerce regards the Bill as having been very hastily framed, and expresses the opinion that it will hamper business in directions not contemplated by the Minister. The Brisbane Chamber, whilst being in favour of the suppression of harmful trusts, is strongly opposed to some of the provisions of the Bill, which are supposed to be designed to preserve Australian industries, and emphatically protests against the measure coming into law. It considers that the Bill would give rise to internal monopolies, which would be against the public interests, and that its administration would cause endless trouble and disastrous litigation. These opinions are expressed, not by inexperienced persons, but by business men of wide knowledge, who have been deliberating upon the Bill ever since it has been in their hands. I do not say that they have taken an altogether unselfish view. They have their own. interests to consider. I claim, however, that they possess the knowledge necessary to enable them to intelligently discuss the whole question.
– Does the honorable member intend to vote for the Bill in the face of that statement?
– I stand here as the representative of my constituents, and I am here to do my duty, irrespective of any representations that may be made by persons outside of the House. I have received from Adelaide the following statement -
In the opinion of this Chamber the Bill is calculated to place serious difficulties and dangers in the way rf import trade for the protection - apart from the effect of the Customs Tariff - of particular Colonial industries.
It was further resolved to point out that the Bill makes Australian traders the scapegoat of the world’s present and future trusts, and that while legislation cannot destroy such trusts, Australian traders are charged with all risks of doing business with them.
Further, I am instructed to inform you that, in the opinion of this Chamber, the matter of trusts and legislation for their suppression should be thoroughly investigated and reported on by a committee of commercial experts before such provisions as are contained in the Anti-Trust Bill are passed.
Strangely enough, I received to-da,y a letter from the Chamber of Commerce of the State of New York. I hope that no members of the New York Chamber were associated with the scandalous work that was going on in Chicago. I notice that the vice-presidents of the chamber include Mr. Whitelaw Reid, Mr. Chauncey M. Depew, and many others whom I do not know. These are men of high moral standing in the United States. of America. They say -
In reply to your favour of. 15th December, asking information concerning the laws of the United States for the repression of commercial trusts, I would state that this subject has received a large amount of attention during the last fifteen or twenty years, and that in 1S90, the Congress of the United States enacted what is known as the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, of which I enclose a copy.
This law, as you will see, is extremely drastic and sweeping in character, and if it had been enforced literal h’. would have seriously embarrassed the development of industry in the United States.
It is certain that the Sherman Act has not been effective in coping with the existing condition of affairs. I have been asked by some honorable members to state my objections to the Bill. Under it, if two persons agree not to sell their goods at less than a certain price their action constitutes a restraint of trade. That being so, the Bill should also apply to individuals who agree not to sell their com.modity - that is, ‘their labour - below a cer- tain price. If they agree to accept less wages under any circumstances or conditions, surely the provisions relating to restraint of trade should apply to them?
– Get on to the “ poor labourer.”
– I am just as anxious as is the honorable member to see fair conditions apply to the labourer.
– The honorable member paid good wages upon some of his claims.
– I am glad that the honorable member for Maranoa agrees with me. I am sincerely desirous that the worker shall obtain the full reward for his labour, but I do not wish to see legislation introduced which will eventually inflict injury upon him. Human nature will remain the same until the end of the chapter, and legislation will not alter it.
– If legislation has- no effect, why put the burglar in gaol ?
– Under clause 6 the determination of what constitutes unfair competition is left to a jury. What can .an ordinary jury know of such an intricate subject, and one familiarity with which would demand a lifetime of study? Although I am interested in quite a number of industries, I would not for a moment regard myself as qualified to express an opinion upon such a matter. Again, competition is to be considered unfair as a matter of law if it would “ probably result “ in the lowering of wages. Consequently, a manufacturer has only to say that he must reduce the wages of his employes, and the competition of the foreigner will at once be deemed unfair, and the importer of his goods will be rendered liable to a penalty. We have- already declared in our Immigration Restriction Act that we are not going to allow outside labour to come into competition) with Australian labour. We have laid down that principle. I quite admit that it is just as desirable that that principle should be applied to the results of labour as to the labourer himself. I would further point out that -
If any article is produced by a: new or improved method, necessitating’ the alteration or abandonment of the existing system of. production in Australia, that competition thereby becomes unfair.
Take the case of bootmaking machinery as an example. The magnificent appliances which enable the worker to obtain boots and shoes for himself and his family at low prices is at the present time in the
Viands of a trust. If improved machinery were to be imported, which would affect the position of the labourer in Australia, cannot the honorable member for Moira see that its introduction would be opposed to the spirit of this measure?
– This Bill will not prevent the introduction of a single piece of machinery.
– I hope that it will not. In its present form, however, it undoubtedly will.
– Before it passes this House I trust that honorable members will see that it will do nothing of the kind. My complaint is that the Bill has been put upon the table in an incomplete form, and that we are asked to agree to its crude provisions.
– That statement might pass unchallenged down the street, but it will not do here.
– I am stating sound, solid facts. In regard to monopolies, I would point out that any man who patents an article creates a monopoly, so far as its supply and price are concerned.
– The capitalist wipes out the inventor.
-No, there are many in- ventors who would have been in a Setter position to-day if they had had the assistance of capitalists.
– Will the honorable member point out the crude clauses in the Bill?
-I am dealing with some of them. The honorable member’s capacity for following is often rather obtuse, but I know that he has not been listening to the debate.
– The honorable member is dealing with something which is not in the Bill.
– Under clause 9-
Any lawyer or financial agent who drew up an agreement, or financed an arrangement between the parties which a jurymight hold to be arestraint of trade, or to introduce unfair competition, or to secure a monopoly, would be guilty of an indictable offence. Even active coooeration is not necessary.
– That is not in the Bill.
– I am merely explaining my objections to the measure -
Paragraph b carries this still further, and under it -
– I rise to a point of order. I desire to know if the honorable member isin order in reading his speech ?
– If the honorable member for Kooyong were reading his speech, he would not be in order, but he is merely reading a certain statement which he has prepared, and which he is quite as much at liberty to read as any honorable member is to read any quotation that he may make.
– On a point of order, sir, do you rule that any honorable member can prepare a statement and read it as portion of a speech?
– It depends altogether upon the proportion which the statement bears to the whole speech. If the honorable member for Kooyong proposed to read a statement which constituted his speech, he would not be in order, but if he carefully prepares a statement summarizing certain objections in order that he may present them very clearly to the House, and thus occupy less time than he otherwise would do, that statement being but a very small proportion of the whole speech, he will be in order.
– That is news to me.
– I should like to say that this liberty has been constantly allowed to Ministers and to honorable members, but out of it has sprung a practice which is entirely out of order - I refer to the partial reading of a statement by an honorable member, who then hands it to Hansard, the result being that the whole of if, including the portion which he has not read, appears as part of his speech. That practice is out of order, but the reading of a short statement, such as the honorable member for Kooyong has prepared, is perfectly in order.
– This information is entirely new to me. I had no idea that we were at liberty to do anything more than prepare notes. If an honorable member may read a statement, it will make all the difference in the world. I shall take notice of your ruling, sir, in future.
– The honorable member for Maranoa is not correct when he implies that I have read my speech. The fact is that, after consultation with certain business men, I have tabulated some objections to this Bill which I desire to read. I have not read them literally, because with some of the conclusions arrived at by the gentlemen in question I do not agree. The interjection of the honorable member was unworthy of him, because I have only read certain clauses. I shall continue reading now, and I shall tell the House when I am reading and when I am not.
– That is the only opportunity we have of knowing.
– Continuing my reading, I hold the opinion^ -
That no new or imported article could be imported if it would supersede any .articles produced in Australia, or even their sale, with the consequent result of less employment at lower rates in this particular trade.
I have dealt with a number of matters with a view to supplementing the observations of the honorable member for North Sydney. He analyzed the Bill in such a way that, to my mind, it is quite unnecessary for any honorable member to debate it exhaustively. But the Labour Party, in whose interests the measure has been introduced, are content to sit silently by, and thus we have no opportunity of getting a proper and open discussion of its merits. I have framed a number of suggestions, and I have circulated an amendment which I shall ask the House to consider at a later stage. The Attorney-General has admitted that the Tariff was intended to meet ordinary conditions, and that this Bill was designed to meet extraordinary conditions. I quite recognise that the honorable and learned gentleman, in saying that, was defining the exact position, but if it is intended to deal with extraordinary conditions, and if any attempt to alter the Tariff must receive the approval of this House surely, after the admission of the Ministry through the Attorney-General, we have a right to ask that before the good’s of any alleged monopoly corporation are prevented from coming into this country the matter shall be dealt with by resolution of this House?
– Is the honorable member serious in making that suggestion ?
– I am serious, and later on I shall give more fully the reasons why I think it is desirable that that should be done.
– We should have to sit all the year round.
– I repeat in conclusion what I started with, and that is an earnest protest against the manner in which these great commercial measures are thrown upon the table to be fought out, and against imposing upon honorable members the obligation to make them workable, and bring them into line with the conditions known to exist, so that they may not dislocate the whole of the. trade of the community. I am sorry that the honorable member for Maranoa and I should have come into conflict, but the honorable member is aware that there is no personal animus between us. I am not prepared to vote against the second reading of this Bill, believing, as I do, in the principle^ which underlie it ; but I have given some reasons, and I shall give more in Committee, why many alterations require to be made in it. I again deplore the fact that, instead of securing the advice and assistance of competent persons before introducing such a Bill the Minister has thrown it upon the table, andi left us to wrangle about it and put it into shape. Much irritation and confusion might be averted if, before submitting such measures the Government secured competent advice upon them, and were not so much disposed to submit them, as I venture to believe this Bill has been submitted, in order that it may be held up as a placard for the two purposes I have indicated.
._I spoke last session on a measure almost identical with this, and I do not therefore propose to detain the House at so great a length as I should probably do if this were the first proposal of the kind submitted to Parliament. It. seems to me that there are a few aspects of the general question involved which may be pertinently referred to at the present moment. Perhaps one of the most interesting features of the debate that has gone on for the last two days has been the attitude assumed towards this measure by our honorable friends, who have dubbed themselves the “ Anti- Socialist Party.” They have continually asseverated, until, I suppose, they have at least succeeded in convincing themselves of the truth of the assertion, that this is not a socialistic. measure, and that it is quite reasonable for the anti-Socialist to support a measure of this description. To my mind that attitude predicates either that the honorable gentlemen who make up the “ AntiSocialist Party “ have not studied the economic difference between the position of the individualist, and that of the collectivist, or that they are dubbing themselves by a name to which they are not entitled. What becomes of all the eulogies of private enterprise indulged in by the right honorable gentleman who lead’s the Opposition during the past few months? Everywhere throughout Australia that right honorable gentleman has been telling the people that ‘to, impede the development of the individual, to put shackles upon the people’s enterprise, is to work dire injury and disaster to the State as a whole. He has told us that our position in the world to-day, the present condition of civilized man, and his advance from savagery, is due to private enterprise working through competition, the friction of mind against mind. That is the right honorable gentleman’s explanation of the condition of things we witness to-day, as compared with the state of things existing a few hundred or a thousand years ago. All through, the right honorable gentleman and those supporting, him have been eulogizing the free play of private enterprise and competitive institutions. That is the correct attitude undoubtedly for a convinced individualist to assume. But to-day we find that honorable gentlemen opposite have gone back upon that position, and now admit that this much-lauded private enterprise is capable of producing such evils as constrain even them, reluctant as they are to interfere with anything of the sort, to attempt to put some regulatory law into force, so that the interests of the community may be conserved. I say that that is an abandonment of, at any rate, the theoretical position which those honorable gentlemen are supposed to occupy.
– There is a use and an abuse in everything.
– If the honorable member admits that it is a proper thing in some circumstances to use the power of the State to restrain the unscrupulous private enterpriser, then he has no right to call himself an “ anti-Socialist. “ He may pose, properly enough, as a man who holds that the Labour Party, or any other party in the State proposes to go too far in the direction of Socialism, proposes too rapid progression in that direction, but he cannot logically and legitimately claim tobe an “ anti-Socialist.”
– That is cheese-paring.
– - In fact, so many of our honorable friends opposite are gradually slipping away from political virtue, and so steadily falling from grace, that directly we shall probably discover that the only anti-Socialists left amongst us are the honorable and learned member for Parkes, and perhaps the honorable member for Wilmot.
– According to the AttorneyGeneral, there has been none since Adam-
– I am rather of the opinion that the Attorney-General was quite correct in saying that there have been very few individualists, strictly speaking, in the history of the world. For the sake of humanity, I am glad; to be able to say that there were a vast number of the people who have taken a leading part in the direction of the world’s affairs who have been to a greater or less degree Socialists, in that they have believed in using all the machinery of government, and all the resources of civilization, for the protection of the weak against the strong. After all, that is ^what Socialism resolves itself into, it seems to me. However, I do not intend to debate that any further than to say that it does seem to me a highly illogical attitude for honorable members opposite to assume in consenting to support the passage of any measure of this description, no matter how they qualify their support.
– It is simply because they know they are in a minority.
– Is that all? This is. quite a new reason for the failure to object, and one that I should have expected least of all from the honorable member for Wilmot.
– The honorable member does not yet know whether I shall divide the House on this question. I am not speaking for myself.
– If the honorable member does so, I shall give him every credit for sincerity, but if he is speaking for other honorable members opposite, and is entitled to speak foi them, his statement sheds a new light upon the attitude they assume.
– I am expressing only my own opinion.
– I shall not’ pursue that phase of the question any further. It has been argued in connexion with this measure that there are to-day no trusts in Australia. The right honorable gentleman who leads the Opposition only recently said that there were no trusts in Australia, or, if there were any, that they were so insignificant as to be utterly unworthy of serious attention at the present moment. I do not wish to pursue at any length even that aspect of the question, because during last session I instanced the shipping combine, which, in my opinion, is playing a part more disastrous alike to producers and consumers in Australia to-day than is any other single agency. I instanced again the tobacco trust, the existence of which is beyond question. How far they have gone in utilizing the power which is in their hands to-day is, I admit, a question on which there is room for a difference of opinion, but as to their possession of practically uncontrolled power there can be no doubt whatever. Then, again, there is the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, which, though not a trust in the correct acceptation of the term, constitutes a monopoly that, in my view, notwithstanding all that was said in the company’s favour by the honorable member for North Sydney yesterday, is to-day a distinct menace and danger to the people of this Commonwealth. If this company has not a monopoly in Australia to-day, the position it occupies approaches so closely to complete control of the whole trade as to constitute a virtual monopoly. I contend now, as I did a few months ago from this positionin the Chamber, that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is charging a wholly unwarrantable sum to the people of Australia for converting raw sugar into refined sugar. I make that statement on the evidence of individuals who have made a close study of the question, and are well qualified to express an opinion.
– Has the honorable member read Mr. Jodrell’s evidence about the prices paid by the company for cane as compared with the prices paid by Government mills ?
– No, I have not; but I was going to say in that connexion that the remark of the honorable member for North Sydney, that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company practically gave the growers all the benefit received from the Tariff will, on examination, be found to be incorrect. I do not for a moment mean to say that an honorable member who is so careful in his statements as is the honorable member for North Sydney has put forward any statement concerning the accuracy of which he is not personally satisfied, but I think that his information is at fault, and that, if the matter is investigated, it will be found that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company has retained a considerable proportion of the profit given by the increased price of sugar, compared with the price which it pays for cane. This salient fact stands out, that the average price paid by the company for cane supplied to its mills is rather below that given by the Stateconducted and co-operative central mills of Queensland.
– I am informed’ so, too.
– There is no doubt about it.
– The difference is about 8s. 6d. a ton.
– I am informed that the highest difference is 8s. 6d. a ton, and that the average difference right through is very considerable. Thus one of the awful results of the pernicious system of Socialism in connexion with the cane industry is that the growers of Queensland receivehigher returns from mills assisted, and in some instances controlled, by the State Government than they receive from the monopolistic private company which has been so highly extolled by my honorable friends on the Opposition benches.
– The farmers do not consider the company a benefactor to them.
– No. If they ever held that opinion, I think that they are being rapidly cured of it. But it is not merely the farmers who are interested in this matter ; the consumers of sugar throughout Australia have to suffer when this company asks more than a reasonable price for its services to the community in supplying it with sugar.
– How is it that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is able to buy cane, if the mills of the State Government are willing to purchase it at higher prices ?
– The cane can be sold only to mills situated within a certain distance of the fields where it is grown, and it does not pay to erect a mill within a certain distance of another mill.
– Would it not pay the State Government to do so, if it is prepared to offer higher prices for cane than the company will give?
– If the honorable member possessed business experience, he would know that, although the immediate effect of erecting a new mill might be to raise the price of cane, those responsible for its erection might get no advantage from the transaction.
– The Bill is intended to prevent that sort of thing.
– I do not know that it can be prevented. I am speaking now only of evils which exist. Another factor which has a very considerable influence in the matter is that, in many cases, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company has made contracts for the purchase of cane which have yet long terms to run, and, in some instances, has sold) land subject to the condition that the cane grown on it must be delivered to its mills during a certain period at certain prices. The honorable member will see that those conditions would make successful competition impossible in many cases.
– But the honorable member’s illustration shows that there are advantages in competition.
– Competition is, in many instances, an advantage, though not where it implies waste. I think that the public as a whole is more likely to benefit by competition than by monopoly, where industry is controlled by private enterprise, because monopoly confers power, and that power will be taken advantage of, and, if placed in the hands of irresponsible persons, the public are likely to suffer by its exercise. I differ from the honorable and learned member in thinking that monopolies should be under the control of those who are dependent upon them, either as consumers or producers.
– I think that there should not be monopolies.
– I do not know how the honorable and learned member would prevent them. Some of the members of the Opposition are strongly of opinion that some kinds of monopoly cannot be kept down, and the deputy leader of the Opposition stated yesterday that it is a natural law that large enterprises must continue to expand.
– I did not say anything about monopolies in that connexion.
– Did not the honorable member say that the continued concentration of business is a natural law ?
– Concentration means a gathering into one control, and that necessarily brings about a monopoly.
– Not necessarily.
– If one control is not a monopoly, I do not know what a monopoly is. A single control may not be harmful, but it is nevertheless a monopoly. I agree with the general idea lying behind the honorable member’s remarks, though he spoke of a natural law, and I think it wouldtake a very able man to discover what the natural laws of trade and commerce are. I would term what he refers to natural development.
– It is a mere commercial tendency.
– A commercial tendency to go steadily in one direction.
– All over the world, and in relation to everything.
– I differ from the honorable member only in regard to the calling of it a law.
– I did not call it a law.
– I do not think that it could be stopped, even though it is merely a tendency, because it has proved more effective in returning profits to those engaged in commercial industry than any other method yet discovered. For that reason I think the general trend to which I am referring is inexorable, and cannot be stopped, as the honorable member for Parramatta said yesterday, by any puny efforts of a regulative character that we may put forth.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable member said that it is not likely that our puny efforts will keep back a natural law, or, at all events, that was the tenor of his statement.
– That was a very general remark.
– The honorable member’s speech yesterday consisted chiefly of general remarks. However, I do not wish to bind him down to any set terms. I understood him to recognise that the tendency towards concentration and centralization of control, and the better organization of industry, is a natural development, which, in the very nature of things, must and will continue.
– We do not object to it.
– I, for one, do not object to it, because it tends towards economy of production by the elimination of waste and the saving of human energy.But, as it is found practicable to better organize industrial production, the community is very unwise which allows a few persons to reap all the benefits resulting from the accompanying economy. Can any one deny that the- result of our coastal shipping combine has been a marvellous saving in the conduct of our shipping business, or that a still greater economy would be effected if there were only one management, because, notwithstanding the existence of a pool, the companies still have different managers. and there is the unnecessary expense attaching to the duplication of staffs?
– Does the honorable member suggest a nationalized shipping industry?
– If the coastal shipping were owned and worked by one company, having one staff, larger economies would be effected than those already brought about by the existing combination. But has the public obtained any real benefit from this combination ? On the contrary, the additional profit which has resulted has gone into the pockets of the shareholders of the shipping companies. Personally, I should be prepared to-morrow to vote for the nationalization of our coastal shipping industry, because in principle there is no difference between the conveyance of passengers and goods on land by means of railways and their conveyance on water by means of steam-ships. Although it is said that railways may constitute a monopoly, while the sea affords a pathway free for all to compete upon, we know that to-day there is no competition in Australian waters.
– There is some.
– In the main lines of trade there is no competition amongst the coastal shipping.
– I think that there is.
– The Treasurer ought to know that there is a combination amongst the big shipping companies.
– Thev are not all in it.
– Practically all the freight and passenger steam-ship companies are in it.
– Then it has happened only very recently.
– There are two companies outside the ring, one of which does not carry passengers, but looks after freight contracts only, and, while their competition has affected the combine slightly in regard to one or two little matters, roughly the whole of our coastal shipping business is under the control of the combine. By a system of rebates, of which the Treasurer probably knows something, the shipping companies bind their constituents to them so that they cannot escape, struggle in the net as they may.
– And no State suffers more from these operations than does Western Australia.
– The State represented by the Treasurer has suffered most from these operations ; but they have also caused every producer in the eastern States to suffer. I do not wish to pursue this matter further, however. In my view, there is room fpr considerable effort on the part of the community to deal in some fashion with trusts. The leader of the Opposition and his deputy, anti-Socialists though they call themselves, admit the necessity for social action in regard to the regulation of monopolies. If it be expressed in the State or in the municipality, or in any other way, it is still social action by society to defend itself.
– Social action is not Socialism.
– No, but it is socialistic. Nothing is Socialism except it aims at a complete revolution of the existing industrial system ; but I contend that it is socialistic to employ the resources and machinery of Government to protect from the rapacity of a few individuals those who are unable to protect themselves. That is definitely socialistic, and’ it argues a confusion of terms if any other name is applied to it.
– The end and aim and object of State action differentiate it.
– In that case, all that is between us and honorable members opposite is a question of degree, and whatever other name honorable members may apply to themselves they have no right to the title of anti- Socialists. I stated in Sydney recently that the right honorable member for East Sydney was a bogus antiSocialist, and I say to-day that all his followers are bogus anti-Socialists. They may think thev are anti-Socialists, but they are not. The honorable and learned member for Parkes is the only “Real Mackay” amongst them. Honorable members opposite admit the necessity for regulating monopolies, but they are eloquently silent as to the method by which they should be regulated.
– Does the honorable member believe in regulation ?
– I shall deal with that point in a moment. Honorable members opposite have offered no suggestion as to the method that should be adopted with regard to regulation. The speech delivered yesterday bv the honorable member for Parramatta, who presumably spoke on behalf of his party, consisted of a number of generalities, and of criticisms of some of the proposals of the measure, but offered no alternative. Perhaps the honorable member will say that it is no part of his duty as acting leader of the Opposition to offer an alternative.
Mr.Joseph Cook. - It is strange for the honorable member to accuse me of using generalities.
– On this occasion the honorable member departed from his usual practice. He, no doubt, found himself in an awkward position, and felt at a loss how to make it appear logical, even to himself. The honorable member asked me if I believed in regulation. As far as I am concerned - and I think I can speak for the Labour Party- I do not believe that regulation will cure the evil. We believe that nothing short of collective control, in some shape or other, will effectively dispose of the evils that result from monopolies, trusts, and combines. Where these large enterprises have already passed into the hands of a few individuals who can monopolize them to the detriment of the people, nothing short of collective control by some body representing the people will prove effective. When the honorable member for Parramatta suggests, as he did yesterday, that we should vote against any proposal for regulation-
– I said that from the point of view of the honorable member’s party, they should do so.
– The honorable member is kind enough to assume for us a point of view. I do not know that he is the best judge as to that.
– That is very good, coming from the honorable member, who has been assuming a point of view for us and criticising us.
– I havebeen pointing out the illogical position occupied by honorable members, and have been asking them to justify it. We assume a perfectly logical attitude. We are prepared to take one step at a time. If this legislation should prove ineffective, we shall be ready to go further and ask the people to adopt such methods as will effectively deal with what is rapidly becoming a cancer in the body politic.
– Your party would be prepared to go “ the whole hog.” Why not say so?
– We would not.
– From the point of view of the honorable member, would a soundly-regulated trust be in a stronger or weaker position than one which was intolerably tyrannical ?
-What point of view does the honorable member mean ?
– From the socialistic stand-point - the point of view of one who believes in taking over monopolies.
– If that question were addressed to a man who believed in nothing but Socialism as the immediate panacea for all evils, it would be an appropriate one. I have never contended that we should be justified, under present conditions, in doing more than nationalizing monopolies, and provide for such extensions of governmental interference in that direction as are proved to be practicable step by step.
– My point is: Wilt an enterprise prove stronger or weaker if it be a regulated or an unregulated monopoly ?
– If the Bill proves effective it will minimize the necessity for taking over these monopolies. I have very considerable doubts as to whether it will prove effective.
– The honorable member and his party aim at the ultimate overthrow of private enterprise.
– I do nothing of the kind. So far as the Labour Party of Australia are concerned, they are not committed to the overthrow of private enterprise as such. With regard to monopolies, however, they say that they will nationalize them as soon as an opportunity presents itself.
– But Socialism is the objective of the party.
– We are denounced by the Socialists in many parts of Australia as being bogus; in the same way that we say that honorable members opposite are bogus an ti- Socialists. I do not suppose that we shall ever be able to satisfy all parties in that connexion.
– We go on a little, whereas members of the Labour Party stop at their immediate programme.
– We can at least claim that our programme exists. That of the honorable member and his friends is so nebulous that it is impossible for the public to perceive it at present.
– The members of the Labour Party admit that their programme is only a step in the direction of their objective.
– We hope that the honorable member .himself is only a step in the evolution of mankind. He is prepared to take no step at all, and I do not think that the country believes in marking time.
– What is in my mind all the time is the sine qua non.
– That phrase sounds somewhat familiar. We are taking practical steps as opportunity offers. So far as combines are concerned, the Labour Party take up a very distinct attitude, and the passing of legislation of this character will not in the slightest degree infringe upon their position. It is distinctly a step of a socialistic character, and if, as “we have reason to believe from the experience gained in the United States, it fails in its purpose, there will be the greater reason for taking the only other practicable step that we commend to the people in connexion with monopolies.
– There is another more practicable step, namely, the adoption of free- trade.
– Monopolies exist even in free-trade countries. I mentioned a number of cases of that kind when I spoke upon a similar measure last session. The honorable member for Lang is conveniently deaf and blind with regard to many things that emerge from free-trade conditions, but thev exist all the same.
– I have never heard of any monopolies.
– That shows the truth of my remark with regard to the honorable member’s condition. His ears have been carefully_ stopped against any complaint.
– Turkey is a ‘free-trade country, and is full of monopolies.
– England is also a freetrade country, and is not free from monopolies. It is interesting to consider the position of affairs in the United States to-day. The Sherman Act has been in operation for the last sixteen years, and to-day trusts are as prevalent, combines are as numerous, and monopolies are as power.ful as thev were before that Act came into existence. Therefore, looking at this experience, I am not one of those who believe that this Bill is going to achieve all that its promoters hope_ for. ^ I am willing, however, to give it a fair trial, and to assist in making it as effective as it can be made under the Constitution.
– At the same time, the honorable member does not believe that it will prove effective.
– I do not believe that it will destroy the pernicious power that now lies in the hands of monopolies and trusts.
– Then are we not now wasting time?
– I am prepared to allow the experiment to be tried. If the Labour Party were not willing to vote in favour of an experiment of this description, we should immediately have our so-called antiSocialist friends stating that we were afraid to permit of regulations, because we knew that they would prove effective. I am willing to allow the leader of the Opposition and his party to propose all the regulative methods which they say they favour, so that the community may see that thev are ineffective, and that something else will remain to be done before the disease can be cured.
– We shall have no trade then.
– Not after honorable members opposite have regulated it. I believe that the honorable member is right.
– What has been the experience in America? Mr. Garfield, the president of the Bureau of Corporations, Department of Commerce and Labour, Washington, who was appointed by President Roosevelt, after the consideration by Congress of the message to which the honorable member for Parramatta referred last night, writes -
Under the present industrial conditions secrecy and dishonesty in promotion, over-capitalization, unfair discrimination by means of transportation and other rebates, unfair and predatory competition, secrecy of corporate administration, and misleading or dishonest financial statements, are generally recognised as the principal evils.
In a book which was issued this year, Mr. Spelling, a lawyer, of New York, and the author of quite a number of legal works, makes’ t!he following remarks as being applicable to the present time: -
Not only the gas and oil one burns, but the milk and meat he buys, the flour he bakes, the hats, shoes, and clothing he wears, everything he touches, tastes, and handles, are controlled by trusts, aided by discriminating freight tariffs. . . . How long before merchants will be deprived of the privilege of handling trust-made goods on any terms? Probably the time is soon to come when the “ Beef Trust “ will establish its own commodious meat shop and fruit store in. each city and town. The Standard Oil Company already has its own warehouse and delivery waggons in some localities. The American Tobacco Company has already aggressively taken much of the retail trade away from its former patrons. How long before the other trusts will follow the example of these monopolies?
That is the condition of things existing in Americato-day, according to two wellknown and highly reputable authorities. Surely that fact does not argue that any very great result will flow from legislation of this character. The honorable member for Parramatta said yesterday that, in his opinion, a great deal - I am not sure whether he said the major part - of the wealth aggregation of the United States was due to the existence of patent monopolies.
– I said that I had seen it stated that it was so.
– That seems to me to be opposed to all the experience of America as it is related by those who pose as publicists and as leading authorities. There the position is that, because of the uncontrolled efforts of private enterprise, practices have been rendered possible which would never be tolerated in communities such as ours. The control of different avenues of industry - irrespective altogether of fiscal conditions! - has enabled a few people to build up gigantic monopolies, but these, so far as I can ascertain, are in the main quite free from patent monopolies as they are ordinarily understood.
– I think that all these trusts have a great many patents of one sort or another.
– Take the great beef trust as an instance in point. It has not a patent in the purchasing of cattle or in the packing of meat-
– How does the honorable member know ?
– I have read a book upon the subject, which was written by Mr. Russell, and I base my statement also upon a conversation which I had with him in Sydney a few months ago. He informed me that the operations of the beef trust consisted merely in manipulating the market. Similarly, the operations of the oil trust have been assisted by its power to manipulate the railway rates. It has no patent rights, but it bought the legislators.
– Has not the dishonest politician in America done more to create trusts than has anything else ?
– I think it is just the other way about. The existence of people with large private interests at stake, and of wealthy companies which desire to purchase concessions, was the direct cause of the corruption of the Legislature. The honorable member for Kooyong - although he said that he would vote for the second reading of the Bill - spoke against the general idea underlying legislation of this character, and quoted, in opposition to the Sherman Act, a statement by Mr. Chauncey Depew. That gentleman was eulogized by him as a representative American of high standing. Perhaps it is news for the honorable member to learn that, a little time ago, Mr. Chauncey Depew was compelled to return - “ disgorge,” some people would call it - some hundreds of thousands of dollars which he had improperly taken from the Equitable Life Insurance Company. Here is what one American paper - according to the Cosmopolitan Magazine of March last - wrote in regard to that gentleman : - “ Depew stands convicted of being a corrupter of the law makers of the commonwealth,” and “ had the audacity to cajole or bribe the chief magistrate of the State into indorsing one of the greatest frauds ever perpetrated.
As a result of the public inquiry which was held into the transactions of the Equitable Life Insurance Company, Mr. Depew was compelled to disgorge some hundreds of thousands of dollars which he had improperly appropriated, and I do not think that much reliance can be placed upon the denunciation of legislation of this character by such a man.
– Who lauded him?
– The honorable member for Kooyong.
– He merely read his letter, but did not agree with its contents.
– He read his letter evidently under a misapprehension. Clause 4 of the Bill seeks to. repress injurious monopolies, and provides that -
Any person who wilfully, either as principal or 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 restraint of trade or commerce to the detriment of the public ; or
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 …. is guilty of an indictable offence.
That clause is copied from the Sherman Act of 1890.
– Which the honorable member says has made things worse.
– The honorable member is entitled to his own opinion. Personally, I say that, in attempting to deal with difficulties of this kind, it has marked a very interesting experiment indeed. But that particular clause, I maintain, has proved ineffective in stopping the formation of trade combinations . and trusts in the United States. It has been ruled that, unless the agreement under which a combine is working is clear as to its intention, or gives some indication of its desire to monopolize the trade of the community in a certain direction, its creation is not illegal.
– The difficulty lies in the proof.
– As Spelling points out, if the beef trust were unwise enough to put their understanding in writing and to allow the officers of the Court access to it, the Court would be able to punish them under the Sherman Act. But when they are attacked in one form they immediately assume another; so that, though an injunction of the Supreme Court was out against the beef trust for twoyears, it was ineffective so far as exercising a restraining influence upon its operations were concerned. With regard to another clause in the measure which was not embodied in the Bill of last session, I think there is room also for a little criticism.
– I am wondering why the honorable member bothers about the details of the Bill, seeing that he declares that it will accomplish no good.
– There are parts of it that I think will do good. . I hold that those portions of the Bill which are aimed at internal combines and monopolies will not accomplish any good’.
– The honorable member thinks it is easier to hit the fellow who is outside the Commonwealth than it is to hit the man who is inside it.
– There is no other method of hitting them than through the Tariff.
– It is safer to hit the man who is outside theCommonwealth.
– I am prepared to hit both the individuals outside the Commonwealth and those inside it who engage in these practices. Another of my objections relates to the definition of the word “ monopoly.” In the Sherman Act it has been found very difficult to secure any effective definition of the term, so far as repression is concerned. Take the case of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company as an example. That company deals with about 80 per cent, of the sugar which passes into consumption into Australia. But it is not a monopoly in the complete sense of the word, although it is virtually one. Similarly, the shipping combine is not a monopoly, although it is so close to being one as to make very little difference, so far as the community generally is concerned. Then I would ask, “ What will constitute an attempt to monopolize, and how. can we prove such an attempt?” It seems to me that a company or an individual may attempt to monopolize without giving any evidence to the public which could be used against them in a Court of law. That being so, it would be very difficult indeed to make this portion of the Bill effective.
– Its value lies in the fact that if a company started a business it could be got at before it had succeeded in its improper object.
– I do not at all object to the use of the words, but I say that it will be in the highest degree difficult to secure a conviction.
– That’ is always the difficulty.
– Here is the opinion of Spelling. After quoting a great number of the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, he says -
It seems to be settled by these cases that the mere manufacture and sale of a commodity, upon however extensive a scale, and though the sales are largely for delivery to citizens of other States, and though one manufacturing and selling company have a virtual monopoly, yet that does not render it a violation ofthe provision directed at those who “ monopolize or attempt to monopolize Inter-State commerce.” It seems that to constitute a violation of the statute there must be a precedent agreement in restraint of Inter-State trade, and that no amount of actual monopolization, in the absence of suck agreement, will constitute persons or corporations violators of the statute.
That seems to me to open up the question of how far we can amend these clauses so as to make them more effective than the Sherman Act, from which they have been copied almost literally, has proved to be. There is great necessity if the law is to have a fair chance to avoid the pitfalls which the Sherman Act has disclosed in the course of sixteen years’ working.
– What is the particular weakness to which the honorable gentleman refers ?
– I refer to the difficulty of proving that any person or corporation wilfully monopolizes or intends to monopolize.
– The Sherman Act practically broke up the then favorite form of monopolies.
– Just so ; but the point is that, while it broke them up inone form, they immediately assumed another, and successfully evaded the law. The Court decided in a case where the articles of agreement of a company gave some indication of a purpose to monopolize, that its operations were against the law, and then other companies, working just as much injury to the people, gave no such indication of their purpose, and thereby escaped scot-free. That is a condition of things which we should endeavour to meet in the framing of the provisions of this measure.
– I think that later cases have gone a little beyond that.
– I have some quotations here, issued some months ago, by a very competent man, which cover cases of the character I have indicated of so recent a date as up to the end of last year. I shall have pleasure later in showing them to the Attorney-General.I have thought it right to call attention to the deficiencies in the Sherman Act, which are continued in this measure, but whether it is possible to remedy them I am exceedingly doubtful. I know of no measure we can draft which would be sufficiently comprehensive to get at a combine of the character of the beef trusts within our own borders. If such a measure can be suggested I shall be very glad to see the way to deal with such combines pointed out. There is another part of the measure - Part III., referring to dumping - which I can support, and from which I believe some good will result. I do not wish to go into the whole question of free trade and protection, but I will say that I was glad last night to hear the deputy leader of the Opposition admit that there can be dumping of a character which would be ruinous to the industries and welfare of the community. The honorable member did not say that dumping had arrived at that stage yet in Australia, but I understood him to admit that he could conceive of dumping of that character. That being so, I think it will be admitted that there is not the same degree of interference with fiscal matters in this measure as some honorable members seemed at first to imagine. I do not assume that the honorable member for Parramatta would utter such sentiments if he thought they would injure his faith in free-trade, which I know has been very strong for a long time past. But even if the measure involved the whole fiscal issue, I should still say that we are justified in making some effort to save our industries from unfair competition from abroad.
– My point is that where competition ceases monopoly begins.
– If there is the slightest evidence of a monopoly amongst our local manufacturers I shall be one of the first to take any step that will dispose of that monopoly in the interests of the people. I am as strongly opposed as any one can be to our local manufacturers taking advantage of the market to the detriment of the consumers ; but I say that while we have some chance of dealing with the man or men who attempt to monopolize trade locally, I see no other way than that proposed in this, Bill, or some proposal akin to it, by which we can deal with those who attempt unfair competition from outside our borders.
– Does the honorable member not think that it would have been a fair thing for the Government to wait until the Tariff Commission had reported?
– No, certainly not.
– I was not asking the Minister. The honorable gentleman, I know, wants a placard.
– So far as the report of the Tariff Commission is concerned, at most it can only deal with one or two industries, and the principle will remain just the same, whether the Tariff Commission reports adversely, or not, with respect to the conditions in those industries. The question whether Mr. McKay, who makes harvesters, is being unfairly competed with is to my mind, a small matter compared with the general principle involved in legislation of this character. I feel strongly that we should take steps to protect local industry against competition that is provedto be unfair. I am not one of those who say that our manufacturers should be encouraged by methods of this description to do without the latest machinery. . But surely if it is shown to the satisfaction of a competent authority that unfair methods are being resorted to, with a view, not of se- curing a share of the market, but of taking complete charge of it to the eventual detriment of the consumer, we are justified in taking drastic steps to prevent such a position of affairs being brought about.
– The figures supplied by the Minister show that that is not the case, so far.
– In that event nothing can be proved before a competent authority, and the Bill will be inoperative. As to the constitution of the tribunal which is to decide the question of unfair competition, the Government have not, in my opinion, offered an adequate suggestion in this Bill. I was one of those who last session protested against the idea thata Minister should be allowed to appoint one, two, or three men to give a decision in matters of this sort.
– We did endeavour to discover if the services of a Judge could be obtained, and the difficulty pointed out was that it would not be a judicial decision.
– I want to say that it is for this Parliament to say what the duties of the Judges shall be.
– But we must put them in such a form that their performance of their duties will involve the giving of a judicial decision.
– We should put them in such a form as to prevent the Judges being placed in an undignified position.
– Not an undignified position, but an extra-judicial position.
– They are asked in the Arbitration Act to decide matters of an extra judicial character, beyond the mere interpretation of law and concerning matters of fact. There is no greater departure from established usage in asking a Justice of the High Court to decide matters arising under this measure than in asking him to adjudicate in matters arising under the Arbitration Act. There is the same weighing of evidence, and commercial considerations should enter into the decision of industrial arbitration matters as largely as into the decision of cases arising under this measure.
– I quite agree with the honorable gentleman that these matters should be dealt with bv a Judge if that can possibly be arranged.
– Of course, the honorable gentleman agrees with the honorable member for Bland.
– That is agreeing with a better man- than is the honorable member for Parramatta.
– I understood members of the Government to say during the diebate that a Justice of the High Court had been approached in this connexion.
– Yes, last year.
– And that. the Government had received no encouragement.
– It was pointed out that the first proposal, as we were able to draft it then, did not involve a judicial decision, and that in order that a Judge might be able to discharge the duties cast upon him it was necessary that the measure should take such a form, and we were not then able to discover such a form.
– I do not care what form the proposal takes so long as some competent and responsible person is charged with the duty of deciding matters so important. Personally, I object strenuously to placing the whole prospects of the commercial community - because it might amount to that at one time or another - in the hands of individuals - appointed temporarily at the whim of a Minister, no matter how upright and honorable he might be - and who necessarily in the circumstances would not be possessed: of that sense of responsibility which it seems to me is essential to the authority deciding matters of such great importance.
– Then the honorable member agrees with the Attorney-General who favoured the appointment of a Judge.
– I stated last session that I thought that a Justice of the High Court should be appointed, and in replv to the suggestion that a Justice of the High Court would not be available, I said that I would prefer that Judges of the Supreme Court of the States should be asked to do the work rather than that it should be handed over to private individuals temporarily appointed.
– The objection is to persons being temporarily appointed.
– That is my objection. If we took men already in the Civil Service, or appointed men to permanent positions of this description, we should no doubt get men as reliable in every way as are the Justices of the High Court.
– And probably more competent for this purpose.
– But we do not antici pate that cases under this measure will be of such frequency as to justify the making of new and permanent appointments for this purpose. There does not seem to be any justification for that.
– In addition, I intend to propose an amendment in reference to the jury matter.
– I am quite agreeable to that. The Canadian method of dealing with trusts within the borders of the Dominion, as instanced by the right honorable member for Adelaide some considerable time ago, is to refer the question of Tariff to a Supreme CourtJudge, and I think that the Minister acts on the report of that Judge as to whether the Tariff should or should not be lowered. At any rate, reliance is placed on a Judge in regard to a matter which is, to some extent, extrajudicial.
– Is that in connexion with the interpretation of the’ Tariff ?
– No; in regard to whether, in order to circumvent trust operations in a particular industry, the Tariff shall or shall not be lowered. Power is given to lower the Tariff under certain conditions.
– New Zealand has an arrangement something like that, which expires next October.
– I do not remember the New Zealand provision, but there seems to be a necessity for some alteration of the Bill, and as the Government is prepared to make an alteration, I am satisfied.
– Has the Government dropped its proposalalready?
– I took the Minister to say that he is prepared to make an alteration in this respect.
– In regard to what matter ?
– The tribunal.
– Certainly. I say most distinctly that I prefer a Judge to a board, and I wish to alter the provision about the jury so as to make the jury a permanent one.
– The Minister is always willing to take a hint from the right quarter.
– I do not think that I need detain the House with regard to the other portions of the Bill. I think that, like myself, most of the members of the party with which I am associated are willing to give legislation of this character a fair trial, and to assist the Government in making it as effective as it can be made. Although I have no great hope that it will prove advantageous, it is only reasonable that a step which has been tried elsewhere for dealing with evils such as trusts and combines should be tried here, with a view to demonstrating its real character.
– Then the honorable member is only enacting a farce.
– The honorable gentleman himself is always farcical.
– The honorable member who has just resumed his seat will not, I think, consider it an unfair summary of his speech to say that he is ready to support the measure as an experiment which he expects to fail.
– Just so, though that does not apply to Part III.
– The honorable’ member pointed out very fairly and clearly the object of the party with which he is associated. In its view, the only way to cure the evils attendant upon the aggregation of industry and its controlby a few hands is to make those hands the hands of the State, that in that way alone is to be found a cure for what he describes, as a cancer in the body politic. He thinks that when the organization of an industry has become so centralized as to give it the character of what we, in general language, term a monopoly, the State should intervene, and, to use his own words, exercise collective control. By collective control I took him to mean public ownership.
– Yes ; in some shape.
– The profits of the industry would go into the coffers of the public, and’ would form part either of the consolidated revenue fund, or of some special fund. I also understood the honorable gentleman to say that the tendency of modern industry - and he twitted the honorable member for Parramatta with having made a similarstatement - is towards the aggregation and centralization of control, and that that tendency cannot be resisted, being to all intents and purposes a natural law, if we accept the ordinary definition of the term as a’ tendency which human effort cannot alter or prevent. By taking the honorable member’s two assertions together, we arrive at the position that, when an industry is centralized in a comparatively few hands, and is capable of becoming a monopoly, it must be subjected to the collective ownership of the community, and, consequently, that all industrial enterprise of any importance is tending to that end. He says, in other words,, that all industry will sooner or later come under State control, though he would! not at once bring that about- ^because, I presume, he knows that he cannot. I trust that this collective control or public ownership of industries which, he says, must come about sooner or later as the operation of the inevitable tendency to which he has referred, will come about later rather than sooner.
– Our argument is that the only choice is between private and public ownership.
– I am endeavouring ;to state fairly what I take to be the honorable member’s position, and the unavoidable inference to be drawn from his remarks. The condition of things to which he looks forward is what I call Socialism.
– It is certainly not antiSocialism.
– I ventured to interject that social action is not Socialism.
– It is socialistic.
– That word is, to my honorable friends in the Labour corner, as great a source of comfort as the blessed word Mesopotamia was to a certain old lady.
– And as the word “ antiSocialism “ is to honorable members in the Opposition corner.
– I trust that the Minister will give as much consideration to the suggestions from this corner as he gives to those from the Labour corner. We, at all events, shall not ask him to tumble down to meet our desires, as he is tumbling down to meet the desires of the members of the Labour corner.
– What harm is there in a name? Why does not the honorable and learned member suggest another?
– I am stating what I take to be the position of the members of the Labour Party.
– What is the honorable and learned member’s position?
– We should like to know what is the position of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne.
– I wish to be allowed to develop my argument, and ought not to be asked to rush to the end of my speech before I have uttered the beginning of it. The position of the honorable member for Bland - arid he stated that he spoke for his party - is, in mv opinion, socialistic, and that is why I think that the methods proposed by the Bill are permissible and proper, while those proposed by him and his party are not proper. I do not agree with those who say that legislation to control or regulate industries is socialistic. My definition of a Socialist is one who believes in and advocates Socialism, and I define Socialism as collective ownership. No other test of Socialism is known to any writer of standing or. the subject, and in support of that assertion I could quote the statements of socialistic leaders of thought, beginning with Lassalles, and coming right down, through Karl Marx and others, to the leader of the Labour Party, who, in a letter which he recently wrote to a correspondent, appearing in this month’s Australian Review of Reviews, says that, to his mind, Socialism means anything intended to improve the social condition of the community. If that be so, all legislation is socialistic, because all legislation aims at improving the social condition of the community. He went on to say that Socialism has acquired a technical meaning, implying the collective ownership of land and capital. The Brisbane Worker was asked its definition of Socialism, and, in the article to which I am referring, says that it is satisfied with that of the Queensland Labour Party - the nationalization of the means of production, distribution, and) exchange, to be attained by the extension of the industrial and economic functions of the State. The Labour Party of Australia has stated its objective to be the nationalization of monopolies, and the extension of the industrial and economic functions of the State, but while adopting the means which would be used bv the Queensland Labour Party to attain Socialism, it leaves out the Socialist’s definition of the objective. I venture to say that there is really verv little difference between the objective of the Queensland Labour Party and that of the Australian Labour Party. though one statement may be plainer than the other.
– What about the South Australian platform?
– I do not know what has been adopted by the Labour Party of South Australia. All these definitions, however, say that Socialism is one thing, the collective ownership of all means of production, distribution, and exchange - the collective ownership of all the sources of wealth. That is what we, who do not be- lieve in Socialism, are fighting.
– The honorable and learned member is a Socialist, all the same.
– I am quite aware that I might quote definitions to the Minister until the day of judgment. He would never listen to them, or try to understand them, nor would he be influenced in the least degree by even an avalanche of them. I might tell the Minister, who is now awake, that a Socialist is a man who believes in the collective ownership of the sources of wealth. Unless he believes in that he is not a Socialist. To use the word “ Socialist ‘ ‘ in any other way is an abuse of terms, and the device that has been adopted of adding two or three letters to the term, and making it “socialistic,” does not make any difference. “ Socialistic “ means something that will tend towards Socialism, and it does not necessarily apply to measures which are intended to ameliorate the human lot. It must tend towards the socialistic objective - that Socialism which we, on this side of the House, are united in opposing. We are glad to say that in this respect we have the alliance of members on the other side of the House, in. the persons of the Ministry and their supporters.
– Would the honorable and learned member kindly say what portion of the Bill he is discussing?
– I am discussing the question whether a measure of this kind can properly be supported by those who do not believe in Socialism - that is exactly the way in which every honorable member who has taken part in this discussion has begun. The Minister in charge of the Bill knows nothing about the debate that has been going on, and consequently it surprises him to find that that line of discussion has been followed.
– I should like to know, Mr. Speaker, whether it is in order to discuss a proposal which it would be impossible for us to carry out under the Constitution - has this Parliament anything to do with the question of nationalizing industries ?
– I would remind honorable members that the present incident indicates the necessity, which I know honorable members sometimes resent, for keeping strictly to the point under discussion. I permitted the honorable member for Parramatta to depart somewhat from the exact subject of the Bill, because I thought that he was entitled to incidentally refer to certain points. His remarks were made the basis of certain observations by the honorable member for Bland, with whom I did not feel called upon to interfere, since he was replying to the honoraBle member for Parramatta. Now, further remarks are being made in reply to the honorable member for Bland, and, so far as I can see, the whole question as to what is or is not Socialism will be opened up for discussion. I cannot permit of anything of that kind. All that I can allow the honorable and learned member for Corinella to do is to make an incidental reference to the argument of the honorable member for Bland that the Bill is a socialistic measure. In reply to the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, I may remark that it is not for me to say what is constitutionally possible or impossible. That is for others to determine.
– When the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne rose, I was about to say that this was not a socialistic measure, and that therefore those who were not Socialists were in a position to support it, if they thought fit. We are all agreed that the growth of monopolies may be, and is, in fact, accompanied - we have the example of the United States - by evils which it is not only the right, but the duty, of the Legislature to combat. It is because I believe that we have in Australia what are virtually monopolies, and because threats have been made to injure Australian interests by means of dumping - both evils are either present or threaten to be present in Australia - that I say that it is not only the right, but the duty, of this Parliament to deal with these matters. Differences of opinion, may arise between us as to the methods to be adopted, but as to the object to be attained - the preventionof injury to our industries through the operation of monopolies and by the dumping of good’s on our shores - we must be al! agreed, and I have no fear with regard toany legislation of this kind. I have always believed in the right and the duty of the State to regulate industry in order to see that no section of the community, or even an individual, suffers by reason of an abuse of the powers of individual action which the State gives to its citizens.
– Does the honorable and* learned member support the Bill ?
– Most undoubtedly I do.
– I did not think the honorable and learned member could sink so low.
– The honorable member’s political ideas are at such a low level that most people have to stoop to look at them. The Bill deals with two entirely different subjects. It aims at achieving two entirely different results, and it strikes at two entirely different evils. Except for the convenience of procedure, it would have been better to deal with these subjects in two separate Bills. Part II. of the measure relates to the repression of monopolies; that is to say, it aims at preventing prices from being raised to the detriment of the consumer. Part III. deals with dumping, the object of which is to temporarily lower the selling price, to the detriment of the local producer, though the ultimate object is to furnish an opportunity for the creation of a monopoly which will result in increased prices, to the detriment of the consumer. But the immediate evils to be dealt with are entirely different, and the subject inevitably divides itself into two parts, which have to be separately discussed, and viewed from an entirely different stand-point. Part II. of the measure, which proposes to restrain monopolies, is based on the Sherman A:t, which, as has been pointed out, has not achieved! its object as fully and as entirely as, I presume, was hoped by those who introduced it. It has, however, made the career of monopoly in the United States a much more difficult one to pursue. It has made the assured existence of monopolies much more difficult, because, but for the corporation law of New Jersey - which is the biggest enemy the Sherman Act has to fight in the United States - the methods pursued prior to the putting into operation of the Act would have been brought to an end through the application pf the Act to the circumstances of each case. Even as it is, monopolies in the United States have been driven back to a large extent - I do not say entirely - to their original forms of pools, or secret understandings, which, while they are just as effective as the more definite and legal forms of existence whilst they continue, ate far ‘ more liable to come to an end through the falling away of one or more members of the combination. So that, even if the Sherman Act had done no more than this, its existence would have been justified, although there would be no ground for saying that no other legislation was necessary. I would remind honorable members that, whilst trusts in the United States have worked great injury to the people, their history is not very encouraging to trust-mongers. A very large number of them have come to grief, and have caused great financial loss to those who have brought them into existence, or who have endeavoured to engineer them. Most trusts that have not been held together by legal obligations between the members have sooner or later failed to keep intact, and have consequently failed to carry out the maleficent objects which they have endeavoured to attain. If this measure renders the course of the trust promoter more difficult, and precludes him from relying on those associated with the trusts to carry out their bargain, it will be justified, provided always that in endeavouring to meet an ev.il which is not very great in Australia, but which mav become greater, we do not create greater evils. We must always remember that it is of no use to apply a remedy if it is likely to prove worse than the disease. Consequently, in connexion with Part II. of the Bill, honorable members have to consider whether it threatens to produce evil results which would be worse than those now apprehended. If we can answer that question in the negative, the second point upon which we have to satisfy ourselves is whether the proposals are sufficient to secure the object aimed’ at. There is an intermediate course open to us. We may say that the Bill requires modification in order to avoid apparently mischievous results. I do not believe that Australian producers or consumers have suffered verv seriously from trusts up to the present time. To institute a comparison between the present state of affairs in Australia and the conditions that have existed at any time during the past twenty years in the United States is to bring into contrast a comparatively small evil and a very large one. At the same time, to use the figure of speech adopted by an honorable member opposite, it is desirable to catch the tiger and shackle him while he is young. If there is a combination in Australia which, in the words of the Bill, is in restraint of trade or commerce, or is operating to the detriment of the public, it is our duty to see that it ceases to have such effects. I think that the words “ to the detriment of the public,” which have been inserted in’ this measure, remove many of the objections that were urged, and with some reason, against the Sherman Act. A decision was given in certain freight cases in the United States that, whether the restraint was* reasonable or unreasonable, or wise or unwise, it was prohibited by the Sherman Act. That objection does not apply to the Bill now before us.
– How would the honorable and learned member .show detriment ?
– That question goes to the root, not only of this particular proposal, but of the whole of the proposals in this measure, or in any other measure of the same kind, because unless these combinations detrimentally affect others who are not members of them the State is not called upon to interfere.
– Every Board and jury will become a Tariff Commission.
– I do not think so. I think that detriment could be shown in this way : If it were found that a combination existed, and that the price of an article: which it supplied had increased without any increase having taken place in the cost of its material, or in other directions, no jury would have/ any difficulty in concluding that that particular combination was to the detriment of the public. After all, this Bill relates in effect to increases in price, or to the limitation of the markets in which one may purchase, owing to the formation of combines.
– It would not apply to a brewer’s tying lease. The Leer might not be increased in price,
– The Bill would not apply to a brewer’s tying lease, ever, in the absence of the words to which I have referred. If the brewer were in one State and the tied house in- another, such a lease might possibly come under the provisions of this Bill, if it could be shown that it was to the detriment of the public.
– How could that, be shown ?
– If worse beer were supplied at the same price-
– Let us assume that it is of the same Quality and price.
– If it were of the same quality arid price I do not know what the public would have to do with it from the point’ of view of the repression of monopolies. It might be attacked on other grounds, and in other directions. But this part of the Bill is headed “ Repres sion of monopolies,” and it deals with that particular form of evil. When I was drawn off the track by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, I was about to remark that we have to consider whether this clause will meet the evil that we fear, and also whether it will create evils which we have to apprehend. I am not prepared to say that this portion of the measure meets with my unqualified approval. Like the next part, it requires some amendment, but in my opinion these matters can be better discussed in Committee. In spite of the addition which makes this part of the Bill less wide than is the Sherman Act, in its terms and in its application, it is undoubtedly much wider than is that Act. There are those who will welcome that fact, and others who will view it with modified approval, because they do not know exactly how far it will carry them. I do not think that I should serve any useful purpose by discussing the clauses in ‘detail at the present moment. So far as I am concerned, I believe that we have reason to fear that monopolies - even if they do not exist now - may spring into existence in Australia at no distant date to the detriment of the public, and this Parliament in exercising the powers conferred upon it by the Constitution in respect of trade and commerce, is bound to see that it does regulate commerce in such a way that the public do not suffer. But to call such action socialistic is the wildest misuse of terms, and one would not need to take notice of it if the statement were not so persistently repeated in quarters where better knowledge should certainly prevail. In discussing Part III. of the Bill, which relates to proposals for the stoppage of dumping, one gets on to newer and much more difficult ground. I cannot agree with the leader of the Labour Party that Tariff issues, at any rate, cannot be raised in connexion with this part of the measure.
– It is simply buttressing the Tariffthat is all.
– I will not say that, although’ I think that, in some directions, perhaps, the present Tariff requires some buttressing.
– I think that it wants knocking down.
– I know tHat the honorable member does, but T am Hopeful enough to believe that my aspirations are more likely to be fulfilled than are his. I do not think that this Bill, or any measure except a Tariff, should’ be used for the purpose of buttressing duties in such a way as to produce results which could not be produced by the duties themselves. I acquit the Government of any intention to pass this legislation for the purpose of producing results to which it could not induce this House to subscribe upon straight-out Tariff proposals. But the Minister of Trade and Customs was very unfortunate - to say the very least of it- in the expressions he used in moving the second reading of this Bill, because if Tariff issues have been raised in connexion with it, he is the gentleman who is responsible for having raised them. In listening to his protectionist utterances upon that occasion, I certainly would have thought - had I not known otherwise - that he was speaking of proposals to increase duties in the Tariff. I do think that in the course of his remarks he did’ - intentionally or unintentionally - bring the question of the rates of the Tariff duties before the minds of honorable members. However, I do not believe that the Government have brought forward this part of the Bill for that purpose. I believe that dumping, as we understand it - that is, dumping at unremunerative prices for the express purpose of destroying local competitors, and thereafter dumping at highly remunerative prices - is threatened in Australia, and that such a practice as that cannot be met by ordinary Tariff remedies. But I do not believe that it will occur in many cases. So far as I know, it has not occurred at the present time. Perhaps the Minister will correct me, “if I am not as familiar with the facts of Australian commerce in this respect as he is. I would ask him whether there are any cases within his cognisance in which dumping has taken place to the substantial detriment of Australian industries?
– I think so, most certainly.
– That is information which honorable members are entitled to Have in their possession. If the evil be pressing, we are justified in taking more strenuous steps and incurring more risks to cope with it than would1 be the case if it were not urgent and pressing. Will the Minister be good enough to tell the House in what industries his experience leads him to suppose that dumping of the kind to which he objects is taking place?
– I shall reply to that question at the close of the debate.
– I think that free-traders and protectionists alike are entitled to know from the Minister in what industries dumping is taking place, in order that they may realize the character and extent of the evil which they are called upon to fight. The Minister should have given us that information in moving the second reading of the Bill, but he failed to do so. Every honorable member who has addressed himself to this subject should have had in his possession, through the Minister and through Hansard, all the information relating to monopolistic a;tion and to dumping that is available in the Department over which he presides. The honorable gentleman has not given us that data, and he has thereby placed us at a great disadvantage. Consequently, it is only fair that I should ask him what are the industries in which dumping is taking place, or in which his Department has reasonable grounds for apprehending dumping.
– He does not know.
– I presume that he is cognisant of cases, though he did not tell us what they were when he moved the second reading of the (Bill.
– Had I done so, I should not have had anything to say subsequently.
– In concluding the debate, it is the Minister’s business to sum up upon the arguments which have been advanced on the second reading of the measure. But it was his duty, in introducing the Bill, to give us all the information in his possession. I am just as earnest as he is in my desire to support a fair protectionist policy in this country, and I resent being placed at a disadvantage by his refusal to give information which it is his duty to supply.
– I am very glad to hear that the honorable member is a protectionist.
– He is the Minister’s warmest supporter upon this Bill.
– The Minister has said that there are cases in which dumping is taking place, or is threatened, but he refuses to tell us what they are.
– It would be disorderly to speak now.
– Then why is the honorable and learned member speaking? I venture to say that if a member of the Labour Party had asked the same question that I have asked, the Minister would have given an answer - and a. much more definite one - than he has condescended to give me.
– I said “ Yes, Mr. McCay.”
– I resent the refusal of the Minister to supply me with the information that I desire. The proposals in this part of the Bill, in effect, set out that if the Comptroller- General thinks that any Australian industry is likely to suffer from any importation that is likely to take place, he may so report to the Minister. That officer may call it dumping, and the Minister may then appoint a Board to determine if it is dumping. Should it be decided that dumping is taking place, and that Australian industries are likely to suffer therefrom, the Government may prohibit further importation of the goods in question. In this connexion, I should like the attention of the Attorney-General. I wish to know whether he thinks that the reference to injury to industry which is contained in Part III. of the measure would be satisfied - so far as proof is concerned - if it could be shown that one manufactory engaged in a particular industry was suffering from the importation which was taking, place,or whether it would be necessary to show that all the factories in that industry were suffering. Suppose that there are twenty factories making jam tins in Australia - I select jam tins because they have never so far been a live subject in this House, and have never given rise to keen party feeling - and that a foreign trust starts to send jam tins into Australia and secures so much of the market as to compel one of the smaller factories in Australia to stop work, would that be dumping within the meaning of this part of the Bill?
– On the facts recited, I should rather think not.
– The question is what would the Board say?
– I should not think that that would be an injury to the industry.
– That is what I wish to get at; and, having secured that answer from the Attorney-General, I direct the honorable and learned gentleman’s attention to the fact that the vagueness of this part of the Bill in that respect is undesirable. What is “injury to an industry”? We should in some way give the Board, or whatever the authority dealing with such matters is to be, some guide as to what is to be regarded as “ injury to an industry,” because otherwise I think that the Board would probably regard the instance I have given as one involving injury to the industry mentioned, since the action of the foreign trust would certainly have the effect of throwing Australian workers out of employment.
– The honorable and learned gentleman is now referring, not to injury to an industry, but to unfair competition. That is another matter, and is only one ingredient of what might be “ injury to an industry.”
– I know that it is only one ingredient, but I have mentioned that which I think relevant to the particular inquiry I am making.
– That was hardly the honorable and learned gentleman’s question.
– The object of the measure is the preservation of industries advantageous to the Commonwealth. In the instance I have quoted one-twentieth of such an industry is destroyedby means of importations, and the Board might say: “ We are afraid that the other nineteen-twentieths will be destroyed hereafter, and therefore we say that this kind of dumping is forbidden by the Bill,” and the Government might consequently prohibit importation altogether in that particular line.
– I understood the honorable and learned gentleman’s question to be practically - Is one factory synonymous with the whole industry?
– No; but if dumping or injury to an industry begins by so small an interference, I still say that there is a weapon here that can be used practically to prohibit almost all importations, and that would be an unfair thing for any one, however ardent a protectionist he might be, to propose
– The honorable and learned gentleman does not think that the Board would do such a thing?
– I think that under the Bill as it stands such a result might be possible.
– It is a possible, but not a probable, result.
– I am coming to that. I used the word “possible” deliberately. I agree with the Minister that it is a possible rather than a probable result, but the honorable gentleman knows that extreme cases very often, though not always, give the best test of the effects of legislation, because they
– Would importations likely to injure one factory not be likely to injure all engaged in the same business ?
– It is possible in some circumstances. I selected the example I gave as the simplest illustration, and not as necessarily the most likely example to occur. I say that this measure does make what I have suggested, a possibility, if not a probability. Though it is not probable that in its administration or operation such a result would follow, it is not desirable that our legislation should be passed in such a form as to leave such a result a possible one. There are two ways in which it can be avoided. The one is by amending the language of the Bill, and I think that some amendment of this part of the Bill will be required,and the other is to strengthen the tribunal or tribunals that will have to deal with these matters. The series of tribunals concerned, as the Bill stands at present, are first, the ComptrollerGeneral, second the Ministry, third the Hoard, though I admit that the Minister has agreed to amend that, and fourth the Cabinet.
– I was not in favour of a Board from the first.
– I am aware that the Minister proposes to amend that provision, but I am dealing with the Bill as it stands. I have not heard what amendment the Minister proposes, but if he proposes to substitute a jury for the Board I should prefer the Board.
– We could not have a jury to deal with these matters.
– I understood the Minister to say that it was the intention to bring a jury into this in some way.
– Then I misunderstood the honorable gentleman. I have mentioned the tribunal proposed in the measure as it stand’s. Probably the ComptrollerGeneral is the proper person to put this portion of the law in operation. He is the permanent’ head of the Department which has to deal with all these matters,
– And he has no fiscal opinions.
– He has no personal views in the matter, though he may have a personal unconscious bias. Then there is the Minister, and the matter must come before him, because as the political head of. the Department the Minister must take responsibility. Then it comes to the Board. I think that undoubtedly the proposal should be so far framed in the nature of a judicial proceeding as to enable it to be dealt with by a Justice of the High Court.
– So do I.
– I see no reason why the clause dealing with the matter should not be amended in such a way as to produce that result.
– It can be done when we get the Justice.
– If the appointment of an extra Justice be necessary, I would prefer to pay for an extra Justice to deal with these matters, rather than that they should be dealt with by a Board. I think the House generally is of the same opinion. The Attorney-General will agree with me that it would be wise to so alter the proceedings to be taken under this part of the Bill as to make them of a judicial character, and thus enable a judicial decision to be given upon them.
– We might make provision for a judicial decision by providing for a form of injunction.
– The question is, who is to act upon the decision ? It is clear that it might easily have the effect of a Tariff decision. Honorable members will recollect that last session the Minister of Trade and Customs introduced a Bill to amend division 6a of the Tariff, which, after the amendments to which the honorable gentleman agreed had been made in it, left matters practically as they werebefore the measure was introduced.
– That is not so.
– In my opinion it is. The honorable gentleman brought in a proposal to enable division 6a of the Tariff to be made operative after a decision of the GovernorGeneral in Council. That was the effective alteration proposed, but that was struck out, and we went back to the provision then in the Tariff, that division 6a could only be brought into operation by a resolution of the two Houses. The honorable gentleman admitted, in answer to the honorable member for Bland I think it was - it usually is–
– The honorable and learned gentleman appears to be very jealous of the honorable member for Bland.
– Not in the least, but I confess that I am a little jealous that the honorable member for Bland should be able to get answers from the Minister when I cannot. I think the humblest member of the House is just as much entitled to an answer from the Minister on a relevant matter as is the most important member.
– Still, the honorable and learned gentleman will admit that there is a difference.
– There is, I admit, a great deal of difference.
– If the honorable and learned gentleman will give the Minister some votes, he will quickly get some information.
– I am not bargaining at present in that way. I think that the measure to which the Minister eventually agreed last session carried us back to the provision which then existed - that alterations in division 6a of the Tariff should not be brought into, operation until both Houses had passed a resolution. I say that under this part of this Bill it is highly possible, and even reasonably probable, that results just as important as an alteration of a duty in the Tariff mayfollow, and if this part of this Bill is to be applied in its present form, then, after a decision that dumping is going on has been arrived at by a judicial tribunal, it ought to be by a resolution of both Houses of this Parliament that such a decision should be put into operation. If the increase or diminution of a duty by 1 per cent, is a power which Parliament will not part with, surely the imposition of prohibition, which is the imposition of a duty of any percentage one pleases, should in some way be an act of Parliament, and not an administrative act? Otherwise, I say most unhesitatingly that there is a temptation to persons interested to endeavour to corrupt an honest Minister, and that is something to which no Minister, however honest and incorruptible, should be exposed. That is a danger we do not desire to create, and it is the kind of danger which does lead to wrong-doing. Personally , I may say that I think the Canadian system of dealing with dumping, or threatened dumping, is safer and more reliable than is this, but I shall not quarrel with the Bill on that account.
– That is the raising of duties.
– Yes, the raising of the duty on a particular article which is below a fair market price. There are details of this Bill with which I do not at all agree. I am dealing now only with general principles, and I do not wish it to be understood that because I am not criticising particular clauses I agree with everything in the Bill as it stands. I think that the Canadian system which enables the State to get the benefit by means of the duty to the extent of the difference between the dumping price and the fair market price is a very wholesome corrective which would operate very satisfactorily, and it is free from the dangers that are to be found in this measure. If dumping were really taking place, the dumping importers would at once raise their price to the fair market price, as they would be making no profits out of their transactions. The Canadian system properly worked operates almost automatically, and gives no encouragement to any one to use the measure as a means of practically raising the Tariff. As honorable members are aware, there are some articles included in the Tariff the duties on which oughtto be raised, but, I think that they should be raisedby putting the necessary alterations plainly in the Customs Tariff Act, and I do not desire thatthey should be dealt with under this measure, as they might be, if passed in its present form. There is much else that I should like to say, but I am very anxious to see the debate on this measure and others confined within reasonable limits. I am very anxious to assist the Government to get on with business, and I am anxious, for example, to see the Tariff Commission’s reports, and what the Government propose to do with them. I shall consequently now terminatemy remarks,only summarizing my position by saying that I do not believe that the evils threatening at the present time are great, although they may be sufficient to justify us in using reasonable means to prevent them from growing great ; that Part II. of the Bill, with some amendments, cannot reasonably- be quarrelled with by any one who believes as I do that the State is justified in regulating industry; that Part III. of the Bill aims at a danger which I do not think is an actual danger to any great extent, so much as an apprehended danger; that it contains within its provisions elements of danger in the remedy which may be equal to the danger in the disease; that it does lend itself to a marked extent to heated partisanship, and that I do commend seriously to the consideration of the Government the adoption of some such method as the Canadian method of dealing with dumping as a substitute for the method proposed in Part III.
– That could not be done in this Bill.
– Perhaps not ; but the fact that it cannot be done in this Bill is no real objection to whatI suggest. If that be the proper thing to do, let us do it, if not in this Bill then in some other Bill. Finally, I wish to say that if the Government will not do that, as I think they should, I hope they will give to prohibitions of importations at least the samedignity that is given to limitations of importations by the imposition of Tariff duties, and that, just as this Parliament will not allow out of its control an alteration of Tariff duties, so it should not allow to pass from its control the entire prohibition of imports. To say that the goods would be delayed in the meantime is to say nothing, because, under the Bill as it stands, good’s would have to be delayed, or distributed only under conditions. And in a matter of this’ kind, which amounts to a general prohibition, - not merely a prohibition of any imports at the moment on the water, but a prohibition of imports until the prohibition is removed - which might be a prohibition lasting for ever, because under this measure the mere fact that a commercial trust sends goods to Australia is evidence in itself of unfair competition and dumping
– No, no.
– I shall be prepared to deal with that more fully in Committee.
– What would the honorable and learned gentleman do if Parliament were not in session?
– We should have to wait, that is all ; and I remind the honorable gentleman that goods can be held up under the Bill as it stands. The inquiry by a Board may take a long time, and it should not be forgotten that it is a serious thing to prohibit altogether the imports of any particular line of goods. It is at least of as great importance as would be the placing of a duty on that line of goods, and I do not desire that it should be said “that this part of this measure might be used for party or corrupt purposes.
– The honorable and learned gentleman might trust Ministers a little more than he does.
– Even Ministers are human, and inother countries they have not proved themselves superior to the frailties of humanity. I admit that in Australia we have a record which, despite an occasional blot, is clean enough to make any man proud. I do not suppose or believe that that record will not be maintained, but I do not approve of proposals of this kind, which make such risks as I have indicated possible. While approving of the two objects . which the Government desires to achieve, I urge upon them some consideration of what I think are the fair remarks which I have made, in no hostility to the measure, but with an honest desire for its improvement, that it may be made reasonably operative, and that its operation may be attended by no unnecessary evils or risks.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Deakin) adjourned until after the consideration of the motion for the election of a Chairman of Committees.
Sitting suspended from 6.35 to 7.35 p.m.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) agreed to -
That the House do now proceed to the election of a Chairman of Committees.
That, in the event of more than two members being proposed for the position, the election shall be by open and exhaustive ballot, and that so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the House adopting such course.
.- I move -
That the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Charles McDonald) be appointed Chairman of Committees of this House.
This is not a new House, and as honorable members are therefore well acquainted with each other, it is not necessary to make a long speech in support of this motion. The honorable member for Kennedy has been a Temporary Chairman of Committees throughout this and the last Parliament, has had a very long membership of the Standing Orders Committee, and possesses an acquaintance with the Standing1 Orders and rules of procedure such as most of us may envy, but few of us can equal. I think that there can beno doubt of his general fitness for the position of Chairman of Committees, and hiscourteousness and impartiality are unquestioned. I therefore propose him as the most suitable member we can select as Chairman.
.-I move -
That the words “ Kennedy (Mr. Charles McDonald) “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ Laanecoorie (Mr. Charles Carty Salmon).”
I offer no excuse for this amendment. The honorable member for Laanecoorie was Chairman of Committees during the last two sessions, and proved himself a most able and conscientious officer. He showed that he possesses a close and keen knowledge of the Constitution Act, and is also well versed in the Standing Orders and rules of procedure. I feel that, no matter what the choice of the House may be, either candidate will give satisfaction.
– I have very much pleasure in supporting the amendment. The honorable member for Laanecoorie occupied the chair in Committee during the last two sessions with very marked success, and has shown himself a ready, capable, conscientious, and impartial man, being well acquainted with the forms of the House, the Standing Orders, and the Constitution. On the occasions when he had the privilege of occupying your seat, Mr. Speaker, during your compulsory absence, he filled the position with dignity, and earned the respect of all. In my opinion, it is a mistake to make this election a sessional matter. I. think that the Standing Orders might well be altered so that the Chairman chosen at the beginning of the Parliament would sit during the life-time of that Parliament, and I trust that that change will be made before the occasion for another election comes round, because it seems a pity to break the continuity of the occupancy of the office.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
– I congratulate the honorable member for Kennedy upon his election to the highly honorable position of Chairman of Committees. Those who cast their votes in favour of the amendment did so, as we are all aware, with no personal reflection on his qualifications for the post, and through no want of confidence in him. We know the manner in which he has discharged the duties of a Temporary Chairman, and entertain no doubt as to the efficiency which he will display in connexion with the obligations he is about to accept. May I be permitted to add, without detracting from what I have said, that the fact that this House has been called upon on three separate occasions to elect a Chairman of Committees is one to which we might well give our serious consideration. A comparison of our system with that which obtains in the other Chamber should lead us to prefer the latter. It will also be understood, even without any statement to that effect, that the House has in no way lost its respect for and confidence in the honorable member’s predecessor in office. He occupied the chair during extremely trying times, and under circumstances whichplaced the greatest strain both upon his knowledge of parliamentary practice and his resolute courage in doing his duty. We can assure the honorable member that the choice of another to act as Chairman during the last session of this Parliament has been in no degree due to any failure on his part to uphold the highest traditions of the post he admirably filled.
.- I desire to thank honorable members for having elected me to the position of Chairman of Committees. I can assure them that I fully appreciate the high . honour they have conferred upon me. I do not take it amiss that some honorable members should have voted against me. Every honorable member has the right to vote according to his convictions, and it is not for me, or any one else, to cavil at what he may do. I assume that every honorable member votes with a clear conscience, and with the conviction that he is doing the right thing. I hope that, in discharging the duties of my office, I shall, so far as my abilities will permit, hold the scales of justice evenly between all parties.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– I desire to congratulate the honorable member for Kennedy upon having been chosen to fill the very responsible position of Chairman of Committees. I can assure him that if at any time Ican be of the slightest assistance I shall be pleased to place my services at his disposal. I know that the position is not always an easy one to fill, but, fortunately for the honorable member, he will have a very much more complete set of Standing Orders to work under than I. had during my term of office. I am sure the honorable member for Kennedy will realize all that is expected of him. I heartily thank honorable members who have shown by their votes that they still repose in me that confidence which I feel that I have not in any way forfeited. I recognise that honorable members have a perfect right to vote in these matters as their consciences dictate. I feel very deeply indebted to those honorable members on the other side of the Chamber who have been good enough to support me. In view of their standing in the ‘House and in the country, their action will tend to refute any misrepresentations that may follow upon the vote to-night. With regard to those who decided that they could no longer support me for the position, I recognise that they have given effect to the threat which their leader saw fit to utter to me during last session. I offer them my most profound commiseration.
Debate resumed (vide page 473).
– - I congratulate the Minister of Trade and Customs upon having chosen a very high-sounding title for the Bill. “A Bill for the preservation of Australian industries, and for the repression of destructive monopolies” sounds very well, and, judged by its title alone, the Bill ought to receive abundant support. The honorable member for Bland branded honorable members on this side of the House as bogus anti-Socialists. I would suggest to the leader of the Opposition that he might take his cue from the Minister of Trade and Customs, and change the name of the party. He might call it “A party for the preservation of the individual rights and liberties of the people of the Commonwealth, and for the repression of destructive land-tax legislation.” If that highsounding title were adopted, we should no doubt be able to enrol many more members under our banner. After all, ‘however, perhaps the shorter name we now have is the better one, and we shall continue to fight under it. The Minister ofTrade and Customs is an ardent advocate of protection. He is the high priest of that fiscal cult. Although a representative of New South Wales, which is essentially a free-trade State, no more pronounced protectionist could be found in Victoria. In season and out of season he has commended protection as a remedy for all evils. Now, however, he seems to have found that his invariable panacea is deficient, and hence he has deemed it necessary to introduce a measure which practically embodies the principle of prohibition. I think that the appeal made by the honorable member for Perth should have received the most serious consideration of the Government. The Tariff Commission have been engaged during the last two years in inquiring into the effect of foreign competition upon local industries. They have taken an immense volume of evidence from representatives of nearly every industry that could be affected by the Tariff, and I think that we were entitled to have their report placed before us before being called upon to deal with this measure. The Tariff Commission have done good work, and if we had had their report before us we should have been better able to judge how far the Tariff had proved efficient to protect our native industries. The Bill has been introduced to enable the Minister to combat the International Harvester Company and the Massey-Harris Company, whose importations are said to be injuriously affecting our colonial manufacturers.
– The Minister denies that.
– He does not deny it. Among the combines with which it was desired to deal, he mentions the International Harvester Company, the Massey-Harris Company, and the Colonial Sugar Refining Company.
– I also mentioned the shipping combine.
– There are a number of other trusts and combines which the Minister did not mention.
– What about the brewers’ combine ?
– I intend to ask the Minister whether he intends to deal with the tiedhouse question. Two sessions ago the AttorneyGeneral could not sleep owing to his concern for the welfare of our industries, which, he said, were being ruined owing to the operation of the Tariff. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports also repeatedly directed attention to the extent to which our industries were languishing in consequence of the ineffectiveness of the Tariff to protect them. They agitated for the appointment of the Tariff Commission, and yet they are willing to deal with this measure whilst honorable members are completely in the dark as to the result of the inquiries of the Commission.
– What has this to do with the Tariff?
– It has everything to’ do with the Tariff. The International Harvester Company and the Massey-Harris Company, with which it is proposed to deal under this measure, are trading here legitimately.
The prices they charge to our farmers are the same as those which rule at their factories in the United States and Canada respectively. They do not sell at a loss, but at a profit. Both companies were prepared to submit their books for examination by the Tariff Commission, in order to prove that they are charging fair prices, provided that Australian manufacturers of agricultural implements were willing to adopt the same course. At present the Sunshine Harvester Company have an advantage over the importers of harvesters to the extent of £20 per machine.
– Who pays that amount ?
– The farmer has to pay it. The Minister took credit to himself for having broken up the harvester ring. I think that that ring was broken when Mr. McKay gave information that the Massey-Harris Company were invoicing their harvesters at prices lower than they charged at their works. If the Minister can break up rings, as he claims, why should it be necessary to introduce this measure? The Minister also’ mentioned the case of the Standard Oil Company. That may be a destructive monopoly in the United States, ‘but it cannot be contended that it has operated to the detriment of. the people here. The company control the whole of the Australian market, and yet they have not raised the price of kerosene. They sell their product at about 7s. per case, ex warehouse, and it cannot be pretended that “their action has proved injurious to any of our industries. The Minister says that a company has been formed, with a capital of ^600,000 or ^700,000, and that it has expended £80,000 in developing the kerosene shale product in New South Wales. All honour to a company that will do so. They are doing this despite the fact that no duty is being levied upon kerosene at the present time. But there is nothing to prevent that company - assuming that this Bill be passed in its present form - from coming to the Minister and saying, “ The Standard Oil Trust is ruining our industry,” and from endeavouring to make out a case for prohibiting the importation of kerosene from abroad. If that were done, the Australian consumer would probably be unable to purchase kerosene for less than double its present price. That is not a pleasant prospect. In moving the second reading of the Bill, the Minister of Trade and Customs said’ that the reason he suspected a design on the part of the Inter- national Harvester Company and the MasseyHarris Company to deprive the Sunshine Company of their trade in the manufacture of harvesters, was to be found in a speech which had been delivered by a Mrt Coxton at Numurkah, in which that gentleman ‘had declared that the two firstnamed companies were determined to secure the trade, adding that if one agent was not enough to place in a town, they would appoint two, and that if two were not sufficient, they would appoint three. The Minister may believe such statements, but I am sure that any person who is familiar with business methods will treat them very lightly. W-hy, every commercial traveller, when he interviews a customer, almost invariably assures him that lie represents the best house, that the goods which he sells are the best, and1 that his firm are able to knock out everybody else. I pay very little attention to such observations. Do we not all know the methods which are pursued by business houses to advertise themselves? Only the other day I noticed a pictoral advertisement upon a railway hoarding setting forth (hat Harper’s oatmeal was the best obtainable. Underneath were the words, “ We all eat it” That statement is scarcely correct, but we know that it is merely intended as a trade advertisement. Quite recently the Lithgow Iron Works entered into a contract with the New South Wales Government for the manufacture of pig-iron and steel rails. That contract was undertaken with the full knowledge of existing conditions. But if this measure be passed, the day may speedily come when that company will be in a position to stop the operations of the great steel trust of America, so far as Australia is concerned. I hold that that is not right. I am in favour of preventing any person from introducing into the Commonwealth good’s which he intends to dispose of at less than a proper selling price, but I am not in favour of preventing him from selling them at a reasonable price. The Minister of Trade and Customs has declared that the cane-growers in Australia who have spoken, to him upon the subject, have affirmed that they do not receive a proper return for their cane from the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. When I asked him whether the Board which he would appoint under this Bill would be able to deal with that complaint his reply was “ No, it is a matter for arrangement between the growers and the Colonial Sugar Refining! Company.” I have nothing to say against that company, except that they conduct their business upon true commercial lines. They sell their sugar at so low a price that nobody can take their market from them, and at the same time they exact the last farthing from the consumer. They enjoy the benefit of a duty of £6 per ton upon imported sugar, but I understand that a great deal of the protection which they are thus afforded goes to the cane-growers. The company came to the relief of the sugar industry in its earlydays when it was in a languishing condition, and I am sure that the success of the industry is very largely due to their operations. But the time Kas now arrived when we should consider whether this company should always control that industry in Australia. I believe that the proper way to deal with this question is by means of cooperation. I do not know whether the Minister has come to the conclusion that we cannot deal effectively with outside monopolies which are alleged to be endangering our own industries, by means of our Tariff. This afternoon the honorable gentleman was asked to mention one case of dumping in which an Australian industry had been interfered with, but his reply was that he was withholding the information until the close of the debate. I contend that he should have placed it before honorable members at the earliest possible moment. At any rate, he might have supplied it when he was asked to do so by the honorable and learned member for Corinella. I do not know whether this Bill is necessary in order to give effect to the policy of “Australia for the Australians,” upon which the Government intend going to the country. To my mind it looks more like a measure which is designed to set apart Australia for the manufacturers. The best way to develop the Commonwealth is not by bolstering up artificial industries - not by excluding free competition - but by fostering a spirit of self reliance amongst our people. -We want to extend our internal and external trade. All the trusts in the world cannot interfere with our natural industries. No trust can kill our butter, coal, wheat, or timber industries. We fight the trusts, so far as those products are concerned, in the markets of the world, and we are able to hold our own. There is one gigantic combine in Australia to which I find that no allusion has yet been made. Only the other day I noticed that the Victorian brewing companies have recentlyformed a combine. Thev have closed two or three breweries, and intend to control the whole of the trade in Victoria.
– They have not closed them ; the combine has not yet come off.
– We know that half the licensed houses in Melbourne are tied to these breweries. That, I take it, would constitute a restraint of trade under this Bill. Notwithstanding that the publicans are the slaves of the brewers, the Government do not propose to deal with the brewing combine. If they do, they have kept very quiet about the matter. The brewing combine is the most gigantic trust in Australia to-day, and it is the one which most injuriously affects the character of our people. Only the other day we discussed the question of whether Dr. Danysz should be permitted to conduct experiments with the microbes which he has introduced into Australia for the destruction of rabbits, and some persons were under the impression that we had no right to interfere with the Government of New South Wales in regard to such a matter. But we had a higher duty to discharge than had the Government of that State, because we had to protect the lives of the people of Australia. For the same reason we should not hesitate to deal with the brewing combine. Then there is the gambling evil which exists in Tasmania, to which we might profitably devote our attention. No matter what the State rights of Tasmania may be, we should have no compunction in stamping out that evil.
– Does the honorable member propose to deal with it in this Bill?
– It is in the hands of a combine, and I hope we shall be able to deal with it under this Bill. I feel sure that the honorable member for Gwydir will give his assistance, because I know that he does not approve of gambling in any way. I do not believe that this measure will do all that the Government expect from it. I do not wish to oppose its second reading, because if it will not do much good, it may not do much harm. I point to the fact that the present Government are responsible for a number of measures which have remained inoperative. The leaves of the Arbitration Act are still uncut, and the Minister of Trade and Customs has! issued regulation’s under the Commerce Act which he is not able to manage. The honorable gentleman has drafted regulations which he knows he cannot work.
I defy him to carry out those regulations. It is impossible, for instance, for the honorable gentleman to insist that a stamp shall be put upon every box of butter.
– After this’ speech we will have to stamp them.
– The Minister is not able to do it, and he knows that. How can he stamp every box in a shipment of thousands of tons?
– Will the honorable member debate the Bill?
– I am trying to show that the Minister is unable to give effect to the Commerce Act, and that it is very likely that this measure will remain similarly inoperative. I consider that this Bill should be held over until we have the reports of the Tariff Commission, when we shall be in a position to say in what way the Tariff fails to do what is expected of it. I am personally in favour of preventing any destructive monopolies, whether in the hands of trusts, combines, or individuals, and also any dumping of manufactured goods for the purpose of destroying legitimate industries; but I still hold that the best way in which to develop our country is to extend our external, as well as our internal, trade. We ought not, bylegislation, to endeavour to make everything easy forour people. They should not be given special concessions, but should be prepared to face the competition of the world as the people of Englanddid, when they established their colonial possessions, and gave us a Constitution under which we mightapply to them the , same Tariff that we apply to the foreigner.
– They could not help it. Mr. LEE. - They might have insisted, as France did, in connexion with New Caledonia, on provisions giving them a preference, and as the United States has done in dealing with Hawaii.
– When they tried it on they lost America.
– That was something altogether different. They lost Americabyan attempt to impose taxation without representation. England gave us a Constitution under which we might put up barriers against her. She did not ask us for any preference, because she is prepared to meet every comer on equal terms. If we wish to have a vigorous nation here in Australia we must develop habits of self-reliance in our people. But the Minister of Trade and Customs has a sympathetic as well as a protectionist ear, and listens to every cry of discontent, and every statement of dimcult industrial conditions. The honorable gentleman has always, hitherto, been prepared to advocate protection, but in this case he has thrown protection to the winds, and has gone in for prohibition.
– I do not propose to discuss the details of this measure, nor yet to make an academic speech such as we have listened to in the debate upon it. I view the measure with somewhat mixed feelings. While I have every sympathy with the object at which it aims, I certainly have very considerable misgivings as to whether it will fulfil that object, and whether its operations may not be as hurtful to the industries’ of this country as thev can possibly be beneficial. I do not believe there are honorable members of any section in this House who do not desire to do their verv best to encourage the industries of Australia in every possible way.
– Only some go a very funny way about it.
– “The industries of Australia “ is a very wide expression. They do not consist merely of those carried on bv centralized workmen, who are able to use the power which concentration in cities gives them, perhaps to the detriment of the more important section of the people of the Commonwealth, who have to keep them. In debating a measure such as this we have to look, not first of all to what effect it is. going to have upon the denizens of cities and the workmen there, but to the effect it will have upon the primary industries of the country, because it is to the primary industries of this country that we must look for the prosperity of Australia. I am quite aware that there are honorable members who consider those industries of very little account. Because the farmers are not always in evidence, are not gathered in great numbers to make their wants known bv great clamour, and to buttonhole politicians, they do not care very much what happens to them.
– Is there any section of the community that has had more help than have the farmers ?
– This is a measure of a very far-reaching character. It touches all sections of the community, and its incidence is not merely local, Federal, or wen Imperial, but is also international. It is indeed very hard to say what its effect will be when it is brought into active operation.
I may be unduly cautious, and I certainly like to know where I am going to set my foot before I raise it, but I say that we have not reached a stage of industrial development in this country that calls for the passage of such a measure. The measure is new, and, as legislation is entirely experimental, I do not say that it is bad on that account, nor do I say that we should always follow in the beaten track of the legislation of other countries. But I say that in dealing with a far-reaching measure such as this it would be well to pause and to refrain from going at the present time the full length here proposed. I claim that our industrial conditions do not demand this measure at present. Though that may be admitted by some honorable members, they hold that we should anticipate the demand of some later day. When that necessity arises it will be time enough to pass a measure of this kind. Other countries have had to deal with the evils which have been complained of, which the Bill is intended’ to remove; but they have dealt with them differently from the manner proposed, and I think that it would be wise for us to follow their example, and to tread the known rather than the unknown path, making haste slowly. We do not know how the Bill, if passed into law, would affect our present conditions, and it is impossible to know how it would affect future conditions. It does not seem to me to provide a scientific method of dealing with our troubles. I would rather have the importation of harvesters prohibited altogether, if that were found necessary, and* require a guarantee that similar implements would be supplied to the people of this country by the local manufacturers at fair and reasonable prices, than pass the Bill as it stands. It is ‘an undoubted fact that the competition of imported harvesters with the locally-manufactured article has brought about the introduction of this measure. Although we have heard of other cases of alleged unfair competition, that is the only one which has been specifically mentioned’. Had the harvester industry possessed less influence, this measure would not have been introduced. The wildest statements have been made bv those who have spoken on the two sides of the question, and it is therefore difficult to arrive at the truth ; but the Government are insisting that we shall deal with it with our eyes blindfolded, by pushing the Bill forward’ when, by waiting a very little time, we could get the evidence and the report of the Tariff Commission on the subject, and know the actual facts. Although that Commission has been referred to slightingly, no other Commission in Australia has worked harder or more honestly, and, while its members have not received much thanks for their exertions, I am satisfied that their report will be of value. When a complaint was made to the late lamented Mr. Seddon about the excessive importations of agricultural machinery and implements into New Zealand’, he refused to give the local manufacturers the high protective duties for’ which they asked, because he saw that such a step would injure the interests of the agricultural classes. Changes are continually being made in agricultural machinery, and agricultural implements wear out very quickly, so that the farmer is put to a large expenditure in maintenance, in addition to a primary expenditure of from ,£250 to ^300 in providing himself in the first instance with the requirements for the working of a farm of 300 or 400 acres. Mr. Seddon would not make the farmers of New Zealand the prey of either outside trusts or inside monopolies, and therefore, while giving the local manufacturers fair play, arranged that “the users of implements and machinery should be allowed to buy them at fair prices. Those who have had to do with the passing of many Tariffs, and who were in politics when the high Victorian duties were in force, know that neither outside trusts nor inside monopolies show any consideration for the users and consumers of what they have to sell, but squeeze buyers as much as they can. Mr. Seddon provided that when the local market was in danger of being swamped’, and a complaint to that effect was made by two or. more manufacturers., the matter should be submitted by the Commissioner of Customs to a Board, and a statement was compiled giving the current price of each kind’ of implement at the time of the passing of the Act. The Board was known as the Agricultural Implement Inquiry Board, and consisted of the President of the Arbitration Court, the President of the Farmers’ Union, the President of the Industrial Association of Canterbury, a nominee of the Trades and Labour Council, and a nominee of the Agricultural and Pastoral Association,, so that all parties concerned were represented. If it was proved to the satisfaction of the Boar.d that prices had been reduced by 20 per cent, as a conse- quence of the operations of importers, he granted a bonus of 33 per cent, to the local makers, and allowed them to import their manufacturing requirements duty free. That seemed to me a much more scientific way of dealing with this matter than that proposed in the Bill. Competition was not prevented, but it was regulated so that the local manufacturers would not be injured, while the farmers! could’ still get their implements at reasonable prices. Without competition, makers anywhere will get careless and slipshod in their work. They will not keep their methods and their machinery up’ to date, and will do all they can to increase prices. But under Mr. Seddon’s legislation prices could not be increased, because there was always the competition of the foreign manufacturers!, although it was not allowed to injure the local manufacturers. Mr. Seddon has been claimed as a labour representative; but, although he had the support of the Labour Party, he never ceased to recognise that the productions of the land are the basis of national prosperity. We have yet to fully recognise that in Australia. Moreover, the problems which we have to meet in cultivating the land are much more difficult and complex than are those of New Zealand, where, in many places, there is an average rainfall of 40- inches’, and, with decent farming, crops are assured. A hundred miles from the coast of Australia, however, the rainfall is as low as 20 inches, and gradually decreases as one goes further inland, until it becomes next to nothing. In consequence of the scarcity of coastal land, farmers have had to go back into these arid regions and till them as best they may. The arid regions of America comprise 300,000,000 acres, and for years were looked upon as country of which nothing could be made. But within the last four or five years it has been found, as the result of the experiments of scientists and experts, that, with improved methods of cultivation, and the use of imported drought-resisting seeds, fair crops can be got from that country, and a good living made on it. Still, it’s cultivation requires special implements and machinery, the secret of success there being constant tilling. Moreover, it is a dry land, where the feeding of horses and other animals is very expensive, and therefore the greatest ingenuity has been exercised to dispense with the labour of domestic animals. The American Department of
Agriculture has1 a Bureau of Rural Engineering which has devoted itself to the perfecting of implements and machinery for working this country.
– More Socialism?
– That is not Socialism, but education. The honorable member is so pushed for arguments in support of Socialism that he will seize upon everything. In Amenca the efforts of Government are directed, not to giving money to the people, but to educating them in every direction, whether in the ordinary primary and intermediate schools, and in the universities, or in the technical schools. On some of the farms engines are being used which make .gas from brown coal or oil, and are constructed to feed themselves automatically, whilst last year a Bill was passed permitting farmers to grow sugar-beet and potatoes, and from them to make alcohol, which, when denatured, they can use as fuel for their machinery without payment of excise duty. But if the Bill which we have before us is passed into law and strictly enforced, the importation of such machinery and appliances as they are now inventing in America may be prohibited, as interfering with local production. Surely the House will not permit Australian farmers to be deprived of the advantages to be derived from the researches of the scientists! and the ingenuity of the inventors in other parts of the world ? The . United States has been held up as a shocking example of a country under the thraldom of trusts, and, no doubt, for some years past, the American trusts have been an overruling, arrogant power, looking simply to their own interests, and riding roughshod over the community. But they have their good side. America would not be where she stands industrially had it not been for the operations of these trusts. They ran railroad’s through deserts in which they had large grants of land, and employed nil the resources of wealth, enterprise, and ingenuity to develop the country. These trusts became very powerful and very rich, and they worked things to suit their own ends, but it was not until many years afterwards that any steps were taken to keep them in check or curtail their operations. Our conditions here are quite different. There is no possibility of a trust producing the same evils that have arisen in America. The trusts in the United States of America are able to keep their grip on the country because they control the means of transportation by land and sea. Great trusts own the railways and the shipping, and they work in conjunction with each other. They are able to bring over immigrants by hundreds of thousands, and to settle them upon the land, thus retaining their grip of the whole community, and controlling production, trade, and labour. There is no gainsaying that they have worked great harm, but similar results are not likely to be brought about here, because the railways are owned by the State, and no private monopoly of transportation can exist. When I was in America last year, I paid some attention to this matter. I asked some of the people why they put up with the trusts, and they replied that they had become used to them. Thev had been brought) to regard the condition of affairs as normal, and did not think it necessary to take any steps to combat the combines. One of the largest trusts - the meat trust - operates in this way : It will send a representative into a village or town and invite the local butcher to join the trust, and thus increase his opportunities for making money. The local tradesman may say, “ No, I buy my sheep or cattle from the neighbouring farmers, and I shall have nothing to do with you.” The first thing the trust does is to start a shop, and, by selling meat at 1 or 2 cents per lb. below the prices asked by the other tradesman, gradually undermines his trade. The trust then sends its agent to the farmers, and offers to buy their stock. The farmers may say that they have been dealing with the local butchers for many years, and prefer to go on supplying them. The trust then says, “ Very well, we shall see what will happen to you.” As the trade of the local butchers falls away, they can no longer take the farmers’ stock. The farmers then have to send their stock to the railways, which refuse to carry it. Eventually both the farmers and the butchers have to knuckle down to the trust. The great power wielded by the trusts is exercised owing to their control of the means of transportation. They could not operate upon similar lines in the Commonwealth. Another evil influence is the enormous power wielded by the trades unions. These organizations have assumed gigantic proportions, owing, in the first instance, to the overbearing disposition of the trusts. The middle classes of the community, who do not belong to either the trusts or to the trade unions, are gradually being ground between the upper and the nether millstone. The Attorney-General, in his very able and clear address last night, did not appear to ‘be on very sound ground when he stated that we could deal with trusts operating within a single State. He seemed’ to put that view forward with some hesitation, but was perfectly sure of his footing when he told us that the Commonwealth had authority to deal with trusts whose operations extended over more than one State. It is of no use for us to curb the operations of outside monopolies, if internal monopolies are to be allowed to carry on without hindrance. The position appears to me to be an anomalous one. The AttorneyGeneral stated with perfect clearness that we could not interfere with an individual monopolist. Therefore, whilst two persons joined in a monopoly could be dealt with, they could dissolve partnership, and, by carrying on operations separately, place themselves beyond the pale of the law. The prohibition of importations might lead to undesirable results, because limitation is the very essence of monopoly. This matter presents itself in another aspect. Last year we heard a great deal about Imperial reciprocity. It was suggested that we should enter into an arrangement for a mutually beneficial interchange of goods between Australia and the old country. The late Mr. Seddon, when he acceded to the wishes of the manufacturers of New Zealand, provided not only for their protection, but also for preference to British manufacturers. It seems to me that if any country outside Australia will suffer as the result of this legislation, it will not be the United States, in which labour is highly paid, but Great Britain, where wages are lower, the hours of work longer, and the conditions of labour generally are far below our standard. In America high wages are paid, perfect methods of working are adopted, and the very best plants are employed. I had the privilege of inspecting the Deering implement factory, and I was amazed at the splendid manner in which the work was marshalled. Every man was employed on piece-work, and was working very hard.
– I suppose they were going like lightning.
– Yes, they were hustling, a good deal. The honorable member and his friends do not like that kind of thing. They prefer to take it easy. It is important for us to consider how the proposed legislation would affect our relations with the old country. I should like to know how the Treasurer, who has recently been to England, and who, while there, worthily upheld Australian interests, views this proposal. How can he vote for such a measure when he must know that, if its provisions are strictly carried into effect, British manufacturers will be excluded from our markets. The cry “ Australia for the Australians “ seems to me to be an unworthy one. It would be a worthy one if we extended it as the Prime Minister once, did, but does no longer, to “ Australia for the Australians, and for the Empire.” The cries “America for the Americans” and “ Germany for the Germans “ are all right. Those are self-contained countries, whereas we are merely the offshoot of a great Empire. The spirit in which the cry “ Australia for the Australians “ is sometimes uttered seems to me to savour very much of disloyalty. It is to be noted that the anti-trust legislation in the United States did not originate in the national Parliament. It sprang from the States, and for many years no attempt was made by the national Parliament to deal with monopolies and trusts. The first efforts at legislation in this direction were directed not so much at commerce as at transportation. The subject was a very difficult one, because the trusts, owing to their great wealth, were able to command the State Parliaments, and also a majority in the national Congress. They were thus able to burke discussion and prevent anything from being done to checkmate them.
– Does not the honorable member think it would be wise for us to prevent any such conditions from arising here ?
– No such condition of affairs is likely to arise here, and we must be careful that the remedy does not prove worse than the disease. Anti-trust legislation has been passed in twenty-two States. The first Act was passed in Georgia in 1877. No further measures were brought forward in any of the States until 1889, when thirteen States passed anti-trust laws. In 1890 five additional States entered upon antitrust legislation, and in 189 1 two others did the same thing. The first Federal Act was passed in the latter year. If we are to check trusts and combines, the Federal and the State Parliaments must work hand in hand. Otherwise the Federal authorities will find themselves powerless to deal with certain combinations operating in a single State to the detriment of the public. It is provided in the Bill that competition shall be regarded as unfair if it will tend to lower the standard of wages here. I should like to know who is going to fix the standard of wages. Are we to adopt the standard of the Trades Hall, or are we to appoint a Board which will fix a fair wage? Something should be done to define the conditions of labour that are to be maintained, and also to fix the prices to be charged for the goods made by our own people. I believe that it would be very much better to effect the object which Ministers have in view by imposing fair duties, instead of leaving the matter to be dealt with by an individual, or a Board, whose decisions might be beyond control, and might work great harm to the community. If we are to make any progress as an industrial community, we must keep our machinery and plant thoroughly up-to-date. If we rely entirely upon our own people in this regard, they will notprove equal to the situation. Themajority of the people of Australia are protectionists, but, alt the same time, are not in favour of very high duties. They will support only reasonable duties. In 1891, the late Sir Graham Berry, who was then Treasurer of Victoria, introduced an extremely high Tariff. In a year or two, however, there was a strong revulsion of feeling, and in 1894 the duties were cut down by 20, 30, and 50 per cent. In the same way, if we impose very high duties, the people will resent them, and in the end our manufacturers will suffer as they did in Victoria. Under the Bill no stimulus would begiven to our manufacturers. What we should’ do is to excite competition, and to stimulate our manufacturers to turn out goods that willbear comparison with the best of the world’s products. If extremists have their way and our manufacturers can shelter themselves under a high Tariff, all competition will ‘be bludgeoned if this Bill passes as it is introduced, and the people will have to pay dearly for goods of inferior quality. That was the experience in Victoria. Whilst I shall vote for the second reading of the Bill, I shall endeavour to secure a modification of its provisions so far as farming implements and machinery are concerned. I shall also invite honorable members to follow the methods adopted by the late Mr. Seddon in New Zealand, rather than those proposed in the Bill. I recognise that the measure is really one for discussion in Committee, and therefore Ishall not absorb any further time in debating its second reading.
– I Have listened to the honorable member for Echuca with very great pleasure, and with very great surprise. Like his confreres upon the other side of the Chamber, he urged that this evil should be met by an adequate Tariff, and he then proceeded to point out some imaginary evils that might arise from a defective Tariff. What does the honorable member mean ? It appears to me that he has adopted a ‘ ‘ yes-no “ attitude.
– It all depends upon what one means by “ effective.”
– By “effective” I mean a Tariff that will secure for the Australian manufacturer the home market.
– That is prohibition.
– The honorable member may call it what he chooses. I want a Tariff that will be effective enough to secure for the Australian manufacturer the home market.
– The honorable member will not get it.
– I am quite sure I will not if my honorable friend has the giving of it. I am exceedingly sorry that the honorable member for Echuca should have raised the cry of town versus country, because he must know from hisown experience that what he calls the “centralized workmen ‘ ‘ in Victoria have always been allied with the party which has assisted in. every possible way the farming industry. Who gave that industry the benefit of the butter bonus? Who opened up the land and brought about the irrigation schemes in which my honorable friend is so deeply interested? . Undoubtedly it was the protectionist party who fought the battle for protection in the city. If anything is of a socialistic character, surely action of that sort is.
– The honorable member said the same thing of protection a few weeks ago.
– I think that protection is essentially socialistic. I do not see how ‘ it can be regarded in any other light. I also say that the proposals to which effect was given in Victoria by the very Government of which the honorable member for Echuca was a Minister, emanated from a protectionist party, and that all the privileges which Victorian farmers enjoy to-day were conferred by that party. When the honorable member talks about theworkmenwho are centralized in Melbourne being desirous of crushing out the farming industry, he is indulging in so much idle twaddle.
– I neither said that nor meant it.
– Did not the honorable member assert that the Bill was introduced in the interests of the centralized workmen, who did not consider the great natural industries of Australia? I contend that he did. His statement was altogether inaccurate, and he knows it.
– Will not honorable members be able to get a road built if they vote against the Bill?
– My honorable friend is looking at this matter through New South Wales spectacles. He is altogether too parochial. This Parliament has never dealt with roads and bridges and culverts, but only with great national questions. The honorable member does not realize what these proposals mean. There is no danger of the farming interests being deprived by workmen in the cities of Sydney or Melbourne of any of the privileges which this Parliament can confer upon them.
– There is a danger that the farmers will have to pay very dearly for their implements.
– My honorable friend knows very well that protection does not raise the price of implements to the farmer. He has been a consistent member of the party, which rightly contends that the farmer is better and more cheaply served under a protective tariff than he is under a free-trade system. It is too late in the day for him to turn a somersault upon his own principles, and I sincerely hope that he has no desire todo so. I have heard him telling the farmers from the public platform that if adequate duties were imposed, their machinery would become cheaper, they would be able to get the parts which they desired more readily, and that not only themselves, but the community generally would be benefited in every way. Why is he raising a bogey now ?
– I was discussing the Bill.
– The honorable member went on to say that we had not reached the stage in Australia when such legislation as that proposed in the Bill was required. Just imagine us waiting until Melbourne was burnt down before we established a fire brigade ! I am aware that the illus tration is a familiar one, but it is, nevertheless, a good one. The devastating influence of trusts in America is not one whit less than that which would be occasioned by a fire in Melbourne. As late as the 6th January, 1903, Senator Hoar, speaking in the American Senate - the quotation is taken from a very excellent State paper which was laid upon the table of the New Zealand Parliament some time ago, and which was sent to me by the late Prime Minister of that country, Mr. Seddon - said -
Happy is the people whose statesmen foresee and prevent grievances instead of waiting to experience them and to cure them. In dealing with this trust problem, and the dangers of vast accumulations of wealth in private hands, we are seeking to lay down beforehand the law of a healthly national, life, and not groping after the cure of a deadly sickness when once it has laid us on a bed of trial.
I quite recognise with the deputy leader of the Opposition that the day of combinations and corporations has come to stay. It would be quite impossible under our present complex industrial’ and commercial conditions to conduct business without them. I have in my mind’s eye a very striking illustration of that fact. Some fifteen years ago the ironmasters of Melbourne determined to form a trade combination. One of the most successful houses which was presided over by one of the most reputable men in Victoria declined to join it. Last year, after struggling for about fifteen years, that house failed with a tremendous deficit. I realize that just as trade unions are essential for the success of corporate labour, so combinations are necessary for the success of commercial life. What would the banks or the insurance companies do without their corporations? I recognise that corporations are necessary, and this Bill does not attempt to abolish them. If itdid it would be simple madness to endeavour to give effect to it. All that it asks is that reasonable power shall be given to the Minister to prevent dumping and the destruction of our local industries.
– Does the honorable member believe in nationalization ?
– I believe with Frances Willard that, in the fullness of time, great changes, of which we do not dream now, must come about. She said -
I would take not by force, but by the slow process of lawful acquisition, those great trusts and combines which are proving such a menace to the people of America. I would nationalize them. I would use all their magnificent machinery, all their magnificent organization and combination, not for a few shareholders, but for the benefit of the people of this great Continent.
The same writer also pointed out that the future will unfold problems of which we little dream. I think it is a mistake for any section of the community to label themselves by any name whatever, because it often means a great deal more or less than they intend it to convey. Every proposal, coming from whatever quarter it may - whether it emanates from the Trades Hall or from the commercial institution of which the honorable member for Kooyong is so proud to be a representative - should be judged entirely upon its merits, and the test to be applied to it should be “ Will it, in the last resort, be for the benefit of the vast majority of the people?”
– That is the whole question.
– I recollect a speech which was delivered by Mr. John Burns, in the course of which he spoke of the time when there would be universal cooperation. An excited auditor thereupon asked, “ Will you name the date, John?” His very thoughtful and telling reply was, “ As soon as we have the co-operators.” That is just my position. I believe that as men become better educated, wiser, and obtain a better knowledge of their possibilities, many of the evils existing at the present time will no longer be tolerated, and some system of cooperation will take the place of the present impossible cut-throat competitive system. I do not support this Bill because I am opposed’ to organizationsper se. I am not. I believe, with the honorable member who spoke last, that these trusts and combines have taught us a very great lesson. They have taught the value of organization and concentration, and how much can be saved by those methods. I believe, and my belief is backed up by the conclusions of the last Conference of Trades Unionists held atChicago, that in many cases combines have tended to the bettering of working conditions and the raising of wages. That can be proved beyond the shadow of a doubt. But I cannot get away from the appalling facts revealed in this paper, to which I earnestly direct the attention of honorable members. I find the following statement made : -
Judge Grosscup, on the18th February, 1903, gave a decision against the Meat Trust, and among some of the charges he considered as proved being “ in restraint of trade “ between States were : The combining firms had forced down live-stock prices by agreeing to refrain from bidding against each other in the market; they had regulated selling prices; they had bid up the prices of cattle to stimulate shipment ; they had limited the quantity of meat shipped to agents. Whether such practices are harmful in themselves or not the result seem to have been that the profits of the Meat Trust in1901 amounted to nearly $100,000,000 more than in 1900, whilst the price of meat to the public increased by 3 to 5 cents. This is an example how a combination can affect the price of commodities. Wages, however, do not rise in the proportion the price of commodities can be made to do. Two hundred and fifty thousand organized workmen of New York received between the years1897 and 1901 a total advance in wages of 7 per cent. (to be exact, 7.4 per cent. See “State Bureau of Labour Statistics).” The prices of commodities rose from July, 1897, to July, 1901, about 27 per cent. From the 2nd January, 1902, to the 2nd January, 1903, the price of beef rose 40 per cent., thanks to the Meat Trust. (These figures are those of the Treasury Department). So that labour was powerless to increase its wages as capital had increased the price of commodities. Moreover, ground-rents near the great cities rise year by year, and the workman has to pay an increasing tax to landlords without an increase in value received, to the further depreciation of the apparent advance in wages.
I could give a number of similar quotations, which go to prove that there are trusts in America doing their blighting, deadly work in a way we ought to dread even to think of. It is because I wish to prevent a similar state of affairs arising in Australia that I think there is a need for such a Bill as this.
– I thought the prosperity of America was due to her Tariff.
– If America were not in a prosperous state, such a condition of things could not exist. That it does exist proves conclusively the commercial prosperity of the country. But it is not always the greatest amount of wealth that produces the greatest amount of happiness. It is wealth best used which is the test of genuine prosperity. I think it is Ruskin who says -
That land is greatest which nourishes the largest number of happy, contented human beings.
And there can be no happiness or contentment under such conditions as those to which I have referred.
– I noticethat all the honorable member’s authorities are sound economists - Ruskin and Frances Willard, for example.
– They are sound economists, and’ that is perhaps more than all my companions are. However, I do not desire to bring up the past. I have no wish to think of the time when the deputy leader of the Opposition was a protectionist. I prefer to look forward to the time when the honorable member will be a protectionist again.
– Does the honorable member remember the time when Socialists were described as “spielers”?
– I should like to point out that although there is in Canada a very much higher Tariff than I am afraid we can hope to get in Australia - and I should very much like to be able to secure a Tariff as high as the Canadian Tariff - they have found such legislation necessary. In the last session of their national Parliament, the Canadians passed’ special legislation dealing with dumping, and directed even against Great Britain. Yet no one will charge the Canadian people with being disloyal.
– Their special legislation was to raise duties.
– It was passed to deal with dumping, and especially dumping on the part of British manufacturers. It was urged that whilst Canada was prepared to deal with Great Britain in preference to her next door neighbour, the United States, or any European country, the Canadian workman must not be brought down to the level of the British workman, as indicated by the last speaker. The honorable member for Echuca has just been to England, and has also visited America. He knows all about Canadian conditions, and urges as a reason for opposing this Bill that the wages paid to artisans in England’ are so much lower than those paid in America, that the effect of the measure may be tb press heavily upon the people of the old country. He has contended that it is un-British and disloyal, that the measure is a cut against the old’ country, and has pointed out that American artisans are better housed, clothed, paid and educated than are British workmen. That is a reason which the honorable member advances why this measure ought not to be placed on our statute-book. It is a most remarkable reason, coming from a protectionist. I could understand it from the leader of the Opposition or from honorable members opposite, but I fail to understand it from an honorable member who professes to be a protectionist, and whose theory is that the Australian workman ought to be protected from the low wages which he has pointed out are paid in Great Britain. One other matter to which I should like to direct attention is that the opposition to this measure comes with very bad grace from honorable members who took great pains and went to no end of trouble to prevent trade unions becoming so strong as to be able to dominate those outside trade unions. Honorable members urged that if trade unions were not checked and certain steps were not taken, no end of harm would follow, and when we propose to apply the same reasoning to these great trusts we are told that all sorts of bogus dangers are going to overtake the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Echuca said, amongst other things, that the cry “ Australia for the Australians “ is disloyal. I cannot for the life of me understand how he arrives at that conclusion. If Australia is not going to be loyal to itself, and is not to be for Australians, who is it to be for - for the foreigner, the American, or the German ? The honorable member says that we should say “Australia for Australians and the Empire.” Surely he must see that we can be of very little use to the Empire unless we are strong in ourselves? Unless we are strong in our commercial and industrial life we can render very little assistance to the Empire. We were able to help the Empire in her time of trial, because we had strong, stalwart sons who had grown up under the southern skies under wholesome conditions, and who therefore were in a position to help her. If we are to make of them only hewers of wood and drawers of water, they; will not be able to help the Empire in the hour of difficulty. I say that “ Australia for Australians “ is a national cry, a fair cry, and a loyal cry, and it ought to be supported by every true Australian.
.- The honorable member who has just resumed his seat can always be trusted to put the tenets of his fiscal faith in the most appetizing way. I do not propose, in a discussion of this Bill, to be led into any of the bypaths of the fiscal question, but there were one or two things said by the honorable member upon which I feel it is the duty of a free-trade representative to offer some observations. In the first place, the honorable member seemed to claim, on behalf of the party to which he belongs, all the benefits enjoyed by the farmers throughout Aus- tralia. I believe that the reason why the farmers of Victoria have been protectionists in the past is that they believed that the establishment of industries in the State under a system of Tariff protection would bring to Victoria a new market for themselves in the employes who would come to Australia to be engaged in those industries. The new protection, however, now tends to prevent immigrants landing.
– I did not say a word about the farmers being protectionists, and’ the honorable member has lost the whole point of my remarks.
– The honorable member’s remarks were not so pointed that it was easy to understand them, but I gathered from him that he claimed that the farmers of Victoria have .received all their benefits at the hands of protectionists and protection.
– At the hands of the protectionist party.
– Then we have the definite statement that they did not receive them at the hands of protection? The honorable member, in quoting the anti-dumping precedents of Canada and other parts of the world, asked why, if Canada had passed anti-dumping legislation, we in Australia should not pass similar legislation. I say frankly that if we are to have anti-dumping legislation, and a majority of honorable members seem to think we should, the precedent which Canada has set us is an infinitely more honest, open, and straightforward way of dealing with the matter than the method proposed in this Bill. The Canadian Act provides roughly that whenever it appears to the satisfaction of the Minister of Customs that the export price of any article imported into Canada is less than the fair market value in the country of origin, such article shall, in addition to the duty otherwise established, be subject to a special duty of customs equal to the difference between such fair market value and such selling price. That is a fair way to deal with the alleged evil of dumping. If it is found that goods are being sold in Canada for less than in the United States, a special duty is put on to meet the case. The Canadian Parliament decides what is to be done in these emergencies, and prescribes what action the Minister shall take. But in this Bill we are asked to forego our privileges, and to allow the Minister to say what shall be done. In pointing to the Canadian precedent, the honorable gentleman who last addressed you, sir, did us a service, because the method adopted in Canada is much more straightforward and adaptable to the circumstances which have to be met than is that now proposed. I deeply regret that, throughout this discussion, the House has found it difficult to arrive at a true estimate of the scope of the measure. The Minister who introduced it dealt at length with a number of the cases which it is intended to meet; but, in his anxiety to hit certain political rivals, forgot to explain its scope ; while, last night, the Attorney-General gave a lucid exposition of the meaning which he attaches to each of its clauses, and explained what he would do if he had to administer them, but did not tell us exactly what is comprised by the measure. To show that those who are most interested are firmly of opinion that the Bill requires the fullest consideration, and the frankest criticism and scrutiny. I propose to read a telegram received this afternoon from the Sydney Chamber of Commerce, and signed by its acting-president. It is as follows : -
Chamber condemns Anti-Trust Bill as excessively hostile to trade, and tending to disturb the whole foundation upon which commerce rests and always has rested. Are certain the results of such a Bill passing will not only be the abandonment of many useful and almost indispensable industries, but block any introduction of capital and immigration. Every effort should be made to defeat its passing. Consider it quite unworkable.
The telegram concludes with the statement that the report of the sub-committee is being forwarded.
– Has any Bill been introduced by this Government which they have not condemned ?
– If I were in order in doing so, I could mention a large number of Bills which have not been so condemned, and have been supported by every party and every industry in the State. Surely the opinion of those who will have to work under the Bill is entitled to respect at our hands. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie may have a lofty contempt for the members of the Chamber of Commerce, but, as a deliberative assembly which has in its keeping the progress and prosperity of Australia, we should pay attention to all the information brought before us, whether coming from experts, or merely from interested political parties. The Government have not put us in a position to exercise the scrutiny which the Bill requires. There was a curious difference between the methods of the Minister of Trade and Customs and those of the Attorney-General. The former hit out recklessly- - I use the word advisedly - at his political rivals and enemies.
– I would rather do that than stab them under the fifth rib.
– The Attorney-General preferred not to stab them at all, and said, in effect, that he would rather not speak of the matters with which the Bill is supposed to deal, because so many of them are sub judice. I do not know if his colleague regards that as a reflection on his action in bludgeoning those concerned in those cases, but it seemed so to me, and to others on this side of the House who have so tender a regard for him.
– They would bludgeon me if they got half a chance.
– To whom does the honorable member refer?
– To the honorable member’s friends the trusts.
– Here is a pretty state of things. ! An honorable member has only to ask the Minister to explain a measure of which he is in charge to be accused of being a friend of the “ criminals “ with whom it has been introduced to deal. Last session the Minister of Trade and Customs, or the Prime Minister, explained that the real urgency of the measure lay in one case, and that the Bill had been introduced! to deal with the importation of har- 1vesters and nothing else.
– I did not say nothing else.
– It was that matter which made the measure an urgent one, we were told.
– Then the pages of Hansard must be misleading.
– It was not the sole reason for urgency.
– In that particular matter lay the extreme urgency of the measure. That was why it was thought that it should have been passed last session. Last night, however, the Attorney-General told us that, while only extraordinary developments! of trade were proposed to be dealt with under Part III., they were altogether too numerous to allow Parliament itself to deal with, them. Here we have another curious difference of opinion between two responsible Ministers. These numerous differences lead me to ask, with the utmost respect, whether the Bill has received the corporate consideration of the Cabinet. Still, as it is not in many of its provisions a party measure, I do not propose to approach its consideration in a party spirit, and therefore shall not labour the question. I wish, however, to deal briefly with one curious point in the speech of the Attorney-General. According to the Melbourne Age, which usually reports him fairly, he said -
Those members who were strong in support of individual liberty should assist the Government in passing this Bill, because it was a measure for the maintenance of true individualism.
The Attorney-General asks honorable members on this side of the House to support the measure as one which will increase private enterprise ; and, at the same time, we are told that the Bill has the support of the party which has sworn to stamp out individual enterprise, so far as it is possible for it to do so.
– That is incorrect.
– Am I to understand that my honorable. friend is no longer a Socialist?
– What nonsense !
– I believe that the honorable member has subscribed to an objective which aims at the nationalization* of all the means of production, distribution and exchange.
– The honorable member is a bit too previous.
– Then I take it that the honorable member will not indorse that objective ?
– The honorable member will take what he can get.
– It is hard to draw my honorable friend; but the Federal Labour Party of Australia has indorsed a socialistic objective, and its members having done so, must, therefore, be Socialists. As Socialists, the majority of them are warmlysupporting a proposal which, the AttorneyGeneral says, is worthy of the support of every individualist in the Chamber. This is a curious state of affairs. The honorable and learned gentleman either had! his tongue in his cheek when he was talking to us, or he was fooling his supporters in the Labour corner.
– Those on the Opposition side of the Chamber are demoralized, and do not know where they are in respect to this Bill.
– The honorable member’s party is, no doubt, better seized of the actual scope of the measure than is that to which I have the honour to belong, but I believe that they have received private assurances as to its effect, while we have only the utterances of Ministers in this Chamber. There is something sinister in the change of attitude towards the Bill on the part of those in the Labour corner. Last year they were singularly anxious as to ‘its scope, and wished to know if it would affect the large organizations of which they are members; but that anxiety was completely dissipated before the introduction of the Bill this session. Therefore, I infer that honorable members in the Labour corner have privately became better seized of the actual scope of this measure than have honorable members on this side of the House. The Bill is in three parts. The first portion is simply preliminary. With the objects of the second part honorable members on this side have no quarrel. It deals with the repression of monopolies, and members of all parties desire to make’ the provisions adequate, while not too comprehensive. The third part of the Bill, to which a certain section of the Opposition is absolutely opposed, should not distract our attention from the good objects which are sought to be attained by other provisions in the measure. So far as the repression of local trusts is concerned, I am sure that the Minister knows that he will have the support of every, member of the Opposition. We should first of all, however, be informed as to what these proposals really amount to. A number of terms have been used, which, so far, have not been explained, and unless we receive some enlightenment with regard to them, it will be impossible to avoid a large amount of useless discussion in Committee. The Minister of Trade and Customs was asked, by the honorable and learned member for; Corinella, for an explanation of one or two provisions of the measure. He seemed to think, however, that his duty to the House would be discharged if he refused to give a simple answer to a simple question until he made his general reply at the close of the debate. That might be an appropriate attitude to adopt in respect to a bitterly controversial measure, but I do not think that the Minister was justified in assuming that position towards an honorable member who is sympathetic to a measure which is not controversial in all its aspects. All we know, with regard to the second part of the Bill, is that it is based on the Sherman Act of the United States. To those who wish to see anti-trust legislation made effective, that fact does not convey very much comfort, because we know that the Sherman Act has absolutely failed to accomplish the object with which it was designed. When the Act was introduced into the United States in 1890 trusts and combinations were in their infancy. Now, after the Act has been in force for sixteen years, they are in full operation, and have become a by-word throughout the civilized world. All that we ‘know at present is that the Act upon which this measure has been framed has proved a failure. We know, in a vague way, the ends that the Bill is intended to accomplish. The Attorney-General has explained some, of the objects, and has told us how he would administer the measure. As a deliberative assembly, however, we are concerned, not so much with the intentions of the Ministry, as with the manner in which those intentions are expressed iri the measure. We should assure ourselves that our intentions are made clear, and that they cannot be distorted. Our Courts of Law will not hear evidence with respect to the reasons which led up to the framing of any Statute. They simply take the Statute as it stands. Therefore, we must be absolutely certain that, by the time the Bill leaves this Chamber, it will clearly express our intention, and nothing more and nothing less. Several terms are used which require to be carefully denned. The second portion of the Bill deals, as I have said, with “ the repression of monopolies,” but the measure contains no definition of the term “monopoly.” It is presumed that the repression is intended to apply to bad monopolies, but the Socialist Party seem to think that all monopolies are bad, because one of the planks of their platform aims at the nationalization of all monopolies.
– The honorabls member is again indulging in misrepresentation.
– I do not suppose that the honorable member will deny that there is a plank in the platform to which he subscribes which aims at “ the nationalization of all monopolies.”
– All monopolies which are injurious to the public interests.
– The platform does not contain any qualifications. It aims at the nationalization of all monopolies, and we may assume that the members of the Labour Party imagine that all monopolies are harmful in their action. It is singular that the party whose object it is to convert the State into one huge monopoly should think that abuses arise in connexion with all monopolies. These gentlemen will probably be the administrators of the cooperative Commonwealth - if such a tiling ever comes to pass. Are they so conscious of their own frailties that they imagine that’ their own monopoly will be the subject of abuse? If, on the other hand, they hold that their own monopoly will be free from all abuses, they must admit the possibility of other monopolies also being beneficent. If we once admit the possibility of some trusts and monopolies being beneficent in their operation, we should do something to differentiate between good trusts and bad trusts, and good’ monopolies and bad monopolies. I hope that honorable members will insist upon a clear definition of the term “monopolies” being inserted in the Bill. The members of the Labour Party have for years past enlarged upon the iniquities of the tobacco monopoly., and yet their own partisan Commission have declared that the tobacco monopoly is only “ a partial monopoly.” They have explained that this hideous octopus that has been represented as holding within its grasp all the tobacco interests of the Commonwealth is only a “partial monopoly” - that it- controls only a little more than three-quarters of the plug k tobacco trade, less than one-half of the cigar trade, and only three-quarters of the cigarette trade. Is it intended that the Bill shall deal with partial monopolies? If honorable members consult a dictionary they will find that the term “monopoly” does not mean a partial monopoly, and therefore, unless we clearly define what we mean, the Bill might not apply to the tobacco monopoly.
– Does the honorable member want the Bill to apply to partial monopolies ?
– I want it to regulate any kind of combination or trust that is harmful.
– The Bill car. easily be amended to provide for its application to partial monopolies.
– I am merely pointing out that the Bill does not contain any definition of the term “ monopoly- “ To the mind of a Socialist, a monopolist is anyone who possesses anything worth having.
– The honorable member knows that that is not right.
– I do not suggest that the honorable member wishes to possess anything belonging to another, or that he would seek to obtain it unfairly, but the honorable member’s associates in the Labour Party are, for instance, constantly referring to the land monopoly in Queesland.
– There is plenty of land there for those who want it.
– I am glad that my honorable friend is so frank. Other members, of his party are constantly declaiming against land monopoly in Australia.. And yet the land monopolist in Australia does not hold all the land in his own grasp, and refuse to part with any of it. He happens to be a man who has had the foresight and industry in the course of his pioneering work to possess himself of some of the best land in the Commonwealth, and who is not prepared to forego all his rights of ownership for less than the fair market value of his property. He will not refuse to part with his land under any conditions, but will stand out for its fair market value. The terms “ monopoly “ and “ monopolist “ have been so loosely used that if the House wishes to clearly express its intentions we shall have to use explicit language in the Bill. If it is proposed to deal with every kind of monopolist in Australia, and we adopt the Labour Party’s definition of the term, we shall be kept very busy. There are monopolists even in the labour ranks. I know of a monopolistic labour press which has the sole right to report the proceedings at all labour conferences. Is that hateful monopoly to be allowed to continue?
– The honorable member knows more than I do.
– Does not the honorable member know that the Labour Conferences have for some years past declined to allow any press representatives other than those of the labour organs to be present at their conferences ?
– No. At every conference at which I have been present the repre- sentatives of the press have been freely admitted.
– Then the honorable member has not attended any of the New South Wales Labour Conferences. Then again, there are many labour men who have turned lawyers, and many lawyers who have turned labour men, in order to obtain a monopoly of the briefs for labour in the Arbitration Court. Is that hateful monopoly to be allowed to continue? I merely put forward these considerations with a view to show that we entertain extremely vague impressions as to what constitutes a monopoly. Again, there are certain philosophic radicals who callously hang on to monopolies in constituencies like Clifton. Are these gentlemen to be allowed to breathe the same air as those disinterested patriots who wish them to go forth as the advance agents of the Labour Party in other electorates, and give them a chance in their own?
– What is the honorable member giving us?
– I am giving certain reasonswhich should make the honorable member seriously consider whether he understands this Bill?
– Where is Clifton ?
– The honorable member knows perfectly well that it is the anxiety of the party to which he belongs to upset the monopolywhich the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne is suspected of enjoying in that locality. The word “monopoly “ must be clearly defined. The same remark is applicable to the term “ restraint of trade.” In this connexion I desire to make a brief reference to the shipping combine. Some of the actions of that combine maybe bad, and’ others may be good, but before the Bill reaches the Committee stage I wish the House to consider carefully which of its actions are bad and which are good. In the first place, I would point out that the combine insures the regular sailing of vessels between various ports of the Commonwealth. Is that a restraint of trade which this House desires to see penalized ?
– It would not be a bad line if the honorable member read the Bill.
– Does the honorable member for Moira, after having read the Bill, think that the term “restraint of trade” is so well understood as not to require a clear definition?
– The case presented by the honorable member would not be put forward if he had read the measure.
– I have read it with extreme care, and others whose interests depend upon it have seen fit to send a long wire protesting against its passage. No doubt the honorable member is thoroughly satisfied’, fromhis brief perusal of it, that the Bill is everything that his intelligence can desire. There are others, however, who are equally intelligent, and equally- capable of forming a correct judgment of legislative enactments, who are profoundly dismayed at the prospect of its passing.
– Not upon the hypothetical case set up by the honorable member.
– I may tell the honorable member for Moira that I have had that very hypothetical case presented to me. Under the Bill a combination of shipping companies, for whatever object, would be for the purpose of restraining trade.
– But the Bill contains the qualifying words “ to the detriment of the public.”
– I wish to know what those words mean. Do honorable members think that a combination of shipping companies, to insure the regular sailing of vessels, would be to the detriment of the public ?
– The argument is too absurd to seriously consider.
– The authority which is to decide whether combinations are detrimental to the public is a jury. Let us assume that the agriculturists of South Australia or Victoria who are anxious to supply the Western Australian market with their produce, entered into some arrangement with the shipping companies, under which they gained the advantage of low freights to assist them in their very laudable ambition. Would such a combination be prejudicial to the public interest, and, therefore, subject to penalties under this measure ?
Mr.Chanter. - The shipping ring will take care that the farmers do not secure low freights.
– I can tell the honorable member that there are some other persons who will endeavour to prevent them from doing so. In Western Australia the agriculturists are keenly interested in maintaining the shipping rates as high as possible, in order that they may prevent the produce of the eastern States from entering into competition with them in their own markets. Would it be a combination “ detrimental to the public interests” if the Western Australian farmers combined with the shipping companies to maintain high freights upon produce from South Australia or Victoria? If so, how is the matter to be determined? If the case were tried in Western Australia, a jury in that State would no doubt declare that low rates of freight were detrimental to the public interest, whereas, if it were tried in Victoria, we should be told the reverse. Thus the verdict arrived at will depend entirely upon where the case is tried. In this connexion, let me instance the coal trade between New South Wales and Victoria. The Victorian collieries are vitally interested in keeping the rates upon coal between Newcastle. and the southern coal ports of New South Wales and Melbourne as high as possible. Upon the other hand, the New South Wales collieries are equally interested in securing the lowest freight. If any of these collieries entered into an arrangement with the shipping companies regarding the freight to be charged upon coal, would that be a combination detrimental to the- public interest? In this instance, as in the other illustration which I gave, the decision would depend entirely upon where the case was heard. Consequently, I hold that honorable members should be given a proper explanation of this portion of the Bill before it reaches the Committee stage. It is a curious thing that all the parties who attended the South African Shipping Conference, which was held some years ago, made it a condition precedent to any action being taken by that body, that freights should not be fluctuating. “How can we prevent freights from fluctuating except by combination? Personally, I do not agree with the decisions in this regard arrived at by the South African Conference. I prefer to see open competition working out the freights upon economic lines. But still, the considerations which influenced that Conference in coming to its conclusions should be worthy of our attention, even if they do not secure our indorsement. There is just one other matter in connexion with this portion of the Bill to which I desire to direct attention. Of course, the common carriers of Australia - the great’ railway ssystems of the Commonwealth - will be immune from the operations of this Bill. I should like to ask the Minister if that is not so?
– Does the honorable member call them a trust?
– I do. Will they come within the provisions of this measure ?
– My impression is that they will not.
– There is no doubt that there is a combination between the railway managements of the different States regarding the rates to be charged upon certain goods.
– Why_ did not the Opposition assist me to pass the Inter-State Commission Bill when I brought it forward?
– The Minister is prepared to discuss anything except the Bill that is under consideration.
– I have stated my impression, but I have not looked into the matter to which the honorable member refers.
– I cannot myself see how they can, constitutionally, be brought under the Bill. Those in charge of these railways could not be prevented from cutting rates and arranging freights in any way they pleased, whilst the sea-carrying companies, who must compete with these land common carriers, are to be prevented from cutting rates and arranging freights. The managers of the States railways can enter into any combination they please, and can arrange a vast Australian trust, without coming under this measure, though a considerable proportion of the Inter-State trade of the Commonwealth, which is one of the few things over which we have power, is carried on over the States railways. Whilst those in charge of the States railways may do this with impunity, those controlling the carriage of goods by sea will be penalized under clause 6 of this measure, if they attempt to arrange freights and cut rates. That is aw anomaly worthy of the consideration of the House. I ask what is a “ restraint of trade?” I wish to ask honorable members of the Labour Party whether they think that the corporations to which they belong, the great .industrial organizations and trade unions, of which thev are members, are trusts within the meaning of this Bill, and whether some of their actions might not constitute a restraint of trade? My honorable friends are always dealing in words, and I direct their attention to the definition in this Bill of a “ commercial trust,” and remind them that, wherever the term is used im this measure, this is one of the things meant.
Commercial Trust includes a combination . . . whose voting power or determinations are controlled …. by the creation of aboard of management or its equivalent.
I should like to know whether the determinations of a trades union are governed by a board of management or its equivalent.
– They generally are.
– Then, according to this definition, they constitute a “ commercial trust,”
-But they do not bring down wages ; they put them up.
– The Minister’s interjection only helps us further. We may assume that trades unions constitue a ‘ ‘ commercial trust “ under this Bill.
– Who says so?
– The Bill says so. and includes them specifically. A trade union decides, we will say, on preference to unionists, which is undoubtedly a restraint of trade.
– Why is the honorable member “stone-walling” the Bill?
– I am not “ stone-walling “ the measure, but I am trying to make honorable members recognise the necessity of reading it. Apparently, my honorable friends appear to think that the moment one asks their attention to a matter of public concern one is doing them some injury. Has the honorable member for Maranoa read this measure?
– I think it is evident that some honorable members have not read it. A trade union, which is a “ commercial trust “ under this Bill, decides, through its board of management, to exact preference to unionists. I do not propose now to deal with the question whether preference to unionists is good or bad, but it undoubtedly constitutes a restraint of trade. It may have the effect of limiting output, and so disturbing trade at its very fountain-head. In so far it is a restraint of trade, and honorable members who are members of these organizations, if they do not look to it, may, as a result of the passing of this measure, be penalizedin a way the House does not intend.
– It would not be a commercial transaction.
– Is it not a commercial transaction for any man to sell his labour?
– The trade union does not sell his labour.
– If the union refuses to sell his labour or to permit’ any one else to do so, unless certain conditions are enacted, isnot that a restraint of trade? If a huge conspiracy is formed to prevent any man selling his labour, unless upon compliance with certain conditions, in which other people believe, is not that a restraint of trade ?
– The point is worthy of the honorable member’s consideration. Then there is another point in connexion with this part of the Bill which I wish made clear, and that is the meaning of the phrase “ to the detriment of the public.”
– It is highly to the detriment of the public that the honorable member should be wasting so much time.
– I think I may here fittingly pay some little attention to the Minister of Trade and Customs. The honorable gentleman who talks about wasting time when an honorable member addresses himself seriously to the consideration of this question should be careful that he is not throwing stones from a glass house. He addressed himself last week to an explanation of this measure, and all that he succeeded in doing was to make a number of misrepresentations and a number of misstatements of fact, unintentionally, I daresay, which do not reflect credit upon his preparation of his speech or his knowledge of the business with which he was dealing. Quoting from page 247 of Hansard, I find that the honorable gentleman made the following statement in referring to the Massey-Harris harvester -
It has been stated that in pushing the machines commissions to the extent of , £26 and£30 have been given for selling single harvesters, which it has been said only cost£40 each.
– That is right.
– The honorable gentleman now repeats the statement. We have claimed that before dealing with a matter of that kind the House should be given an opportunity of making itself conversant with, the Tariff Commission’s report. Now even the Minister would appear not to have taken the trouble to do so.
– I understood the honorable gentleman to say that that was in the Tariff Commission’s report.
– Then I am afraid that the honorable gentleman’s factsare not such as are usually given to a House of Parliament by a responsible Minister. There was an exhibit marked No. 3, submitted to the Tariff Commission by the companies, interested, which set put the actual expenses in connexion with harvesters from the moment they left the factory to’ the moment they reach the consumer in Australia. This sworn exhibit was within the Minister’s reach, but he had not the energy or public spirit to find it, and made a completely misleading statement to the House. So far from the commission granted being£26 or£30 on an article valued £40 the commissions granted averaged£6 os. 9d. on an article that costs £38.
– What is the article sold at?
– I will give the honorable member the whole of the facts from the statement sworn to before the Tariff Commission. These are the figures. The invoice price at Toronto is£38 os. 3d., the import charges amount, in all, to £20 is.1d., and include charges for packing, inland freight. Toronto to New York, ocean freight, insurance, wharfage, stacking, cartage, and receiving and Customs duty, 121/2 per cent. on , £38 plus 10 per cent. That makes the total cost of a machine landed on a Melbourne wharf£58 1s. 4d. The setting-up, warehouse, and shipping expenses amount to £2, and selling expensesinclude commission, £6 os. 9d. ; and then there are salaries of local agents and travellers, amounting to£3 17s.1d.; and travelling expenses of local agents and travellers, amounting to£2 9s.10d. ; making, all told,£6 6s.11d. for expenses of local agents and travellers.
– In addition to the commission ?
– As the honorable member must be aware, that is entirely separate from the commission, and, even though it were not so regarded, the amount would then be only£12 odd on a machine costing£38, and not £26 or £30 on a machine costing£40, as the Minister told us was the case. These are the figures of a sworn return furnished to the Tariff Commission. Yet the Minister, who is so adverse to a consideration of this Bill, managed to misrepresent the facts, and say that the commission paid amounted to more than the total cost.
– The commission and cost is what I said.
– Hansard has a better memory than has the honorable gentleman ! The Minister has had an opportunity of seeing that Hansard has reported him correctly, and has decided to permit the report to stand. He now says that the amount to which he referred covers commission and extras, but Hansard reports the honorable gentleman as having said that “commissions to the extent of£26 or £30 “ have been given for the selling of a single harvester. When he now discovers the facts with which he should have been conversant in the first place, he tries to hedge, and to escape responsibility for giving the House false information. I hope that, considering the way in which he has wasted the time of the House, he will not further worry other honorable members in the performance of their public duty. There is another point in the Bill which I wish to have explained, and that is what is meant by the order of the words in the phrase, “ producers, workers, and consumers.” All through the Bill these three separate sections of the community are named in that order. Is that intended to give an indication of their relative importance in the community ? Are we to consider the producers as more important than either the workers or the consumers? I also wish to have it clearly laid down in Committee whether “producers” in this connexion means producers in general or only the particular producers affected in the matter in dispute. Because honorable gentlemen will see that, if these clauses are applied to small isolated bodies of producers, the Bill will be absolutely prohibitive of trade, internal and external. That is a matter which wants clearing up. I also desire to draw the attention of the Minister to paragraph c of clause 6, which says -
For the purposes of the last two preceding sections, unfair competition means competition which is, in the opinion of the jury, unfair in the circumstances ; and in the following cases the competition shall be deemed to be unfair until the contrary is proved -
If the provision would probably, or does in fact, result in throwing workers out of employment.
Does it mean throwing out of employment any workers, or does it mean throwing out of employment considerable bodies of workers ? That is a point which must be cleared up in Committee, because it is evident that we cannot have competition without affecting employment.
– But competition increases employment.
– Competition, I said, affects employment. Successful competition increases employment in the successful industry, but decreases employment in the unsuccessful industry. All competition affects employment, and the mere fact that in this world every one lives off every one else, more or less, should make it necessary to lay down in the clearest possible terms in Committee what is meant by that phrase. This afternoon the Attorney-General was asked by the honorable member for Corinella what would constitute throwing workers out’ of employment. He replied that, in his opinion, if there were twenty firms engaged in an industry, and one of the firms was losing its employes as the result of competition and the others were not, that would not be “ throwing workers out of employment “ ; but, in the opinion of somebody else, it might. So far as a layman can read the provisions of the Bill, it certainly would. That is a matter which will be well worthy Of our serious consideration in Committee. 1 also want to get a clear difference drawn in, Committee between a combine that .is beneficent in its results and one that is not. The Postmaster-General has recently asked for a combination of ship-owners to provide a working postal contract.
– Where did he say that?
– Does not the honorable gentleman know that?
– I am asking for information; I thought that he had only asked for tenders.
– I cannot give my honorable friend my authority. If I am wrong I shall very much regret it, but I have been told that the Postmaster-General has actually asked for a combination of shipowners to give a good mail contract. I have not been able to test the accuracy of my informant, but it is m.v belief that the Postmaster-General has asked for such a combination. It is obvious to honorable members that such a combination might possibly be in the public interests. Therefore I want the clearest possible definition of what class of combines is intended to be got at under the Bill. There is another curious anomaly which may be worth the consideration of honorable members. We all wish to see employes get better terms, and to organize for that purpose, and although the Arbitration Court actually asks them to organize with that object, yet this Bill, in effect, proposes to penalize another section of the community for organizing to fix such rates and freights as wiM insure the payment of those higher wages and better conditions. I have not the slightest sympathy with any combination, either for purposes of spoliation or for the purpose of paying high wages, without consideration of the public interests generally. But it might: reasonably be asked by an extreme logician why is not sauce for the goose sauce for the gander also? It might be asked, Why should we in this measure penalize any organization on one side whilst fostering organization on the other ? The only body which I feel called upon in my public capacity to stand up for is the vast body of the Australian public, to which every man, woman, and child belongs, and that is the consumers. It would be absolutely against the public interest if we were to encourage the workers in an industry to organize to get higher wages, and to allow the employers therein to organize to pay those higher wages, without considering the great mass of the people of Australia - the consumers - who would have to bear the financial burden. Yet this is a matter which I repeat is well worthy the consideration of all’ honorable members. Every one wishes to get this second part of the Bill put in the best possible working order, and therefore I hope that in Committee the Minister will accept suggestions from this side as readily as he will accept suggestions from any quarter. I do not think that is too much to ask at his hands. No honorable member 011 this side has done more than criticise in a most friendly way this part of the measure, and I do ask that our suggestions shall receive the same immediate courtesy as the honorable gentleman always extends to those members who sit in the Ministerial corner. The next part of the Bill is one with which, in view of the late hour, I propose to deal very briefly.
– We shall have to apply the new standing order to the honorable member.
– I do not know what the honorable gentleman’s constituents will think of him if he tries to apply the new standing order to a speech against these provisions for trade prohibition. The honorable member is as much interested as I am, or as any other free-trader is, in combating this part of the measure.
– I will help the honorable member in that, only Jet us pet into Committee, so that we can knock out this part.
– If I were certain that that would be done, I should be ready to go to a vote on the Question at once. Before proposing to deal so drastically with’ dumping, the Minister should have proved the existence of that evil. It is a singular thing that some protectionists in the ‘Chamber are so impressed with the stringency of the proposals and their far-reaching character that they have, urged upon the Minister a similar request. Part III., if enforced, will defeat the avowed object of Part II. It aims, not so much at the repression of dumping, as at the prohibition of importation. I do not say that that is the avowed object of the Ministry, but it would certainly be the effect of these provisions if enforced in law. Furthermore, this prohibition is to be sanctioned, not by Parliament coming to a decision in the open light of day, but by the Minister acting at the request of certain rich manufacturers, having no responsibility to the public. I should be the last to suggest that the Minister might prove weak in the presence of temptation ; but it is not right for Parliament to almost offer inducements, if I may use the phrase, for the creation of corrupt practices.’ I think that the House has no fear that the present Minister will be tempted; but he might be succeeded bv one who would prove frail. Before we pass provisions such as these, we should know that the dumping and malpractices which have been alleged actually exist. It is under the Constitution one of the first duties of this House to deal with all Tariff matters; and are we now going to say that w:e are unable to carry out this trust, and must hand it over to some omniscient person like the Minister of Trade and Customs? Surely the work is such as should be done in the open light of day, and by Parliament, instead of by the Minister in his sanctum, or in a board room, over cigars and a bottle of wine. There are other phases of the matter with which I had intended to deal, but, as the hour is rather late, I shall reserve my criticism, on the understanding that we shall have an opportunity to full v state our objections to Part III. when, in Committee, we come to deal with the first clause of that part.
– Does the honorable member wish to deliver another secondreading speech then?
– The Government will not allow me to resume my remarks to-morrow, and I do not wish to detain the House longer to-night. I think that the course which I propose would save time. In m« opinion, Parts II. and III. of the Bill should be kept absolutely separate. Both the members of the Opposition and the members of the Government party are agreed that monopolies and combines should be subject to proper regulation - the only persons who do not believe in the efficacy of such regulation being the members of the Labour Party, who keep the Government in power. But many of us are absolutely opposed to the proposed prohibition of imports, which raises a controversial question which must be fought out to the bitter end. For this reason, I shall not tack on to my criticisms of Part II. the strong objections which I have to Fart III., but shall re- - serve what more I have to say until the Bill gets into Committee. Those whom I represent regard Fart III. as the most serious menace this Chamber has yet threatened to the interests of the people of Australia, and I shall use all the forms of the House open to me and all my powers to resist its passing.
Motion (by Mr. Fuller) proposed -
That the debate be now adjourned.
– I had hoped that this debate would be concluded to-night. There are! only One or two more speakers. Unless there’ are some other speakers who will be ready to proceed to-morrow there is no use in adjourning.
– The question of the adjournment of the debate is not open for discussion under the Standing Orders passed last session. The question isi that the debate be now adjourned.
– I merely wish to say-
– I cannot help the honorable gentleman. The Standing Orders passed last session provide that there can be no debate on a motion for the adjournment of a debate.
– I was merely about to state when the debate will be taken up again.
– I cannot allow that statement to be made on this question. A motion will, I presume, be submitted as to when the debate will be set down for resumption. The Minister can then make his statement. But unless I deliberately violate the Standing Orders passed last year I cannot permit a debate on the question now before the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– In moving
That the resumption of the debate be made an order of theday for to-morrow,
I wish to say that I hoped that it would be concluded to-night. To-morrow is set apart for private business!, and the discussion on the Bill can be resumed only after the determination of that business, or after dinner. I have had a consultation with the Prime Minister, and we must try to get the debate concluded to-morrow or on Friday ; but I hope to-morrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I lay on the table my warrant appointing the following honorable members to act as Temporary Chairmen of Committees : - Mr. Batchelor, Mr. Fowler, Mr. Mauger, and Mr. Wilks.
– In moving -
That the House do now adjourn,
I should like to mention that, in order to meet the convenience of honorable members elsewhere, we propose to ask the House to-morrow to pass a Supply Bill in anticipation of requirements to enable payments to be made after the commencement of next month. They consist of payments for buildings, wages, &c.
– With every desire to meet the convenience of honorable members elsewhere, I must say that a Supply Bill cannot, under the circumstances, be taken to be a formal matter. There may be important questions for consideration on Supply. As we are only about half way through the month there’ cannot possibly be any urgency for the Bill, except that, as I understand, it is desired to meet the convenience of honorable members ofanother place.I do not know where the question of their convenience arises. I can only assure the Prime Minister that the fact that he has mentioned that matter must not be taken to indicate that we shall therefore allow the grant of Supply to be a formal matter.
Mr. DEAKIN (Balla rat- Minister of honorable member for Parramatta will reconsider the matter. He will have an opportunity of making himself acquainted with the facts I have mentioned. There is no other motive on the part of the Government. It has been represented to us on behalf of members on both sides elsewhere, as the honorable member will find, that it is desired to have an adjournment of another place at the end of this week. The proposal is not made to suit the convenience of the Government. Members of another place have represented to their leader what they desire, and he speaks on behalf of them all. We are desirous to meet them if we can. They will have a great deal of business before them shortly, and they have pointed out that if they are able to have an adjournment now they will be better able to proceed with its transaction then.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.55p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 June 1906, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1906/19060620_reps_2_31/>.