2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
-I wish to ask you, Mr. Speaker, if you have made an inquiry in reference to the statements made in this Chamber last night about the editing of Hansard? If so, will you be good enough to give us the result of them ?
– I deemed that the remarks utteredlast night demanded an inquiry, because it seems to me to be of the first importance that the Hansard report should be absolutely reliable as a correct record of what honorable members have said. I, therefore, asked the Principal Parliamentary Reporter to furnish such a statement as he might think proper upon the comments referred to, and he has given me the following report: -
Parliamentary Reporting Staff,
Melbourne, 27th June, 1906. [Memorandum.]
In attention to Mr. Speaker’s request for a report in reference to the statements made in the House of Representatives yesterday as tp proofalteration by honorable members,’I have the honour to state -
That Mr. Joseph Cook made no alteration in the portion of the report of his speech, referred to by . Mr. Webster; and that the record is an exact transcript of the reporter’s note find corresponds with the manuscript forwarded by him to the Government Printer.
That an interjection by Mr. Webster in the course of a . speech by Mr. Kelly was omitted at Mr. Webster’s request and with Mr. Kelly’s concurrence, Mr. Webster staling that he had misapprehended the purport of the speaker’s remarks.
In my review of the proofs returned to me by honorable members, I am invariably careful to ascertain, in the. very short time available for such a purpose, that the rule against alteration of sense is not infringed.
Principal Parliamentary Reporter.
The Honorable the Speaker of the House of
– I should like the shorthand notes of the remarks which were made on the evening referred to to be looked into, with a view to ascertaining whether the expression reported in the Argus was not really uttered. The Argus report of the occurrence is as follows : -
– Did you not sign the pledge as a member of the partv?
– I did nol sign “any pledge of any party at all.
I object to the omission of those words from Hansard. I did not charge the honorable member with having struck them out, as the report of my remarks will show.
– The honorable member did make that charge against me.
– I did not. I refer the honorable member to the report of what
I said yesterday. I referred, first of all, to the editing of Hansard generally ; not to its editing by any particular individual.
– I presume that the honorable member is to be taken as making a personal explanation?
– Yes. What I said was this -
I desire to bring under your notice, Mr. Speaker, a matter which seems to require attention, and that is the editing of the speeches of honorable members before they are published in Hansard.
Then 1 illustrated the point which I desired to make, namely, that certain essential remarks of an ‘honorable member had been omitted. I did not say that they had been struck out by the honorable member for Parramatta. I said that, instead of those remarks appearing in Hansard, the words ‘recorded there were -
I have no recollection of having signed any pledge.
I referred to this method of revision as being of a certain character, and, later on, I said -
I think that Hansard should be a true record of what is said by the members of this House ; and whatever honorable members may do with regard to altering the verbiage of their remarks, they should not be allowed to take out of the report essential matters that have been openly .stated and amplified in speeches in this House.
That was a general observation.
– And an impugning of the Hansard report.
– That was a general observation covering my views as to what should be the nature of the Hansard record. It does not matter whether an honorable member who has spoken desires to alter his speech by the elimination of some essential statement, or whether the Hansard reporters, at their own discretion, decide to eliminate it, I object to either course. The Hansard record should contain the remarks uttered by honorable members on essential matters. With regard to mere matters of detail and. verbiage, there is room for the alteration which Mr. Speaker has indicated.
– Who is to decide what is essential?
– In this case I complain of the reply to an interjection which was essential being omitted. The honorable member for Parramatta has, time and again, charged honorable members on this side of the Chamber with many things ap pertaining to the caucus pledge, and I say that his remark was essential, since it affected his position, and it should therefore have appeared in Hansard as it was uttered.
– I did not utter the remark which the honorable member attributes to me.
– There are witnesses here who say that they heard the remark.
– I say that I did not utter it.
– Get the shorthand notes.
– The Argus does not generally report in an incorrect manner honorable members on the Opposition side of the Chamber, and, therefore, I think that I can rely on the statement appearing in that journal as supporting my contention that the remark I speak of was deliberately uttered by the honorable member for Parramatta in reply to an interjection from me. I think I have justification for complaining of the- non-insertion of that particular remark in Hansard.
– I rise to make a personal explanation in this matter. I repeat that I did not make use of the expression to which the honorable member refers.
– Then is the Argus wrong?
– I do not know. Does the honorable member usually accept the Argus?
– I do not; but it backs up the Opposition generally.
– Does the honorable member deny having signed the pledge?
– I decline to have anything more to do with the honorable member in this House. My reply to his statements is that I hold in my hand the proof of my speech which was sent to me to correct, and that not a single alteration of any kind appears upon it.
– I have not alleged that the honorable member made an alteration.
– I have here, too, the reporter’s proof, on which there is not a single alteration of any kind.
– I did not allege that the honorable member altered the report.
– I am also informed by the Principal Parliamentary Reporter that the report appearing in Hansard has been checked with the shorthandwriter’s notes. What further proof does the honorable member require?
– I say that the report is deficient.
– Any man who keeps repeating that statement in the face of such proofs to the contrary must be named Webster. No one else would do it.
– The report in Friday’s Argus proves the correctness of what I say.
– Had it not been for a certain allusion made by the honorable member last night, I should not have taken the slightest notice of his charge of editing Hansard, because such charges are always susceptible of proof by reference to the official records. But when he sought to drag in the name of Peter Close, of New South Wales, I thought it time to rebel against that sort of treatment. All I have to say to him is that I know nothing of Peter Close, though I fancy that he does. I had nothing to do with the appointment of the politicians who were supposed to be associated with Peter Close, though Ministers whom the honorable member supports had.
– When I heard the name Peter Close used last night, I did not know who was ‘referred to; but, as I have since gathered that the use of that name conveyed a very serious imputation, I shall in future disallow its use by any honorable member, and I must ask the honorable member for Parramatta not to use it. I hope that the present difficulty will be ended by the honorable member bringing his remarks to a close as shortly as possible.
– I claim that, having been associated with the name of a man like Peter Close, I have the right to reply. Every one who knows the circumstances knows the meaning of that association.
– I did not know last night whatthe meaning was. Had I known, I should have required the remark to be withdrawn. It was such a remark as should not have been made by any one acquainted with the facts ; but that, having been said, and this not being the occasion for a reply, the honorable member for Parramatta having replied last night, J cannot allow any further reference to the matter. This afternoon is not the time when a reply should, or can, be made.
– I have no more to say, if you, sir, will not allow me to refer to that aspect of the matter.
– The question is not whether I shall allow it, but whether the
Standing Orders are to be obeyed. The honorable member made his reply last) night, and any further comment on what was said then would be a distinct violation, of the standing order, which says that a personal explanation may not be debated.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister if his attention has been called to a report appearing in this morning’s Age, as . to the position of Australian, and New Zealand policy-holders in American insurance companies. The matter isof sufficient importance to claim the immediate attention of the Government. The article points out that in Australia and New Zealand there are some 29,967 policyholders in foreign companies, paying annual premiums amounting to , £460,000,. and insured for the sum of nearly £11,500,000. The recent scandals in America have demonstrated that the security of these policy-holders has been grievously impaired’, and that, a’lthough there may besufficient assets here to cover the local liabilities, there is nothing to prevent the realization of those assets, and the transference of the proceeds to America.’ I am informed that the attention of the PrimeMinister was called to this matter last session, and I ask whether, in view of all thecircumstances, and the expressed intentionof the Government to introduce legislationin reference to this matter, the Prime Minister will see the advisability of doing, so immediately.
– Last session, the honorable member for Herbert gave notice of a motion, which was not reached, but because of it the Government placed’ themselves in communication with the representatives of the foreign insurance companies doing business here, and obtained certain information from them as to their position. There was not so much known then of the disturbance in America, and the operations of the companies there. As was mentioned in thespeech df the Governor-General, a Bill has been drafted.
– That Bill must have been drafted before the result of the American inquiry had been made known.
– A new and moreextensive measure now awaits the sanction of the Cabinet, which I hope will be given next week. The companies with which I have been able to come into direct communication recently informed me thatno change has been made in the control of the local assets of which they gave us particulars last year, and I have been assured by one or two of the most representative companies that no measure providing adequate protection for. the policy-holders of Australia will meet with their opposition. Ihope this is the case.
– Is it possible for the Government to give the policyholders adequate protection?
– I think so. There is no doubt that we can give it with the cooperation of the companies concerned. I trust that we can give a measure of it even without their co-operation. But I am encouraged to hope that we shall receive their assistance in making it abundantly plain that the policy-holders of Australia are adequately protected.
– Is the Prime Minister satisfied with the statements of their assets which were made last year?
– I am by no means satisfied that their Australian assets cover all their possible local liabilities, but from the statements it did not appear that their assets had been diminished since these inquiries were first instituted.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the companies in question have entirely relinquished new business here, so that practically they have no incentive to remain ?
– I am aware they have no incentive to remain in Australia except that which is offered by the premiums payable upon the existing policies, by the properties which they possess, and by the deposits which they have made under State law.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether the Government have considered the advisability of making uniform laws not only as to life assurance, but also in regard to fire insurance, throughout Australia? I may mention that I had a Bill upon the business-paper last session relating to this matter, but I should much prefer the question to be taken up by the Government. The adoption of that course would be obviously better.
– In reply to the honorable and learned member, I may say that it is the intention of the Government to’ introduce such a Bill, but am unable to. hold out hope that it will be submitted during the present session.
– Will that measure relate both to’ fire and life assurance?
– We shall deal with life assurance first.
– Last week I sought to obtain some information regarding the work of the tariff Commission in respect of metals and machinery from one or other of the members of that body who were present in the House. You, sir, then stated that if the chairman had been present, and I had addressed my question to him, you would have permitted him to answer it. I now desire to ask the chairman of the Commission if he would care to say whether that body proposes scon to make any report upon the question of metals and machinery, and whether he will be good enough to make a statement to the House upon the matter?
– The honorable member was good enough to give me notice of his question, and with the concurrence of Mr. Speaker, I will answer it within the limits of my authority. The Commission will deal with the evidence relating to metals and machinery in five separate reports. The first will relate to agricultural implements generally, the second to stripperharvesters, the third to ‘mining machinery, the fourth to metals and metal work generally, and the fifth to shipbuilding. The draft report in respect to agricultural’ implements generally was circulated among members of the Commission on 12th June; that relating to stripper-harvesters was circulated yesterday, 26th June; and the draft reports in reference to mining machinery, metals, and metal-work generally, and ship-building are now in the hands of the typewriters, and will be circulated next week. The Commission will deal with these matters probably the week after next, but the precise date upon which the reports will be presented to the Governor-General I cannot at present say.
– I wish to ask the
Acting Postmaster-General whether he is in a position to reply to the question which I asked yesterday upon the subject of the use of the printed words, “ On His Majesty’s Service,” which appear upon the wrapper of a private publication? The Minister promised to give the desired information today, and I desire to know if he is prepared to do so now?
– I told the honorable member yesterday that I hoped to be in a position to give him the information which he seeks to-day. This morning, I found that the Department had taken immediate action, and had submitted the matter to which he refers to the Crown Solicitor, with a view to ascertaining exactly where the Department stood from a legal standpoint. Possibly, I shall have the papers relating to the matter in my possession tomorrow, and, as soon as they are available, I will make the fullest statement to the House, besides laying them upon the table of the Library for the information of honorable members.
– I desire to know if, in the meantime, any further copies of the publication in question, bearing the inscription to which I have referred upon the wrapper, will be transmitted through the post ?
– I understand that they will not, but I do not desire to be absolutely bound by that statement. I have given instructions that the matter shall be dealt with as promptly as possible.
– I wish to ask the Minister whether the reference to the Crown Solicitor will include his opinion as to the responsibility of the person using the words complained of upon the wrapper?
– Yes. It will deal with the point to which the honorable member refers. At this stage, I do not desire to make a full statement to the House. When I do so, I wish, to be fortified1 with all the information that the papers disclose, and at the present moment I am not quite in that position.
– Referring to some quotations - the tenor of which was opposed to the Australian Naval Agreement - made during the course of the debate upon the Address-in-Reply by the honorable member for Barker - quotations from an interview with Mr. Bellairs, M.P., whom the Prime Minister has told the House he acknowledges as “ a very competent critic,” I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence whether he will give the same immediate consideration to such parts of that interview as the honorable member for Barker did not quote, as the latter asked for the extracts which he so carefully made. I especially desire to know whether the Minister will give his immediate consideration to the concluding paragraph of Mr. Bellairs’ statement, which reads -
If they- meaning the Australians - are bent on experimenting let them experiment. It will do no harm for them to burn their fingers. The lesson would be a salutary one and awake them to the true significance of problems of naval defence.
– I think that notice should be given of such an abstruse question. I shall be glad to have notice of it given for to-morrow.
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 Gcvernor-Genera.1 to reside in Sydney and save the expenses entailed by the upkeep of Government House, Melbourne ?
-The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
I am pleased to be able, to inform the honorable member that an arrangement for the renewal of the existing agreement with the Victorian Government, under which no rent is payable for Government House, Melbourne, is practically concluded.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Referring to his answer to Mr. Mahon’s question of 21st June, does he consider that section 89 of the Electoral Act 1902, whichprovides that -
-The answers to the hon orable member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Acting PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
Information required by the honorable member has to be obtained from Sydney. Instructions have been given to expedite.Replies will be furnished as early as possible.
asked the Minister repre senting the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Sir JOHN FORREST laid upon the table the following paper : -
Transfers of amounts approved by the GovernorGeneral in Council under the Audit Act, financial year 1905-6 (dated 26th June).
Debate resumed from 26th June (vide page 742), on motion by Sir William Lyne -
That the Bill be now read a secondtime.
Upon which Mr. Wilks had moved, by way of amendment -
That all the words after the word “be” beleft out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof, the words “ not further proceeded with until after the Tariff Commission has presented its report on metals and machinery.”
– I have already promised that this debate, so far as its second reading stage is concerned, shall close this evening, and therefore I. feel no compunction in speaking, for the second time upon the general question before the House. I wish particularly this afternoon, to offer some reasons why there should be a little delay in con-, nexion with this most important measure.
I desire to advance reasons why it should not be proceeded with until after we have received from the Tariff ‘ Commission, which is now sitting, its report upon the matters that are principally affected by this Bill.
– I do not think that the honorable member got a very satisfactory reply to the .question which he put to the Chairman of the Commission this afternoon.
– I think that the reply was eminently satisfactory from my point of view, if not from that of the Minister. He is hurrying this Bill through the House, seemingly for the purpose of getting ahead of the Commission which is inquiring into these specific matters. The fact that the honorable gentleman has behind him a solid phalanx of members who will sit quiet and vote upon all occasions-
– I thought that the honorable member would get angry.
– I am not angry ; it is the Minister who is getting angry. He need not tell me that he is going to do nothing, because I know it before he makes the announcement. I know his attitude upon this question, and I know also that a little knowledge would be fatal to his political schemes. A long personal experience of him has taught me that there is nothing which is so fatal to him and his measures as the kind of knowledge which he is seeking to “burke” just now.
– I have passed the best measures to be found on the statutebooks in Australia.
– I am sure that the Minister believes that he has. He has passed a lot of measures which he dares not bring into operation, because of the impossibility of administering, them.
– The honorable member will learn all about that to-morrow or the next day.
– The information which we have gleaned to-day from the Chairman of the Tariff Commission evidences the necessity for hastening slowly with this very important proposal. This Bill has been introduced primarily to deal with many of the matters upon which the Tariff Commission is upon the verge of’ reporting.
– We have a Senate to prevent hasty legislation.
– We have a Senate, I believe, that is dominated in the same way as is this Chamber, by the silent, solid vote of men who make up their minds out of the House, and then come into it and sit tight till measures are put through. That is what we have both in this Chamber and in the Senate.
– Did not the honorable member like that state of things in New South Wales for five years?
– We did not have it for five years. To my way of thinking, nothing that has occurred in New South Wales or in’ any part of Australia has ever presented a parallel to what we see here. The Labour Party, as I said last night, ought to be re-named the deaf and dumb party, so far as discussion in this House is concerned. Its members have abdicated their old-time functions. These great tribunes of - the people who were wont to make their voices heard in the Parliaments of the States have not a word to say upon these matters, which go to the very vitals of our industrial position. These matters do not appear to concern them. Their attitude was summed up the other day by their leader in this Chamber when he said that they do not object to the consideration of ,a little protection, so long as there are more important matters from their point of view in the Government programme. That appears to be the sum and substance of the whole matter. They are therefore in this position : that, so long as there are some planks of their platform on the Government programme, Ministers may play ducks and drakes with anything beside, no matter how important it may be to the country. That is why we find them sitting kin a solid phalanx, none of them saying a word. They simply sit tight, and see these measures put through, very often, I venture to say, without knowing what is in them. ‘ So far from that lessening our obligation, it increases it. The people outside should know something about what is going on here, and if honorable members of the Labour Party, who are supposed to take the great working population of Australia specially under their wing, will not condescend to enlighten them in any way. there is all the more reason why we should do it.
– And the working men will not trust the honorable member.
– I do not know about that.
– I do.
– The honorable gentleman knows a lot. He has all his life been a good friend to the working men.
– I have.
– When it suited the honorable member’s purpose. This is only a new-found zeal of the honorable gentleman for the working men. His interest in the working men dates from the time when, by their votes, he was able to get on the Treasury bench.
– Does the honorable member think that that has anything to do with the question?
– It is in reply to an interjection. Until the honorable gentleman saw a chance of getting over their backs on to the Treasury bench we never heard of him doing anything but opposing the interests of the working men of Australia.
– That is not correct.
– I do not desire to. go further into that matter now, because it really is not important. But the honorable gentleman sits opposite to me, and is continually interjecting. As usual, it is the man who lives in a glass house who throws stones - the man whose record will show that time and again in the history of Australia he has been opposed to the interests of honorable members in the Labour corner.
– He has been bitterly opposed to them.
– There is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety and nine just men.
– Well, I can appreciate that sentiment; and’ if the Minister of Trade and Customs admits that he is now on the stool of repentence, all is well.
– Not at all.
– Mr. Reid said that the honorable gentleman did more for us than he would do in a thousand years.
– These interjections, so constantly repeated by honorable members on both sides, seem to me for the most part to be intended to irritate and annoy. They therefore provoke what may be called quarrelsome disputes between honorable members. The Standing Orders expressly provide that that sort of thing shall be prevented. Honorable members must know that, whether in speeches or interjections, taunting and irritating remarks are forbidden by the Standing Orders. They must be prevented, and I ask hbnorable members on both sides to refrain from them.
– This afternoon we had a statement from the Chairman of the Tariff Commission, that the subject of harvesters has been specially under the consideration of the Commission, and that we may expect a report the week after next on that subject by itself.
– No, the honorable and learned member did not say that. He said it would be presented to the Commission the week after next.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports is wrong. I happen to know from the Chairman of the Commission that he has already presented the report to the Commission.
– Did the honorable member have a previous conference with the Chairman of the Commission ?
– I believe that the members of the Tariff Commission have considered the question of harvesters, and that a special report on the subject has been circulated amongst them. We were told by the. Chairman of the Commission to-day that that report will be available, that is to say, it will be completed, so far as the members of the Tariff Commission are concerned, the week after next.
– I did not understand it so.
– That will be before this Bill gets through Committee, though we should proceed with its consideration in Committee as early as we mav. Surely, therefore, we might as well proceed with the Committee stage of this Bill, with all the knowledge which this special investigation renders . available to us, as go blundering on with the Bill in Committee without that knowledge ? The Government are paying but a poor compliment to the Commission in ignoring it as they do in every way they can think of. They have done so ever since the Commission began its inquiry. It would appear to be the object of the Government and of their newspaper supporters from the outset to make it appear to the people of Australia that the appointment of the Tariff Commission was neither more nor less than a farce. I think that some have gone so far as to definitely say so. That, of course, cannot be said of the Minister in charge of the Bill. He was opposed to the appointment of the Commission, but other members of the Government were not, and they gave it their approval and support. Surely the passing of this measure is not of such pressing importance as to outweigh and completely set aside all the information gained by the last twelve months of assiduous inquiry by this Commission, appointed under the hand and seal of the Governor-General? I say that it is paying but a poor compliment toa Commission of the importance of the Tariff Commission, to proceed with this measure post-haste in the way Ministers are doing . at the present time. Everybody admits that this legislation is of a purely speculative and experimental character.
– No, they do not.
– The honorable gentleman knows it.
– The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne yesterday afternoon told us that it was a pure experiment. He said that all experience is against this Bill, so far as its anti-trust provisions are concerned. He expressed openly and candidly the doubt in his mind. that we should be able to suppress these trusts. He said that the more difficulties we put in their way, the more they will contrive to get round them’. The honorable and learned member doubted exceedingly whether we could do anything to suppress the trusts or curtail their operations. Then we have the ‘honorable member for Bland ‘declaring in his place, the other day, that he had! no faith in this legislation - that, so far as he was concerned, he was blindly following the Government in this matter, in the belief that this measure would not accomplish what it is intended to accomplish.
– He did not say so.
– The honorable gentleman said that, in his opinion, this legislation would not do what it was expected to do, that it would not regulate and control these trusts, and that there was nothing for it, in his view, but the ultimate nationalization of these huge corporations. We were left to infer from what the honorable gentleman said that this is an experiment, or, rather, I should say, that he considers it a step in the process of sociali zation which the Labour Party are pursuing with respect to these combines and corporations. Here we have two of the most prominent supporters of the Bill, speaking from the Government side, with every desire to assist Ministers to push this legislation through, declaring that, in their opinion, it is useless for the purpose for which it has been introduced, namely, the repression of destructive monopolies. One of these honorable members saidl that we cannot do what is sought to be done by this Bill because of the very nature of the operations of these trusts and the extent of their ramifications. The other says that we cannot do it because they are part of our social order, which must be changed, so as to bring these trusts entirely under the confrol and operation of the Government. Yet, despite all thi* speculative and experimental element in this Bill, the Government will not wait for the knowledge which is available to them, and which might be made available to the House, before proceeding to place it on the statute-book of the country. Then the Prime Minister told us, the other night, that this is a Bill of first-rate importance. He said that trusts in the United States must be controlled by the people of that country, or they would soon control the United States - that trusts must be mastered, or they would master the country in which they existed. Surely a Bill of this kind, aiming at the very existence of our social order, at the control and regulation of most of the capital, as well as at the control of nearly all the industrial occupations of the country, is a matter in connexion with which there should be no hurry, unless there be some over-shadowing menace i’n the industrial sky, presaging events which may speedily put an end to social order and the industrial life of the country. If that menace does exist, where is the evidence- of it? It should) be easily tabulated in figures, and presented to this House. Instead of that, we hear nothing from the Minister to show that there is any need for this legislation, or that any-: thing out of the ordinary is taking place. The Prime Minister, by way of interjection, last night asked! the honorable member for Dalley what possible effect the report pf the Tariff Commission could have upon the measure now before honorable members. The honorable and learned gentleman made it very clear that, so far as the Government are concerned, they will have nothing to do with the Tariff Commission in this regard, and will not pay attention to what the Commission may say. All I have to say in reply to the Prime Minister on that point is that, while he will not have anything to do with the Tariff Commission so far as the passing of this Bill is concerned, the Minister iti charge oi the measure has made just such use of the knowledge which has come to him from the labours of the Commission as suited his purpose, and no more. The honorable gentleman referred to the Commission several times during his speech.
– Only once or twice.
– The Minister had better be sure, as I shall refer to one of the occasions he alludes to. I say that the honorable gentleman in charge of the Bill does not hesitate to use any knowledge which may come to him through the medium of the Tariff Commission if it suits his purpose to do so. Yet the Prime Minister when asked to wait for the full text of the Commission’s report, and the accompanying evidence, asks what possible effect it can have upon this matter.
– Neither can it have the slighest effect.
– Very well, if it cannot affect the measure adversely-
– It is not a question of the Tariff at all.
– Well, I thought it was. judging by the number of references to the Tariff in the honorable gentleman’s speech. He made it appear that it was nothing else but a Tariff question. The honorable gentleman made it a Tariff matter in his speech in introducing the Bill, and said a great many things about the Tariff. He particularly referred to the question of stripper harvesters, and dragged in the names of McKay and the Massey-Harris and International Harvester Companies. The honorable gentleman made very full use of these matters in moving the second reading of the Bill.
– The honorable member seems to have a brief for the International Harvester Company and the Massey-Harris Company.,
– I do not know anv of them.
– Neither do I.
– They have a brief for the other side, and not for those who pay the duties. A Royal Commission should be appointed.
– I do not want any impudence from the honorable and scurrilous member.
– The conversation between the honorable and learned member for Werriwa and the Minister is quite out of place. I again remind the honorable and learned member for Werriwa that imputations upon honorable members, whether individually or collectively, are out of order.
– The honorable gentleman knows that he made£1 50 a year from one company.
– The honorable and learned member is telling an untruth.
– It is true, and the honorable gentleman knows that it is.
– I ask the Minister to withdraw the statement he has made.
– The honorable and learned member for Werriwa made an interjection which is absolutely contrary to fact. I cannot sit and listen to his interjections and insinuations. The honorable and learned member made an insinuation the other night which has not the slightest foundation.
– I will say it outside for the honorable gentleman if that will please him.
– I do not care where the honorable and learned member says it. I defy and challenge the honorable and learned member to prove what he has said here.
– The Minister knows quite well that however he may regard the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, which I prevented the honorable and learned member from persisting in last evening, he is not in order in the statement he made just now, and which I ask him- to withdraw.
– I withdraw.
– The Minister said, in- reply to a statement from me, that I had a brief for certain harvester combinations.
– Insinuations have been made against me which are quite unjustified. It takes me all I know to control myself when I hear them repeated.
– Have I made them? Why say such things of me?
– I did not refer to the honorable member.
– I do not know any of these people. I do not know Mr. McKay ; I met him only once in the train. The Minister says that I have a brief for these companies. I reply that the Minister himself dragged all these matters into his speech, and made them the basis for asking the House to deal with this measure, and to deal with it now. What statements did the Minister make? First of all, he quoted clause 14 of the Bill, which says that the measure has to do with all matters of trade and commerce, as they affect Australia from the outside ; and therefore have to do exactly and precisely with what the Commission has been set to inquire into - that and nothing more. How else can the foreign trusts express themselves if not by means of the things which they send to Australia, if not by means of the trade and industry carried on between them and the buyers of their articles here? The Minister says that this Bill is to control foreign trusts. Very well then; it means that it is intended’ to control the operations of foreign trusts ; and those operations can only express themselves in the trade that goes on between them and Australia. That is the very thing that the Commission has been set to inquire into. It has been charged, for instance, with the duty of finding out how far harvestermakers here are being hit by foreign trusts, and bv the competition which they set up. It has been set to inquire how far our agricultural implement-makers are affected by competition from oversea. Therefore this Bill purports to deal with a matter which the Commission has been specially set to inquire into. Yet the Government has endeavoured to rush it through in this post-haste fashion, before the Commission has had time to report, and’ is seeking ;o give effect to the measure before the knowledge collected by the Commission can be made available. There is no fairness in doing that kind of thing. It is not fair to this House. It is not fair to the people outside who will be chiefly concerned. It is not fair to the farmers of Australia. It is not fair to the firms interested. It is not fair to Mr. McKay. It is not fair to anybody that this Bill should be rushed’ through, and finally and completely dealt with, until the Royal Commission has had time to’ make its report. And here is an example of the unfairness, Mr. Speaker. The Minister, during the course of his speech, referred to a statement which had been made before the Tariff ‘Commission on this question of the competition of outside companies with Mr. McKay, and’ he went on to quote a declaration, and to embody it in Hansard, which shows that some traveller must have said somewhere that these gentlemen, the American manufacturers, were going to try to drive Mr. McKay right out of the harvester trade in Australia. I ask the Minister whether he thinks it is a fait treatment of this subject to quote something which has been said on behalf of Mr. McKay to that Commission, and not to wait for the other side to be put before this House? Is there any fair play in that conduct ?
– The document quoted’ was what was written by the head of the American firm to an agent of Mr. McKay.
– If such a document was written, is it not fair, before condemning the firm in question, to hear them ? Is not that the first principle of British justice ?
– Both sides have been heard before the Commission.
– Exactly ; but both sides have not been heard here. The. Minister makes use of the statement of one of the parties, and is deliberately shutting out the possibility of the other side being heard.
– I made use of a statement made on oath.
– All statements before the Commission are made on oath.
– But this was a special statutory declaration.
– It may be so, but no contrary statement has been made public by the Commission. Does the Minister think that the Commission could specialize its reports as it has done if it did not on all occasions hear the other side? This question of harvesters is receiving no scintilla of fair play in the way this Bill is being dragged before the House. It is quite true that the case on behalf of Mr. .McKay has been presented to us. But the Minister would not permit anything to be heard on the other side in “this House. He deals with this Bill as if there were no other side to be heard. I want to secure fair play, and I therefore say that that is a reason why this Bill should not be rushed through in this way, until all the information available to the Commission . is placed in the possession of honorable members for use m this House. If the reports of the Commission were here, other honorable members might have something to say in reply to statements made on behalf of the Government. But the Minister is taking a course which absolutely prevents that from being done. That is one great reason, as I think, why there ought to be no haste in connexion with a Bill of this description. The Minister went on to tell us that he knew a great deal about this matter of harvesters. I do not know where he got his information from, but he knows what profits are made by the harvester companies; he knows what commissions are paid; he knows what it costs to make the machines. He knows all the minutiae of the business. But, strange to say, Ke knows only one side, and that is the side of Mr. McKay. He, apparently, knows nothing about the other side. Mr. McKay’s own case is prejudiced by a Minister who will be so one-sided. It is not more fair to Mr. McKay than to others ; because no one would expect any fairminded man to make up his own judgment on this matter from an ex parte statement such as that presented by the Minister of Trade and Customs in introducing this Bill. In the course of his speech, the Minister made allusions to the Tobacco Trust and the Oil Trust of America. That is a further reason why we should hear from the Royal Commission concerning these matters. Both oil and tobacco are peculiarly Tariff matters. The price of oil concerns nearly every man throughout the length and breadth of Australia, and particularly does it affect those people who are remotest from the great centres of population, and who are not enjoying the communal advantages of our town and suburban life. > A matter affecting them ought to be legislated upon with all the information available to us, so that we may know what experts on either side have said, and particularly so that we may know what the Commission has said. The Minister gave to every point of his. speech what I might call a Tariff- twist; and, whale he told us generally that this measure does not affect the Tariff, and has nothing to do with protection and free-trade, he made nothing more nor less than a protectionist appeal. His speech was that of a militant protectionist from beginning to end.
– That is a good phrase - “ militant protectionist.”
– Coined by a good man.
– It will be “ triumphant “ next.
– I hope, since the honorable member is quite certain of his cause being triumphant, that at least he will not shut out a little light upon this matter - that at least he will have his triumph in the full blaze of all the knowledge that is available. That is all we are asking for at the present time. Do not sneak this thing through in the dark. Do not sneak this thing through behind the backs of the people, and without the .knowledge which the people ought to have before them. That is the claim which we are setting up for a little delay. We say that the matters involved in this Bill are of first-class importance, although they are not so regarded by a section of this House ; and that, therefore, the fullest possible knowledge that we can .gather from any and every quarter should be brought to bear in the final and satisfactory settlement of this issue. The Minister, when speaking with regard to harvesters-, told the House in a fine burst of frankness and candour that he had been asked to take action under the Customs Act to keep out the harvesters of foreign trusts. I wonder who it was that approached him in that way. He said -
As honorable members know, the Customs Act gives the Minister great power, and I have been told by legal authorities that he has now sufficient power if he likes to exercise it, to prohibit the importation of harvesters or any other machinery.
Then why this Bill, I wonder?
– I do not think that it was intended by Parliament that that power should be exercised, and I will not do it. I believe that technically I have the power, but that it was not intended.
– The Minister says that he has. the technical power.
– Was it Mr. McKay who suggested that?
– It was not Mr. McKay who saw me. I never saw him more than once in my life.
– Was it Mr. McKay’s lawyer ?
– Then who was it?
– I am not going to say.
– It was some one connected with him.
– It was no one connected with the business at all. I give the honorable member my word as to that.
– The Minister said in the course of his speech -
I do not think that it was intended that the Minister should exercise that power; I shall decline to exercise it until I am clothed with the powers provided for in the Bill now before the House.
Thereupon the honorable member for Corinella interjected -
Has the honorable gentleman been asked to act under the section of the Customs Act to which he refers?
Well, now, I think that as the Minister has told the House so much, he ought to tell the source whence this suggestion came. Who is it that has been approaching the Minister and trying to induce him to exercise this power?
– No one in the business.
– That makes it all the more peculiar. If it is no one in the business, and no one interested in it, who oh earth would try to induce him to introduce a Bill of this kind for the purpose of keeping these importations out of Australia? The matter only becomes the more mysterious from these interjections of the Minister. If it was not Mr. McKay, if it was not any one in the business, who had the effrontery to approach the Minister to ask. him to put into operation this plenary and absolute power which he declares that he possesses, I should like to know who it was.
– What I say is that I think that, technically, I have the power, but that I think it was not intended that I should have it, and that I will not use it.
– It is a pity that the honorable gentleman mentioned the matter, if he was not prepared to tell us who tried to “ pull his leg “ on the occasion referred to.
– I told the honorable member a good deal.
– Speaking of’ the Standard Oil Trust, the Minister said that, to a large extent, it was beyond our control, because it had been organized in the United States. How do the operations of the Standard Oil Company have injurious effects upon Australia? The Minister does not know, he could not tell us. All he has heard is that there is a company organized here wilh£600,000 or £700,000, which is going to make oil.
– This morning I received a letter saying that the capital is £800,000 nominal.
– Does the honorable member act in this way upon the statements of interested parties?
– It is not the statement of interested parties, but a fact.
– I know that it is a fact.
-i think that the honorable member knows all about it.
– I know- in fact, every one knows that there is such a company ; but I have yet to learn that the honorable gentleman is supposed to act in this way atthe instance of an interested party, and at the same time decline to take any advice which an impartial Commission might give him.
– That company has never mentoned to me the subject of the Tariff or anything else. I saw the manager only once, and he was brought to me by another person.
– I suggest nothing wrong. The point I was going to make was that foreign trusts can only affect us by their exports to Australia. I hope that we are not setting up the idea that we can chase them out of America as well as Australia. I know that this Government, like the empirical political quacks that they are, have- already taken a hand in the government of the whole world. For instance, they have had a try in the government of Ireland and Natal, and are proceeding to take a hand in the government of the United States. ‘ I suppose they are going to fix matters up over there.
– What has this to do with the Bill?
– All this is in answer to the Minister’s chief, who declared that we have nothing to do with the inquiries of the Tariff Commission so far as this Bill is concerned. How can-, the operations of foreign trusts affect us. except through the Customs, exceptthrough the trading and industrial channelsof the community? Anything which has; to do with imports or exports is, I hold, ‘a. matter peculiarly within the province of the Tariff Commission, and, therefore, weOught to await their report before wepush this Bill through. Then, with re- gard to that Massey-Harris combine, the Minister makes this statement -
The trust, which is at present trying to grasp our trade and destroy our manufactures, sent us agricultural machinery valued at upwards of ^250,000.
Ought not these trusts to be heard in their own defence, and by a properly constituted and impartial tribunal? We do not ask that they should come here before the bar of the House. We have set up a tribunal, and invited them to go there, where both, sides may be heard. If these trusts are destroying our trade and beating out of Australia these important industries of ours, the Minister, if he could prove that, would come here with an overwhelming and triumphant position, which, instead of being open to challenge, would point to a grave national emergency, calling at once for treatment at the hands of the whole Chamber. But why does he not wait until he gets the report of the Tariff Commission? Why does he not wait until both sides of the question have been heard ? And when both parties to the issue have presented all the facts which are already within their knowledge and purview, then let us decide impartially between them here, as we have a right to do, and as we would be in a position to dd. But no ; one side only must be heard in justification of this Bill. It is to be pushed through the House just when the impartial Tariff Commission is to present its report. A more outrageous proceeding could scarcely be imagined. But that is all of a piece with what this Government has been trying to do ever since they got into power. What I complain of is that the Minister of Trade and Customs quotes only so much of the information which the Tariff Commission has gathered as suits his purpose; that being a purely protective purpose, and not bearing specifically on the question of the repression of destructive monopolies. From another consideration there is no particular hurry in this matter. All the information available to us in the public prints is of the rosiest possible character. For instance, we were told by the Premier of Victoria the other day that there never was such a tide of shining prosperity as exists just now in this State. Ever since he took office, he tells us that Providence has been smiling upon him, that even’ industry is flourishing, that the revenue chest is full to overflowing, and’ that his great trouble is to know what to do with his sur plus. In corroboration of that statement, I should like to refer to a leaderette which appeared in the Age of Friday last, and which is most interesting reading. It contains some statements which I should like to place on record in Hansard, because they throw a very curious light upon the fierce fiscal propaganda which that newspaper is constantly waging with so much, effect, at any rate in Victoria. In one breath the Age tells us that unless we can get some relief from the Tariff Commission, the industrial ‘life of Victoria is threatened’ with collapse, with all the dire consequences of the evils which this Bill is designed to prevent. But on Friday last - in a burst of candour, and in connexion with quite another matter - the Age throws a curious side-light on all these doleful and4 baleful prophecies which it has uttered so many times recently. Writing on Friday last, in reply to Messrs. Mann and Fleming, who had alleged that “ there were no fewer than 5,000 men in this city able and willing to work who cannot find employment “ - a deplorable condition of things, if true - the. Age goes on to say -
That is a most serious statement. . If it were capable of being .substantiated, the prosperity on which we have been priding ourselves of late would be proved a hollow sham, and we should then have occasion to doubt the accuracy of the statistics recently published concerning our expanding trade. The Customs returns show that for the first five “months of this year our oversea agricultural exports have increased by 159,000, compared with the corresponding period of 1905.
I suppose that this will be called dumping by the Minister. If so, it is dumping of the kind which the farmer of Victoria certainly is fond of. It means that he is prospering. His crops are growing, therefore he must purchase more machinery with which to reap and garner them.
The wheat yield for the past season -has been estimated at 24,000,000 bushels - an average of more than twelve bushels to the acre.
Here I pause to make one comment only. When conducting his vigorous protectionist campaign in Sydney the other day, the Prime Minister referred to the great prosperity which had come over Australia just now, and, his “ eye in a fine frenzy rolling,” said, “if the Tariff, so far, has done all this for you, what will an increase do for you?”
– Hear, hear ! that is right.
– Is the honorable member so far lost in the fogs of economic doubt and prejudice as to really make the statement that because the skies are kindly and the rains descend’ in plenitude, that is the result of protection ?
– No; my honorable friend is doing that.
– No ; that is the statement of the honorable member, because he is claiming all the credit of our good seasons for this protectionist Tariff.
– No; it is the Age article which is doing that, and the honorable member is misinterpreting it.
– The article proceeds as follows: -
And at the same time, notwithstanding our steadily increasing population -
I do not know where the population of Vic: toria is steadily increasing.
– Yes, it is.
– That the population is increasing from the Australian point of view, I know. If the tide has turned’ in Victoria, I for one am delighted to hear it -
And at the same time, notwithstanding our steadily increasing population, our general imports from abroad have notably diminished. These figures testify that in every department of our industrial life we are forging ahead. Our agriculturists are thriving, and our manufacturers, despite the handicaps they have at present to fight in the shape of ineffective protection, foreign trust competition, and many lamentable holes in our tariff fence, are beginning to overtake and supply the wants of the people with the products of Australian labour.
I believe that the figures this year show that the increase in Victorian Inter-State trade amounts to no less than , £2,000,000 sterling. This is in the State which is supposed to be “ hit” by this Tariff, and to be clamouring; night and day for fiscal measures to prevent industrial collapse. Yet the Melbourne Age goes on to say that the manufactures of Australia, and particularly of Victoria, for that is the State of which the newspaper is speaking- are beginning to overtake and supply the wants of the people with the products of Australian labour. All this means, if it means anything at all, that our labour market is in a flourishing condition.
We shall perhaps hear to-morrow or a week hence of people starving for the want of a more effective Tariff -
Crops do not plant nor gather themselves; neither do the boots we wear, and the various articles we use in our daily life, shape themselves of their..own volition.
The newspaper article proceeds - .
Yet, although we are now producing at a rate -
I ask attention to this -
Yet, although we are now producing at a rate in excess of all past precedent, we are asked to believe that we have more unemployed in the city to-day than ever. Public prosperity does not reveal itself only in statistics. It is quite apparent that we are a prosperous people. In many parts of the country there is a call for unskilled labour, which halts to be satisfied. Almost all our trades are flourishing, and the demand for skilled workmen is at least equal to the available supply.
This is a most important statement, as coming from the great protectionist panjandrum
– It is not evidence of ruin from past legislation in Victoria.
– It is not evidence of ruin from the present so-called imperfect Tariff, as the honorable member has very often called it in this Chamber.
Mrt Kennedy. - I have never said so.
– We desire a better Tariff.
– In view of the statements of the Premier of Victoria, and of this great protectionist newspaper, and in view of Victorian statistics, which show a trade expanding to the extent of £2,000,000 in manufactures, we ought not to have this prohibitive protection sprung upon us without inquiry, and without the knowledge which the report of the Tariff Commission will make available to us. That, I think, is a fair attitude to take up, whether a man be a free-trader or a protectionist. A protectionist, in my judgment, should be the first to welcome the report of the Commission, which was appointed’ specially to inquire into Tariff matters. But it seems as if the protectionists in this House, or some of them at any rate, only desired the Commission when they could not get anything more effective or more drastic, sudden and peremptory, at the hands of the Minister who presides over this- important Department. All we are asking for at the present time is postponement, and I venture to say that one speech alone, which we heard in this House last Friday, is sufficient warranty for delaying the matter to some extent. I refer to the honorable member for Mernda, who, in the course of a two hours’ address, presented, in myjudgment, an unanswerable argument for delay and further inquiry. First of all, the honorable member for Mernda went into the historicity of the question.
– Where did the honorable member get that word?
– The Minister of Trade and Customs laughs at a common word. I shall be glad to substitute another, in order to accommodate the honorable gentleman if he does not understand the word “ historicity,” and say that the honorable member for Mernda went into the history of this matter, and showed that there are conditions ‘operating as buttresses to those foreign trusts, which conditions could not operate in Australia for the simple reason that those buttresses in Australia are in the control and ownership of the people as a whole. If, therefore, the means of transportation in America supply the chief buttresses of the trusts, such results are not possible in Australia, because all our means of transportation were nationalized long ago. Moreover, the honorable member for Mernda, as a trader and manufacturer, spoke from the inside of this matter, and was able to present an argument showing that, so far as the Bill is concerned, we ought to wait for further enlightenment - for further knowledge such as the Tariff Commission can present to us. There ought to be some reply from the Government bench to a speech of that kind from a man who owes the Government allegiance, who, while telling Ministers that he speaks in the most friendly way, at the same time delivered one of the most crushing indictments against a Government measure that has been heard formany a long day within this Parliament. There were some attempts at interjection on the part of the Attorney-General when the honorable member for Mernda was speaking, but these did not in way affect the solidity and force of the argument which was presented by that honorable member.
– And by many other honorable members.
– I am referring to the honorable member for Mernda because he declared himself to be a supporter of the Government. I am not singling the honorable member out as on this side of the House ; because he took special pains to make it clear that he spoke in a friendly way and as a supporter of the Government.
– And as a protectionist a.s well.
Mr.JOSEPH COOK.- I am not trying to emphasize the protectionist aspect of the matter. The protectionists in this House ought in my opinion to be the loudest in their demand for the production of the report of the Tariff Commission. If they believe that the report will be fair and impartial, surely they of all other people ought not to be impatient to rush a measure of this kind. Surely they can wait a fortnight for valuable evidence with which to buttress their case. I do not understand this red-hot haste on the part of the Government, and of some of their protectionist supporters, to rush this legislation before the Tariff Commission has had time to make its report. I ask again, is this matter more urgent than the Tariff report itself? Admittedly our industries are flourishing, and are not being menaced by foreign depredations.
– Does the honorable member say that our iron industries are flourishing ?
SirWilliam Lyne. - No, they are not.
– There are hundreds of men out of employment in those industries.
– All I have to say is that, if our iron industries are not flourishing, the Tariff Commission will show that to be the case in a fortnight’s, time. If there are hundreds of men out of employment in the iron trades, we shall1 have proof of the fact shortly from an authoritative quarter. The Tariff Commission has inquired all over Australia into, the iron industry, and has collected and collated every fact’ connected with its. operations. Therefore, if the honorable member for Melbourne Ports believes that there is a case for further dealing withthe iron industry, he ought to be the very first to hail this knowledge, and wait itsadvent in this House, rather than rush themeasure through in its absence.
– I want this Bill, plus the highest Tariff I can get.
– I should imagine that the man who desires ultraprotection - who wants prohibitive protection, to put it plainly - or the highest Tariff hecan get-
– We will not get that, of course.
– I do not know that the honorable member will not get it. If one may judge from the empty benches, and. the interest taken in the matter on theGovernment side of the Chamber. I am not sure that the honorable member will not get what he desires - indeed, I am perfectly- certain- he will get it - that is, if this Bill goes through unaltered.
– I hope so.
– This Bill means possible prohibitive protection, so far as the iron and many other trades are concerned. Therefore, I say that even honorable members who wish to prohibit trade outside, except in some matters concerning our primary products - who desire to put a wall entirely around Australia, so far as our manufacturing is concerned - surely ought to be the first to await the result of the inquiry of the Tariff Commission, seeing that on that Commission there are ultraprotectionists who will supply all the knowledge which protectionists require to enable them to proceed with fairness, security, and industry in their quest for prohibitive duties.
– There are no ultraprotectionists on the Tariff Commission.
– I fancy there are one or two, judging from the reports of the evidence from time to time. At any rate, we have often been told, in this House and out of it, that the great outstanding need of Victoria at the present moment is a rectification of Tariff anomalies. Reports concerning these anomalies have already lain on the table of the House for three weeks, and vet no move has been made concerning them. There are other reports in course of presentation; but all the reports, it seems& are to be set aside for use at some future date. This is trifling with the people outside, who believe that the Government are in earnest in the matter, a«nd that, having the power. Ministers will deal with anomalies at the earliest possible moment. The Government have the power, and they have the reports, but instead of proceeding in a matter as to which thev have knowledge, thev insist on thrusting in front this Bill, which does not affect our industries at the moment - which does not affect any industry that is supposed to be in a state of collapse because of inefficient and ineffective protection, but which has to do with some menace that mav arise at some future time to some of our industries. The Government are playing a politically dishonest part to the people, to whom they have preached on every platform that at the very earliest moment thev will deal, and, if possible, rectify Tariff anomalies. What is to be said of such conduct in the light of the pledges given by the members of the Government to their constituents at the last election? This is, after all, the final tribunal to which all these matters must be referred. The Government and their supporters have a responsibility to their constituents, to whom they gave the solemn pledge at the last election that they would not in this Parliament enter upon any drastic Tariff legislation. Fiscal peace was their election cry- “peace for the trades that had already been so much upset by the Tariff.
– That was three years ago.
– Does a pledge become any the less a pledge because it is a year or so old ? May honorable members break pledges at the end of one or two years? The honorable member for Melbourne Ports, I know, laid down that strange doctrine in the House last year, when he said that those promises were better broken. Nothing can absolve a Ministry, which controls the .situation, and the electoral machinery, from keeping their solemn pledge to the people of Australia at the last election that they would not indulge in the Tariff tinkering in which we now see them actively engaged. This is not so much a matter of the Tariff as a matter of public honesty - a matter of public pledge, and of public statement by those who are supposed to set an example to the rest of the people of Australia. What has happened during the last eighteen months? After telling the people that there would be a rest from Tariff interference the Government have ever since been actively engaged, both administratively and by indirect legislation, iri re-opening the matter. Their object is to get further power into’ their own hands, to be twisted for fiscal purposes and ends. That is going behind the backs of the people, and sneaking in a Tariff.
– Who has been doing what the honorable member complains of?
– The honorable gentleman, for one. Ever since he has been in office he has been trying to twist its control for fiscal purposes, both by his administration and by the legislation which he has attempted to put through Parliament.
– I have not twisted the control of the Department, so far as administration is concerned, and the intra- duction of legislation cannot properly be termed twisting.
– The honorable member has dealt with many matters from the fiscal point of view, instead of impartially. If the Bill is passed into law, another Tariff will not be needed, because the Government will have a means of enforcing prohibitive protection.
– Yet the honorable member is going to vote for the measure.
– Am I? The honorable member will know all about that when we come to deal with the Bill. As the Tariff does not concern him, he need not go to. the trouble of making interjections. The party to which he belongs thinks so little of a prohibitive Tariff that its members are” never in the Chamber, and take not the slightest interest in this legislation. That is what comes of solidarity - of being tied down to certain planks of a platform, and -caring nothing about anything else.
– The members of the Labour Party have a free hand in dealing with the fiscal question.
– A free hand to let it alone, and ignore it.
– We shall not let it alone.
– I am at a loss to understand how the Prime Minister will be able to go back to his constituents after this Bill becomes law, seeing that he definitely pledged himself to a policy of fiscal peace, and the measure makes all further Tariff legislation unnecessary. I am afraid, however, that he long ago learned to regard! his electioneering pledges lightly. We have had too much evidence of that during the past eighteen months. Many of the provisions of the Bill permit of prohibitive protection.
– Nonsense !
– The secretary to the Protectionist Association has just admitted that it has a great protectionist incidence.
– It ought to have.
– The honorable member said that it has.
– Its introduction, is a violation of the solemn pledges of certain honorable members to their constituents.
– The honorable member does not believe that.
-I should not say it if I did not mean it. Will not the Prime Minister admit that theB ill provides for the equivalent of a prohibitive Tariff in respect to many of the articles which are now imported into Australia?
– It applies only to imported articles made by sweated labour.
– The argument of protectionists always is that protection is necessary to prevent the competition of sweated labour in other protectionist countries. The Bill provides specially against such importations, and does so in an abrupt’ and personal, rather than in a legislative way. Its true Object is being admitted now. It gives the Minister power to impose protection. Instead of the Government submitting a schedule of duties to foe dealt with by Parliament one by one beneath the public gaze, we are asked’ to allow the Minister of Trade and Customs to deal with this matter according to his personal whim and wish. The introduction of a measure, many of the clauses of which provide for prohibition, ‘throws a very curious light upon the manner in which the Ministry regard the solemn pledges which they have made to the people of Australia, and show how indecent is the haste with which this measure is being, pushed through. We were told’ by the . Chairman of the Tariff Commission today that its reports will be here in a fortnight’s time.
– No. He said that the reports would be before the Commission then.
– He said that the reports on harvesters and agricultural implements have been circulated, and that the Commission expect to be able to report finally the week after next’.
– He said that the reports will be considered the week after next, and that he could not say definitely when they will be presented to the Governor-General.
– At the most, I take it that the consideration of the reports will consume only a week more.
– I do not know about that.
– I assume that the Commissioners will deal with this matter in a business-like way, and I think that they should be able to settle the harvester question w.ithin a week. Indecent haste is being shown bv the Government in pushing this measure through, when, within a fortnight or three weeks, we shall have an authoritative report on the whole harvester question. I ask the Minister to delay the consideration of this measure until we can deal with it in the light of the full knowledge that will then be available - knowledge taken upon oath, under a Commission issued by the Governor-General himself. If the consideration of the measure is delayed until that knowledge is available to us, we shall be able to deal with the measure with all the facts before us, and will arrive at the best solution suggesting itself under the circumstances.
– I wish to give a few reasons in support of the amendment of the honorable member for Dalley, postponing the further consideration of the Bill until the reports of the Tariff Commission are before us. That Commission was appointed to inquire into the allegations that Australian industries are being injured by foreign competition, and, up to the present time, its inquiry has cost the country something like £12,000. Does the Government intend that that money shall be wasted, as it will be wasted if we deal with a measure whose raison d’etre is the allegations to which I have referred, before the evidence of the Commission is available to us ? It is only by perusing the reports of the Commission that we can ascertain the actual conditions of the industries which we have been informed are languishing, particularly in Victoria. At the present time we have only the interested statements of the manufacturers and their political representatives in this Chamber. But the object of the Commission was to obtain evidence from every available source, so that Parliament might be placed in . possession of reliable data upon which to form an opinion as to whether or not legislation was necessary to improve our industrial conditions. No facts have been adduced to show that the proposed legislation is urgent, or to substantiate the statements which have been made as to the existence of dumping. We have heard a great deal about the injury inflicted upon Australian industries by the practice of dumping imported goods on to this ‘market, and selling them at prices lower than those charged for Australianmade goods, and Ave are asked to believe that one of the reasons actuating the Minister in bringing forward legislation of this kind was the necessity for putting an end to what he terms unfair competition. But, although he and other honorable members have alleged that dumping is largely resorted to in Australian markets, no instance of dumping has been brought forward to support their statements. They have been challenged to bring forward such instances, but, up to the present time, we have not had before us a tittle of evidence as to the existence of dumping. We are asked to deal with the Bill as an urgent matter, whose consideration cannot be delayed for a week, or even for a day, because Australian industries are being destroyed by dumping, and yet, although the Minister has at his command all the sources of information possessed by the Customs Department, he has not been able to produce a tittle of evidence in support of the allegation that dumping exists. Therefore we are justified in believing that it does not exist. Even if it did exist, who would be injured by it? Certainly not those who would thereby be able to obtain goods more cheaply than they could otherwise obtain them. _ Dumping would certainly not injure the consumer of goods, whose interests the Bill professes to protect. If shiploads of goods were brought in and dumped upon our wharfs, and afterwards sold at ridiculously low prices, what harm would be done to those who purchased the goods? Foreign manufacturers will not send their goods to this country unless by doing so they can make a profit. ,
– Is it not desirable to employ our own people?
– Our own people must be employed in some way or another in order to obtain the money necessary to pay for the goods which are imported, which would not be sent here if they could not be paid for. The goods which we import are paid for with the goods which we export. That, however, is an aspect of the subject with which I do not propose to deal further at the present time. lest I should be drawn into discussing the main question, and not the amendment. But in my opinion, and in that of anybody who will take the trouble to think for a moment, the practice of dumping - even if it did exist - would confer, at any rate upon the poorer sections of the community, a very decided advantage. If it is to be prevented under a Bill of this kind, a very great amount of hardship will be imposed upon this class of people, who will thus be deprived of the opportunity of obtaining a great many things which, under the conditions that are alleged to exist at present, they will be able to secure. But, so far, no evidence of the existence of dumping has been furnished to this Chamber. The third reason why I object to proceeding with the discussion of the Bil! at the present juncture is that popular opinion, so far as it has been ascertained by resolutions at meetings, and in other ways, is almost universally opposed .to the legislation which is contemplated.
– Where were the public meetings held?
– I am speaking chiefly of organizations, and not of public meetings in the ordinary sense of the term. The opinion which has. been expressed by bodies representing those who are specially interested in the trade, industry, and commerce of the country is decidedly adverse to this measure. Indeed among the mercantile community generally, little short of consternation prevails in regard to it. . The only consolation, which these persons can find is based upon their profound belief that this Legislature could never do such a dastardly thing as to pass a measure of this character. They hold that it is impossible that an intelligent Legislature could carry it. That is the feeling which exists to-day - a feeling which has found expression in various resolutions by Chambers of Commerce, by Employers’ Federations, and by other bodies both in this State and others. In this connexion I pro-‘ pose to quote a resolution which was adopted by the Victorian Employers’ Federation at a meeting which was held only a few nights ago. I propose to read the resolution which was passed by the Employers’ Federation - a body which represents not only the employers, but the manufacturing, trading, transport, producing, and financial interests of Victoria. Honorable members must recognise that this organization is a thoroughly representative one, consisting as it does of persons who are engaged! in manufacture, and in financial operations. The resolution reads -
That this Federation of Employers, representing the manufacturing, trading, and transport, producing, and financial interests of Victoria, protests against the passage of the Bill known as the Australian Preservation of Industries and Repression of Destructive Monopolies, on the ground that it mixes up two different questions, the preservation of Australian industries and the repression of destructive monopolies. In respect to the first title, we are as much interested in the maintenance of Australian industries - in fact more so - than any other organization in this community, and believe this is already provided for by the protectionist policy adopted by the Commonwealth.
I should like to know what the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has to say concerning that declaration by a body which is admittedly in a better position to express an opinion upon this subject, because of its own financial interests which are involved, than is any other body in Australia. The resolution continues -
In respect to the second title, the repression of destructive monopolies, we are as much earnestly opposed to the introduction of destructive monopolies, either from outside or in out midst, as any other portion of the community, and even more so, as our interests lie against such combinations. We will strongly support any equitable measure brought in by Government - State or Federal - which has their repression in view, but as business men we believe in the principle of “ live and let live,” and are not prepared to unfairly handicap men in business, nor the producer or consumer, by supporting the clauses in the present Bill under the heading of “ prevention of dumping,” for they are selfish and prejudicial to the best interests of the body politic, and appear to have been drawn by persons unacquainted wilh the details of business, and therefore unable to form a correct opinion of the outcome of such legislation.
I am sorry that the Minister of Trade and Customs is not present to hear the opinion of this body regarding his fitness to deal with legislation of this character - an opinion which, applies equally to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, and other advocates of this pernicious measure. The resolution continues -
We, therefore, consider that the Bill should be placed in the hands of a Select Committee of the House, such committee to take the most exhaustive evidence on the whole matter, with a view to the Bill being dealt with on its merits as a non-party measure.
That is the suggestion which emanates from a body of men in whose special interests this Bill is supposed to have been drawn. They affirm that it is a destructive measure, that it is not necessary, and that, instead of benefiting them, it will inflict serious injury upon their trade. They even go so far as to say that those who are responsible for its drafting cannot be conversant with the ordinary principles which govern trade and manufacture. They practically tell the Minister and those who support him that they are attempting to do something the nature Of which they do not understand, and with which they are not competent to deal. I thoroughly indorse that expression of opinion. I say that the less we as a
Legislature interfere with the trading and manufacturing concerns of the community the better it will be for everybody. That is another reason why we should defer the consideration of this Bill. When we see an important and influential body like the Victorian Employers’ Federation denouncing the measure, affirming that its pro-‘ visions are tyrannical and unjust, and that its operations will be productive only of disaster to the commercial and manufacturing interests, as well as to those of the community generally, I think we have a right to attach some weight to their expressions of opinion.
– To what body is the honorable member alluding?
– I am speaking of the Victorian Employers’ Federation, in whose special interests this Bill is supposed to be brought forward.
– They howl about every bit of progressive legislation that is introduced.
– I quite agree with the honorable member that there are occasions when bodies of employers howl without just cause. But there are other occasions when they have just reason to complain, and this is one of them.
– Has the honorable member ever read the fable of the boy and the wolf ?
– I do not hold a brief for the Employers’ Federation, and, as a rule, I have very little sympathy with organizations of that character, because I know that, under ordinary circumstances, they are very well able to take care of themselves, and that, if there were not some Members of Parliament, at any
Tate, who keep a close watch upon their operations, their tendency would often be in-the direction of tyranny and oppression. I freely recognise that, and I do not think that anybody will accuse me of holding a brief for an organization of that kind. In fact, my sympathies are all in the other direction, and my natural instincts are in favour of equal justice to all classes of. the community. But when legislation of this character is brought forward, ostensibly to afford relief to the very people who are said to be suffering from unjust competition, whose capital is alleged to be endangered, and whose profits, it is asserted, are being unduly interfered with, and when their1 organization repudiates such statements by practically declaring that there is no foundation whatever for them, that its members do not want this legislation, I hold that the ‘main ground upon which the Minister has rested his case for the introduction of the Bill has been absolutely cut from under his feet. That is my only reason for making the quotation which I have made. Another reason that I would urge in support of the amendment is that only the most pressing necessity should induce Parliament to confer upon the Minister the powers which it is proposed to vest in him under this Bill. Honorable members who have read its provisions know very well the drastic powers which it will confer upon him. They must recognise that, in its present form, it would give him absolute control over the whole of the trading, commercial, and manufacturing interests of the Commonwealth. That portion of the measure which relates to’ dumping would practically .confer upon him absolute power to prohibit the importation of any goods if it could be shown that their importation in any way prejudiced the sale of the locally-manufactured article. This could be done on the plea that such goods were entering into unfair competition with locally-manufactured goods. Everything then would depend on what the Minister would consider to be unfair competition. The qualities of the respective goods would not weigh in the determination of the matter. We know perfectly well that all successful competition by imported goods would probably be deemed to be unfair competition, because it would naturally prejudice the sale of locallymanufactured goods. That is to say, that people would purchase imported goods when they could get a better class of goods at the same or a lower price than they would have to pay for locally-manufactured goods. There would then be successful competition by the imported good’s, and the Minister, seeing the effect that that must have upon local production, could declare it to be unfair competition, and at once proceed’ to prohibit the importation of those goods. The immense power of prohibition conferred under this Bill upon the Minister of Trade and Customs is a very dangerous power to relegate to any man, and affords another reason why Parliament should hesitate to pass it. A further reason why I support the amendment is, that it is notorious that the people at whose instigation the Bill has been intro’duced are making immense profits from their operations under the existing Tariff. When speaking on the motion for the second reading of the Bill a few days ago, 1 showed that various trades which I enumerated, and which have been specially mentioned in this Chamber as included in the category of languishing industries, are really in a most flourishing condition at the present time. In support of that I quoted the figures of the Chief Statistician here, and also the opinions given in newspaper interviews by representatives of leading manufacturing firms in Victoria. This went to show that, so far from legislation of this character being needed1 to preserve the local industries from destruction’, and to protect them from alleged dumping, those industries) as a matter of fact, are in a better condition at the present time under the existing Tariff than they ever were under the’ old Victorian Tariff. They, moreover, now get a wider market as a result of InterState free-trade. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports interjected just now to the effect that industries in the iron trade were suffering, lt is quite true that for a certain period those industries did suffer in Victoria under the old Victorian Tariff. They went down in the period between 1890 and 1894, with each suc-, ceeding year a greater falling off, but since the Federal Tariff has been in operation those industries have wonderfully revived, and. according to Mr. Harrison Ord, a steadv improvement has taken place in all of them. To refresh the memories of honorable members on this point, I may perhaps be permitted to repeat a quotation given in a former speech, whjch will show that legislation of this character is not necessary, and that, at any rate, it ought to be delayed until we have the report of the Tariff Commission before us, and are able to judge whether they have secured evidence which will substantiate the claims as to the necessity for, and urgency of, this legislation. I find the following statements made in connexion with the operations of Thompson and Company, a large engineering firm, whose works are at Castlemaine: -
One of the marked features of the trade since the financial crisis of 1893, which sealed the doom of the over-capitalized and badly managed concerns, has been the increase in number, both in Melbourne and country centres, of small, well-managed undertakings, and the remarkable rise of two or three of the larger enterprises in vh: provinces, notably Messrs. Thompson and Co.’s engineering works at Castlemaine.
– What is the honorable member quoting from?
– I am repeating a quotation which I have already given,but which apparently has escaped the attention of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports.
– At what date was thac statement made ?
– On the 8th November last.
– To whom?
– To an interviewer representing the Argus newspaper.
– Let the honorable member interview their men, and hear what thev say.
– We are told that the trades are sinking ; that the men whose capital is invested in these undertakings are suffering injury as the result of unlimited importations, and that it is to preserve to these men the capital they have invested in these industries and prevent their profits from being diminished, that such legislation as that now before us is necessary. When we have these men themselves coming forward and saying that their industries are in a prosperous condition, that their profits are not being diminished, but, on the contrary, are on the increase, we have a right to consider their statements, and to put them forward as evidence in rebuttal of what is said by honorable members who desire to press forward this legislation with such unseemly haste.
– The statement quoted by the honorable member is that of the head of a free-trade firm, who pay is. per day less than other firms in the same line of business.
– I am not prepared to accept any statement of that character coming from the honorable member as being absolutely correct, but there are other firms who have corroborated what Messrs. Thompson and Company have said. Perhaps the honorable member for Melbourne Ports will say that they are all freetraders. Whether thev are free-traders or not, they are men who are enjoying the benefits of the existing Federal Tariff, and whose industries are admittedly progressing better under that Tariff than they did under the old Victorian Tariff, which imposed higher duties. To proceed with the quotation - ….. and Messrs. A. Roberts and . Sons at Bendigo. It is like a whiff of wholesome country air to learn at first hand what these firms are doing.
Messrs’. Thompson and Company have 300 hands engaged.
– Not now.
– This statement was made last November, and I should be very much surprised to learn that there is any very serious diminution in the number of hands engaged By Messrs. Thompson and Company, whilst we know there has since been no alteration of the Tariff.
– Let the honorable member ring them up and ask.
– I ‘ am not able to leave the Chamber at the present time ‘to do what the honorable member suggests. The quotation proceeds -
Messrs. Thompson and Company have 300 hands engaged; they are working night and dav, and orders are coming in just as fast as they can be profitably dealt with.
As affecting the alleged necessity for this measure,- that is a most damaging statement from one of the firms in whose special interest it is supposed to be designed. Mr. Thompson went on to’ say -
We specialize on mining machinery and pumps ; but do other work as well. For many years we have secured the tenders for the railway points andplates used ‘throughout the State. At present nothing is being done in this line, but it will come again. In the meantime we have plenty of other work to engage our attention. We receive orders from all the other States of the Commonwealth. Even Borneo and other Eastern countries send us orders. The Federal Tariff has not injured us. On the contrary the freeing of Inter-State trade from restrictions has been a gain. We put little faith in Tariff assistance. The point of view we take is that if we cannot compete against all comers there will be no strength or stability in our trade.
I am sorry that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is not now present to listen to this statement: -
Our enterprise began twenty-eight years ago with eight men in a little shantv. The works now cover five acres, and we still want room. We employ 300 persons, and we are kept fully employed year after year. Our trade is growing all the time. We have kept up to date in methods, tools, and appliances. The railway track runs into the works. We generate the electricity for lighting ; compressed air is used in working cranes, tools, and appliances all over the place. No detail which will cheapen production is overlooked.
Mr.Lonsdale. - That is wrong.
– Yes. Under the latest proposed legislation they will not be able to import these latest appliances, but will ‘ have to continue the use of obsolete machines, lest they be mulct under drastic regulations, framed by the Minister of Trade and Customs, under the measure proposed. Mr. Thompson further said -
Our men, too, grow up with the business, and give us no trouble. There is not the unrest and agitation which appear to exist in large centres, and this is a great gain, both to employers and employes, in important enterprises.
It will’ be seen from that statement, which is borne out by similar statements made by the representatives of other large engineering firms, that, so far from these industries being in such a condition as to require that special legislation should be passed in a desperate hurry for their relief, to prevent the diminution of the profits of those conducting them, or avert their entire destruction, they are in a most flourishing condition, are growing, and are increasingly prosperous every year. Another reason why I support the amendment is that the indecent haste displayed in trying to force this measure through before the Tariff Commission’s reports are presented, indicates that the Minister in charge of the Bill fears that those reports willdisclose the fact that there is no necessity for such legislation. The honorable gentleman’s action in trying to force this legislation through with such indecent haste, and on an unwilling country, will give rise to the gravest suspicions that this measure, to further enrich men who are already reaping rich harvests from Tariff barriers that hamper competition, must have some other reason behind it that has not been disclosed, and perhaps will not bear the light of day. The Minister cannot well complain if the public are inclined to take a very suspicious view of his action in the circumstances, because such a view would be justified bv the fact that the honorable gentleman, has not attempted to give any tangible reason for the introduction of such legislation. Still less has he attempted any justification for pushing it forward with undue haste in the face of all the objections urged against it, inside and outside of the House, by representatives of the people, and by those who will be specially interfered with bv the measure. My final objection to dealing with this Bill at the present time is because of the disastrous effects that legislation of this kind will have upon the great masses of the community so far as it affects the purchasing power of their earnings. Anybody who has studied the Bill must realize that regulations framed under it would in the hands of a Minister who was so disposed - and I make no special reference to the present Minister of Trade and Customs in this connexion, but to any Minister who might have very strong leanings in a certain direction - entail immense hardships upon, that very section of the community which those honorable members who profess specially to represent labour should endeavour to protect. When a similar measure was introduced last session many of them opposed it, and did so rightly, because of the damaging effect it would have upon the poorer paid classes. But now we find them making a volte face for no apparent reason, and showing a disposition to swallow this legislation. The Bill will destroy the chance of working people obtaining bargains at the half-yearly sales for the purpose of clothing themselves and their families. Under this Bill, to hold such a periodical clearance sale, may be made an offence punishable by heavyfine or imprisonment. It is well known that at such sales prices are often reduced far below the ordinary market rates, and when they are so reduced the goods must necessarily come into competition! with others which are sold at normal prices. Therefore, I oppose this Bill because its operation will have a most injurious and disastrous effect upon the great wage-earning community, will materially lower the value of their wages, and will lessen their purchasing power by compelling them to pay a higher price for goods. This is one of the most iniquitous proposals that has ever been submitted to this or any other Parliament, and it is marvellous, to my mind, that indignation meetings have not been held from one end of the country to the other in. protest against it. I can but surmise that the reason why, that course has not been taken is that the people have failed to grasp the true significance of the measure. Many of them, unfortunately, are even ignorant that legislation of the kind is being considered by the Federal Parliament. Even when one talks to men in business, and tells them about the provisions of this Bill, they do not believe that such ‘ a thing can be proposed. They do not believe that any Minister or any Government would dare - that -is the word which many of them use - to introduce such legislation, or that Parliament would carry it into effect. And yet this Parliament is at the very moment asked to pass such legislation by the Government of the day. In the face of the evidence of public condemnation which, so far as we have been able to gather, has been manifested wherever the Bill has’ been considered, I contend that it ought not to be proceeded with atthis stage. I, for one, shall therefore heartily support the amendment of the honorable member for Dalley.
– I also support the amendment of the honorable member for Dalley, because I do not think that we ought to legislate upon this and kindred subjects until we have the fullest information placed before us. There is no need to legislate in a panic. The report of the Tariff Commission will soon be brought before us, and it is very much better to wait until we can study the evidence. The Minister himself, who is supposed to have looked up all the questions concerned with the Bill, exposed his want of knowledge - indeed, he showed his absolute i’gnorance of many matters about which he spoke. He spoke with an absolute recklessness as to whether his statements were true or false, on some important points. For instance, he referred to the Massey-Harris Company -as being an offshoot of the American Steel Trust. That statement I challenge at once. The MasseyHarris Company is no off-shoot of the Steel Trust. If I am asked for my authority for that statement, I can give it. I have no doubt that the allegation has been contradicted in the evidence before the Tariff Commission. That affords another reason why we should not proceed to legislate upon these false lines. How can we rely upon the statements made by the Minister in introducing, this Bill, when we find, on testing some of the most important of them, that they are quite incorrect? The Minister also referred to the International Harvester Company as being in conjunction with the Steel Trust. Now, the International is an American Company, but it has always been in opposition to the Steel Trust. At the present time, it is erecting larger works at Chicago, for the express purpose of fighting the trust. It stands not as a part of the Steel Trust, but absolutely as a competing force. Yet, we are called upon to legislate because we. are told that the International Company is in alliance with the octopus Steel Trust of the United States ! I have gleaned some useful information on this subject from an American publication called The Farm Implement News, of which
I happened to get a copy the other day. It contains an article which states that never on any occasion has the. International Harvester Company had any connexion by agreement or otherwise with the Steel Trust, but has always been in competition with it, and is at present extending its works for the express purpose of increasing its competition in other directions. We ought to have the evidence taken before the Tariff Commission in our hands before we legislate, in order that we may test the statements of the Minister from the sworn evidence of witnesses. Speaking with regard to sub-clause 2 of clause 14, under which persons are prevented from giving large commissions to agents, the Minister quoted the words-
If the person importing or selling the imported goods directly or indirectly gives to agents or to intermediaries disproportionately large reward or remuneration for selling or recommending the goods -
Thereupon the honorable member for Corinella interjected -
Disproportionately with what?
And the Minister replied -
That means beyond the ordinary trade charges. It has been clearly and repeatedly exemplified in the case of the Massey-Harris Company and the International Harvester Company. It has been stated that in pushing the machines, commissions to the extent of some £26 and ^30 have been given for selling single harvesters, which it. has been said only cost ^40 each.
That statement is not correct. I will not use a stronger term, because it would be unparliamentary, but I repeat that it is not correct. The chairman of the Tariff Commission was present, and interjected -
They amounted to 26 per cent, on the selling price.
That statement I also challenge. I venture to say that if the evidence taken by the Tariff Commission were before us, it could be proved from it that neither the statement of the Minister of Trade and Customs nor that of the Chairman of the Tariff Commission was accurate. We have no right to legislate on statements of this kind. The evidence will show that the 26 per cent, includes the whole of the distributing charges, and not merely the commission, which amounts to about £6 per machine. I will not way that the statements I have quoted were made for the purpose of misleading the House, but still they were misleading, even if made honestly. Ought we, on the basis of such misleading remarks, to pass legislation of this drastic character without waiting for the sworn evidence of witnesses to be placed before us? The statement of Mr. Coxon was alluded to. He is, no doubt, an honorable man, a man of the highest repute. No one questions that. He said, in his affidavit which was quoted, that he had ‘been told by the International Harvester Company’s agent .that the company meant to crush out ‘Mr. McKay and the other local makers. But what commercial traveller does not make statements of that kind? What traveller does not talk about his firm crushing out its rivals? Even if a representative of the International Company did make such a statement, are we going to legislate upon such a basis ? Is all the legislative machinery of this. Parliament to be put in force upon the statement of a commercial traveller in pushing his business? Just imagine that this Parliament, which we were assured’ was going to attain to a higher plane than the State Parliaments have done - which was to lift the public life of this country into a nobler and serener atmosphere - should be considering a Bill introduced simply in the interests of one or two firms? Are we, who are supposed to occupy these high and noble positions, to pass laws in the interests of a couple of manufacturers? If local firms are being injured by the importations of harvesters and other machinery, if the price is being kept down by them, then, of necessity* that injury is a benefit to the great bulk of the community. But the local manufacturers are not being injured. I have looked at- part of the evidence which has been issued to us by the Tariff Commission, and I give an absolute denial to the Minister’s statement that the local manufacturers are being injured by foreign companies. I am not here to advocate any man’s business. It is an outrage that any one should come here to try to bolster up or protect any business. Our duty is to safeguard the interests of the people as a whole. We are not sent here to seek to advance the interests of individual concerns or individual men. But the Minister is doing that. He stands here and makes statements, some being correct and others misleading, and I challenge him to give any proof which will be taken in a court of law that the local manufacturers of “harvesters are being ruined by importations. According to the evidence which has been issued to us, these gentlemen have refused to let the Tariff
Commission know, either confidentially or otherwise, what, their profits are. They have admitted, however, that they are doing better than they did before the Tariff was altered. They have admitted that their business has not gone back. That admission is quite enough to satisfy us that they are doing better than they did previously. If we examine the figures to which they have sworn, we must come to the conclusion that they are making a profit of £20,000 or ,£30,000 a year. This is a sample of the strangled industries which the House is called upon to help by passing a Bill of this character. We ‘are called upon to help men who are filling their pockets at the expense of the farmers, who are standing for high prices, who are not seeking to use the positions they have for the benefit of themselves and others, but who are seeking to destroy the competition which, stands between them and the crushing of the farmers to the fullest extent possible. We should receive the report of the evidence taken, by the Tariff Commission before we move one step in the direction advocated by the Minister. If the House is true to its dignity and power, it will tell Ministers that until that information is available it will not deal with the ‘Bill. At the present time, in the shape of duty and importing charges, there is a difference of £20 per machine in favour of the local manufacturers. Surely that is enough protection for any business to have ! It is an absurdity to suggest that they cannot compete with outside manufacturers when they enjoy that large measure of protection. Right through, all this cry about injured industries has been simply absurd. Should we not have, before us the report of the Tariff Commission, so that we may learn whether dumping is an injury, and, if so, under what circumstances it is - in fact, whether there is any dumping done in the proper sense of the term? We may have a degree of dumping which reduces the price of an article, but which increases employment in the country where the dumping is done. I do not know whether the Tariff Commission has taken up that aspect of the question, but, if not, it ought to deal with that and all other aspects of the subject. In the days when sugar was dumped into Great Britain at a cheap rate, and when there was am idea throughout the King.dom that the refining industry was being injured thereby, what happened? A Select
Committee was appointed to inquire into the matter, and they discovered’ that the re. fineries were injured by the dumping. According to this Bill, cheap sugar should not be allowed to come in, because it would put men out of employment. But what further happened in England? Not only were the great mass of the people benefited by the reduction in price, but in all the industries which needed sugar as a basis, such as the confectionery, jam-making, and biscuit industries, three men went into employment for every one man who was put out of the refineries. Under the provisions of this Bill, however, that could not occur. We are practically asked to look after one industry, and let the other three suffer. There are circumstances when dumping, as it is called, is of the greatest advantage to the community. We cannot possibly deal -with this question on fair lines until we are in possession of the report of the Tariff Commission, and can learn the extent to which dumping has gone on, and whether it is an evil or not. My opinion is that no (Jumping is an evil. I should like people ,to dump into my back yard everything I want. I certainly would not look upon the dumping as an evil. I really cannot understand men talking as they do about dumping.
– It would not matter about the honorable member’s neighbours starving.
– My neighbours would not starve. The interjection shows how much the honorable member understands the economics of the question. We cannot get things for nothing. If people got things for nothing, they would’ not want to work. We all try to do as little work as possible. Nobody wants to work any more than is necessary. I do not know a man in the community who does. If we could get all the comforts we needed without working, we should be quite prepared to accept the position. And if we want an article from another country, we must employ our labour in producing the article which we are best able to produce, and exchanging it for the article we want. If one can buy a pair of trousers for the proceeds of halfaday’s work, that is better than having to give the proceeds of a full day’s work. When Mr. Chamberlain succeeded in getting the Sugar Convention denounced, the price of sugar in England was raised. That mav have helped the sugar planters in the West .Indies, and the refiners of England. But what happened? There was an outcry that the confectionery and every other industry of that kind, had been injured, and that a large number of persons had been thrown out of employment because of the increase in the price of sugar. Under the provisions of this Bill, however, if an article came here at an increased price, it would not be touched; whereas in England the increase in the price of sugar put more men out of employment than did the reduction. If we are to legislate on the subject of trusts, let us legislate as men, and not- because we have a sort of hatred against capital. If large aggregations of capital are injuring the community as a whole, then let us seek to regulate and control them, but let us. legislate in a proper spirit, and in the light of all the information which is available to us. From an address delivered by Mr. Dos Passos before the Industrial Commission at Washington, I desire to quote a few extracts concerning the regulation of commercial trusts. In- his, address he quotes the following passage from Buckle: -
Every European Government which has legislated much respecting the loss of trade, has acted as if its main object were to suppress the trade and ruin- the traders. Instead of leaving the natural industry to take its own course, it has been troubled bv an interminable series of regulations, all intended for its good, and all inflicting serious harm. By their laws against usury they have increased usury.
After reading that extract from Buckle, Mr. Dos Passos addressed the Commission in these terms1 -
Not that I wish to see you go out of existence ; I would continue you and your successors for ever. A commission of inquiry is the instrumentality that stands between extravagant and demogogic demands, and good sensible business judgment and. the true interests of the people; it is the tribunal through which every question of currency or Inter-State commerce and other great public subjects should pass. Conclusions filtered through such a source must be based upon facts, and not speculations; and when laws are framed after such study, the people will not see any Sherman Anti-Trust Acts, or multitudes of other laws, unexecuted upon the statute books, and which make the law a byword and a reproach. The inability of courts to carry out such statutes, and give them effect, is because they are not based oni any reasonable or sensible principle of legislation.
Nobody can read the speech of the Minister of Trade and Customs in moving the second reading of this Bill without realizing how much that statement applies to his assertions. His speech con- tains nothing which is reasonable or wise. It is marked by recklessness from begining to end. It contains scarcely any statement which cannot be challenged. Before we proceed with this measure, therefore, we should have the report of the Tariff Commission. Mr. Dos Passos goes on to point out in his address how utterly futile in many cases is legislation directed against trusts. He says -
The most notable example, however, of this species of legislation is to be found in this country, and it grew out of speculations in gold, which caused an enormous agitation and excitement in. Wall-street, as you, gentlemen, can remember from history, perhaps some of you personally. The effect and influence of the speculation in gold, it was thought, was so detrimental to the interests of this country, that Congress was invoked to pass a statute to prevent it, and it promptly did it; it passed a law in 1864, in June of that year, which you will find, in the United States statutes, by which it was made a crime for persons to sell and deal in gold unless they were the owners of the coin.
Now, what was the effect of that statute? So absolutely ineffectual, futile, and absurd was the legislation, that gold went up thirty points the next day, and fifteen days afterwards, by the same Congress, the .Act was repealed because it was regarded as being absolutely detrimental to the interests of the country.
That is just the sort of panic legislation which the Government have introduced, and their reason is the great ruin which it is supposed will overtake us because of the reduction in the price of harvesters to farmers. The Government desire to keep prices up, and still further enrich certain rich manufacturers. It was, I believe, the Attorney-General who, a year ago, pleaded with the House, in the interests of poor people, who otherwise would not be able to satisfy their needs and obtain a Christmas dinner, to pass a measure of this kind before we separated. . But the fact is that we have at present everywhere in the Commonwealth greater prosperity than we then had. Had we passed the Bill as we were asked to do, it doubtless would have been declared to be the cause of the prosperity. I regret that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is not within the Chamber, - because I wish to refer to the statement made by him, when the honorable member for Lang was speaking, that Messrs. Thompson and Company are a free-trade firm, who pay their men a shilling a day less than is paid to the employes of other firms in the same line of business. I wish to tell the honorable member for Mel- bourne Ports that it is my intention to communicate on the matter with Messrs. Thompson and Company, because, in my opinion, a statement of that kind, if it be a slander, should not be allowed to go unchallenged in this House. I have heard extraordinary statements before from the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, and have challenged, and successfully challenged, them ; and it is well that legislation of this kind should not be based on allegations which cannot be substantiated. The Minister of Trade and Customs, it will be remembered, has declared that he never interviewed any manufacturers in regard to the duties and the kind of legislation with, which we are now dealing. I interjected across the table that there had evidently been some statements made to the Minister in regard to duties; but the honorable gentleman declared that that was not so. When introducing the Bill, and speaking of the competition between the Standard Oil Company and an oil company in Australia, the Minister of Trade and Customs said that in New South Wales -
A company with a very large capital - I think that the nominal capital amounts to ^600,000 or ^700,000 - the Minister has since stated that the capital is £800,000 - is building a railway from near Clarence Siding to shale deposits some miles distant, at a cost of £80,000. The manager told me that, if the company were protected, he had not the slightest doubt as to the success of their venture, as they have enough shale to last them for any reasonable time.
There can be no doubt, therefore, that the Minister was approached, and that he has been approached from all directions by men who want this kind of Bill. It is the intention of the Minister to prevent the Standard Oil Trust from competing with shale oil1 manufacturers in Australia, and doubtless he will call the competition unfair, because the American company hap* pens to possess natural oil wells. In the interests of that great bulk of the community who use kerosene, such a power ought not to be given into the hands of any Minister. No man should be in a position to prevent, at his own sweet will, the importation of commodities. The fact is, this Bill* is introduced for protective purposes entirely ; and before we take one step further with a measure which is fraught with such important consequences, and which enables a Minister to a large extent to prevent importation, we should have the clearest evidence, even though the report of the Tariff Commission does not arrive this session, as to the evils which are said to exist, but which, in my opinion, do not exist. I shall vote for the amendment; and if we cannot have evidence of the kind I have indicated before us, I shall, at any rate, endeavour to make the measure much less drastic than it is in its present form.
.- Owing to the state of my health, I had decided not to speak on this Bill. I desire, however, to express regret that the Minister of Trade and Customs should have introduced, the measure before receiving the report of the Tariff Commission, which has visited every State, and taken evidence in many places - evidence which no doubt will be of great value when the question of the Tariff is before us. It is to be regretted, as I say, that the Minister is not prepared to withdraw the Bill until we have the report of the Commission, especially in view of the statement made by the Chairman of the Commission this afternoon, when he gave us to understand that in three weeks, at the latest, that report will be laid on. the table of the House. Some very excellent speeches have been made both for and against the Bill, and some of the most excellent of the latter class have come from supporters of the Government. I am utterly opposed to this drastic measure, as one likely to interfere with the freedom of trade, commerce, and manufacturing within the Commonwealth. That is a very serious charge to make; but the .Bill is certainly not a measure for the preservation of Australian industries. The title of the Bill is not correct, and should be amended, seeing that the effect of the measure is more likely to be to destroy industries, and to drive capital from Australia. With such an Act on our statute-book, along with other restrictive legislation already passed by this Parliament, no man of. capital would dream of investing with the object of establishing new industries in Australia. It has been said over and over again by honorable members on the other side of the House that this Bill is in the best interests of the working people generally. My own opinion is that the working people will be the greatest sufferers under such legislation, seeing that it is bound to bring about less work and lower wages. Yet the great want of the country is more work for people who are willing to work. We are told by those who are supposed to know that there are no fewer than 5,000 adult working men unable to obtain work in Melbourne, and no doubt large numbers are out of employment in other Australian cities. Yet we do not find the Government introducing any legislation which might tend to increase employment. This is a matter which deserves the consideration of the Government very much in preference to measures of the kind before us. The Bill proposes to place immense power in the hands of the Minister of Trade and Customs. It is made an act of dishonesty for a business man to compete with imported goods, while a man may sell goods made in Australia at as low a price as he likes. It is not right that such power and responsibility should be placed in the hands of any Minister. I do not mean to say for one moment that we cannot trust our Minister of Trade and Customs, but it is a mistake to confer such power by the Bill. As I have said, the present Minister is not likely to be tempted to do anything wrong, but the power is there, and we mav not have the present Minister in office for all time. If the Bill were intended to deal with trusts only, it could be understood ; because, no doubt, there is, and has been, a great deal of evil in connexion with monopolies. But the present BUI is so framed as to affect individual traders, and it is a very serious matter when the freedom of the subject is taken away - when a Bill is passed which so affects individual traders that they are not able to carry on business as “they have hitherto done. The public will suffer from such legislation, because of the higher price which must be demanded for commodities if business men are to make their enterprises pay. If the Bill be passed, every business man. I imagine, will go about in fear and trembling of the Minister of Trade and Customs. Traps will be laid for business men, and they will always be getting into difficulties. One or two honorable members have mentioned this afternoon that it would not be possible for dealers in softgoods to hold the half-yearly sales to which the public have become accustomed, and there will consequently be no bargains to be had. which will be a serious loss to many housewives. In m’ opinion, it is a verv unfortunate thing hat this Bill has been introduced to inter- fere with the business concerns of the people of the Commonwealth. It will not permit any person to buy cheaply in foreign markets, and to sell at low rates’ in this market the goods so purchased, because that would be regarded as unfair competition The Brisbane *Daily Mail says that the definition of unfair competition contained in the Bill is little short of ridiculous. Competition is to be deemed unfair, if imported goods are being sold under circumstances that will probably lead to either the withdrawal of Australian goods from the market, or their sale at a loss, unless produced at a lower remuneration; if the means adopted by the seller are “ in the opinion of the tribunal, unfair “ ; if the importer or seller is a commercial trust; if the competition would probably or does result in lower remuneration for labour; if it disorganizes Australian industry, or throws the workers out of employment ; if the imported goods have been purchased in the country of production at a price lower than the ordinary cost of production or market price in that country ; if the goods are sold at a price which does not allow the importer a fair net profit ; or if the importer or seller of imported goods gives to agents or intermediaries a disproportionately large reward or commission for selling or recommending the goods. My principal reason for rising was to place before the House a telegram which I received late last night. It was sent by an influential organization, the Associated Softgoods Warehousemen of Queensland, and is as follows: -
At a meeting of the Softgoods Warehousemen’s Association held yesterday, it was resolved to wire you as follows, that the Softgoods Warehousemen’s Association of Queensland, whilst in accord with legislation suppressing harmful trusts, both Australian and foreign, so far as they affect Australian industries, strongly object to such interference with trade as is provided for in the Bill entitled an Act for the Preservation of the Australian Industries, and for the Repression of Destructive Monopolies, considering the provisions of such Bill, as presented to Parliament, most inimical to merchants, workers, and con- sumers, particularly the latter, and further, consider that if the Bill is to become law it should be so altered as to provide safeguards against Inter-State as well as foreign: dumping, and also alterations should be made in the proposed judicial conditions, especially with respect to the powers conferred on the Minister and Comptroller-General by vesting jurisdiction in the Federal Court alone.
Geo. S. Hutton,
Secretary Associated’ Softgoods Warehousemen of Queensland.
I propose to support the amendment, urging, as other honorable members have done, the postponement of the consideration! of the Bill until we have received the reports of the Royal Commission on the Tariff. The delay which is asked for will be but short, and, in my opinion, those who are making the request for a postponement are asking only for what is fair and reasonable.
. -A careful perusal of the Bill shows me that it is intended to achieve two objects - to prevent foreign competition with Australian manufacturers, and to prevent persons engaged in trade from injuring the Australian public. The second object ought to be considered the more important one ; but it has been largely lost sight of by the Minister in his efforts to protect Australian manufacturers from the competition of foreigners. As a matter of fact, almost all those engaged in business in Australia from time to time enter into combines, which, if the provisions of the Bill were strictly enforced, would be illegal. Therefore, if the Bill is administered as the Minister apparently intends to administer it, injury will be done to Australian traders. For instance, the flour-millers periodically hold meetings, and enter into agreements to control and regulate the prices of flour. If these arrangements were prohibited, as the result of the passing of the. measure, while the buyers of flour might benefit in some cases by ithe lowering of prices, the farmers would suffer, because flour-millers, not knowing what their competitors would give for wheat, would buy at as low a figure as they could, in order to protect- themselves against competition. Then, again, the banks periodically enter into agreements as to the rates to be paid for money deposited with them, and to be charged for money lent by them. A dying Parliament such as this is - because we have now, only a few months of existence - should not legislate on a subject of thisi kind, because the views of the electors are not known in regard to the matter. Certainly, I have heard no demand from persons engaged in trade for such legislation as is proposed. Most of the clauses of the measure deal with foreign competition.. It seems to be generally admitted that the Government have been forced to introduce the Bill at the instigation of protectionists, and notably of Mr. McKay, a manufac turer of harvesters. The State, a constituency of which I represent, is not interested in this matter, because harvesters are not used there. . Therefore, I can take an unprejudiced view. It seems to me that we should hesitate before legislating at the instigation of a man who desires to prohibit foreign competition in order that he may obtain asi high a price as he can get for . his implements. The Minister of Trade and Customs, when moving the 6econd reading, referred to other combines. He spoke, for instance, of the Aus ‘ tralian shipping . combine, which may to some extent injure a section of the public, though, so far, there has been no demand for legislation to put an end to it. He also spoke of dealing with the Standard Oil Trust. In my opinion, however, it is absolutely impossible to legislate against the operations of that combine, because it has really no competitors producing oil of a quality equal to that sent here by it. We know that Russian oil is imported into Australia, but it is not of a quality equal to that of the oil sent here by the Standard Oil Trust, being serviceable only for use in . connexion with machinery. The Minister, however, told us that if it were possible to carry into effect the protection which he desires, a company would commence on a large scale to manufacture oil for lighting, purposes from the extensive deposits of shale which exist in New South Wales. The honorable gentleman has been a Minister, except for a very short interval, ever since the first Federal Parliament was elected. He was a member of the Ministry which introduced the present Tariff, and allowed kerosene to be imported duty free. Why was he not prepared to give an opportunity to the shale company of which he speaks by imposing a duty of 3d. or 4d. a gallon upon oil, such as had been in force in most of the States? Or why does he not wait until the Tariff Commission’s reports have been received, and then ask for such a duty ? As a matter of fact, he is simply humbugging us. The one object in his mind is to benefit the local manufacturers of harvesters. We were told last session that the International Harvester Trust is ruining the Australian manufacturers of harvesters, and the object of the Minister in introducing the Bill is to protect the latter, to the injury of the users of harvesters throughout the Commonwealth. He has not the slightest intention of taking action against the Standard
Oil combine, or against any other similar combination. That, at all events, is the logical deduction from his speech and his past actions. Part III. of the Bill deals with dumping, which, as I understand it, is the importation of goods in large quantities to be sold at low rates, to the injury of competitors. Dumping, however, is of great advantage to the community, in enabling purchasers to obtain their requirements in certain lines very much ‘more cheaply than they could buy them under ordinary circumstances. This House should not lose sight of the fact that there is more than one company in the world doing business with Australia, and that whilst dumping operations might disastrously affect some local competitors, it would, undoubtedly, confer a benefit upon the consumers generally. Further, there is more than one competitor in any given product, and “if dumping were continued for any considerable period, the community as a whole would reap the benefit. There can be no question of that. It is not unreasonable to say that at no period in Australian history have we found the practice of dumping; injurious to the great majority of the people. I do think that we should hesitate before we assent to a Bill which will have the effect of preventing dumping in the future. During, the course of this debate, we have been repeatedly told that the operations of trusts are injurious to any community. It is a very curious circumstance that the principal trusts in the world are to be found in the greatest protective country in the world, namely, America. Seeing that these combinations are usually called into existence in protectionist countries, surely that should be an inducement to us - should we be called upon to reopen the Tariff - to reduce the duties at present operating as much as possible. We were also told the other night that in America some fifty-two Acts had been passed by various State Legislatures, for the purpose of dealing with trusts. But, despite all this legislation, there are more trusts in the United States to-day than there were prior to its enactment. Is not that very significant? All the restrictive legislation that has been passed there has been powerless to prevent the formation of trusts in America. The largest combinations in the world are to be found there. In this connexion, I might instance the Standard Oil Trust, which is controlled by Mr. Rockefeller, and the Meat Trust, which is controlled bv Mr. Armour. Those gigantic combinations are flourishing now quite asmuch as they did before the anti-trust Billswere passed into law. Under the circumstances, I earnestly implore honorable members to pause before they assent to theproposals of the Government. In the course of a very few months, the electorsof Australia will be afforded an opportunity of reviewing our work, and of approving, or otherwise, of the various measures which, have been submitted for our consideration. I therefore appeal to honorable membersnot to place upon the statute-book what, to my mind, is a hasty and ill-conceived measure, and one which will not benefit thepublic, though it may be to the advantage of particular individuals.
.- I feel a certain amount of diffidence in approaching this question, as I have already dealt with the second portion of the Bill,, upon the motion for its second reading. But since I last addressed myself to it, the honorable member for Dalley has taken up an attitude in regard to the measure which materially assists my position. When I discussed the Bill previously, I endeavoured1 to draw the attention of honorable members to its extraordinary vague wording, and to the curious want of clear definition of theterms used throughout it. I pointed out that although there were constant references in the measure to “ monopolies,” nobody seemed to be absolutely sure what was intended to be conveyed by that term I showed that the combination which we have always regarded in Austrafia as an absolute monopoly - I refer to the tobacco monopoly - had been reported upon by a Royal Commission, composed chiefly of members of” the Labour Party, in the following terms - as will be seen by reference to page 8 of its report : -
We find that the Combine is a partial, but not a complete, monopoly.
I ask members of the Labour Party whether they do not think that we should pause before passing a measure which isdesigned to deal with certain evils, but which we do not know will actually touchthe abuses that we desire to regulate? I have already shown how vague and unmeaning, from my point of view, is thephrase “ restraint of trade,” the arrangement of the terms “ producers, workers, and consumers,” and also the phrase “tothe detriment of the public.” I now propose to advance additional reasons of a similar nature, which I hope will induce the Government to accept the amendment of the honorable member for Dalley. The Ministry are asking us to pass this measure hastily.’
– It is panic legislation.
– It is panic legislation, seeing that the House is actually unaware of the meaning of the Bill in essential particulars. The criticisms which have been levelled against it from all sides of the House have been of the strongest. The criticism of honorable members who are allegedly supporting the Government clearly shows how badly drawn the measure is, and how necessary it is> to radically amend it. Doubtless the Government will say : “ All this is true. The Bill does require amendment. Let us therefore hasten into Committee, where it can be amended.” My reply is that there has never been a Bill presented to any Parliament in Australia which has been so carefully drafted with a view to resisting the possibility of amendments as has this measure.
– It has been done designedly It is the clever draftsmanship of the Attorney-General.
– If that be so, I say that his clever draftsmanship is not in the best interests of this Assembly. When we get into Committee, and seek to embody in the Bill amendments -which I think the House will indorse, we shall find it almost impossible to give effect to them. “The Attorney-General knows what curious shades of difference there are between the various clauses of the Bill, and how many consequential amendments will be rendered necessary to give effect to any material alteration. The honorable and learned gentleman no doubt thoroughly recognises the truth of what I am saying. He has probably addressed himself to the. arrangement of the measure with all the legal acumen and skill that he is known to possess, with a view to rendering its amendment almost impossible. From the happy and conscious smile upon his face, I believe that my statement is accurate. Recognising that the Bill is deficient in all these particulars, and having regard to the very keen criticism to which it has been subjected by all sections1 of the House, I hold that it is not right for us to go into Committee with undue haste, and that we should refer the Bill back to the Ministry, with a request that they should present us with a measure which will be more reason able and less destructive in its incidence. I wish now to ask the Government - and I see a very talented member of it occupying a seat at the table - what is the exact meaning of the word “ public ‘ ‘ in the phrase “ to the detriment of the public “ ? Does it mean the trade, or does it mean the consumer? It is only fair that I should receive a reply to such a simple question. Honorable members are invariably treated with courtesy by some Ministers, including the Minister of Home Affairs, and therefore I ask him what is the meaning of the phrase “ to the “detriment of the public “ ? Does it mean to the detriment of the trade, or to the detriment of the consumer generally ? Seeing that the Minister refuses to vouchsafe a reply, I suppose that I must supply the answer myself. It must be obvious to honorable members that to read “ the public” as “the trade” in this connexion would mean relying entirely upon trade competitors as to when these provisions would be enforced. Therefore, I take it that the word “public” must mean the great Australian public, which constitutes the consumers.
– It means the great Australian “bite,” then.
– My honorable friend is right. If restraint, of trade to the detriment of the public means restraint of trade to the detriment of the consumer, I think that all legitimate profits will be covered by the phrase “restraint of trade,” because every shilling that a trader adds to the cost price of any article is to the detriment of the consumer. If every shilling that the trader adds to the cost of an article is to the detriment of the consumer, it must be “ in restraint of trade.” Therefore, I say that this phrase, as used in this Bill, covers any legitimate profit, however small and reasonable it may be. Knowing that this phrase’ may have this meaning, it will be admitted that it is so vaguely drawn, that I am justified in asking the Ministry to accept the suggestion of the honorable member for Dalley, and take the measure back for further consideration. We shall be told, in answer to what I have just put- before honorable members, that there must be an agreement between persons to fix profits before any question of illegality can arise. This means practically that bankers will be unable to arrange the rates of overdrafts, exchange, and discount. These are points I wish to commend to the earnest consideration of the House. The Bill as it stands at present, will undoubtedly prevent bankers from arranging rates of overdrafts, discount, and exchange. There can be no doubt that a bank is a commercial trust according to this Bill, which provides that a - “Commercial Trust” includes a combination whose voting power or determinations are controlled or controllable by….. the creation of a Board of Management or its equivalent.
A bank, therefore, is a commerical trust, and its operations may extend beyond the boundaries of any one State. Therefore, a bank will, in future, if this Bill is passed in its present form, be prevented from arranging rates of overdraft, exchange, or discount. That is a serious position for honorable members to face. The House should pause before it hastily passes any measure of such far-reaching importance. I direct the attention of honorable members to another point. Suppose two people acting fin conjunation, have bought any goods at a high price, and find immediately after purchasing that the market for them is falling. These people will form a commercial trust under the interpretation clause of this Bill, because they are bound by an agreement, and they will be unable to hold on to the goods they have . purchased in anticipation of the market for them becoming favorable again. They will have to sell at once, because, if they hold, their action will be considered a restraint of trade. For them to hold on in the hope of profitable selling means to prevent somebody else from cheap buying, which is an obvious restraint of trade under this Bill as it stands. I therefore again suggest the necessity for referring the Bill back to the Government. I ask honorable members to consider the position in which that great newspaper, the Melbourne Age - the second newspaper in the city of Melbourne - which is doing all it can to secure the hasty passage of this measure, will be placed if the Bill is passed as; it stands. The Age proprietary is undoubtedly a commercial trust. The Age advertises that it has a circulation in all the States, and it is therefore an Inter-State concern. In almost every issue it deliberately does all it can to discredit the sale of the rival newspaper in this city. Is the Melbourne Age, with it& extravagant statements of its own circulation, and misleading statements of its rival’s powers, not to come under the provisions of this Bill ? If the
Age is successful in injuring the businessof its great rival, that is surely a restraint of trade.
– Does the honorable member suggest that that question isaffected by the Tariff Commission’s report ?
– I say that this consideration is one which should induce the Government to take the Bill back if for ever so short a time, with a view to its being re-drafted in order to prevent such a possibility as I have suggested arising.
– Does that touch the report of the Tariff Commission?
– I do. not wish to provoke or to evade a ruling by you, sir, but my point is that this measure has obviously been so hurriedly and vaguely drawn that its amendment in Committee will be practically impossible, and I am suggesting additional reasons why it should be withdrawn from our consideration at the present time, with a view to its re-introduction in a better form. I shall not labour the question as to what might happen in the newspaper trade. There is not the slightest doubt that the design of every trader in any industry is to secure profit for himself, and he can only secure his profit from some other trader. Curiously enough, under this Bill, any trader outside of Australia, when guilty of entering into competition with an Australian trader, is guilty of unfair competition, because his action is bound to interfere with some Australian industry. In the following cases, trade is ipso facto unfair: - In .the first place, when the trader is a commercial trust, and I have shown that a firm can be a commercial trust. In the second case, when, as a result of its competition, there will be a probability of a lower remuneration to labour. In the third place, when its competition will lead to the throwing of workers out of employment in an Australian industry. In all these casescompetition is bound to produce these results to a greater or less degree. I asked the House on a previous Occasion to seriously consider that question, but some honorable members do not consider these questions in the House if, indeed, they consider them anywhere. I suggest these considerations as reasons why the Bill should be withdrawn for the present. Another reason why the Bill should be withdrawn, and radically amended before it is again submitted, is that it contains a subversion of the principle of trial by jury. Trial by jury was introduced to insure a man getting a fair trial from his fellows - those who understand his mode of life and can sympathize with him in every way. But trial by jury under this Bill is trial, not by those iri sympathy with the defendant, but by those whose trade interests, and whose very means of livelihood, must make them anxious to secure his punishment. That, I take it, is a subversion of the principle of trial by jury. On the question of a lower remuneration of labour, I suggest to the Government that it must involve less pay for the same work, or more work for the same pay. If it means less pay for the same work, shearing machines are obviously unfair, and any one who employs them is guilty of unfair competition, since their use enables more sheep to be shorn in a day than could be shorn without their use.
– I am afraid the honorable member is not referring to the amendment.
– 1 am giving reasons why the Government should take the Bill back and reconsider its provisions. I do not wish to labour the point, as I can see the difficulties of the position, but, similarly, I suggest that the use of monolines and linotypes involves unfair competition, and it is clear that the Bill, as it stands, would have such far-reaching effects that the Government might well withdraw it before it is too late. Every invention discovered and applied must necessarily throw workers out of employment. That is something which the Government have obviously not taken into consideration. Every invention discovered displaces labour in some form or another, and in so far as it does it is unfair competition. It is clear that the scope of this ‘Bill is far wider than the framers of it originally intended. In this connexion I say that the successful countries of the world are those in which the inventive genius of mankind has received the greatest encouragement. If, by any action taken in this House, we do anything, to destroy the inventive genius of the Australian people, we shall hamper and restrict Australian progress, and finally ruin the country. I do not think that it is too much to ask the Government to withdraw a measure which they have once submitted to this House. This Government has often taken that course in the past. I am aware that other Governments have found some difficulty in so doing, but it is within the recollection of all of us that this Govern ment withdrew, on half-a-dozen occasions, whole sets of amendments, which were in themselves almost complete Bills, dealing with the question of union labour. They have framed amendment after amendment, and have withdrawn them and substituted for them other amendments as far-reaching as an ordinary Bill. I do say that a Government which has shown such facility in this direction, and which has earned such a reputation for never knowing its own mind, should have no objection to withdraw this measure for two or three weeks, in order that it might be re-introduced in a more complete form. I propose, in conclusion, to say a few words on Part III., as every one knows it purports to deal with the alleged evil of dumping. I use the word “alleged” advisedly. Before we are asked to take up public time in- the consideration of a measure, it is obviously the duty of the Minister in charge of it to show cause for it. I say, without fear of contradiction, that, so far, no cause has been shown for passing Part III. of this Bill. Such cause might be waiting for us in the reports’ of the Tariff Commission referred to in the amendment. The Minister has not been able to show any cause, the few statements the honorable gentleman made in this connexion having since been proved conclusively to be absolutely without foundation. There may or there may not be a cause for the introduction of Part III. of this Bill in the Tariff Commission’s reports, but I believe that the evidence awaiting us in those reports will show that there is no cause for the passing of a measure of this character. The Tariff Commission’s report on agricultural implements has been circulated amongst the members of the Commission since 12th June. Its report on harvesters, which we were led to believe last session formed the absolute crux of an important part of this Bill, was circulated amongst the members of the Commission only yesterday. It is well known that until the Commission corporately considers its proposals, it is impossible for any of its members to divulge any portion of the reports. So that until a report is approved as a whole, this House is absolutely debarred from any opportunity of participating in a knowledge of the evidence which the Commission has secured. To proceed with the Bill without these reports is tantamount to saving that the Government and the Minister of Trade and Customs regard the
Commission as futile, and its proceedings as a farce. Does the Minister regard the work of the Commission as of so little worth, that he is not prepared to wait a day or two in order that the House may be in possession of the evidence acquired ?
– It is a very important Commission, but this Bill has nothing to do with ft.
– The Minister has told the House on many occasions that this Bill is intended to settle the harvester difficulty. But now he attempts to make us believe that the report of the Commission has nothing to do with the business before us. What has the Tariff Commission to do? Has it not to make recommendations to Parliament as to the incidence and working of the Tariff ?
– ft is to give us a good Tariff to discuss.
– I understand that the work of the Tariff Commission is not to give us a Tariff, but to make recommendations.
– I have no doubt that it will be a nice Tariff.
– The Minister surely does not mean that the Commission is going to frame a Tariff ‘for us. It has collected evidence upon which we are to judge of the fitness of its recommendations. It is in the collecting of the evidence, and in boiling that evidence down in its reports, that the work of the Commission will be of such inestimable value to Parliament. To say that the- evidence collected has nothing to do with this Bill, which aims at the very root of Customs administration-
– No; this Bill has nothing to do with the Tariff.
– Evidence has been taken on the very point whether or not additional relief is to be afforded to the harvester industry of Australia. The Minister himself has quoted from part of the evidence given before the Commission. One side of the evidence is at least quite as biased as the other. Should not a deliberative Assembly have both sides before it when it gives its verdict? As the Minister himself has endeavoured to gain supporters for his Bill by quoting one side of the evidence, the least he can do is to give us an opportunity of judging for ourselves the whole of it. The Minister declared in his speech, on the authority of some over-keen traveller, that the intention of the American manufacturers of harvesters was to break down the Australian industry. The Tariff
Commission has considered that very point. We ought to have a chance to become seized of the evidence with respect to it. The central idea of the clauses of the Bill under consideration, which I hope the Minister will withdraw from our consideration for the time being, is to restrain unfair competition. But, curiously enough, under the second sub-clause’ of clause 14, the onus of proving whether or not an industry is being unfairly conducted is thrown upon the defendant. The Government mav think that the occasion merits such a departure from British traditions of justice, but before asking the House to decide that soserious a condition of affairs has arisen as to justify that proceeding, an opportunity should be given to us to judge for ourselves..
– One excuse is as goodas another.
– I dare say that the honorable member thinks so, but nothing can. excuse him from making disorderly interjections. Under this Bill a trader is proved’ to be guilty if he and another agree to sell goods together. There is one point that I do not think has been sufficiently dealt with, and I propose to touch upon it. A trader is presumed’ to Le guilty if a disproportionately large selling commission is paid! to his agents. It is well known that commissions vary in their relative value without there being necessarily any dishonest purpose. How would this position affect commercial travellers? The keenest traveller surely should get the best reward. If we pass this proposal we shall reduceto a dead level a whole class of our fellow citizens. No man who is keen will have an opportunity of getting a better reward than another. If that idea fits in with the socialistic or communistic principles of some of the supporters of this. Bill, I do not think that it fits in with the general sense of justice of this community. The penalty for doing a number of things under this Bill which are done every day in the most legitimate way, and for the good of the consumers of this country, is an absolute prohibition of the importation of these goods. And bow are these anti-dumping clauses to be put into operation? Who is to decide when the prohibition of goods is to take place? Is this House to decide it? I suggest that the Bill entails an abrogation of our own powers which we should be loth to sanction until the Minister shows cause for so doing. Is Parliament to decide when an article may be completely shut out of the Australian market, when goods may be refused to be imported, and when bargains may not be allowed to be secured by the Australian consumer? If so, is Parliament to decide these things in the open light of day, when the public can read our debates, and know the reasons which prompted our conclusions, . or is the Minister to decide them ? Is it wise to delegate to a single man the determination of questions of such far-reaching importance? Hundreds of thousands of pounds per annum maybe concerned in any particular line of trade. To put the existence of trade of such value at the discretion of any one man is merely to offer an inducement for corruption.I do not for a moment suggest that the present Minister cannot be trusted in this regard. But- I do say that to put discretionary powers of such an- extraordinary nature absolutely at the command of any one man, whoever he may be, is only to offer an inducement for the most widespread corruption.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.30 p.m.
– Before the dinner adjournment I was urging, as a reason why the Government should withdraw this measure from our consideration for the time being, with a view to its re-submission later on, the enormous discretionary powers which the Minister of Trade and Customs would enjoy if it were passed in anything like its present form.
– No, I would have no power at all.
– Under the Bill the Minister alone would have the discretion as to starting proceedings against an importing firm. Furthermore, he alone would deal out penalties under a verdict which would be awarded by trade rivals of the importer.
– Then how far am I wrong ?
– I have said that on that particular point the Bill will be amended.
– Here is a direction in which the Minister is prepared to amend the Bill. He is now willing to put a Judge in the place of the trade rivals.
– As I wanted to do at first.
– Which; the honorable gentleman wanted to do at first, but which for some too obvious, reason, he was unable to do. I would suggest to the Minister, now that he has seen the necessity for amending his Bill in a very vital direction, that this is an additional reason why he should take the whole measure into consideration. He has seen the faulty nature of the Bill in one important regard, and he should, therefore, look over the whole measure, and not merely one part of it. I think he told us that the Judge was to decide whether or not the competition was having the effect complained of, but will he tell us whether the Judge’s powers are to be ‘exactly similar to those of the Board, or whether he will have the additional power of saying what penalty he thinks will meet the case?
– The Judge will have the power if honorable members carry out what I want,
– The Judge will decide what is to be done ; in other words, he will decide, not only that unfair competition of the kind complained of has been in operation, but that certain regulations will suffice, or, if absolutely essential, the article shall cease to be imported?
– If that is so, I think that a very important amendment in principle has been already accepted by the Minister.
– It is one to be proposed, it has not been accepted.
– The principle has been accepted.
– It is going to. be proposed.
– The honorable gentleman has already accepted the principle.
– It is going to be proposed.
– I will not quibble about words. It is going to be proposed on the suggestion of other members. I think it is a very important amendment on the principle of the Bill, and one which will effect a considerable safeguard. But still the Minister will have the sole power of initiating proceedings.
– No, the ComptrollerGeneral.
– Is he not virtually the Minister? He could not very well go against the views of the Minister.
– But the Minister could act upon the advice of the ComptrollerGeneral.
– Exactly; but the Minister could refuse to take the ComptrollerGeneral’s advice as to whether action should be taken or not. I do not think that he will deny that. Even that, I submit, is an enormous power to give, because under the Bill as it is drafted, any importing firm which is ipso facto an importing trust, has thrown upon it the onus of proving whether or not the competition will throw Australian workers out of employment. If the Judge takes the strict reading of the Act he will find that any competition from abroad must affect employment here, since all competition does. I take it that the importing firm is in this happy position, that if the Minister actually starts proceedings, as it will be in his sole discretion to do, the judge will have no option but to decide that the importing firm is guilty of unfair competition within the meaning of the Act.
– Oh no; the Judge can say that it is not. He can give his decision just as he likes.
– Oh, yes, but the Bill is so drafted that the defendant will have to prove that his competition with local industry is not affecting employment, or will not probably affect employment. In such a case it is obvious that the Judge will have only one course open te* him. He must decide that the importer’s competition is affecting local employment. If he is in any way a reasonable man he must see that it must affect employment. He has a direction in the Bill as to what he is to do. In such a case the importer’s sole consideration must be inevitably to try to stop the proceedings from being started, and the sole person who will have the discretion as to starting proceedings will be the Minister of Trade and Customs. In such a case the victim, being in the toils, must do his level best to insure the goodwill of the Minister of the day.
– I am afraid that the honorable member is again disregarding the amendment, which, has to do with the report of the Tariff Commission on metals and machinery.
– I am trying to show reasons why the Government should take the Bill again into complete consideration. The Tariff Commission’s report on metals and machinery will probably be presented to us in about a fortnight. I believe that a fortnight’s consideration in Cabinet would be sufficient to enable the Government to re draft the measure without retaining these objectionable provisions, and I am urging the Government to accept the amendment in order to give themselves that opportunity. The Minister will see that to put in such a position a merchant with money behindhim would be to put a premium upon corruption, and, although we, in this House,, believe that the Minister of the day would justify our confidence in him, still I think we must all recognise that it would not be wise to introduce in the Commonwealth a system which must eventually lead to a state of corruption such as would turn Tammany Hall green with envy. The discretionary powers of Lands Ministers in another State have led to very great abuses. We must not take into consideration the personal equation, the personal integrity, of the Minister of the day in considering a measure of this kind. We must consider the eventual result of putting’ any such premium upon corruption as is here proposed to be done. Therefore I submit that the Government ought willingly to reconsider the whole measure, with a view to seeing if it could not be completely remodelled in this regard. I cannot see what evil there is in a country getting its goods as cheaply as possible. I think that in the case of articles of consumption a country, like an individual, should make the best bargain it can. But if the House is determined to prevent the evil of dumping, there are other measures which could be adopted, avoiding this enormous use of discretionary power on the part of the Minister. I hope that, after the Government have accepted the amendment, as I feel sure they will, they will introduce a Bill framed on the lines of the Canadian Anti -Dumping Act, which is verv simple in its object. In Canada the House of Commons decides what is to be done in all cases of proved dumping, and the Minister, as servant of the House, carries out its orders. Section 19 of the Act reads as follows: -
Whenever it appears to the satisfaction of the Minister of Customs, or’ of any officer of Customs authorised to collect Customs dues, that the export price, or the actual selling price, tothe importer in Canada, of any imported dutiablearticles of a class or kind made or produced in Canada, is less than the fair market value thereof, as determined according to the basis of value for duty, provided in the Customs Act in respect of imported goods subject to an ad valorem duty, such articles 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.
– I would remind the honorable member that the question before the Chair is that certain words be omitted from the motion with a view to insert in lieu thereof these words - not further proceeded with until after the
Tariff Commission has presented its report on metals and machinery.
The honorable member is now arguing, not that the consideration of the Bill be postponed for a time) in order that the Tariff Commission’s report may be considered, but that the Bill should be withdrawn, and a new Bill containing certain amendments which he suggests substituted therefor. That is quite a different question from that suggested in the amendment, which I again ask him to discuss.
– Perhaps, sir, I was infringing the Standing Orders ; but my desire was to point out to the Government how much better a measure might result if this Bill were postponed and reconsidered. I have indicated my view in regard to the method which should be adopted, and suggested the great- difficulty there will be in inserting the necessary amendments in the Bill in Committee. If I find that it cannot be surrounded with safeguards at that stage, I shall feel bound to record my vote against its third reading.
– During my remarks last evening, I had occasion to refer to the report of the Tariff Commission on metals and machinery, which was likely to be presented at an early date, and also to the injury which would be done to the manufacturing community by the introduction of this Bill. I find that to-day a deputation waited on the Minister and advised what I stated here last night. I was loath, however, to speak to the amendment of the honorable member for Dalley until I had read the report of the proceedings in connexion with the deputation, which was composed of employers, manufacturers, and traders.
– What ! Traitors ?
– That is what the deputation made out the position to be, namely, that under the Bill a trader is regarded as a traitor. Indeed, the deputation went so far as to say that at the Customs House traders are regarded as rogues and criminals. I am surprised to find a Minister so ready to turn the word “ trader “ into “ traitor.”
– I thought the honorable member used the word “ traitor.”
– I usually speak rather distinctly, and I am deliberate enough.
– And I am not deaf.
– So far from being deaf, the Minister is, I think, rather keen. But he had it on his mind that the deputation was composed’ of rogues, criminals, and traitors, because he was inclined to take them to task for the reason that they regard this measure as panic legislation. In fact, the Minister was irritated.
– I was not.
– It seems to me, from reading the newspaper report, that the Minister was irritated by the protestations of the men of business, who waited upon him as the friends of the policy which he advocates.
– That is a short report in the newspapers. The deputation was friendly all the time.
– It was, indeed; and it advised the Minister not to push on with this panic legislation, which would have the effect, as I pointed out in my speech last night, of injuring the manufacture of boots and shoes in our midst. In that speech I dealt at some length with this particular industry ; and from the newspaper report I see that Mr. Harkness, a member of the, deputation, pointed out that it is impossible for the manufacturer’ of boots and shoes to continue in the trade unless he deals with the trust in America, which is able to supply more advantageously than can any other firm the wares that he requires.
– The honorable member will not talk like that when I read a part of the agreement.
– The Minister knows that that was a statement made bv a member of the deputation.
– Yes; but when I read a part of the agreement, which I intend to do, the honorable member will not talk in that way.
– All I am concerned with is the statement made bv a competent authority, one of the prominent men representative of the trade of Melbourne and suburbs. Indeed, I think the deputation went so far as to declare that they represented everv part of the Commonwealth. They told the Minister that this is panic legislation, and asked1 him to have it investigated by a Select Committee. They stated, too, that they would be prepared to satisfy such a Committee that their industries would be ruined under the provisions of the Bill the Minister is endeavouring to force on Parliament. There has not been one request for this measure at this particular moment; and all that is asked now is that it shall be held in abeyance until the Tariff Commission has furnished a report which it is believed will substantiate all that was said by the deputation who met the Minister in friendly interview to-day. This representative deputation contended that to call this an Anti-Trust Bill is to present a bitter pill with a sugar coating - that it is nothing of the kind. In their opinion it will reduce the honest trader to ruin, and cause him to be regarded at the Customs House as a rogue and vagabond, or, as the Minister says, a “ traitor.” Another member of the deputation, Mr. Knowles, who is a softgoods merchant dealing in imported goods, declared that he is afraid to go abroad to purchase at a low rate, because if he returns and sells goods at a figure below that at which they are ordinarily sold, he will be liable to imprisonment under the Bill.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports says that the honorable member is talking “tommy-rot.”
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports would not dare tell the gentlemen who met the Minister to-day that they talked “ tommY-rot.’
– Yes, I would.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Forts, who is a member of the Protectionist Association, would not dare to use such an expression in the face of that deputation, which was composed of men of substance, who have their all embarked in industrial manufactures, and who, in the aggregate, have tens of thousands of employes.
– And they are the men who keep the Protectionists’ Association going.
– They are, I believe, members of the Protectionist Association. These men say that this panic legislation will have the effect of injuring their business, crippling commerce, and throwing men out of employment. In all probability many of them have already made similar statements to the Tariff Commission, which has been sitting so long and taking evidence in all quarters. The deputation merely asked the Minister to do what we, as members of Parliament, now request, namely, to withhold the passing of the measure until we have considered the evidence taken by the Tariff Commission. That Commission consists of reputable gentlemen representing each party in the House, who have devoted their time for over a year to taking evidence from one end of Australia to the other. The Commission has not hesitated to interview anybody who could furnish valuable information, and the honorable member for Bendigo, who is Chairman of the Commission, stated this afternoon that several of the reports on metals and machinery are ready for presentation - that one or two others are in the hands of the typewriters, and that in the course of a few days, the evidence will be placed before Parliament. The deputation said to the Minister, “ Take our suggestion as one coming from friends; we are manufacturers’ representative of the whole Commonwealth, and we say that this is panic legislation which will injure industries, jeoparize every honest trader, and throw men out of employment.” Mr. Haigh, another member of the deputation, said that traders are afraid to go to the Customs House, because they aire looked upon suspiciously - that every act of an honest merchant to-day is regarded as the act of an undesirable citizen, who is seeking to rob his neighours and the Customs, and who has no interest in the welfare of his country - who is a traitor to his country, as the Minister himself stated, when I used the word “trader.”
– The honorable member knows 1 never did anything of the kind ; T merely asked the honorable member if he used the word “ traitor.”
– Of course, if the Minister says that he withdrew the remark
– I did not make any remark.
– I will not take second place to any man in the House. If I use the word “ trader,” I mean “trader,” andi not “traitor.” The latter word was in the mind of the Minister, and men who have put their money into Australian industries are treated as traitors. These are men who employ tens of thou- sands in every department of manufacture, and who are prepared to compete with all parts of the world; and they asked the Minister not to proceed with this panic legislation, which causes them to be treated as rogues and vagabonds at the Customs House. The representations of the deputation were not without their effect. on the Minister, because, in his parting salute, he said he would call for a report as to whether industries are being injured - a report as’ to whether-
– Is the honorable member sure?
– I made a note from the press report. The Minister said that he would have further information brought before him. Was the Minister humbugging the deputation? Is the Minister going, to rush forward at railway speed and have a report when the Bill has been passed into law?
– The honorable member is humbugging his constituents.
– I protest against this class of legislation. I do not know that I should have been on my feet now had I not found that the gentlemen who composed this deputation confirm every Statement I made as to the likely ruin to industries under the provisions of this Bill. I treated in detail the question of the raw material required in the manufacure of boots and’ shoes, and of leather itself, in our midst ; one industry depends on another. The Minister is laughing up his sleeve, simply because he thinks he may “ gull “ a few people in his electorate by being able to state that he has passed legislation which bears the name of “ antitrust.”
– The attitude of the Minister of Trade and Customs is not the question under discussion at the present time.
– With all deference to you, sir, I am now dealing with the amendment, which declares that the Bill should be withdrawn until we have the report of the Tariff Commission on metals and machinery, and I am showing that, at an outside deputation, evidence was brought forward that, according to the press report, convinced the Minister that it was necessary he should have that information.
– If the honorable member discusses that phase of the question he will be in order.
– The Minister of Trade and Customs took the deputation into his confidence, and said that it was his intention to amend the Bill so as to have a jury of several citizens to sit with the Judge.
– The honorable member will see that the Question of whether there shall be a Judge or Judge and jury, has no relation whatever to the question of postponing the Bill until the presentation of the report of the Tariff Commission on metals and machinery. It is not expected that the Tariff Commission will deal with that phase of the question. The honorable member will please confine himself to the amendment.
– I have to thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am glad to be called to order, because it is in that way I have been made an authority on the Standing Orders. I do not wish to labour that part of the Minister’s reply, but I must say that the honorable gentleman is trifling with this Parliament. He has admitted that there is necessity, because of the grave representations made to him by the deputation, for calling on his officers for a report.
– I never said anything of the kind.
– The Minister is reported in the press to have done so.
– I do not think so.
– What is more, the Minister denies having lectured those gentlemen because they represented that the Bill would do injury to their industries. However, we have the evidence of the press report as to what the Minister did say. Whether that report be correct or not, the Minister is trifling with this Parliament and the country in forcing on the - Bill’ at a time when the’ Chairman of the Tariff Commission has in view the completion of reports which will enable Parliament to discuss the Bill on its merits. If it be shown by the reports of the Tariff Commission that drastic legislation such as this is necessary in the interests of manufacturer, producer, and consumer, then Parliament will deal with the measure in that light.- But the Minister takes to himself some credit for having brought forward a Bill more drastic than any similar legislation in the world -a Bill which goes to the length of prohibiting the importation from abroad of goods coming into competition with local manufactures. The Minister’s duty to the country is to withdraw the measure, in order to give the representatives of the people an opportunity to prime themselves with the information which will be supplied by the Tariff Commission’s reports, so that we may legislate in the interests of all concerned, and the Commonwealth may progress under wise and good laws. I hope that the honorable gentleman will carry out the promise which he made to the deputation which waited upon him to-day. I gather from the answer which he gave to that deputation that it is his intention to move amendments on the lines suggested by me last night, whereby certain trusts will come under the operation of Part II. of the Bill, and other trusts under” the operation of Part III., the dumping clauses being entirely abandoned.
.- I regard the amendment as strictly relevant, and one which those who desire information on the whole subject dealt with by the Bill should support. The Royal Commission on the Tariff has been sitting for eighteen months. I do not grudge the expenditure of the large sum ofi money which1 this inquiry has entailed, but I think that we should not legislate on this matter until we have at our disposal the information which has been gathered for us. The Minister, in his second-reading speech, dealt with some of the matters coming before the Tariff Commission, . and quoted the evidence of those interested in one side of the case. He made no attempt to give the evidence of those on the other side. Although evidence, both pro and con., has been taken by the Commission, we are asked to legislate entirely upon the evidence of one set of witnesses.
– The course which the Government are taking is a slap in the face to the Tariff Commission.
– The members of that Commission, having devoted time- and trouble to its inquiries, and. no doubt, having been out to considerable loss and inconvenience in attending its sittings, it seems extraordinary that we should be asked to consider this Bill before we are in possession of the valuable evidence which its reports will shortly give to us. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo informed the House this afternoon that the
Commission’s reports on the effect of the Tariff on the industry which has clamoured most for legislation such as has been introduced, will be laid before Parliament within a very short space of time. Why, then, should not the further consideration of the Bill be postponed until we have those reports in our possession, and know what evidence has been given on both sides of the question. As I have pointed out, the Minister asked us to act on evidence coming wholly from one side, and dealing with one industry only. Although he interjected a few nights ago that he has other evidence to show that Part III. of the Bill is necessary, that evidence has not been placed before us. Therefore, it is highly desirable that we should postpone the consideration of the measure until we get it. The least we can do, in decency, is to pay some attention to the work of the members of the Tariff Commission. By negativing the amendment, we shall be branding the Commission as inefficient, and its work as useless. Although I do not promise to vote for every ‘recommendation that the Commission may make, its conclusions, and the evidence which it has taken, will be worthy of the most serious consideration, and will be much more informing than the ex parte statements of the Minister. I hope that the amendment will be . carried.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the question - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 19
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– With the accuracy for which, the members of the Opposition are notorious when referring to the Labour Party, we have been twitted with, being gagged in regard to this measure ; but I, for ‘one, intend to say something about its provisions, and, in doing so, I shall be only following my leader and other members of the party who have already spoken on the second reading.
– To which leader does the honorable member refer?
– I have only one leader in this House - the leader of the Labour Party. If a justification were required for the introduction of this measure, i.t has been furnished! by some of the members of the Opposition. The deputy leader of the Opposition, and a number of his followers, have said that they are prepared to vote for the second reading. If the Bill were a bad one, it would be their dutv to oppose it at every stage. Further evidence as to the need for the Bill was furnished by the speech of the honorable member for Mernda. That speech was a remarkable one, and set up a standard of commercial morality which, I think, would not receive the support of the House.. The honorable member, speaking of monopolies, said that, if an individual, engaged in business in a small way, made a profit of 6 per cent., and a large corporation, by adopting different methods, was able to make a profit twelve times as large - that is, a profit of 72 per cent. - the public would not necessarily be robbed thereby.
– He said that such a concern might be supplying the commu nity with cheaper goods than the concern which was making the smaller profit.
– Exactly, notwithstanding that the larger concern was making twelve times the amount of profit that was being derived by the smaller one. All I have to say is that, if the honorable member set up business in South Australia as a money-lender, and charged such an enormous rate of interest, he would be taken before the Court and a large amount of the extortionate charge would be remitted. I am glad to say that in South Australia an Act of that character is in force.
– The honorable member is misrepresenting the honorable member for Mernda.
– I am taking the position precisely as he put it, only that the honorable member for Mernda - as has been interjected by the deputy leader of the Opposition - told us that the larger concern might be giving the public as cheap an article, if not cheaper, than the concern which was making the smaller profit. If that were sio, it would show that the smaller man was incompetent to carry on his business, or that his machinery was out of date. But in any case a profit of twelve times 6 per cent. would be an extortionate one.
– The honorable member for Mernda said it might happen that a firm would make that amount of profit, but he did not say that he approved of it.
– He did not denounce the making of such a profit, and if he did not- approve of it, it would have been just as well if he had not mentioned it. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has said that this is not a Bill which will prevent the establishment of monopolies. If it is not, it is, as I interjected, “ sham legislation.”
– Does the honorable member think that the Bill will ever be operative ?
– I will come to that point presently. I think that there is some warrant for the statement of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, because the Attorney-General interjected that an offender must “ wilfully “ act to the detriment of the public.
– Must “ wilfully “ contract.
– No. The AttorneyGeneral interjected that it must be proved that an offender has “ wilfully “ acted to the detriment of the public before he is liable to any penalty. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, in reply, stated that he did not think it would be necessary to prove that an offender had “ wilfully “ acted to the detriment of the public to enable him to be brought under the provisions of this Bill.
– I said that, under the measure as it is at present drawn, one need not prove that an offender intended to damage the public.
– The honorable and learned member is reported to have said that, as the Bill stands, there is no necessity to prove wilful intention.
– That is correct
– That view seems to me to be entirely at variance with the statement of the Attorney-General.
– But the AttorneyGeneral assured me that if there were the least, doubt about the matter he would) make it perfectly clear.
– If there is any doubt about it, I hope that honorable members will assist me to eliminate the word “ wilfully.” Nearly all our industrial legislation contains the word “ wilfully,” just as- in the provisions of the Constitution relating to the Murray waters the word “ reasonable “ is employed, and just as in the Employers’ Liability Act we find the phrase “serious and wilful neglect.” All these phrases mean endless litigation. Within fourteen years after the Employers’’ Liability Act of 1881 was passed there were no less than 1,762 actions tried in Scotland alone, in which ,£363,000 was claimed, but only £17,500 was awarded. That seems an extraordinary amount of litigation for a very small result. I believe that the same sort of thing %vill occur under this Bill if we retain the word “wilfully” and such words as “ with the design of injuring an Australian industry.” If honorable members will look at clause n they will see it provides that -
Any person who is injured in his person or property by any other person, by reason of any act or thing done by that other person in contravention of this part of this Act, may, in any competent Court, exercising Federal jurisdiction, sue for and recover treble damages for the injury.
That provision seems to me to offer a special inducement to manufacturers and other business people who feel that they have been injured in their industry to go to law, in the hope that they may recover treble damages. If the figures that I have quoted can be regarded as any indication of what lawsuits will cost, the less litigation that our manufacturers indulge in the better it will be for their pockets. In the cases I have mentioned both the employers and the unfortunate employes were losers.
– The honorable member would not put a man in gaol for making an agreement which he thought would injure nobody ?
– I will deal with that point presently. It has been said that the Labour Party should oppose this Bill, because they favour the nationalization of monopolies.
– They say that this Bill will be ineffective.
– The deputy leader of the Opposition said that he could not understand why the Labour Party supported the measure, seeing that its members favored the nationalization of monopolies. But the honorable member knows perfectly well that, at the present moment, there is no power under our Constitution to nationalize monopolies.
– Why do not the members of the Labour Party tell the public that when they are advocating nationalization? Not a single member of that party has told the public that.
– It has been made perfectly clear to the people that we intend to seek’ that power.
– Our complaint is that the Government are helping the LabourParty to make out a case for nationalization.
– I do not think so. I believe that the Government are satisfied that the Bill will accomplish more than I think it will. Under the circumstances, I am prepared to give it a trial.
– Mv remark was a general one. I was referring to the Commissions which the Government have appointed from time to time to inquire into the feasibility of nationalization.
– Let us suppose that we had the power under the Constitution to nationalize any monopoly. Because we have not the numbers is surely no reason why we should not seek to regulate monopolies until we secure the numbers.
– If we regulate a trust and restore normal competition, we shall make that trust stronger, and not weaker.
– The stronger we make a trust the sooner it will be nationalized. That is the view of myself and my colleagues. Some honorable members declare that they desire to amend the Bill in Committee, but we know perfectly well that members of the Opposition will, if possible, amend it in the direction of destroying it.
– Does the honorable member think that he will recognise it when it emerges from Committee.
– Not if the honorable member has his way. I do not think that the Bill will achieve its purpose for several reasons. We have only to look at the working of the Sherman Act in America, where it has been in operation for sixteen years, to realize that.
– Where are the members of the party to which the honorable member belongs?
– The party are quite satisfied, I suppose, that I am voicing their views. Although the Sherman Act has been in existence for sixteen years, there are more monopolies in America to-day than there were when it became law. As has been pointed out by the Minister, and by the Attorney-General, the measure before the House does not go as far as does the Sherman Act. That Act itself was found to be so weak in operation that it had to be followed by the Wilson Act.
– In some respects the Minister says that this Bill goes further than does the Sherman Act.
– In some respects it does. The Sherman Act does not deal with some of the matters which are dealt with in the measure under consideration. As the Sherman Act was ineffective, it was in 1904 followed by the Wilson Act, which is certainly a much more drastic measure in some respects. It provides that -
Every combination, conspiracy, trust, agreement, or contract is hereby declared to be contrary to public policy, illegal, and void, when the same is made by or between two or more persons or corporations …. in restraint nf lawful trade.
Then it is different from the Bill before us in that it not only imposes a monetary penalty upon ,an offender not exceeding $5,000, but it provides that “the offender shall be imprisoned”. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne wished to know whether I was in favour of imprisoning offenders under this Bill. Most decidedly I am, for the reason that we imprison a man who breaks the law upon a small scale. Why should we differentiate between one law-breaker and another, especially as the Bill provides that an offender must wilfully break the law? Surely we should not extend consideration to a wilful law-breaker. Only the other day I heard the late lamented” Mr. Seddon say that there was only one cure for these offenders, and that was gaol. There is only one cure for them. What is the use of fining a corporation $5,000 or $15,000 if it is making a profit of $1,000,000 a year? It could well afford to pay treble, or even ten times the amount of the fine. But if we put the individuals concerned in the dock-
– Under the Wilson Act the honorable member would be in the dock himself.
– Upon what ground ?
– For increasing the market price of imported articles.
– I do not see that the Bill will do that. The Ministry claim that it will prevent the dumping of undervalued goods, and in that way alone it may increase prices. That, however, will be a benefit to the community. I would point out to the honorable member for North Sydney that if he were engaged in an industry in which goods were being dumped, and if, as a result, he was thrown out of employment, he would not consider that a benefit had been conferred upon him even if he could purchase those goods at half their former price, because he would not have the money to buy them. I think it is only fair that offenders under this Bill should be placed in the dock. It has been asserted by certain honorable members that some, trusts are beneficent. They have twitted the Minister with being unable to show that there are any injurious trusts in Australia at the present time. Before I conclude mv remarks, I think I shall be able to mention one, at any rate, and I may refer to two or three. The honorable member (for North Sydney, amongst others, stated that the operations of certain trusts were beneficent, but he took very good care not to bring any such combinations under the notice of the House.
The Bill deals only with corporations or individuals that are doing injury to the community.
– The word “destructive” is used to show that.
– That is so, and if the operations1 of a trust are beneficent it will not be affected by this measure. I am afraid, however, that we have to take some of these beneficent trusts on trust. I wish to say that experience in every part of the world has shown that, whilst the operations of a combination may appear to be beneficent, as soon as it has grown into a monopoly the consumer is fleeced. We have had scores of instances in support of this statement quoted during this debate. Wei have had a fair discussion upon the measure, and it is right that a Bill of such far-reaching effect should be properly discussed, and that when it gets into Committee we should do all that we can to make it not only a just, but a workable, measure. I say now that I do not think it is a workable measure as it stands. It has been said that under this Bill very large powers are intrusted to the Minister, and powers which might be abused. I do not think there is much danger on that score. I have always voted against giving the Minister administering an Act more power than can possibly be helped, because I believe that we should embody everything we can in a measure when we are passing it. But I remind honorable members that the Minister of Trade and Customs is not being given in this Bill any greater powers than have already been given him under the Customs Act.
-He is being given greater powers than are given to the Minister under the Canadian Act.
– This Bill gives him no greater powers than he is given under the Customs A;t.
– The Minister says that it does. The honorable gentleman is not sure of his powers under the Customs Act, and he wishes to make sure of his position under this Bill.
– I think the honorable and learned member for Parkes will admit that the power of the Minister under the Customs Act is not limited.
– I am taking the Minister’s own admission.
– The Minister, like myself, is a layman, and on such a point I prefer to take the opinion of those versed in the law. I have heard the statement made over and over again that full power is given to the Minister under the Customs Act to prohibit the importation of any goods he pleases.
– Does the honorable member think that the Minister of Trade and Customs understands the- Act which he is called upon to administer?
– Undoubtedly, the honorable gentleman understands it, and so well that 1 say there is very little danger in giving him the powers proposed under this Bill. If there were any danger that the powers given to the Minister under this Bill would be abused, I am satisfied that the powers with which he is intrusted under the Customs Act would have been abused before now, especially in view of the low Tariff we have, and the injury which I hold it has worked to many of our industries. Unfortunately, my experience, like that of other honorable members, has been not that the administration has been too strong, but, unfortunately, that, as a rule, it has been too weak. The Minister intrusted with the administration of an Act is very careful not to exceed his powers, because he knows that he can be brought to book by Parliament, and may have to make way for some one else. The honorable member for Grampians said that he thought a handful of people should not require such a drastic measure as this. I entirely agree with the honorable member, but the fact remains that such drastic measures are necessary, and as they have become necessary we should pass them. They are necessary from the very fact that we are but a handful of people. It will be admitted that the resources of Australia are unbounded, and in a country of illimitable resources we should be able to find employment for a mere handful of people. Unfortunately, at the present time we are not able to do so. In almost every department of industry we have unemployed. We have skilled mechanics going about idle, not by the score, but by the hundred.
– Has the honorable member seen that his friend the Age says that times are booming?
– I quite indorse what the Age said, and that but still further proves the necessity for this measure. If when times are booming thousands are looking for employment, and cannot find it, it is our duty to do what we can to preserve our industries, in order to provide work for our people. It has been said that no proof has been given of the existence of a monopoly in Australia, but the shipping combine nas been repeatedly referred to. I have had no proof brought before me that the shipping combine is not looked upon by every section of the community, not only as a monopoly, but as a monopoly of a very injurious character.
– It is supported by the seamen.
– It does not matter whether it is supported by the seamen or not. Unfortunately, in many cases, as we have seen in connexion with the tobacco industry, the men employed in an industry are afraid to express their views, because, if they did, they would render themselves liable to dismissal, and might also find difficulty in getting another situation.
– The seamen’s organization supports the shipping combine.
– That may be so, but it is not proof that the shipping combine is not a monopoly. The seamen may honestly think that it is not a monopoly, but we have a better opportunity of studying these questions, and are likely to know more about the matter than is the ordinary seaman, who has about the hardest life of any workman I know. It is also asserted by some honorable members that the tobacco industry is not a monopoly. It is not in the exact sense of the word, but we have had a Royal Commission appointed to inquire into this industry. Its members are more thoroughly acquainted with the whole of the ramifications of the industry than we can claim to be, and yet the majority of the members of that Commission came to the conclusion that the tobacco industry in Australia is a monopoly.
– They say it is a partial, but not a complete, monopoly.
– They say it is a monopoly, and that it ought to be nationalized.
– They said that before they had inquired.
– Then their inquiry only confirmed them in their belief that what they first asserted was correct. Does the honorable and learned member for Wannon mean to suggest that the members of the Tobacco Monopoly Commission were prejudiced in any way?
– I say that the evidence they obtained does not bear out their report.
– The honorable member for Wentworth has supplied me with a copy of their report, in which I find that they say -
We find that the combine is a partial, but not a complete, monopoly.
Exactly ; and this Bill is designed to deal with partial monopolies, and prevent them from becoming complete. The honorable member for Wentworth has only furnished me with additional evidence of the necessity for placing this Bill upon the statutebook.
– The Commission say that it is not a complete monopoly.
– Unfortunately, this partial monopoly has obtained such an extraordinary hold of the industry that it is most unfortunate that the measure now proposed was not placed on the statutebook many years ago. I shall quote what, an eminent American writer has to say about the International Harvester Trust, which, no doubt, some honorable members will also say is not a monopoly. I shall show honorable members on the Opposition side of the House the kind of combines they are supporting and doing all in their power to give free play to in Australia.
– No, fair play.
– The honorable member may call it any kind of play he has a mind to, but, judging by the opinions to which, he has given expression on many other questions, I doubt whether he is a good judge of fair play. Honorable members probably will know something of the history of the International Harvester Company, and I shall, therefore, quote only a portion of an article by Mr. Alfred Henry Lewis in the Cosmopolitan for April, 1905. Mr. Lewis’s article is headed: “A Trust in Agricultural Implements - The Opportunity of the Newly-formed Trust and its Far-reaching Influences,” and, amongst other things, he says -
There -were, perhaps, ten American concerns engaged in the manufacture and sale of farm tools and machinery when the Harvester Trust was formed, and of these the Deering, the McCormick, the Millwaukee, the Piano,” and the Champion companies were included therein. The list carried the largest plants in the country. There have been added to it since the “Minnie,” the Aultman and Miller, and the D. M. Osborne companies.
I may say that the Osborne Company was forced into the combine.
As now framed the Harvester Trust controls over nine-tenths of the farm implement trade, and by methods of extortion, constriction, and law breaking, so dominates the market situation as to compel what opposition is struggling against it to do business at a loss.
This is the company which is doing so much to destroy an important industry in Australia, and which will do a great deal more if its operations are not checked. To confirm what is stated here by Mr. Lewis in regard to the control by this trust of ninetenths of the world’s trade in agricultural implements, I may say that the International Harvester Company issued a circular, which I am sorry I have not with ‘ me at the present moment, in which they claim to have 90 per cent, of the world’s trade, and there can be no doubt that they will not be satisfied until they get a good deal more.
– Is the honorable member not aware that the bulk of the harvesters imported into Australia are those of the Massey-Harris Company ?
– If that be so we must deal with the Massey-Harris Company in precisely the same way as with the International Harvester Company. I have nothing specially against the Massey-Harris Company or International Harvester Company, as compared with other companies, but I hold that any corporation or trust whose operations afflict our industries should be dealt with. Mr. Lewis, in his article, made reference to the profits that have been made by this extraordinary combination, which has a good many of the American banks and unlimited capital at its back. He says -
It is not too much to say that now in the third year of its existence the Harvester Trust from those $100,000,000 pockets a yearly profit of over $40,000,000, eighty per cent, of which may be counted as merest rapine.
That is the opinion of Mr. Lewis. We all know how the trust bought up the railways. A great deal was made during this debate of the fact that the railways of Australia, being owned by the States, could not be used for the purpose for which railways have been used in America, where thev are privately owned, of securing rebates to private companies. That is quite true, but the shipping combine could assist these trusts to a great extent if they pleased. and does so at present. Dealing with the Bill, and in connexion with the question of litigation, I should like to point out that powerful combinations like these can employ the very best lawyers, and it is a very poor lawyer that cannot see his way through an Act of Parliament.
– The honorable member is working for the lawyers in supporting this Bill.
– I am quite aware that this measure will be beneficial to the lawyers. If I were a lawyer it would make my eyes glisten to see a Bill like this. The small man is always handicapped in going to law. I speak from personal experience. Justice can only be obtained if it is bought. Mr. Lewis goes on to say-
– Who is this Lewis?
– He is a gentleman who could give the honorable member for Dalley a few points on a matter with which he is thoroughly familiar. He goes on, to say -
If such as the harvester trust were limited to lawful methods, and confined in their dollar hunting to what honest rules of the chase are set forth in the public statutes, not a bit of harm would come from them. It is only when they become criminals, defy justice, stifle competition by villain means, and enslave a market in the teeth of law, that prices go up, quality and quantity go down, and the consumer public is plundered in two ways at once.
That is how this eminent writer describes the operations of this trust. If he wrote that which was not true, of course, the International Harvester Company has its remedy against him, and could have taken him before the Courts of the United States. Honorable members who are opposing this Bill are supporting those gentlemen who have been plundering the farming community. There is no doubt about that. In fact, things became so bad in America under this company that President Roosevelt made war upon it, and so soon as he decided to make war upon it the InterState Commission took its cue from the President, as it usually does. And what was the result? The Inter-State Commission stated that -
The International Harvester Company owns the Illinois Northern Railway. Whatever accrues to that company inures to the benefit of the Harvester Company, its owner, alone. When any of the railway lines leading from Chicago pays to the Illinois Northern Railway Company $12 for the performance of a switching service which is worth but $3 it gives to the International Harvester Company, the shipper of that cartload of merchandise, $q. When the Santa Fe railroad pays to the Illinois Northern $12 for moving a car loaded with the ‘ traffic of the Harvester Company from the McCormick yards to, its Corinth yard, a service which it might exact under its contract with the Illinois Northern for $1, and when it does this to obtain the traffic of the Harvester Company, it thereby grants that latter company in effect a rebate. It is guilty of an act by which an advantage is given, and a discrimination is produced in favour of the Harvester Company. It is urged that- all this is simply an arrangement between railroads, that there is no negotiation with the shipper, and no payment to the shipper. This is a mere play upon words. The Illinois Northern railroad and the Harvester Company are one and the same thing.
That is the kind of company that is operating in Australia to-day. It is a company with whose methods I am not in sympathy. The same writer goes on, further, to say that -
The trust, with no one to molest it, or make it afraid, will be able to give less in quality, less in quantity - after the frugal manner of the tobacco trust and others of the vulture brood.
I think that is sufficient to show that we have to contend with a very dangerous trust, which has 90 per cent, of the world’s trade, and has secured nearly a complete .monopoly in the goods in which it deals. It is high time that we did something with it. The honorable member for Parramatta has said that this Bill means prohibitive protection. Well, I am not a prohibitionist. I believe in a scientific Tariff. But after the experience we have had of the working of the present Tariff, I say that if anything can be done to preserve our iron and other industries I shall be delighted, and shall give .such a measure my support. It will be some time before we shall be able to deal fully with the Tariff. Honorable members do not seem to be very much in earnest about that question. The Ministry are not so much in earnest about it as are the members of the Labour Party. I am quite willing that we shall deal with the Tariff question this session as far as we possibly can. With me it is not a matter for a general election. I have been a consistent protectionist always, and whenever I can do what I think to be right the time is always ripe. I do not think it necessary, Mr. Speaker, to delay the House any further, as no doubt there will be a very long discussion upon this Bill in Committee; but I thought it my duty to give expression to the views which I entertain. Though I am supporting the Bill, I am certainly faT from satisfied that it will be effective. But so soon as we have such a measure placed upon the statute-book we can find out its defects from itsadministration, and if we discover that, so far as it operates, it is doing good, but that the Minister wants fuller powers, I shall be quite prepared to give them to him; whereas, if it is working harm, I am quite sure that the whole House will be willing to aid me in striking out those defects which are complained of. I therefore support the motion for the second reading.
– In beginning the few remarks which I wish to make in regard to this Bill, I am bound to repeat an observation which I have uttered on other occasions when opposing measures which I felt certain would pass, notwithstanding any opposition. That impression, Mr. Speaker, is founded upon the conviction that this is not in fact a deliberative assembly. I know that it is popularly supposed outside Parliament that all who enter it come here to meet a number of other members whose minds are open to conviction, and whose one anxietyis to do that which is best calculated to contribute to the welfare of the community.
– There are few honorable members whose minds are perfectly open.
– There are few in this House; I consider that I am amongst them myself. I feel that, whatever arguments were brought to bear upon this subject, on this occasion, and in this House, even if they were the arguments of an archangel, would have very little effect in turning, the House, as a corporate body, from the determination upon which it is set. The great bulk of the members of this House are influenced by pledges and parties, the principles of which, no doubt, they think beneficial to a body of this kind. But to any one who reflects from time to time upon the usefulness of this Parliament, it must come as a rather sad conviction that it is not a deliberative body. Few Parliaments are where party feeling runs high, and parties are bound by pledges which commit them to take any certain course. Now, I am not given to the use of superlatives, because I think that they are so much abused that they lose their effect; but I have no hesitation in saying that this is not only the most far-reaching Bill that has ever been brought before the House in its five years’ existence, but the most far-reaching that it is possible for any Government to bring before it. It is a measure which, in my opinion, notwithstanding the very light and airy way in which some honorable members ‘have dealt with it, goes to the very root of our civilized life. I think we are apt to forget how much we owe to competition as an element in civilization. We forget that the working classes are to-day living under conditions which were not within the reach of Queen Elizabeth; that those conditions are the result of keen competition in every branch of commerce and industry, and that it is only by the encouragement of that competition in all parts of the world that we are to-day able to command advantages and luxuries now become necessities of our daily life, such as were never dreamt of three or four hundred years ago, when legislation of this kind was rife, and when invention and inventive genius had not had that free play with competition such as is enjoyed under the conditions in which we live. I was not present, Mr. Speaker, during the delivery of the principal speeches which have been made on this measure, but I have had the advantage of reading the whole of them, and I therefore am as capable of dealing with those contributions thus made to the debate from time to time by honorable members, as if I had been in the Chamber, and had listened to them. I am brought to this conclusion from having read with very great care the speech of the Minister who introduced the Bill - that he had no more conception of the far-reaching provisions of the. measure which had been intrusted to his charge than the veriest tyro who might have been brought into this House for the purpose. The “honorable gentleman, I will admit, approached the measure with great earnestness, even with fervour, but he must have discovered by this time that to deal with a complicated Bill of the kind, full of cross references of a very abstract character, is entirely beyond his capacity. I am really reminded - and I say it with the best possible feeling- - of the honorable gentleman’s attempt, about four years ago, to introduce a measure which was intended to deal with Inter-State commerce. That also was a measure of a very complicated character, which has long since been abandoned. But the honorable gentleman, in attempting to explain this Bill to the House, showed how completely at sea, how completely “bushed “ he was, with regard to the abstract economic principles which it involves. I am bound to say, that after having studied ‘the measure, and read with very great care the speech in which the Minister introduced it, I felt that not only was I no nearer than before to an understanding of the Bill without a reference to its letter and spirit, but that the speech was rather calculated to mystify one as to what was really meant by its complex provisions. The honorable gentleman made an explanation to the House - from which I shall take the opportunity of giving one or two quotations - that really had nothing whatever to do with the Bill. He had in his mind a measure of a character so drastic - even as compared with this Bill, which’ itself, he said, was more drastic than the one which it succeeded, “that, if ultimately placed upon the statute-book, it would have struck the most vital blow at the future prospects of this country that could possibly be conceived. But, fortunately, the honorable gentleman who had charge of the Bill quite exaggerated its effects; and I am sure - after what I have heard of the criticisms of the leader of the. Labour Party, and ethers upon it - that when it emanates from Committee, the Minister himself will hardly recognise it as the measure which he introduced. I am bound to say, also, that I read with very great interest three speeches delivered in the course of this debate - those of the honorable member for Kooyong, the honorable member for Bland, and the honorable and learned member for Corinella. It was really refreshing, and delightful, if I may say so, without being suspected of irony, to see that. the honorable member for Bland, leading the Labour Party, had, at lastthough it was the first time I had heard him give expression to any such sentiment - recognised that there were some “ inexorable tendencies” in commerce; I myself should call them economic laws, but’ obviously he was not prepared to admit their title to that term. But he admitted - and it was, I repeat, refreshing to hear him - that there were certain tendencies in commerce which he himself said were “ inexorable.” Well, I am not prepared to quarrel with the honorable member as to whether or not a tendency in commerce which is inexorable should be called a law. It does not matter what we call it. The law of gravitation is a tendency, and a verv inexorable one. But whether we call it a law or not, we take as much care as possible not to come under it if it should be in our way. We have been accustomed to hear the members of the Labour Party talk about such matters as the laws of political economy in a genuine swashbuckling spirit, as if since they had come into power economics must go to the winds. And I say yet again that not only was it refreshing, but that I felt that the honorable member had come partly round to my stand-point in politics when I found that he at last - and his party, probably - recognised that there were such things as economic laws with which, like the law of gravitation, we have to avoid conflict if we desire to obtain that success in our commercial life which we are all anxious to see realized. Well, I welcome the speech of the honorable member for Bland. I welcome it as a highly intelligent contribution to this debate, because it showed that the result of a consideration of some of the economic tendencies which he now recognises had led him to the conclusion that certain parts of this Bill were not likely to meet with any success.
The honorable member for Corinella made a speech which I read with very great interest. I was glad, too, to see that the honorable member for Parramatta and the honorable member for Bland had been able to carry on such a very interesting and very instructive series of cross observations, one to the other, as throwing light upon the Bill. I do not hesitate to say that, taking into consideration the best of the speeches which have been made on this measure, it has been one of the most ably and completely discussed we have ever had brought forward in this House. In approaching its consideration, I feel that one ought to take up a thoroughly logical position. I assume that we all recognise that we should avoid legislation as much as possible. I remember that many years ago - I think it was twenty-five years ago; certainly it was in his salad days - the honorable member for Ballarat delivered in some part of Victoria an address in which he boasted to his constituents that the Government of which he was a’ member had added two inches’ to the Statutes.
– It was in 1883.
– It was evidently a red-letter day in the honorable member’s career, and he remembers it well. I am quite sure that, with his longer life and his greater experience of political matters, he would not now consider it a subject for boasting that he had added two inches to the statute-book. I take it that he agrees with me, and I think most thoughtful persons do in this respect, that it is the province of the legislator, if possible, to avoid legislation. The object of a Parliament is not necessarily to add to the statute-book, but to supervise the affairs of the country, to see that everything is progressing satisfactorily, and to pass laws only when it becomes necessary to curtail the liberties of the people in order to prevent some abuse or injustice to any part of the citizens. I, therefore, start my analysis by presuming that there is an onus on those who introduced such a far-reaching measure as this, to give the House and the country good and sufficient reasons why it should be made law. The honorable member for Hume gave no reasons whatever, because - and I say it with the very best possible spirit - I do not think he understood the Bill. His observations about the Bill, and what it would enable him to do, clearly showed that he did not know either the extent or the limit of the powers which it proposes to give. Therefore, so far as he was concerned, I am bound to say that no justification has been put before the House for the introduction of the measure. It deals, as we all recognise, with two things - what are called “ monopolies” and what is popularly called “dumping.” But no one has yet attempted to define either “ monopoly “ or “ dumping.” Certainly, the honorable member for Hume never went near the question of the definition of dumping. He told us that this Bill was “ not the same as the last Bill” ; that it was “ more drastic” ; that “ it was not a long Bill.”
– He is getting a roasting tonight.
– It does not roast me a bit coming from the honorable and learned member.
– I am sure that the Minister of Trade and Customs understands the spirit in which I offer my criticism. I only want to express some fair and reasonable comments on the measure, and if I think that the honorable member does not understand the Bill which he has introduced, I am perfectly entitled to say so, as I do, in the fairest possible spirit. He said - and this seemed to me to indicate an extraordinary misconception of the difficulties of the Bill - that “it was not a long Bill, and that therefore, he did not intend to occupy much time in explaining its provisions.” Then, to use his own words, he told us afterwards that it was “ rather an important Bill.” It is not “rather an important BiH.” It is the most far-reaching Bill which the honorable member has ever introduced, or ever will introduce here; and even if I wish him a long life and a long Ministerial existence, I am quite sure that he will never introduce here a Bill whichwill go so completely to what I call the commercial and industrial vitals of the country as this Bill is calculated to do. He undertook to say what it did. He said that it was to prevent monopolies, and then, in order to show how necessary it was to prevent monopolies, he declared that it was requisite to read of the gigantic trusts in other countries than Australia in order to understand this Bill. One would think, sir, that in this country we have quiteenough material for legislation without adding to our statute-book because of the abuses which have taken place in other countries. The honorable member went on to say that similar monopolies to those in the United States “ do not exist in Australia.” So by his own confession as to the Bill being aimed at a state of things which does not exist in Australia, one is brought to this conclusion: that this is a BiN which is sought to be passed in a community of 4,000,000 persons, with a very moderate protective Tariff, because of abuses which have arisen in a country with 86.000,000 persons and a practically prohibitive Tariff. That is where. the honorable member leads us by his own admission. The honorable member for Moira, who spoke shortly after the Minister, said that “ competition up to date in Australia had done no harm.” So that we have from the Minister and one of his strongest supporters the admission that the conditions at which the Bill is aimed do not exist in this country. I am endeavouring to direct the attention of honorable members to the uncommon straits to which the Minister was put in order to justify himself in introducing the Bill. He said -
This is not a question of free-trade or protection, but of whether capital shall be allowed to accumulate to such an. extent and applied so that it can dominate not only persons and companies, as it does in America, but it is alleged even the Senate of that country.
So that the honorable member had to drag in as a justification for the Bill the fact that in a community of 86,000,000 persons, where an almost ‘prohibitive Tariff exists, it had been stated that certain trust proprietors had attempted to bribe the Senate of the United States. Now one is brought - and I do not do it as a piece of advocacy - to ask one’s self this question : Have we not already in this country sufficient subjects for legislation to enable us to go on with the business of this House, without anticipating a time when we shall have grown considerably in regard to our population, and when we shall have reached a condition of our Tariff - and I do not believe that we ever shall - which may bring about a repetition of the abuses said to exist in the United States? Have we not sufficient subjects for) legislation in this country without dealing with this question of monopolies at the present time? I am brought to the conclusion, which a number of other members have expressed in better terms, that this is not an urgent Bill ; that it is not one which is at all wanted at the present time; that it is not only premature, but is not understood by its introducer, and is nothing more nor less than a political placard for the Labour Party and the Government at the next general election. No doubt it would be a very useful thing with certain classes to be able to say, “ Well, you have seen the reports of all these dreadful abuses in the United States. We, asl a Government, are not going to allow that sort of thing in Australia, therefore we have introduced and passed a Bill “ - they will say that, however much it may be mauled about here - “ which is calculated to put a stop to anything of the kind which may be started in Australia with regard to monopolies or to this system of dumping.” Now, the object of the Bill is, as I have said, twofold, and I am stating this apart from the explanation of the Minister. The one is to prevent combines, in or out of the Commonwealth, which are likely to be destructive to our local trade; and the other is to prevent dumping. I shall come to the question of what dumping really means in amoment. I have no hesitation im saying that the attempt to prevent combines, in the sense in which they are spoken of in the Bill, will be futile. I have no hesitation in saying also, as the result of a careful and thoroughly impartial review of this measure, that the attempt to prevent dumping will be impracticable. Now, coming to another branch of my subject, one cannot help being struck with the irony of events, because, in the first place, . there is no attempt here to deal with those combines or trusts which are well known in this community as trade unions. There is no worse or more arbitrary form of combination in this country than the trade unions.
– The employers’ unions included.
– I am speaking of trade unions. I do not wish to go into detail on this matter, but I shall differentiate the two by one illustration. We know that for four years the trade unionists of this country have been doing their utmost to shut out all fellow-workmen who do not choose to come under the influence and the control of their unions.
– Nonsense !
– They have been claiming preference ever since this Parliament came into existence.
– You set us the example.
– I shall not say whether there is an example or not.
– That is what the honorable and learned member does in his union.
– I only want to say that it is one of the most arbitrary combinations in relation to commerce and industry which could possibly exist in any country. The Government have not attempted to deal with this most arbitrary of all combinations. We know very well that one of the essential and indispensable elements of all industry is labour, and that if labour is so managed and organized that it is impossible to control or command it in any way in the markets of the country, it is impossible for industry to go on. Yet this Bill, which professes to deal with every possible sort of combine or trust, has not touched, or attempted to touch, this particular form of combination, which I say is as important, as menacing, as dangerous, and as indispensable to be curtailed as any which the measure ever contemplated.
-We will experiment with the union to which the honorable member belongs to begin with.
– I undertook to differentiate. I do not care to deal’ with interruptions as a rule, but the honorable member has mentioned the Employers’ Union. I have nothing to do with that union, and I am not at all interested in it. My interests do not touch that union in any way ; but I would like to say that there never has been any attempt on the part of any Employers’ Union I have heard of in Australia to boycott any other employers who do not choose to come into the union.
– Has there not?
– What about the Pastoralists’ Union?
– If there is anything of the sort I shall be glad to seeit brought under the influence and control of this Bill, together with trade unions. Aspointing to the irony of facts, it is noticeable that at the very moment when the Government are putting this Bill before Parliament as an indispensable measure, they are doing their utmost to encourage one of the biggest shipping combinations in? England in connexion with the mail service. The Government on this occasion happen to be buyers in the market, and, notwithstanding that two well-known companies - the Orient Steam Navigation Company and the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company - have served this country, one for twenty-five or thirty years, and the other for fifty years, the Government, which is professing such an abhorrence for combinations of all kinds, is bringing about a great combination of shipping, so that they may, by what some of the Labour people would call a system of commercial sweating, get the mails carried at a lower price than hitherto.
– We pay too much.
– I” do not care what we pay. I say that the Government, who are professing to be so anxious to stop this sort of thing by means of this measure, are to-day doing that which they condemn. The Melbourne Age in to-day’s leading article speaks of the “ great shipping combination “ bv which the Government hope to get their mails carried at a lower rate. Surely the people of the country, who see what is going on, will recognise the hypocrisy of this measure. I could understand the position if the Government had said that they were going to introduce a Bill to prevent these combinations, and were certainly not going to encourage any combine of. shipping in England in order to get a cheaper rate of carriage for their mails. But the mere fact that the Government have gone into the open market, and in calling for tenders have made no stipulation about combinations, shows that this is a hypocritical measure, and that in placing it before the House the Government have their tongue in their cheek. It is a very easy matter to see the distinction that the Government draw. The combination that they are deliberately encouraging is one outside Australia.. It does not matter to them what combinations there may be in England or the United States, so long as they do not come into our market and jeopardize the chances of our local manufacturers or merchants. So long as the Government can get a cheaper rate for the carriage of the mails, and win from the public the kudos . which they may suppose will result from the making of a good bargain, they do not hesitate to encourage the very thing this Bill has been conceived for the purpose of condemning. I should like to draw honorable members’ attention to certain clauses of the Bill, in order to show how much the Government are interested in the general public - the consumer. In several parts of the Bill the clauses require a sort of category of classes which are to be affected by the measure, and in every case the manufacturer is put first for consideration, the worker second, and the consumer third, although the consumer includes all the other classes.
– The consumer pays for the lot.
– The consumer pays for the whole thing; and the attempt made in this Bill to artificially protect and coddle the local producer, can only have the effect of raising the price to the consumer, in whose interests the Government profess that it has been introduced. The Government forget that the shutting out of cheap goods which are offered to this country - the importation of which the Minister in charge of the Bill would unhesitatingly call dumping - can only have the effect of rendering those goods dearer than before. This places the burden on the shoulders of the consumer - whose interests are professed to be looked after - for the benefit and profit of the manufacturer and the worker. It must be obvious that if we put a ring fence around Australia, and thus enable local manufacturers to get increased prices, and local workers to get increased wages, it must be clone at the expense of the consumer. The whole of this Bill is a subtle attempt - too subtle, I. have said, for the Minister quite to see the logic of it - to throw on the consumer a very much increased cost in his daily life, in order to benefit the manufacturer and the worker. The public pay in every case. As to the question of monopolies, dealing with it apart from party feeling, and apart from the fact that it is a question before Parliament, I have no hesitation in saying, as the result of as long study of economic matters as that, I suppose, of any honorable member, that, in my opinion, it is impossible for a monopoly, in the true sense of the word, to exist under free-trade. We may have concentration of great producing power in a free-trade community ; but we can never have a monopoly in the sense in which the Minister who has introduced this measure uses the term. I heard onel honorable member ask the honorable member for Bland if he could name any case in Great Britain in which a monopoly had been created, and the honorable member for. Bland very wisely hesitated to name any. I would ask any honorable member in the House to name one.
– The tobacco trust.
– That is not a monopoly, but a trust, andl I am not dealing with trusts, merely as such, at the present time.
– Will the honorable and learned member start by defining “ monopoly “ ?
– A monopoly is the concentration of trade in the hands of one or more persons, so that it is impossible for anybody else to come into competition.
– As in the case of the tobacco monopoly.
– The attempted tobacco monopoly in England failed ignominiously, and the shipping monopoly, attempted by Pierpont Morgan, has been one of the most unmistakable failures.
– Owing to the intervention of the Government.
– I am not going into causes, but the failure of that monopoly had nothing to do with the Government. The price of the shares was £100, and within a few months it was down to £10.
– Owing to what cause?
– Owing to competition from outside. I shall not reason economics with the honorable member for Gwydir, because I think that is a branch of science with which his mind is not familiar.
– That is very nasty !
– It is a very quiet and friendly remark.
– That may be, but it does not reduce the vanity of the honorable member for Parkes.
– I am sorry if the remark hurts the honorable member. A monopoly, in the sense in which some honorable members have justified legislative interference, is such a complete absorption of a particular industry as a man gets by means of a patent. If a man takes out a patent - and we all like to encourage men to exercise their inventive genius - he gets a monopoly, because the law practically prevents anybody else from competing with him in a particular commodity.
– For a fixed term.
– For a fixed term, no doubt, there is a complete monopoly under a patent, for it is absolutely impossible for anybody to enter into competition. It is quite possible to get a monopoly for a considerable term in any country in which the Tariff is so high that competition from outside is impossible. For instance, in the United States I know that twenty-nine great paper-manufacturing companies have put their affairs together, and practically have the whole industry in their hands. I admit that for a time that is a monopoly, but-
– Does that meet the honorable member’s definition? Is competition excluded in that case?
– I do not think that it is absolutely, but for a time it would exclude competition. . A trust isa. different thing. The word “trust” has not, necessarily, anything to do with monopoly, although it is often appliedto the latter. We may have a trust in a form that does not involve a monopoly, the latter being a condition of things in which one person only has the production or trading. It is only in the latter case, I take it, that the Legislature is entitled to interfere. The Governments in Australia have the monopoly of railway traffic, and that is a very good illustration of my meaning.
– What about the shipping companies?
– The Prime Minister admitted, I think, the other night that the shipping companieshavenot a strict monopoly. There is a ring which lasts for a time, and then breaks’ up. I am speaking of things I know - things I have dealt with. I have seen rings made, and have participated in them; and, for a time, there is a monopoly. After a time, however, when a trust seeks, as it very often does, to get more than a reasonable profit, the ring breaks, and outside competition comes in.
– What happens if it does not break?
– If a ring does not break, then, I suppose, it remains whole and sound.
– But what are the effects during the time a ring is operating?
– During that time, the effects, are not injurious, and may be advantageous to the public, unless the ring abuses its power ; and the moment it does so, it breaks ‘ up, and competition comes in. I have in my hand a very interesting book by the great master of the world of trusts, Andrew Carnegie. The book is entitled The Gospel of Wealth, and is, I consider, of great economic value. It was written at a time when Andrew Carnegie had retired from business with £40,000,000, a large part of which he has given back to the public in the form of libraries. I ask honorable members to listen to what I am about to read, because it comes from a master of the subject, who has looked at it from all points of view. We all know that Andrew Carnegie began life in a very small way, and has had an opportunity of observing the ramifications of trade and commerce at all stages of a career, from nothing to £40,000,000. Writing under the head of “ Popular Illusions about Trusts,” he says -
We see in all these efforts of men the desire to furnish opportunities to mass capital, to concentrate the small savings of the many, and to direct them to one end. The conditions of human society create for this an imperious demand ; the concentration of capital is a necessity for meeting the demands of our day, and as such should not be looked at askance, but be encouraged. There is nothing detrimental to human society in it, but much that is, or is bound soon to become beneficial. It is an evolution from the heterogeneous to the homogeneous, and is clearly another step in the upward path of development.
Abreast of this necessity for massing the wealth of the many in even larger and larger sums for huge enterprises another law is seen in operation in the invariable tendency from the beginning till now to lower the cost of all articles produced by man. Through the operation of this law the home of the labouring man of our day boasts luxuries which even in the palaces of the monarchy as recent as Queen Elizabeth were unknown. It is a trite saying that the comforts of to-day were the luxuries of yesterday) and conveys only a faint impression of the contrast, until one walks through the castles and palaces of older countries, and learns that two or three centuries ago these had for carpets only rushes, small open spaces for windows, glass being little known, and were without gas or water supply, or any of what we consider to-day the conveniences of life. As for those chief treasures of life, books, there is scarcely a working man’s family which has not at its command without money and without price, access to libraries to which the palace was recently a stranger.
If there be in human history one truth clearer and one more indisputable than another it is that the cheapening of articles, whether of luxury or of necessity, or of those classed as artistic, insures their more general distribution, and is one of the most potent factors in refining and lifting a people, and in adding to its happiness. In no period of human activity has this great agency been so potent or so widespread as in our own. Now, the cheapening of all these good things, whether it be in the metals, in textiles, or in food, or especially in books and prints, is rendered possible only through the operation of the law, which may be stated thus : Cheapness is in proportion to the scale of production. To make 10 tons of steel a day would cost many times as much per ton as to make 100 tons ; to make 100 tons would cost double as much per ton as 1,000; and to make 1,000 tons per day -would cost greatly more than to make 10,000 tons. Thus, the larger the scale of operation the cheaper the product. The huge steam-ship of 20,000 tons burden carries its ton of freight at less cost, it is stated, than the first steam-ships carried a pound It is, fortunately, impossible for man to impede, much less to change, this great and beneficial law, from which flow most of _ his comforts and luxuries, and also most of the best and most improving forces in his life.
In an age noted for its inventions, we see the same law running through these. Inventions facilitate big operations, and in most instance? require to be worked upon a great scale. Indeed, as a rule, the great invention which is beneficent in its operation would be ‘useless unless operated to supply 1,000 people where ten were supplied before. Every agency in our day labours to scatter the good things of life, both for mind and body, among the toiling millions. Everywhere we look we see the inexorable law ever producing bigger and Bigger things. One of the most notable illustrations of this is seen in the railway freight car. When the writer entered the service of the Pennsylvania railroad from 7 to 8 tons were carried upon eight wheels; to-day they carry 50 tons. The locomotive ha.s quadrupled in power. The steam-ship to-day is ten times bigger, the blast furnace has seven times more capacity, and the tendency everywhere is still to increase. The contrast between the hand printing press of old and the elaborate newspaper printing machine of to-day is even more marked.
– I do not wish to interrupt the quotation, but I ask, Mr. Speaker, if the honorable and! learned’ member is within his rights in quoting from a book ad libitum. . If he isi, there is no reason why he should not read the book right through; but if he is not, I should like to know .what rule is enforceable against him. If his own moderation does not teach him that we have had enough, and if you, sir, do not lay down some rule in this case, I, for my part, see no option but to retire.
– An honorable member has the right to make his speech in his own way, so long as he keeps within the Standing Orders, and must himself determine whether his quotations shall be long or short, provided that they do not occupy more than a certain proportion of his speech. If an honorable member spoke for ten minutes, and quoted throughout that time, there would be an excess of quotation; but, if he spoke for an hour, *und quoted for ten minutes, I think there would not.
– It is unfortunate that the honorable and learned member was not here during the afternoon.
– We all have the book.
– Any one can buy it for 3s. 6d. It is not right to quote from it at this length.
– The quotation continues -
We conclude that this overpowering, irresistible tendency towards aggregation of capital and increase of size in every branch of product cannot be arrested or even greatly impeded, and that, instead of attempting to restrict either, we should hail every increase as something gained, not for the few rich, but for the millions of poor, seeing that the law is .salutary, working for good and not for evil.
In another part of the same chapter, the writer says -
The people are aroused against trusts because they are said to aim at securing monopolies ir* the manufacture and distribution of their products; but the whole question is, have they succeeded, or can they succeed, in monopolizing products? Let us consider. That the manufacturer of a patented article can maintain a monopoly goes without saying. Our laws expressly give him a monopoly. That it has been wise for the State to give an inventor this for a time will not be seriously questioned.
Further on, he says -
There are only two conditions other than patents which render it possible to maintain a monopoly. These are when the parties absolutely control the raw material, out of which the article is produced, or control territory into which the rivals can enter only with extreme difficulty. Such is virtually the case with the Standard Oil Company, and, as long as it canmaintain a monopoly of raw materials, it goes without saying that it can maintain a monopoly in the product. This is a fact that the public must recognise, but what legislation can do to prevent it is difficult to say.
The last quotation which I wish to make from this chapter is this -
Every attempt to monopolize the manufacture of any staple article carries within its bosom the seeds of failure. Long before we could legislate with much effect against trusts there would be no necessity for legislation. The past proves this, and the future is to- confirm it. There should be nothing but encouragement of these vast aggregations of capital for the manufacture of staple articles. As for the result being an increase of price to the consumer beyond a brief period, there need be no fear. On the contrary, the inevitable result of these aggregations is, finally and permanently, to give lo the consumer cheaper articles than would have been otherwise possible to obtain, for capital i.s stimulated by the high profits of the trust for a season to embark against it.
These extracts are very pertinent to the discussion of monopolies. We wish to know their effects, looked at, not from a narrow, “ hole-and-corner ‘ ‘ aspect, but from a broad and comprehensive stand-point, with a full knowledge of their operations. In Mr. Carnegie we have a man of whom the world contains no equal. He has summed- up in a philosophical way, at a period of his life when he must be credited with having no other purpose than, the instruction of those who may look to him as a master of the subject, the results of a long and deep experience. We can all say, in our little way, “ I have my own opinions on the matter,” and many honorable members will say that. But if they pass the Bill as it stands - of which there is little chance - they must now do so with a full knowledge, gained from an experienced mind’, of the good effects which large combinations are likely to produce upon the conditions of the people as a whole, as distinct from the two particular classes to which, the Ministry seem anxious to give special attention. The burden is upon the Government to show, not merely that the Bill will benefit the manufacturers and the workers they employ, but ultimately the consuming public, which includes every workman, unionist and nonunionist, and every manufacturer. Unless the Government can satisfy the House that the measure is likely to benefit the public generally - the men, women, and children who make up our population of nearly 4,000,000 - the House has no right to pass it. They must show that an approach to a monopoly is doing more barm to individuals than good to the community generally. One has only to refer to the stereotyped illus trations of history to support this position. Every one knows of the great injury done to the coach proprietors, coach drivers, and coachbuilders of Great Britain by the introduction of the railway locomotive; but a broad-spread blessing was thereby given to the people of that country and the world at large. The substitution of the spinning jenny for the old hand-loom brought about similar results. Certain limited classes were so annoyed and aggravated by that invention that they burnt the mills, and there were, in different parts of England, disturbances approaching the magnitude of riots. But the public as a whole has benefited by the enormous economy in the production of the articles which the invention of the spinning jenny now enables manufacturers to supply. The same thing occurred with the poor seamstresses whom Hood immortalized in his Song of the Shirt, when the sewing machine was introduced. We know that the class who had hitherto earned their livelihood with their fingers were displaced by hundreds arid thousands. But to-day we find a sewing machine in every home, and we know that by means of this invention the poor are able to provide themselves with comforts and luxuries which at one time a monarch could hardly possess. The burden, therefore, is upon the Government, not to show that the Bill will benefit the manufacturers of Victoria, or even of Australia - because their interests are subordinate to those of the people of the Commonwealth - but to demonstrate that it will benefit the consumer, which includes all the other classes of the community. I come now to the question of dumping. I was very much struck with the crudity of some of the observations made by the Minister in regard to this portion of the Bill. He understood very slightly that part of the measure which relates to monopolies, but he was entirely at sea over the part relating to dumping. He said that dumping was “ the curse of any country,” and he spoke as if anything was dumping which enabled one country to send its goods into another to be sold there at a less price than that at which they could be produced locally. If that constituted dumping, and if a law were passed against it, it would simply mean that we should shut up Australia as China was shut up, and endeavour to become self-supporting against the people of the outer world whom we might at once speak of as barbarians, I fake it that there are two essential elements in dumping, according to its recognised definition. In the first place, the goods must be sent into a country to be sold there at a price below that which they cost where they were produced, and they must be sent into if for the express purpose of killing a local industry, with the ulterior motive of subsequently supplying that country with the same class of goods at high prices. Does anybody doubt the wisdom of our allowing the American people to sell us goods under cost if they choose to do so, apart from any sinister motive? There are a score of reasons why, from time to time, a great country like the United States, with a population of 86,000,000, may be in a position to forward to other countries where the means of manufacture are limited - as they are with us - large quantities of goods at very low prices. There are scores of reasons, other than those which the Minister is so ready to suspect, to explain such action. Carnegie has pointed out, in the quotations which I have read’, how the cost of production decreases as the output of any particular product is increased from a small to a large quantity. Is it not very easy to suppose that in a country possessing 86,000,000 of people, and with the facilities and incentives to manufacture upon a large scale, which exist in the United States, the people will always be able to produce goods at a very much lower price than that at which we can produce them on a limited scale in this country? Will the Minister who has charge of this Bill ask the House to unconditionally shut out all the goods which America can send to us merely because they can be sold here at prices lower than those at which they can be produced in the country of their destination ? May not that condition be due to the financial difficulties of some great combine in America which is prepared - as merchants are often prepared - to sell goods at less than cost price ? May it not be due to the ‘ fact that by very clever management these goods have been produced at prices which we cannot possibly approach? May it not be that, bv reason of the great quantities of any article which it produces - as Carnegie has pointed out - it can turn them out at prices which we can hardly believe to be possible? If the Minister is going to ask the House to give him power to prohibit the importation of goods which may happen to be sold here at a price less than that at which we believe they can be produced in the country of their origin, will honorable members be likely to tolerate such a ridiculous proposal ? Should we not be bringing ourselves well within the recent definition of John Burns of being fit subjects for a menagerie or a lunatic asylum if we were to attempt to stop the introduction of cheap goods because we could not compete with them ourselves? Therefore this Bill very properly - if it is to be passed at all - requires that there should be some motive underlying the. dumping of any commodity. I can understand the Minister - although it is opposed to my principles - being anxious that the American manufacturer should not be allowed to send goods to Australia, to be sold here at a less price than we can produce them, for the purpose of destroying our market, and with the object of subsequently securing that market and charging us much higher prices. But the Minister did not seem to think that that was the purpose of the Bill, because he said that what we had to guard against was the destruction of our manufactories bv th.e introduction of the cheap goods of other countries. That is not the object of the Bill, and that is not dumping. I invite any honorable member to say whether he is prepared to apply the term “dumping” to the sending of goods into a country at a cost much below that at which thev can be produced here. Looking at the Bill, I should like to ask how such a thing could be proved? The measure requires a number of conditions to exist before the term “dumping” can be properly applied to the importation of goods. In the first place, it is necessary that thev should be introduced in such a way as to come into “ unfair competition “ with Australian products, the intention on the part of the exporter being that they “ shall be sold or. offered for sale, or otherwise disposed of, within the Commonwealth, hi unfair competition with Australian goods.” Now, I would ask honorable members whether they understand those words to mean merely that the unfairness of the competition shall consist of the goods being soW at a cheaper price than that at which they can be produced locally, or whether they understand them » to indicate that there must be an intention on the part of the foreign manufacturer to send them here in unfair competition with the local article, with the object of destroying an industry. I would further ask how it is possible to prove in a Court of law that there was an intention on the part of a manufacturer in the United States - I will assume that this Bill is aimed at that particular country - to break down. our market and destroy one of our industries, with the intention thereafter of supplying our market with goods’ at a higher price. I have no hesitation in saying that the first part of the Bill, relating to the prevention of monopolies, unless that word be used in the sense in which it has bean used in regard to the granting of a patent, is impossible. Carnegie says so. The leader of the Labour Party thinks that it is impracticable. I read that statement in his speech. He thinks it is quite impossible to stop the aggregation of capital so as to bring about that condition of things which is popularly called a “monopoly.” One is forced to pronounce dumping as impossible of proof unless the Minister is right in his interpretation of the word, and it merely means sending goods into Australia to be sold1 here at a less price than that at which they . can be produced in the local market. Of course, the words “ unfair competition “ are used in this Bill, but that is a phrase which is so exceedingly vague that it is impossible to say what it means. What is unfair competition ?
– Successful competition.
– Is it, as the honorable member suggests, successful competition ? If a manufacturer in the United States sends1 to Australia some commodity to be sold at1s. which it would cost 2S. or 3s. to produce locally, would the Minister regard his action as dumping? Would he consider that, under the provisions of this? Bill, he was justified in preventing the importation of that particular article?
– The Attorney-General has said that he would.
– Honorable members will not forget that the Minister, in introducing, the measure, said that he had been advised that he had power under the Customs Act to prohibit importation, but that he entertained some doubt upon the matter, and therefore desired to gain larger powers under this Bill.
– I did not say that.
-The Minister did say it, and I will give him the page of Hansard upon which his statement appears.
– It is contained in the Minister’s speech.
– Exactly . The Minister said that he had been advised - I am speaking now from my reading of his speech as it is reported in Hansard - that he had power under the Customs Act to prohibit importation, but that he was doubtful about that power unless he obtained, the additional powers; which would be conferred in this Bill. The only fair inference to be drawm from that statement is” that, if the measure be passed in its present form, he imagines that he will have power to prohibit importation.
– The honorable and learned member is putting an absolutely wrong construction on my speech, as he has been doing all the time.
– If the Minister will look at the Hansard report, he will see that what I say is correct.
– Read the last part of whatI said.
– If these powers enabled the Minister to’ prohibit importation because he considered that certain imports were being dumped here, it is of enormous importance that we should know how he will interpret the word “ dumping.”
– The honorable and learned member could not have read the Bill, because it is not proposed to give the Minister any such power.
– I have brought the measure with me all the way from Sydney, and I have very carefully perused it. I sent for a copy of it a week ago. I do not say that the Minister will get the power that he desires, because the expressions of opinion on the part of the Labour Partv are quite sufficient to induce the Government to say they prefer that these matters shall be adjudicated upon by a Justice of the High Court. For my part I would not tolerate the Minister deciding them. I shall never forget his action in connexion with the Panama hats. Will the Minister listen now to what he did sav in this connexion? He said -
As honorable members know, the Customs Act gives the Minister great power, and I have been told by legal authorities that he has now sufficient power, if he likes to exercise it, to prohibit the importation of harvesters or any other machinery ; but. as I do not think that it was intended bv Parliament that the Minister should exercise such power, I shall decline to exercise it until I am clothed with the powers provided for in the Bill now before the House.
– That is altogether different from the statement which the honorable and learned member made just now.
– The Minister said he had been advised by legal authority that he had power under the Customs Act to prohibit the importation of machinery of any kind, but that he was doubtful of his power.
– I did not say that I was doubtful of it.
– The Minister said that he did’ not think the House intended him to exercise that power, and therefore he would wait till he was clothed with the power which would be conferred by this Bill. According to the honorable gentleman, this measure will give him the power to prohibit the importation of goods. Consequently, I say it becomes important that we should know what the Minister means when he speaks of “ dumping.” The definition given to the House would not merely lead one to suppose, but would convince one that all that has to ‘be done is that goods shall be imported in large quantities at a less cost than that for which they .can be produced in this country, and the Minister will consider that to be clumping. We know very well that on very small provocation, and without any evidence having ever been put before this House, the honorable gentleman came to the conclusion that harvesters were being dumped into this country. To this day the House has never had any convincing evidence that the honorable gentleman was right in that transaction, but it suited him to play into the hands of the local manufacturers, whose interests he. believes should always be the first consideration in this country. By the arbitrary power which he possessed as a Minister he determined that there was dumping in that industry, and he acted accordingly. Would there be any safety in a measure of this kind? Is any honorable member, after the Panama hat business, prepared to trust- the Minister of Trade and Customs in this matter? I speak by the book when I say that the honorable gentleman had an opportunity to justify himself legally before the country on the Panama hat question, and had not the courage to do it. The consequence was that the importation of those hats was stopped. That matter concerned one small parcel of goods of no importance in itself, but it represented the feather which showed which way the wind blew. The honorable gentleman had’ not the courage or the magnanimity to go into Court, as he was invited to do by Messrs. Henty and Company’s solicitors, and show that he had a legal justification for what he had done. We have never heard to this day what those hats were sold for. I have heard privately, but the Minister of Trade and Customs never informed this House of the price he received for those hats.
– The honorable and learned member is making another incorrect statement.
– I refer to those matters only to justify my statement that the leader of the Labour Party was perfectly right when he said that he would not approve of this power toeing put in the hands of the Minister. I do not speak of the present Minister only, but of any Minister having such strong fiscal proclivities that his wish is father of his thought. Such a man might very readily determine that the importation of a large quantity of goods at a cheap price would come within the definition of dumping, and justify him in absolutely prohibiting the importation of that cheap article, thereby depriving 4,000,000 people of the advantage of cheap goods for the benefit of a few manufacturers in this or in some other city of the Commonwealth.
– On a point of order, I desire, Mi. Speaker, to direct your attention to standing order 54, which provides that no honorable member -
I think that the position which the honorable and learned’ member for Parkes has occupied while speaking rather interferes with the entry of honorable members into the Chamber who may be desirous of listening to him.
– I suggest to the honorable and learned member for Parkes that if it is not convenient for him to stand in front of his seat, he might come to the end of the fable.
– In my agitation, I’ admit that I moved over a little further in the direction of the passage into the Chamber than I should have done. I apologize to the honorable member for Gwydir, who evidently desired’ to get out of the Chamber. I should like to say one or two words about the tribunal that is to be established. I understand from something which was said by one of the Ministers, other than the honorable gentleman who introduce. the Bill, that the substitution of a Judge for a jury, or for the Minister, in dealing with dumping, had been considered some time ago. I do not wish to go into the question as to when it was considered, or whether it was suggested at the dictation of other people. But I unhesitatingly say that the questions which are involved in this matter of dumping are of such a character that the duty of arriving at a conclusion such as would justify so drastic and far-reaching an act as the prohibition of imports, should only be intrusted to a very highly-trained man. It requires no comment of mine, and we have only to think for a moment what it would mean if, by some act of the Minister, goods could be stopped from coming into this country because they were cheap. I say that that would be a disaster to the country for which the Parliament that permitted it could never forgive itself. Therefore, there can be no doubt, and I am sure there will be no doubt on the part of the House, that the power of determining that goods have been dumped should be in the hands of some competent and impartial Judge who could not be suspected of possessing what I call fiscal leanings or fiscal proclivities.
– Who would such a person be?
– The honorable Mr. Bruce Smith.
– That is for the Executive to determine. I do not for a moment think that he ought to be a legal man. I think he ought to be a man possessed of a wide knowledge of mercantile matters, . and therefore the Minister by his very suggestive interjection has shown that he is really out of his reckoning. The questions that have to be considered with regard1 to the determination as to whether or not the introduction of goods to this country constitute dumping are many, because the test is whether the goods in question would come into unfair competition with any Australian goods. And in the second clause of Part III. of the Bil] a number of paragraphs are grouped in order to describe what unfair competition is. One is -
If the person importing goods or .selling imported goods is a Commercial Trust.
I do not know why the mere fact of there being a commercial trust should be conclusive evidence that the. goods are being dumped in the proper sense of the word; but so it is under this part of the Bill. Another is -
If the competition would probably, or does in fact, result in a lower remuneration for labour.
There the House will see that the labour is made dominant to the public interest. If cheap goods are coming into this country the Minister will have the power under this Bill to stop their importation on the ground that they come into unfair competition with Australian goods; because they would “probably result in a lower remuneration for labour.” There the wages of the few are made dominant to the interests of the whole people of Australia, who would benefit by the consumption of the cheap goods. The next paragraph is -
If the competition would probably, or does in fact, result in greatly disorganizing Australian industry.
Imagine an ordinary jury being called upon to decide whether or not the introduction of these goods would “ greatly disorganize Australian industry.” So on in six or seven paragraphs unfair competition is denned. I say that inquiries of that sort, of a highly abstract, economic character, could not possibly be conducted except by a man of great ability, with large commercial knowledge; and the person dealing with them should be so far removed from the influences of Parliament and of fiscal leanings, as to be like Caesar’s wife, “ above suspicion.” If this House is going to permit the determination of whether or not the introduction of cheap goods into this country is properly within the definition of dumping, then I submit that the determination should be made only after a calm judicial consideration of the whole of the circumstances by some highly competent person, possessed of the sort of knowledge which I have indicated, as being indispensable to the proper elucidation of such questions. I come, then, to the conclusion that for the purpose of dealing with combines and monopolies arising out of them which have to be wilful, which have to be in restraint of trade, to the detriment of the public, and with the design of destroying or interfering, by unfair competition, with any Australian industry, and having regard to producers, workers, and consumers, this Bill is impracticable. Some such opinion was expressed by the leader of the Labour Party, and I mention that honorable gentleman more particularly because I know what influence he has in this House. With regard to dumping, I consider that this Bill will act like a boomerang upon the community. It is required that “ dumping” shall “probably lead to lower remuneration,” which is one of the tests ; it would disorganize Australian industry ; it would throw workers out of work, and goods would have to be sold below the ordinary cost of production. The intention also would have to be unfair competition. 1 say ‘that, in so far as it proposes to deal with dumping in its proper sense, this legislation is impossible and impracticable. I, therefore, say of the Bill, as a. whole, that if we are to credit the Government with some economic knowledge, and with an honest knowledge of what will, and what will not, benefit the public, we can come to no other conclusion than that which has been expressed by certain honorable members of the Opposition - that it is, and must be, merely an attempt to manufacture a political placard with which to go before the country, in order to secure kudos at the next elections for having passed a popular measure.
.- I desire to say a few words on this Bill. I have listened with interest to the debate, and. I have noticed that, whilst honorable members opposite have referred to the United States as the land of trusts, some have hastily drawn the conclusion that it is the land of trusts because it has passed the Sherman Act, which prevents trusts. A section of honorable members opposite hold the opinion that the growth of trusts in America is due to the unfortunate circumstance that the railways in that country are not owned by the State. They believe that the private companies owning the railways have greatly assisted in the growth of the trusts. There is something in that. But I remind honorable members that there are countries in which neither of these causes operate, and yet in which it has been thought advisable to pass legislation against trusts and combines. I refer honorable members to the example of Switerland. In that country, the means of transit are under the control of the Government, and yet the Swiss have thought fit to pass legislation in their self-contained State intended to cope with such undesirables as are trusts and combines. The honorable and learned member for Parkes says that there is no need for this Bill, since there are no trusts in Australia. It would appear that neither trusts nor combines are to be found in Switzerland, and, apparently, they are kept down in that country by means of the legislation which has there been passed. Mr. Charles Edward Russell, writing in one of the American magazines, when- referring to the passage of anti-trust legislation in Switzerland, says of the Swiss Government -
Its hand is upon every corporation, big or little, public or private, that transacts a dollar’s worth of business in Switzerland.
They have passed laws to provide .for that in Switzerland, and we might do something of the same kind. I notice that in his article, Mr. Russell mentions the name of one of the authorities which, I think, I heard quoted by the honorable member for Kooyong, and says -
There are no cheques for Mr. Depew.
That is very significant. Mr. Depew is a member of the United States Senate, and has been quoted by honorable members opposite as a high authority on the question of trusts and combines. It is clear that if he were in Switzerland a man of that sort would have to be very careful of what he was doing. Mr. Russell further says -
There are no combine subscriptions.
That is an interesting point. It is notorious that in the United States big subscriptions are got up for political purposes by the assistance of these trusts. In Switzerland that would be prevented, and I hope that we shall be able to take such action as will prevent such a state of things arising in the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Parkes complained about the action of this Government in. bringing a new shipping combine to Australia, but I think that to do so was only to carryout the honorable member’s idea of competition. So far we have had no competition in respect to our mails, and that we should have it is only a fair and proper thing, in accordance with the principles which the honorable member has enunciated. I do’ not think that he ought to object to it. The honorable member for Parkes told us that monopoly cannot exist under free-trade conditions. I was in the United Kingdom some three or four months ago, and’ I found that many articles which used to be manufactured in England when I was there fifteen years ago have entirely disappeared from trade. I found that it was impossible to purchase a post-card which did not bear upon it the words “ Made in Germany.” The same remark applies to ribbons and other good’s. Drapers tell me that numbers of articles which used to be manufactured in England twenty years ago are now made-, abroad. I do not know whether monopolies are responsible for that, but nevertheless the change has taken place. The honorable member for Parkes quoted Mr. Andrew Carnegie as an authority in regard to trusts and combines. I should like to point out, however, that almost every speaker who has taken part in this debate during the last three or four days has said that the excuse given for the existence of combines in America is that there are in that country railways which the combines have secured and can use to their own advantage. Mr. Carnegie very carefully makes no mention of railways when he discusses the evil effects of trusts. It is notable that he is the one authority cited who makes no mention thereof, and that seems to me to tell against the weight of his opinion. I intend to vote for this Bill, because I believe that it is a step in the right direction.
– I am glad’ that the principles of this Bill have received considerable attention from all parts of the House during the course of this debate. It would be idle for me, or for any one introducing such a measure, to say that it would not be possible to obtain some very useful information from debate such as we have had. In fact, the very object of threshing, out a measure of such great importance as this in debate is to elicit information. The superior and honorable member for Parkes referred to me to-night in a deliberately offensive manner. I know that it was deliberately done, but his remarks do not affect me in the slightest degree. The honorable member quoted parts of sentences from my speech, and left out parts which he should in honesty have quoted.
– Did I not read it proper! v ?
– The honorable member left out, apparently purposely, portions of the speech, but having listened attentively to his observations, I cannot say that he threw any glow of light on the Bill. I cannot pick out from his criticisms any points worthy of reply, except the passages in which he expressed his desire to prevent competition in reference to our mail contracts, and to keep the open door for black fellows and blackfellows1 manufactures. But it is very evident to me, though the honorable member may deny it, that some few little .things which I had the temerity to say when introducing the Bill must have hit him fairly hard. He had very little to say in reply to the statements which I made. He tried to make a point on the question of what is dumping. He said that I did not explain what dumping was.
– I said that the lion 1 orable gentleman did not understand it.
– I must be humbly permitted to say that I do not think the honorable member understands anything about the subject. If dumping were on 1 what the honorable member tries to make out that it is, why have Canada and many other countries taken such extreme action to prevent it?
– Canada does not allow prohibition. She only allows increased duties.
– The principle is exactly the same. I am going to quote from an authority to show what Canada has done, and the honorable member will see that, if Canada does not prohibit dumping, her Tariff practically permits the importation! of dumped goods to be stopped.
– There is a duty of only 15 per cent.
– The principle is the same; it is done with the same view and for the same purpose. Will the honorable member say that there is no dumping when you can buy an article in America for £1 19s., whilst when that article comes to Australia it can be bought for 12s’. 6d. ? Is not that dumping?
– There may be very good reasons for that.
– I know that there are good reasons for it. There are similar reasons in connexion with iron and steel, and’ all classes of goods which contain iron and steel, that are imported into this country. Steel rails which, if purchased in America, would cost ^5 12s. per ton, if purchased with a view to sending to Australia are sold at ^4 1.2s. per ton.
– Yet it does not follow that there is dumping.
– What is the honorable gentleman quoting from ?
– I am quoting from an official report that was prepared at the instance of the late Mr. Seddon by his officers, in which these particulars are given as to the methods adopted in the United States of America in reference to goods dumped down on our shores. The result of this information was that Mr. Seddon brought in his legislation which expires next October, I think. He obtained this report with a view to substantiate the action which he was taking. The report enumerates about fourteen or fifteen articles as1 examples, giving the prices in America, and the prices charged if the goods are to be exported from America to other countries.
– It does not say that the price is less than the cost price to the manufacturers.
– It does not matter whether the price is less than the cost price or not.
– That is the honorable gentleman’s opinion.
– It is, I venture to say, the opinion of every man of common sense, although I am not a great commercial authority, as the honorable member says he is.
– Those facts may merely indicate abnormal values in the exporting country
– They indicate nothing of the kind. This sort of thing is done mostly by trusts, because trusts can the more easily do it- This New Zealand document says. -
Perhaps the accusation against trusts that has most foundation is that they export goods to be sold abroad at lower rates than are charged for the same articles in the country of their production. This is sometimes faintly denied, but is more often boldly acknowledged and justified by the officials of the trust corporations.
In my speech in introducing the Bill, I quoted this list of articles, but I have now had the values turned from dollars into pounds, shillings, and pence, in order to show that when, these goods are dumped down on our shores they are sold for at least a third, and at times one-half, less than their price in America.
– Does that indicate that thev are sold at less than cost price?
– It does not matter whether they are sold at less than cost price or not. They are dumped down here, and they interfere with our trade. I am referring to this matter to show that this practice of dumping is regularly followed in the United States. When T previously spoke I referred to the total quantity of imports of iron and steel into Australia for the year 1905. That total amounted to £7,140,825. I said that a great portion of those imports came from the United States. At that time I thought that a larger proportion came from America than is really the case. I have since had the figures analyzed, and I find that, as far as we can judge, the country of origin of iron and steel to the value of £4,715,148 is the United Kingdom, though I am told that some portion of that comes here in the name of firms in the United Kingdom, though the iron and steel is really Belgian. Iron and steel to the value of £1,599,769 come from the United States. The imports of iron and steel from Belgium, Germany, and the United States combined amount to £2,421,406 out of the total quantity of £7,000,000 odd. This system of dumping is doing serious injury to our manufactures in Australia. That is the game that the foreign manufacturers of harvesters have been playing in this country
– If the evidence isi so clear, why not wait for the report of the Tariff Commission ?
– It is not a matter that is connected in any way with the Tariff Commission. I have information which shows that, though there are other combinations of a serious character outside the United States of America, they are not so serious as are the American combinations. But I have in this report a list of the corporations which have grown up in Great Britain with capitals of £8,000,000, £9,000,000, £6,000,000, £3.000.000, £7,000,000, £4,000,000, £8,000,000, £2,000,000, and so on.
– Are they trusts?
– All these separate corporations have grown up of late years, and they are a menace to Great Britain. It is stated in this report -
There is no active, political, or national feeling against the aggregation of British firms into powerful corporations. It is only lately that a distinct feeling of uneasiness as to the possible future of business ha.s arisen.
– Would the Minister name one of them which is a monopoly ?
– I believe that some of them are very considerable monopolies. I do not wish to go into details on this subject to-night, but merely to show that not only in the United States, but in Germany, Canada, and other parts of the world there are strong financial trusts and monopolies which are controlling to a large extent the trade. I think the Steel Trust of America has 90 per cent, of the machinery trade of the world. We are taking time by the forelock. It has been admitted! by nearly every speaker that it is a very difficult thing - and this was the cause of the speech of the leader of the Labour Party - to cope with the trusts in the United States, which have been allowed to grow to such gigantic dimensions. Had the Congress in the early years of the Republic taken the course which we are now taking - I admit that we have the advantage of the example of what has taken place there - they would have been able to cope with the trusts, and prevent them from growing to the magnitude which, they have reached. They are a menace not only to American people, but also to all those with whom they trade. Here is a. little example of an American trust in connexion with the boot trade. I do not wish to mention any names, but I hold in my hand an original agreement, which any honorable member can see if he wishes. The trust send their machines and agent here. They bind nearly all the large bootmakers, who pay by the record of stitches, and under leases. They will not sell the machines, nor will they allow any other machines to be worked side by side with them. If the trade expands! to that extent, that new machinery must be got - the trust will not allow the bootmakers to get new machinery except from themselves. They reserve to themselves the right to supply all the new part of machines. There is an absolute prohibition against any one using a. machine, and against any one giving or selling a machine to the bootmakers. And if one condition of the agreement be infringed they have the power of recalling their machine at once.
– Can no one else purchase them ?
– They will not allow that to be done. ‘
– Do they only lease the machine ?
– They only lease the machine, and even when it is worn out they will not sell it.
– Is it a patented machine?
– Of course it is. Here is a letter on the subject which
I received to-day in consequence of some statements which had been made in opposition to the Bill -
As an illustration, last year a shoe manufacturer in Melbourne put in one of our machines, which he worked alongside the American machines he had previously in his place. A month or so after he had a solicitor’s letter demanding a return of the American company’s machines.
– What is the machine called?
– I do not wish to mention the name of the machine.
– -Why not?
– I told the persons from whom I received the information that I would not give the names.
– Then why give the information at all ?
– Because I think it should be known what these trusts are doing in Sydney and Melbourne.
– Why not name the trust?
– Do not be drawn by the other side.
– The Opposition are not going to draw me. They can look at the agreement in my hand, and if they do they will see that what I am saying is absolutely correct. They are prepared to sit down here quietly and allow this state of things to continue in our midst. If it were allowed to continue until the patent ran out we could not get a machine of any kind, because our local manufacturers cannot get a model of the machine as the Americans and Canadians can do in the case of our ploughs and harvesters.
– The same thing can be done under our patent laws.
– Order. I would appeal to the sense of fair play in the House to allow the Minister to proceed. During the speech of the honorable member for Parkes there was an almost utter absence of interjections, and I ask honorable members to listen to the Minister as they listened to the honorable member for
– No parts of these machines can be made in the Com monwealth. Unless we can get our own people to make the machines, which they cannot do under this terrible hide-bound agreement, that condition of things will continue for all time, or until the patent runs out. And that is a position which should not be tolerated. I wish, to read a few passages from the resolution which the Treasurer of Canada submitted when he was dealing with the question of dumping -
If at any time it shall appear to the satisfaction of the Governor in Council, on a report from the Minister of Customs, that the payment of the special duty herein provided for is being evaded by the shipment of goods on consignment without sale prior to such shipment, or otherwise, the Governor in Council may, in any case, or class of cases, authorize such action as is deemed necessary to collect on such goods or any of them the same special duty as if the goods had been sold to an importer in Canada prior totheir shipment to Canada.
That extract shows what was in his mind regarding dumping. There is another extract which I wish to read -
What we want is a high Tariff to exclude the manufacturers of the United States from this country. . In the county of Colchester we have a great iron industry, and the great complaint of the people connected with that industry is that $30,000,000 of manufactured iron comes into this country. We are prevented from building up our own industries, because honorable gentlemen opposite, while professing to protect them, are allowing $30,000,000 of iron goods to come into this country, and are offering these people a bonus.
That applies well to honorable members sitting opposite at the present time.
– Does the Minister wish to keep out all American importations?
– Not until we can manufacture all we need, and then I wish to ikeep out all American importations.
– Take a vote.
– The Minister is “stonewalling “ his own Bill.
– I am not “ stone-walling “ the Bill, but I am replying to some statements which have been hurled at me. I sat here very quietly while a great many unworthy epithets were being hurled against me. One or two honorable members tried to make out that it was a terrible thing for the Minister to have the power to deal with such matters as may arise under the Bill. The honorable member for Parkes said that it provides that the Minister shall have such power. Even in its original form it did not contain that provision. It provided that the matter should be referred to a Board, that the Board should make a report, and that if it were to the effect that the matters had been improperly done, then, without any discretion at all, the Minister had to put the Customs Act in force. That was the position as the Bill came here originally. It is intended, however, that there shall be an alteration made in regard to the jury and the Board. A Judge will take the place of the Board, and give a judicial decision, which will be absolute, except that the Executive may, simultaneously if they like, modify or deal with the report.
– Is it absolutely necessary that there should be a lawyer at the head of this inqury ? Is the Minister going to fatten the profession again?
– I can assure the honorable member that it is difficult to get the person one wishes to fill a position of this kind. I believe that a Judge of the High Court would give general satisfaction.
– The Judge will award a penalty as well as decide.
SirWILLIAM LYNE.- On the first occasion there will be no penalty inflicted, but the offender will be warned, and a certain injunction will take effect. It is only on the occasion of a second offence that the criminal part of the measure will be brought into force. There is another provision, which I cannot describe very well just now. There was great exception taken to the purchase of cheap goods in any part of the world in a special way, and bringing them here to compete with our own people in the sale of goods, or to affect the price of labour. There will be proposed an alteration, which will make the goods which come under that condition goods purchaseable from, or sent direct by the manufacturer, and cut out speculative purchases. The object of the alteration is to get the bed-rock manufacturing value, and if goods are brought in at below that point, then certain results will take place.
– May they sell them bv auction ?
– I do not know how they will sell them. If honorable members do not desire to hear this information now, I shall not give it; they will get it all in Committee to-morrow or the next day. I merely state these facts to show that my desire, as the representative of the Government, is to pass a measure that will prove beneficial. If it can be shown,in the beginning of the life of this measure, that it is harsh in its operations, the Government will be prepared to receive suggestions, though not suggestions that may result in the destruction of the Bill or in removing the body and leaving only the skeleton. There are other amendments proposed, though not of so important a character. The amendments which I have mentioned will, I think, afford some satisfaction, and remove a feeling of fear, which, in consequence of their not understanding how far the Bill would go, appeared to be in the minds of the deputation which waited upon me to-day. I think that the alterations I have indicated show very clearly the scope of the Bill, and that much hostile feeling will be removed when the measure emerges from Committee. As to some remarks which were made by the honorable and learned member foi “Parkes, I have here a case in point, which arose in one of the law Courts. A number of merchants, amongst whom were the appellants in this case, formed themselves into an association or combine, with the object of controlling the maize market. The members of that combine entered into an agreement whereby, in consideration of the combine being formed, they bound themselves severally to certain conditions. I wish to state that the agents for that combine were McArthur and Company, of Sydney. There was some dissatisfaction raised in connexion with the combine, and, in the course of the hearing of an action which resulted, the whole facts were disclosed.
– Why mention only the one name ?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause i agreed to.
.- I propose to submit an amendment on clause 1.
– The clause has been passed.
– I understood that it was not proposed to go any further than the second reading to-night, and I desire to move an amendment on clause 1.
– I must remind the honorable member that clause r has been passed.
– When there is a misunderstanding of this kind it is the invariable rule to put the question again. I say, without fear of contradiction, that there has been no resistance to the second reading of this Bill ; and we on this side expect nothing but fair play when we are giving the Government all the assistance in our power.
– I understand that there has been some misunderstanding as to clause 1, and I propose to put the question again.
– I object. You, sir; have declared that clause 1 has been passed, and I do not think you have any right to put the question again.
– I submit there is no case on record in which a request like this, to again put the question, has been refused. Certainly, Mr. Speaker has never refused such a request, and it is the invariable rule, in cases of misunderstanding, to again put the question. I hope we shall not break this rule at the very entrance of this Bill into Committee.
– Perhaps the honorable member for Wentworth will permit the clause to pass, on the understanding that if it afterwards be desired to submit an amendment, it may be recommitted -
House adjourned at 10.50 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 June 1906, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1906/19060627_reps_2_31/>.