2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at2.30 p.m., and rend prayers.
– I have to inform honorable members that, in accordance with the arrangement announced on Friday afternoon last, I presented the AddressinReply to His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, who was pleased to express his thanks.
– In the Brisbane Courier of the 6th July, the right honorable member for East Sydney is reported to have said at Maryborough that he had given up the present Parliament, and was appealing to the electors. I wish to know if you, Mr. Speaker, have received his resignation ?
– I have not.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Trade and Customs when he proposes to lay on the table the regulations under the Commerce Act, and if he has any objection to also laying on the table a copy of the resolutions of the Exporters’ and Fruit-growers’ Conference, convened by him?
– I hope that the Commerce Regulations will be published within the next two or three days. They will then be laid onthe table. I cannot promise to lay on the table all the correspondence which has taken place in connexion with the framing of the regulations.
– I ask only for the resolutions.
-I cannot promise to lay even the resolutions on the table, because so many have been received from various parts of Australia.
– Is it the intention of the Government to introduce this session a Bill for the amendment of the Tariff?
– That will certainly be done if the Tariff Commission reports.
MINISTERSlaid upon the table the following papers : -
Copies of a telegram from the Prime Minister to the Premiers of the States with reference to the export of Australian canned meat, and their replies, together with a telegram despatched by him to the Imperial authorities.
Reports of the Justices of the High Court and the President of the Arbitration Court and other papers relating to the proposal to increase the High Court Bench.
Invitation from the Premier of New South Wales to members of the Federal Parliament to visit certain proposed Federal Capital sites.
– Is the Government co-operating with the Government of Queensland in connexion with the deportation of kanakas at the end of this year? Has the Queensland Government made the demand that this Government shall pay a portion of the return fares of the islanders? As the time is fast approaching when deportation must be undertaken, is the Prime Minister prepared to make a statement to the House of the intentions of the Government in regard to the matter?
– We are co-operating with the Government of Queensland, by whom no such demand has been made as that to which the honorable member refers. I hope to make, within a few weeks, a complete statement as to what is proposed in connexion with the deportation of kanakas.
– Can the Prime Minister assure the House that he will defer the making of appointments to the Executive and Legislative Councils of Papua, and will not fill the LieutenantGovernorship until the House has had an opportunity to discuss the motion moved by me on Thursday last, and made an Order of the Day for the 26th July.
– Not knowing exactly why the honorable member prefers this request in regard to appointments to the Legislative Council of Papua, I shall be glad if he will submit his reasons to me in private. 1 have already undertaken that no appointments to the Public Service of the Territory shall be made until the House has had an opportunity to discuss the subject. That opportunity may be afforded by the introduction of’ the Estimates before the honorable member’s motion is disposed of, but, in any case, honorable members will be able to express their views on the matter before any appointments are made.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellency the Governor-General, recommending that an appropriation be made from the Consolidated Revenue for the purposes of this Bill.
Mb. McDONALD (for Mr. Maloney) asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as ‘follow: -
WARRNAMBOOL FIELD ARTILLERY.
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice-
– I am informed-
It was proposed to send an instructor to Warrnambool from time to time to hold courses of instruction, but the reason this has not been done is that when the officer commanding No. 4 battery (Warrnambool and Port Fairy) was asked to select the most convenient dates he replied “ That it was not possible for members to attend.”
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice–
– I am, informed-
Yes, together with that of eighteen other contractors. 2. (a) Because it has been decided to abolish clothing boards in each State, in order that Commanding Officers of the respective regiments may make their own contracts for the supply of military clothing required for their respective commands.
– I beg to lay on the table -
Copy of the articles of an agreement made between the Postmaster-General, on behalf of the Government, and Sir James Laing and Sons Limited, of Sunderland, England, shipbuilders, the contractors under the agreement.
For the convenience of honorable members I shall briefly summarize the salient features of this new and very important contract.
– As it would not be in order for the honorable and learned gentleman to make any comment in laying the paper on the table, it would be well for. him to move that the document be printed, if he desires to give any explanation to the House.
– I shall take that course. The new contract is for a service between Adelaide and Brindisi, and vice versa, once a fortnight, to alternate with a similar service to be provided by the Imperial Government. It is for a period of ten years, and is to replace the existing service by the Orient Royal Mail Company when it expires in February, 1908. The period of transit is to be 636 hours in both directions, as compared with 696 hours provided for in the existing service under the contract with the Government of the. Commonwealth, and 662 hours as provided in the contract between the Imperial Government and the Peninsularand Oriental Company. The price as agreed upon for the new service is£125,000 per annum for the transit period above mentioned, but provision has been made for an acceleration of twentyfour hours between Brindisi and Adelaide for a reimbursement of actual expenses incurred, to be determined by mutual agreement or arbitration, but not to exceed £25,000 per annum. This price must be compared with that now paid to the Orient Royal Mail Company, namely,£120,000 per annum for a service of 696 hours, which is equal to about 3s. 8d. per mile, as compared with 3s.10d. per mile to be paid for an acceleration of sixty hours. The cost of the Imperial service by the Peninsular and Oriental Company cannotbe stated, as it is included in the sum of £340,000 per annum which includes the India and China services also. Provision is also made in the contract for the new service for a still further acceleration, if any other mail service to Australia is running to a faster time-table than that under which the mails are carried by the contractors, upon conditions fully set forth in the contract. The steamers under the 636 hours’ timetable would leave Brindisi, calling en route at Port Said, Colombo, and Fremantle, and would arrive at Adelaide in time for Saturday’s express, thus enabling a simultaneous delivery of the mails to be made in both Sydney and Melbourne early on Monday, and permitting of replies from the former place being sent by the outward mail of the same week, an advantage not enjoyed under the existing arrangements. Under the 612 hours’ time-table, the steamers would arrive at Adelaide in time for the express on Friday, and the mails could be delivered in Melbourne on Saturday, in Sydney and Brisbane on Monday, with an accelerated train service; and replies could be sent from Brisbane by the outward mail of the same week. A longer interval would be afforded for replies if an equally favorable alternative service is provided by the Imperial Government. On the outward journey, the steamers will leave Adelaide on Friday, instead of on Thursday, as at present, thus affording a longer interval for replies. In connexion with this improved ocean mail service, an improved railway service is contemplated, avoiding delays which now occur, and insuring greater expedition in both directions.
– An improved railway service is contemplated; it has not vet been arranged for?
– Not arranged for yet, because three States have to be consulted. Brindisi has been determined upon as the European port for the mails, in order that advantage may be taken of the special trains provided in connexion with the Indian mail service. Provision has been made in the contract for the acquisition of the steamers to be employed under it by purchase, or alternatively for their charter if desired. The port of registry will be within the Commonwealth, and the steamers will fly the Commonwealth flag. Australians will feel that they have a national interest in a large fleet of mail steamers, of a speed and tonnage at least equal to any other visiting the ports of this country. .In connexion with the cost of the new service, it may be well to mention that the payments to ‘be made by Great Britain and other countries will amount to about £25,000 per annum, while, on the other hand, it is estimated that the payments made by Australia to Great Britain for mails carried by the Peninsular and Oriental Company or other steamers under contract to the Imperial Government, will, at the same, rates, aggregate about £15,000 per annum, leaving a balance in our favour of about £10.000 per annum. It has, of course, been provided, in accordance with section 16 of the Post and Telegraph Act, that white labour only shall be employed in connexion with the carriage of mails by this service. Five tenders were received, and carefully considered, the accepted tender being the lowest. All the usual stipulations common to mail contracts have been included, and all the advertised conditions are provided for in the contact. Clauses ^-14, 15, and 16 of the agreement are copies of special conditions approved of by Parliament in the contract made with the Orient-Pacific Company. Under condition of tender No. 4, £2,500 had to be deposited, and the tender was to be accompanied toy a bond for £25.000 if it provided for mail ships to be built. £2,500 was deposited. As it was known that mail ships would have to be built, an approved guarantee for ,£25,000 was required, and has been given in London to the Commonwealth representative, to be held until the bond for that amount by approved sureties is given. The ,£25,000 guarantee is to toe forfeited if the bond for £25,000 is not given on demand. £27,500 is therefore secured. Further, ‘after the first bond is given, if, in the opinion of the Postmaster-General, satisfactory progress is not being made wilh the building of the mail ships, he may at any time demand a further bond of £25,000 to secure the commencement and performance of the contract, and failing compliance with that demand, within one week, he may cancel the contract - enforce the penalty provided for failing to commence the service and also enforce the first bond, for £25,000. The Government has also received the most satisfactory assurances as to the firm of Sir James Laing and Sons, with whom thev have made this agreement’. As bearing upon the conditions of the contract, it is desir- able to state that now that the Commonwealth has been admitted to the Universal Postal Union as one Administration, the distinctions hitherto recognised as between the States comprised will cease, and the payments hitherto made by one State to another for the carriage of its British and foreign mailswill be discontinued, as will also the payments that have been made by the United Kingdom and foreign countries for the transit of mails despatched bv them after being landed at Adelaide. It will be seen that the stipulations as’ to penalties for late arrival are more stringent than those under the present contract, and altogether the contract, which is for a mail service only, compares most favorably with that now currentI may add that, although the contract is for a mail service only, we are informed that the cool storage accommodation provided on the steamers will be about three1 times as great as that afforded by the mail steamers at present under contract.
– What will be the tonnage of the proposed new steamers?
– 11,000 tons.
– The contractors are not bound in any way to provide cool storage?
– No; they are not bound. This will be a postal contract pure and simple, and will relate to nothing else. In view, however, of the development of our export .trade and the probable demand for cool storage for perishable products, the contractors intend to make provision for refrigerating space upon a very much larger scale than has hitherto been attempted. Moreover, it is intended’ that the plans of the steamers in relation to cool storage and all other matters shall be submitted to us for criticism before the new vessels are built.
– Will the contractorsreceive any allowance for bringing their steamers on to Melbourne and Sydney?
– No. Nor is there any: contract that they shall proceed to Melbourne and Sydney. At the same time I have every hope that they will not only convey passengers and cargo on to those ports, but that they will go on to Brisbane. Negotiations to that end are now in progress. I have been in communication with the Government of Queensland in that connexion, and hope to soon have a definite reply from England by cable. If the contractors go on to Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane, they will do so for their own purposes.
– Will they go on to New Zealand also?
– I have seen a statement in the press to that effect, and am not in a position to contradict it. If the steamers go on to New Zealand, the contractors will not be in any way relieved of their responsibilities to us. It would be fortunate if the New Zealand Government could see its way to lend its support to this line of steamers, and so make the service thoroughly Australasian.
– What wages are to be paid to the crews ?
– The information placed in my hands does not include particulars on that head. The contract is on the table, and will be printed and circulated among honorable members, and I trust that we shall be able to bring it under consideration next week. It should be dealt with as soon as possible, not only because of its importance to us, but because the contractors should be allowed ample time for the building of the steamers.
– Have the Government obtained any guarantee from the State’s Governments that they will make full use of the storage space?
– I communicated with all the States, but not one of them was in a position to enter into a definite agreement. There is a strong disposition on their part to make use of the cold storage space, and the tendency in that direction will no doubtbe increased owing to the rapidity of the transit afforded. I regret that circumstances did not permit the regular shippers of Australia to join together and engage the whole of the cool storage space for at least a portion of each year. Our output of exportable products has now reached such a stage that shippers might have given a guarantee such as I have described and have secured shipping accommodation upon much more favorable terms than has hitherto been possible.
– What about droughts ?
– No doubt it was owing to the possibility of such unhappy conditions recurring that our shippers considered that they would not be justified in entering into a definite contract. I have every expectation that these large steamers, travelling at a high rate of speed, will commend themselves to shippers generally.
– Will the Government have any voice in regard to the plans of the steamers?
– The plans are to be submitted to us, and our wishes will be met as far as possible.
– Does the Prime Minister think that the new service will result in a reduction of freights?
– I should say that an increase in the vessels with cool storage capacity trading to Australia, and the introduction of swift steamers, would tend to reduce freights.
– Will the contractors be compelled to employ wholly new steamers?
– Within a very short time the service will be carried on entirely with new steamers - that is the intention of the contractors.
– How many steamers are there to be ?
– That information is not contained in the epitome furnished to me. I move -
That the document be printed.
– Idonot intend to take up the time of the House in discussing this matter at present, but I should like to refer to one or two points, and particularly to the small amount of the deposit which is being required from a company which has yet to be formed, and has yet to build its ships. It strikes me that those who have been able to secure an option of such importance for £2,500 have made an exceedingly good bargain.
– The honorable member must recollect that no deposit whatever was required in connexion with the previous contract.
– May I suggest that there was a great difference in the circumstances? In that case, there was a fleet of steamers operating under an existing contract with the Government. In this case, however, so far as we know, not one boat has yet been built. We know nothing; about the previous operations of the contractors.
– We know Sir James Laing and Sons.
– I do not know anything about them.
– We have £27,500 by way of deposit.
– Not in cash down.
– In cash, or its equivalent.
– As I understood the terras of the arrangement, the company were required to’ make a deposit of only £2,500.
– That was in the first instance. Now we have a bank guarantee for £25,000, in addition to the £2,500, which is as good as cash.
– If that amount is already in the bank as a bond fide deposit which is liable to forfeiture, I admit that the case is altered to the extent that in regard to a contract which aggregates about £1,250,000, the contractors have been called upon to pay a deposit equal to about 2 per cent, of the amount involved. I submit that even that is a very small deposit to require in regard to so largely speculative an undertaking as this. It seems to me that the contractor has obtained specially ‘favourable terms, and the Postmaster-General will require to justify them when the matter comes on for discussion.
– The terms were advertised from the first.
– I should like to know whether there is any objection to lay the other tenders on the table?
– I think it is probable that there will be objections, but I shall make inquiries.
– I hope that unless such a course would be very unusual, the Prime Minister’ will lay the other tenders on the table for the information of honorable members.
– Were all the tenders for the same period?
– I should think so. However, this is not the time at which we should enter into details. I observe that a great deal of satisfaction was manifested by honorable members of the Labour Party when mention was made of the socialistic sop included in the contract.
– The British, Government also included it.
– But they did so for reasons very different from those which have actuated the Government. However, if the provision to which I refer appeals to my honorable friends in the corner, it will no doubt accomplish its main purpose - its grand objective. I hope that the Prime Minister will afford us the fullest possible opportunity to discuss this matter involv ing, as it does, a very grave departure from the conditions we have enjoyed in Australia for many years past.
.- I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether it is true that whereas Mr. Croker informed the Government that the new mail steamers would proceed to Melbourne and Sydney, no such undertaking was given with regard to Brisbane.
– I am in communication with the Quensland Government upon that point, and shall be prepared to lay on the table all the papers as soon as the negotiations have been completed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee: (Consideration resumed from 6th July, vide page 1138.)
Clause 12 -
In this Part of this Act - “ Board “ means a Board appointed under this Part ; “ The Comptroller-General “ means the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs; “Imported goods” and “Australian goods” include goods of those classes respectively, and all parts or ingredients thereof ; “ Produced “ includes manufactured, and “Producer” includes manufacturer; “Trade” includes production of every kind.
.- Does the Minister not intend to give the Committee any explanation of this part of the Bill ? Amendments which form practically a new Part III. to this Bill have been circulated by the Government, and we’ are entitled to some explanation of them.
– It is true that I have given notice of amendments in this part of the Bill, but they chiefly deal with a proposal in substitution for the Board provided for in the Bill as it stands. As I have previously stated, it was originally intended, if we could have managed it, to have had matters dealt with under this part of the Bill decided by a Judge, rather than by a Board. Lately it has been found possible to secure the acquiescence of the High Court inthe request that they should consider these matters, and amendments have been circulated substituting a Justice of the High Court for the Board. Honorable members understand that it is a very difficult thing to secure a satisfactory tribunal for the decision of matters of this kind.
– Is there to be a jury as well as a Justice of the High Court ?
– No.’ I need not go into the details of the amendments at this stage. It is proposed that ques-. tions arising under this part of the Bill shall be decided by a Justice of the High Court, but there is to be a reservation giving the Executive power at all times to reduce or modify, though not to increase, the penalty inflicted by the Justice.
– Is a permanent appointment to be provided for ?
– The Justice will be one of the Justices of the High Court.
– Will the same Justice act throughout?
– I am not prepared to answer that question. I suppose that will be a matter for the High Court Bench to decide. I freely admit the difficulty of getting a satisfactory .tribunal to deal with these matters; but what we propose in the amendments which have been circulated will provide as satisfactory a tribunal as it is possible for us to get.
– I am rather disappointed at the remarks made by the Minister. The honorable gentleman, ait an earlier stage, promised us that before the clauses relating to dumpingwere considered he would give some information with regard to the dumping that is alleged to be going on in Australia.. I asked for that information, and I think it should be supplied before these clauses are gone on with. If. the Minister has this information, why does he withhold it? ,
– I gave the information twice.
– I beg the honorable gentleman’s pardon. He mentioned no cases of dumping either in his spee:h on the second reading of the Bill or in the speeches which he has subsequently made. 1 I consider that the honorable gentleman is merely flouting the House, in refusing to give this information. He is asking honorable members to pass legislation in the dark, and the manner in which, he has treated the Committee calls for an expression of the strongest disapprobation. Let the honorable gentleman open his box and make the Committee acquainted with the horrible cases of dumping which have come under his notice, or let him have a statement of the matter tabled and printed. I ask the Minister 10 fulfil the promise which he made to honorable members on the second reading of the Bill, and which he has not yet fulfilled.
– I have done so twice. ‘
– The honorable gentle- “ man has done no such thing. If honorable members will look through Hansard, they will find that the Minister has not quoted any cases of dumping. I ask that he should give the Committee all the information he has on the subject before these clauses are proceeded with. .
.- When speaking on the second reading of this measure I asked the Minister of Trade and Customs if he would give us the cases within his knowledge or within the knowledge of the Department in which dumping has taken place to the detriment of industries. So far as my memory serves me, the honorable gentleman replied that he would not give the information then, but would give it when he was replying to the debate on the second reading. Perhaps the honorable gentleman will tell me whether I am correct so far. The Minister did not give that information in replying to the second-reading debate.
– Yes; I did.
– The honorable gentleman did not give us what he promised, namely, specific cases.
– I did not promise to give specific cases.
– I shall presently quote exactly what is reported in Hansard on the subject. The Minister led honorable members to understand that in replying to the second-reading debate, he would give us instances of injur)’ to Australian industries, by means of dumping - that he would give us instances of dumping1 that was taking place or had taken place. I was very much disappointed when the honorable gentleman replied to the second-reading debate to find that no such! instances were given. I pointed out to him that it would materially assist those who desired to see Australian industries progress if they were able to point to special instances in which injury was being done them by means of unfair competition. The Minister did not give the information ‘ he .promised then, and he has not given it now. I wish to say that I am no foe to a measure of this kind, but I pointed out on the second reading that I did not like the methods here proposed of providing against dumping. The Bill will improve by the amendments the Government have circulated, but, even as now drafted, it is not what it ought to be. When honorable members ask the Minister for information, he should not only be willing to give it, but it is his duty to give it. ‘ We are asked by the Minister of Trade and Customs to pass a Law on the subject of dumping, and he says that he has information which shows the justification for such a law, but that he will not give us that information. That is what it all boils, down to. I do not know what view of the circumstances is taken by honorable members in other parts of the House, but, so far as my limited experience goes, I have never before known a Minister to dare to take up such a position, with either supporters or opponents.
– We knew that the honorable gentleman was bluffing all the time.
– I do not say that. I credited the Minister’s statement that he had the information of which he spoke, but I demand that it should be given to the Committee in order that we may be able to form an opinion upon it. At page 469 of Hansard, honorable members will find that on the 20th June, speaking on the second reading of the Bill, I said -
I believe that dumping, as. we understand it - that is, dumping at unremunerative prices, for the express purpose of destroying local competitors, and thereafter dumping at highly remunerative prices - is threatened in Australia, and that such a practice as that cannot be met by ordinary Tariff remedies. But I do not believe that it will occur in many cases. So far as I know it has not occurred at the present time. Perhaps the Minister will correct me if I am not as familiar with the facts of Australian commerce in this respect as. he is.
I must ask for the Minister’s attention to this quotation.
– We are simply following what the honorable and learned gentleman is reading.
– I’ went on to say -
I will ask him whether there are any cases within his cognisance in which dumping has taken place to the substantial detriment of Australian industries.
– I think so, most certainly.
– Then I said a little later -
Will the Minister be good enough to tell the House in what industries his experience leads him to suppose that dumping of the kind to which he objects is taking place.
– I shall reply to that question at the close of the debate.
– That does not say that I would give individual cases.
– Has the Minister told usin what industries the dumping has takenplace? If he has, I should Like the honorable gentleman to refer me to the columns, of Hansard in which his statement to that effect is recorded.
– I replied to thequestion when we went into Committee.
– I further said this-
I venture to say that if a member of theLabour Party had asked the same question that. I have asked, the Minister would have given an answer - and a much more definite one - than hehas condescended to give me.”
Then the honorable gentleman indulged1 in. a little sarcasm, and said -
I said, “ Yes, Mr. McCay.”
The point is. that the honorable gentleman said “ Yes,” and he has not done it. Will the honorable gentleman, by a reference toHansard, show me when he informed honorable members, subsequent to the 20th. June, of the industries in which his experience leads him to suppose that dumping, has taken place? If the Minister will show me where he has done that, I shall say no more.
– Let the honorable and learned gentleman go on talking. I do not wish to stop him.
– I desire that the Minister should give us that, information, and the moment that he says he will” give it. I shall assure him that I shall be prepared to postpone what more I have to say, in order to learn what the honorable gentleman’s information is. I cannot understand the position the Minister is taking up.
– I cannot understand the honorable member.
– The Minister’s capacity for not understanding is unlimited.
– The honorablemember’s capacity for misrepresenting isunlimited.
– So far as I recollect, theMinister did not reply on- the second reading.
– Yes, I did; the honorable member is wrong- again.
– Then I am wrong in that.
– And in everything else.
– It appears now that theMinister did reply on the second reading, but that he did not name the industries in which dumping is taking place.
– And why? Because I was asked not ‘to make a lengthy speech, owing to the late hour.
– So far as I .am concerned, the Minister made a promise that he has not fulfilled, and we have come to a part of the Bill which deals with the subject-matter to which his promise relates.
– This is a professed supporter of the Bill !
– I rise to a point of order. I understand that clause 12 is now before the Committee.
– The honorable member does not say so !
– I do say so, in spite of all I have been hearing. If we are allowed to discuss these matters on clause 12, shall we be allowed to transcend that liberty, and have a general discussion as to the advisability of dumping - as to whether dumping occurs, and in what particular industries, and how to prevent it? The topics with which the honorable member for Corinella is dealing are very interesting to me, and, as I ‘hear of them for the first time, I very naturally want to know till about them, because my’ fiscal predilections do not lead me to swallow all that is said, exactly as if it were jam on the end of a spoon. At the same time, I desire to know whether I shall be permitted to indulge in similar playful excursions, or whether this indulgence is to be confined to gentlemen on the other side, for the remainder of the afternoon.
– The honorable and learned member for’ Corinella is perfectly in order in following the course he is taking.
– A new ruling-!
– I object to the Minister of Trade and Customs saying that this is a new ruling. It is my ruling.
– We ought “to be dealin’g with the clause, but we are dealing with the Bill.
– On the 20th June the Minister of Trade and Customs promised to give us certain information when he replied on the second-reading debate. Two or three moments ago he interjected that he had not given the information, for the specific reason that he was asked to be brief. We have the Minister admitting that he made a promise which he did not keep.
– I did not admit anything of the sort. The honorable member is misrepresenting me all the time.
– The Minister said that he did not give this information, when replying oni the second reading, because he was asked to be brief. That may be a perfectly good reason, but the ‘fact remains that he did not give the information. I new ask the Minister, not merely as a professing supporter of the Bill, but in the interests of the fiscal faith that I hold-
– Which is it?
– In the interests of the fiscal faith that I hold, which thereby induces me to agree to every reasonable proposal for securing and fostering Australian industries, I put the question to the Minister. ‘ I hope that is sufficient answer to the honorable gentleman, because the particular little joke he uttered is just about played out now.
– I do not think it is; it is just commencing.
– Unlike the Minister of Trade and Customs, the honorable and learned member for Corinella supports protection when out of office.
– The public of Australia, to the extent to which they are interested in me, know perfectly well that, so far from my wavering on the subject of protection, my ‘trouble has always been with those who disapprove of me as too strong a protectionist.
– The honorable and learned member does not waver enough !
– And I do not intend to waver. There are many protectionists, as well as others, who are very anxious about the possible effects of this part of the Bill, and who fear that it may work harm. Consequently, if the Minister is sincere in his fiscal faith, he’ should be more than willing - he should be eager - to give information that will enable those who agree with him to justify the proposals he is making. All I have done since I rose on the present occasion- has been to repeat, in different ways, mv request for the information which the Minister promised. I wish the Minister to keep his promise to me. I know that the honorable gentleman only needs to be reminded of his promise in order to hasten to keep it, and I ask him now - is he prepared to .give us the information? I am afraid that silence does not mean consent with the Minister of Trade and Customs ; he is, I suppose, the 1148 Australian Industries [REPRESENTATIVES.] Preservation Bill. exception that proves the rule of the proverb.
– It means that the Minister has only been bluffing all the time.
– It does not mean that. It means one of three things ; it means, either that the Minister has not any such information,’ or that he has the information, but that it is so meagre that it will hurt rather than help his case to produce it, or it means that, having the information, he wishes to shew that he can bludgeon the measure through the House without producing it.
– The Minister is only giving the honorable and learned member a dose of his own physic.
– I never had a chance of bludgeoning a measure through the House.
– What about preference to trade unionists ? “ Sandbaggers “ !
– It would be . distinctly out of order to turn aside to reply to those interjections. At the proper time I shall be prepared to deal with those and manyother matters, but, for the present, I ask the Minister whether he is, or is not, going to give us the information. That is a plain question couched irc civil terms. This Commonwealth and the country are entitled to the information, and those who are most friendly to the measure, and are prepared’ to accept it on finding reasonable justification in the industrial facts’ of Australia at the present time, are those who will be hurt by the Minister’s silence. The opponents of ‘the measure - some of my free-trade friends - will not be at all hurt by the silence : they will say, as oi:.e or two have already done by way of interjection, tha.t the Minister is silent because he has not the information. I have great respect and affection for many of mv friends on this side of the House, but I wish to see them confounded and confuted on this one occasion bv the Minister giving the information, Has the Minister got the information? Mav I ask the Minister to tell me that? The Minister is ever ready to interject when he is not desired to do so, but his silence is abysmal when he is asked to give an answer to a plain question. I desire to know what’ are the facts which require this part of the measure. Will the Minister, speak if I stop now, and give him an opportunity?
– Let the honorable member try !
– Will the Minister do that? I wish to say that I am going to continue asking for the information until I get it. I shall ‘ sit down now, in order to give the Minister an opportunity to give the information, but I do, in all seriousness, protest against this treatment of the Committee. A Minister who* says that he has information, and does not give it, deserves the reprobation of honorable members, whatever may be the state of parties. I myself should resent such an attitude just as strongly if I were the Minister’s strong supporter, and if I had as much belief in him as I have profound disbelief.
– Thank God the honorable member is not a supporter of mine !
– I feel with the honorable member for Corinella-
– Give the Minister a chance to reply.
– Let the honorable member go on.
– Having” read the report in the press of the Minister’s speech, wherein he told a deputation of manufacturers and producers that he would! have inquiries made into their representations, and fully consider them, I expected’ him to come down to-day prepared to make a statement. I had that expectation especially in view of the fact that, under this part of the Bill, we have a little Tariff, and it would not be unusual for a Minister, under the circumstances, to give some reasons for bringing forward proposals of” the kind. I read the report of the Minister’s speech, in which he pointed to thefact that -£7,000,000 worth of ironwareand machinery are imported into the Commonwealth, as a reason for the introduction of Part III. of the Bill.
– Surely the Minister did’ not argue that all this importation is dumping ?
– The Minister referred to it as dumping.
Mi-. Wilks.- The whole lot?
– I suppose it was’ in reply to the request made bv thehonorable’ member for Corinella, that the Minister, at a later period, again referred’ to the importation of the £7.000,000- Worth of goods - referred to it in brief, saving that he had not time to go into triematter fully. The Minister expressed a: wish that he had had time to work out the money in Australian coin, so as to show the actual loss caused by this dumping, as compared with the prices at which the goods are sold in America and Great Britain. The Minister ought, certainly, to give some reasons for the introduction of Part III., which is really a Tariff covering metal ware and machinery imports to the value of £7,000.000. How are we to consider this clause unless the Minister does make a statement? Are we to be content with the mere- vote ‘ of the brutal majority the honorable gentleman may have at his back ? Are manufacturers and capitalists - and also producers, who are now included with manufacturers - to receive no consideration in this Bill ? Arc the industries referred! to by the deputation, to be all ignored? Are men who have entered into manufacturing enterprises to be discouraged ? Are they to lose the whole of their capital under Part III. of this measure? Is all this to be done without the Minister condescending to make a statement to the Committee? The Minister has told us that he proposes to appoint a Judge to take the place of a Board. What does a Judge know of commercial affairs? The most astute Judge or lawyer, if he is keen in his profession, has had very little time to follow commercial pursuits. What does such a man know of the manufacturing industries of Australia? He certainly knows very little of the conditions under which operatives work and live. In the Arbitration Court of New South Wales it was found possible to obtain the services of a Judge, in the person of Mr. Justice Cohen, who, as a merchant, had had a commercial career before he became a lawyer. In that regard, I suppose New South Wales was fortunate in obtaining the services of such a man; and, when he resigned the position was given to Mr. Justice Heydon, who also had had the advantage of a previous commercial career. But the Justices of the High Court of Australia, who are doing their work so satisfactorily, have not had commercial careers, and are not competent to deliberate on such cases as would be brought before them under Part III. of the measure. The Minister ought to give some reason ‘for appointing a Justice of the High Court in preference to a commercial man. If such questions are to be left to one person, let him be a highly competent commercial man, who knows something of it-he industries of Australia - who knows something about shipping, and who has travelled widely, and has some knowledge of the condition of manufactures in other parts of the world. Nor does the Minister appear at all inclined to give the Committee any information by which we mav deal satisfactorily with this proposal. These dumping clauseswould operate in the same manner as a prohibitive Tariff.. In his introductory speech, the Minister entered into details in support of them. He said that some friends, of his had put £600,000 or £700,000 - to use his own figures - into the industry of bringing shale out of mines in New South Wales, putting it into a kiln where it would ‘ be baked, and extracting from it crude kerosene oil. .This oil is to be brought into competition with oil taken from the oil wells of America. These friends of the Minister, he told us, have constructed a railway, at a cost of £80,000, and we are asked to believe that they are to sell their product in competition with oil which is obtained in America as easily as you can take water out of the sea. If these clauses are to be put into operation against American kerosene, the effect will be to increase the cost of oil to settlers in the back country, to farmers, and to all who use oil engines. I am inclined to think that the Committee will not be satisfied with the information with which wo have already been supplied. In the Minister’s absence last week we dealt with this phase of the question pretty fully. W<shall be able to make better progress this week if the Minister will make a statement giving us the information, which he ‘says-, he has at his disposal. When the Tariff was under discussion it was the usual practice for the Minister in charge to makea statement upon which a debate occurred.. It was found that that practice conduced to< the saving of time. If the Minister will1 accede to what appears to be the general request of the Committee, and will justify his action in placing these clauses in the Bill - if he will show cause why he should be intrusted with power to keep goods out of Australia in the manner proposed - I shall be glad to hear what he has to say. Will the Minister interject to let us know whether he intends to say anything? Is it his intention to keep put of this country £7.000,000 worth of goods per annum under the heading1 of metals and machinery - goods which are the requisites of settlers and farmers in the back country ? These clauses will have to be analyzed with the greatest detail unless we have more information.
– I echo what the honorable and learned member for .Corinella has said, that we should have the fullest possible information before we are called upon to pass these clauses. They rest upon the foundation that dumping of a mischievous character is taking place, and that it is injurious to Australian industries. There is absolutely no need for this Bill, unless such dumping does take place. Therefore, if the Minister furnishes us with no information in proof of his statements, we should refuse to proceed with the measure. Personally, I believe that he has no information of the kind. I am of opinion that there is no dumping of such a character as to injure the industries of this country.
– I will give the honorable member some soap.
– The Minister has soft-soaped a number of people in this country, but there is one man whom he cannot soft-soap, and that is myself. The honorable gentleman is trying to force this Bill through by bluff. Why does he not bring forward the evidence collected by the Tariff Commission to show that dumping is proceeding to the injury df Australian industries ? He would not consent that this information obtained at such -cost, and given on oath, should be at our disposal before proceeding with the Bill, because, in my opinion, he was satisfied that if the Tariff Commission’s evidence were before us it would be proved conclusively that there was no need for the Bill.
– The honorable member must not discuss the Bill, but the clause before the Committee.
– The Minister cannot p;ive a single instance of dumping that has injured any industry in Australia. It is true that he has referred to wire nails and a few other commodities, but there was no proof in what he said that injurious clumping takes place. Because goods are sold here for less than the price at which they are sold in America, it does not prove that they are dumped into Australia. It sim nl v proves the absurdity of a fiscal policy which consists in keeping up prices of goods in a protected country, and enabling the same goods to Be sold cheaply abroad.
– I think the honorable member is proving too much.
– If there is any dumping whatever, there ought to be plenty of proof of it. Strong free-trader as I am, if it were shown to me that manufacturers abroad were trying to kill our industries with the ulterior purpose of raising prices, I should at once be inclined to stop that kind o’f thing. If the Minister will take the Committee into his confidence, and will give the information that he has indicated that he possesses, I shall gladly listen to him. But, honestly, my opinion is that he has no such information j and, therefore, I urge that there is no necessity to pass clauses which will have such an injurious effect upon the trade) and commerce of these States.
.- Honorable members opposite have taken exception, some for one reason, and some for another, to the introduction of these provisions; but it appears to me that the objection to pass the clause, unless the Minister makes a certain statement, which” it is alleged that he promised to make later on, is an argument not deserving of very much attention.
– Is a promise nothing ?
– What I mean is that it is quite immaterial whether the Minister has at his disposal certain instances which would seem to show that it might be desirable that this measure should become operative in the future. It is nothing to the point to say that there is to-day only one industry that might be affected bv the clauses, if to-morrow or next year there may be half-a-dozen other industries affected. I know very well that honorable members opposite, some of whom are freetraders, and some of whom have almost forgotten what thev are-
– Like the honorable member !
– What is the honorable member nowadays?
– What am I nowadays? I occupy this singular position - that I am now exactly what I was when I first entered this Parliament ; and that is so far from being true regarding many honorable members opposite, that nine out of every ten of them do not know where thev stand. What has happened to some of them? Here, in the honorable member for
Gippsland, we have a living answer to the interjection of the honorable member for Parramatta - an interjection pertinent, as he imagines, but impertinent, as I think. He is the head and front of the offending. I suppose that he is the living embodiment of the protectionist policy. There is another Honorable member, the honorable and learned member for Corinella, who has lately found that creed, which he conveniently buried beneath the ocean of political exigencies for a little while.
– And the honorable and learned member and the Minister match them.
– The Minister and I have been on one side before. When we were on that side the honorable member was on the wrong side, as he is now.
– What has this to do with the Bill?
– I am just holding up my end when I am attacked by honorable members who are sitting on the other side, and whose fiscal opinion is now rather murky. I am not going to say that mine is crystal clear, for, like St. Paul, I am beginning to see things “ as through a glass darkly.”
– The honorable and learned member sees them upside down, I am very much afraid.
– At any rate, I shall follow the footsteps of my illustrious fiscal leader to the bitter end - the one who in season and out of season has always beer, consistent in his fiscal policy, and whom T have always followed faithfully and well.
– Who is that?
– The right honorable member for East Sydney. Whom else would it be? I was returned here as his follower on the fiscal question, and I intend to follow him. Where does he lead me? He leads me to the lotus-eating land where these everlasting truths are laid aside for a convenient season. However, to return to the clause, honorable members on the other side affect to believe that it is essential that some revelations which the Minister has at his disposal should be divulged before the measure is passed. As I said, by way of interjection, dumping, theoretically considered), seems to me rather absurd. The children of Israel murmured at the manna. That was dumped undoubtedly, and at the end of a given time they got tired of -it. I assume that we are very much like the children of Israel ; certainly we are wandering in the wilderness. There is no’ clear and certain light. There appears to be no particular reason why we should keep out foreign goods unless their importation disorganizes industries in this country. As to whether it does or not, all I have to say is that it can readily be seen whether it will do so. The honorable member for Robertson - whose argument in reference to American oil and locally-made shale oil would appear to represent the opinions of honorable members opposite - seems to me to have overlooked several most important facts, particularly, one set forth in clause 13. Who is to jud’ge as to what is unfair competition ? The honorable member for Robertson objected to the question being decided by a Justice of the High Court, because he would have had no commercial training. Tt is a singular thing that, first of all, honorable members on the other side objected to the Minister deciding the question, because he was a party man. They said that the Minister might hold one opinion to-day, and that he might be followed by another man with a different opinion to-morrow. , Then they objected to the question being decided by a’ Board of business men, because they placed no reliance upon the men of whom it would be composed. And now they object to the Question being decided by a Justice of the High, Court, because he has had no business training.
– We object to the whole Bill.
– The honorable member takes up a consistent attitude, and that is right. It does seem absurd for honorable members to saw “ We will accept this proposal if there is a different tribunal created,” when they object equally to a tribunal composed of the Minister, to one .of business men, or to a Justice of the High Court.
– Who are the “ they “ whom the honorable and learned member is speaking of?
– I do not know.
– The honorable and learned member is speaking of different men with different opinions.
– All I know is that Justices of the High Court, like Justices of every other Court, are called upon nearly every day to decide matters of farreaching commercial interest, and that, in such matters, they take the opinion of experts.
I would sooner go before a Justice of any Court than I would before a mere board of so-called experts.
– That suggestion came from this side.
– No. It was suggested last year by this side, before the Bill was brought in.
– If the Minister knows of any particular industries the circumstances of which render it expedient that the measure should be brought into force immediately, he might let us know what they are. If he knows of any where it is expedient to take that course immediately
– It would strengthen his case.
– Yes. I do not say for a moment that I should not vote for this proposal in any case, with this one safeguard - that it must not be put into force unless it be to the interests of the producers, workers, and consumers. Take, for instance, kerosene oil. On the face off it, how can it be to the interests of the consumer to impose such restrictions as will increase the price of kerosene oil by, say, 200 or 300 per cent.
– Does not the honorable and learned member see how absurd the Bill is?
– I do not know what the Minister thinks. All I say is that, under the provision, he will not be the one to decide the point. If a man went into the Arbitration Court with a case, such as the honorable member for Robertson has given,he would not succeed. Take the Milk Carters’ case, where the men asked for one delivery of milk on Sunday. Amongst other things, it was stated by the employers that this would necessitate the payment of higher wages, and some said, “We cannot afford to pay anincrease.” The proof of that would settle the case. I apprehend that the same sort of evidence would be effective here. Therefore, if the price of a commodity is going to be enormously increased in that way, I apprehend that, under this section, a decision in favour of a particular manufacture could not be obtained. If such a decision were obtained, and the price of the commodity were effectively increased, then certainly that could not be consistent with showing a due regard to the interests of the producers, workers, and consumers. With my eyes open, I could not vote for anything that would have such a result.
.- As one who has been busily engaged for some time in investigating cases of alleged dumping, I also would be glad if the Minister would give some specific instances. He may be in possession of information which has not been laid before the Tariff Commission, and, if so, it ought to be placed before the Committee. Seeing that dumping is alleged to be carried on in Australia to a considerable extent, this question ought, I think, to be threshed out, in view of all possible evidence, for the simple reason that it seems to be very largely a stock argument used by those who desire increased duties. If one is to believe all that has been stated before the Tariff Commission, one is driven to the conclusion that there is hardly such a thing as legitimate trade carried on in the matter of imports. Dumping has been alleged in innumerable cases - from rock salt to cotton wadding. Whenever a man wants an increased duty, and seems to be hard pressed for a reason, then dumping is alleged. I can say without hesitation that, when followed up, a great many cases of alleged dumping seem for the most part to have dissipated into thin air. I admit readily that in a country like Great Britain dumping undoubtedly is carriedon. That is to say, a country with a large population and free ports offers facilities for those who wish to get rid of surplus stock in other countries and still get the best possible rates. And because this dumping has existed in Great Britain, as has been frequently admitted even by free-traders, it has been found a very useful argument, indeed, I should say almost a scarecrow, to be used in Australia. It has been so introduced and established by the great protectionist organ of Victoria, which, day in and day out, has brought before the eyes of its readers the danger and the detriment of dumping, until the idea has positively obsessed all protectionist politicians. Although I admit readily that dumping has been carried on in the case of Great Britain, and for certain reasons, there are, so far as Australia is concerned, reasons which will tend formany a day to come to make dumping a very rare occurrence indeed. I do not want to introduce now in detail any of the evidence which has been submitted to the Tariff Commission. But I want to give what I might call apriori arguments to show that dumping is not likely to be car- ried on here under present conditions. Dumping is of two kinds. Goods may be introduced into a country with the object of killing a local industry, or they may simply be introduced to bring what they will fetch, without reference to whether there are competing industries in the country or not. With regard to the first class of dumping, the conditions under which, it could be carried out are very rare. No one would allege for a moment that any business man in a country outside Australia interested in an industry which is pretty generally conducted throughout the world would send his goods here and sacrifice them, in order to kill an Australian industry, for the simple reason that he would be doing something which could hardly bring him any advantage. If he killed the local industry he would simply do so, not for his own benefit, but for the benefit of other competitors by whom he was surrounded. I take it that no business man is such an arrant fool as to spend money in killing an industry in Australia when he has stronger and more powerful competitors around him, who would immediately step in and get the advantage of his sacrifice. The suggestion is absolutely ridiculous when it is examined from a business point of view. Again, take the dumping of goods into Australia in order that thev may bring whatever they will fetch. In Australia the conditions are such as to make that a most improbable act. In the first place, if a merchant in a part of the world which produces a superfluity of goods of a certain kind wants to dump, he will look for the biggest market he can possibly find, for the simple reason that if he were to select a limited market and send his goods there, the mere fact that thev were thrown at the consumers woul’d tend to bring down their value very considerably.
– And it will not be a protected market.
– No Australian market presents those necessary conditions to the man who wants to dump goods. The Australian market is too limited to induce a man on the other side of the world to send his goods here, and run the risk of getting for them prices much lower than he could obtain in a larger market. Great Britain is the dumping ground for the surplus products of the protected countries of the world: because her market is open, and is situated nearer to the manufacturers, while it is also the biggest available. If a manufacturer has a large quantity of goods of which he wishes to dispose, he sends them into that market, because he knows that there the risk of a flooding taking place which would seriously lower their values, is the least possible. But manufacturers know that goods sent to this market are likely to be affected in price by the mere fact that they are being dumped. I desire more information on the whole subject than is yet in our possession, before proceeding with these clauses. I do not wish to vote for a mere electioneering kite, which the Bill seems to be. It is just possible that those responsible for it have introduced these clauses before the presentation of the reports of the Tariff Commission, fearing that, if they waited, those reports would show no justification for their action.
– The honorable member for West Sydney has delivered a most interesting,, though, on the whole, & very peculiar speech. He began by abusing those on this side of the Chamber, and also their attitude in regard to the fiscal question generally, and declared that the right honorable member for East Sydney is still his fiscal leader. It may be that he is following the right honorable gentleman, but, if so, he is following him afar off.
– Following him with a brick.
– For the last year or two he has been following him throughout the Commonwealth with a political brick in his hand. If he regards his present conduct as a backing of his fiscal friends, I say a plague on such backing. He declared himself to be in favour of the Bill, and, in supporting the measure without expressing the slightest desire for its modification, he is not following the Bill into opposition. Throughout “ last week, he was paired with the- Government and against the Opposition on these dumping clauses, and in regard to other provisions. No ‘honorable member has “ jumped Jim Crow “ more often than he has done in regard to matters as to which he claims that his conduct has been fair and above board. He came here first as an uncompromising opponent of the Minister of Trade and Customs, but, although no one has belaboured the Minister more, we now find him cheek by jowl with “aim.
– He was always my friend.
– After he had put the right honorable member for East Sydney out of office in New South Wales, he was so much the Minister’s friend as practically to carry on his Government for him for about twelve months. The Minister could not move hand or foot then without consulting the honorable and learned member. But, on entering the Federal arena, he made a sudden turn.
– How does the honorable member intend to connect his remarks with the clause?
– I am replying !to the criticisms of the honorable and learned member for West Sydney of the attitude of those on this side of the Chamber, and am showing that he has not consistently followed the leader of the Opposition. For many years he has had the cordial support of the Free-trade Party of New South Wales, but I shall be surprised if he gets it at the next election.
– He will be elected.
– I do not say that he will not, but he must rely on support different from that which he has received in the past. lt may be that he intends to appeal to a different section of the electors. At any rate, he will not get the free-trade support which has helped him to success in years gone by. He .taunts the members of the Opposition with the fact that they do not all hold the same fiscal opinion ; but it does not lie in his mouth to rebuke others for political inconsistency, in view of his present position. He is now assisting the Minister to prevent the landing of goods on the wharfs of West Sydney.
– Notwithstanding that he is secretary to the Wharf. Labourers’ Union.
– Yes. Although he professes to be a free-trader, and a follower of the fiscal leadership of the right honorable member for East Sydney, he is now assisting the Minister of Trade and Customs to strike a blow at« the trade whereby the men who returned him to this Parliament make their living. He tells us that he is now where he has always been.
– I have never been on any but the one side.
– Speaking in a political1 sense, the honorable and learned member has never remained five minutes in the one place. Even at the present moment he is sitting at the table with the Minister.
– If it had not been for the honorable member and some others, I should be sitting at the table instead of the Minister.
– The honorableand learned member has unconsciously blurted out the whole truth. Now that he cannot climb over the backs of the people to places of authority, power, privilege, and pay, he turns round upon those with whom he was accustomed to foregather politically, and taunts them with the company which they are keeping. It would be hatter for him to pull the beam out of his own eye.
– My political opinions are the same that I have always held: but the honorable member has practically bartered his soul for a mess of pottage.
– Has the honorable and learned member supported every fiscal provision in the Bill, because his fiscal opinions have never changed?
– Did not the honorable member vote for the Bill?
– No. We have made some drastic amendments in it, and there have been some divisions on whichthe honorable and learned member has always been paired for the Government and against the Opposition. For instance, we took a vote the other day-
– The honorable member cannot deal with what has al read v been done bv the Committee. He must confine himself to the question before the Chair.
– I did not know how I was paired; but the honorable member knows the circumstances under which I was absent.
– The honorable and learned member, and a number of others, do not know what thev are doing in respect to the Bill. All thev know is that they are supporting the Minister. When thev learn the meaning of some of the votes which thev have given, as interpreted in plain English, they will feel that thev would be verv glad if thev could repudiate’ them. One of the most striking things inconnexion with the consideration of this measure is that those who taunt honorablemembers on this side of the Chamber with holding their fiscal views loosely, have voted en bloc for provisions entirely at van- a.nce’ with the fiscal faith which they possess. That has happened time and again. But many honorable members have taken so little interest in the discussion of the details of the measure that thev have not known what they were voting for.
– How could that happen, since the honorable member’s explanations have been so ample ?
– I do not think that any one would be the wiser for having heard what the honorable and learned member has said just now on the Bill. I advise him, instead of making jeering allusions to his fiscal leader, to pay attention to his present position.
– I shall not look to the honorable member to carry me over any stiles. I shall get over them myself.
– I know that’. No one will climb the stiles more dexterously than the honorable and learned member will do. He will climb as dexterously over a protectionist at the next election as he did over a free-trader at the iast election. I think it is only fair to ask the Minister to justify these very drastic proposals. He has been urged to -fulfil the promise made to the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and repeated during the debate, that when we reached this stage of the Bill he would give us information which would justify his action. Now, however, the Minister sits back in his chair, and stubbornly refuses to enlighten us. It mav be that he has no special information. If not, I venture to sav that he ought to have. So far as we are able to iudge, only ordinary competition has been proceeding in the harvester business, which the Minister seems to have taken specially under his charge. The bulk of the harvesterimporting business is concentrated in the hands of the Massev-Harris Company, which is a British company. We have heard a great deal of talk from the Prime Minister, and those who support him, as to the importance of preferential trade, and the necessity of straining and twisting our Tariff with a view to concentrating- the trade of the Empire in the hands of the citizens of the Empire. Now, however, we find that the British trade in harvesters is being directly challenged.
S’r William Lyne. - British trade?
– Yes, the Massey-Harris Company is a British company.
– It is a Canadian company, supported by the United States.
– It is a British company operating within the charmed circle of the Empire, for the prosperity of which Ministers profess so much concern. Now, however, they have submitted legislation which is specially aimed at the Canadian exporters of harvesters to Australia. If the Massey-Harris Company are engaged in destructive competition, such as has been so clearly explained by the honorable member for Perth - if they have designs on our harvester trade, and have expressed a determination to drive the local makers out of the market with a view to afterwards increasing the prices of their machines, the Minister might appeal to us to do something. But when he is challenged, he merely quotes figures which show that the trade has been carried on in the ordinary course. He told us that £85,000 worth of harvesters had been imported into Australia during the last year.
– And that £30,000 had been exported.
– It has been proved, in the course of evidence given before the Tariff Commission, that the Australian harvester manufacturers are turning out harvesters to the value of £250,000 per annum. It does not appear that they are being subjected to destructive competition. On the contrary, it is clear that our harvester manufacturers are holding their own against Canadian and American competitors. At any rate, I hope with all my heart that they are. Neither I nor those associated with me on this side of the Chamber, desire to see the local factories closed up ‘ through the operation of foreign competition. Nothing would please us better than to see the Australian harvester manufacturers flourishing, and able to compete with all ‘their outside rivals, so long as they can do so upon terms fair to the public. There is nothing in the present conditions, so far as they have been disclosed to us, to indicate that anything beyond ordinary trading operations are being carried on. If there is anything to which objection can be taken, why are we not furnished with information either by the Minister or by the members of the Tariff Commission, who have been engaged in inquiring into the matter ? The Tariff Commission have visited the various States during, the recess, and have, in the most self-sacrificing manner, devoted themselves to the acquirement of information bearing upon the very problem that is now engaging our attention. And yet, on the very eve of the presentation of their report to this House, this Bill is being rushed through. There is no justification for asking us to pass1 legislation of this kind until we have been placed in possession of the information obtained by the Tariff Commission. The Minister is in duty bound to enlighten us as to the basis upon which he rests his present proposal. Unless he does so, we are entitled to ask that this legislation shall be held over. We shall be justified in adopting every means that may be open to us to insure that the fullest light shall be thrown upon the matter. We ought to be exceedingly chary about passing legislation which in its very essence involves prohibitive protection. The way in which to meet unfair competition from abroad is not by passing a Bill which would prevent the possibility of trade, but by so regulating the importations by means of a Tariff - that is, if we believe in regulating such matters - as to insure that the competition shall not be destructive to our industries. That would be a much more straightforward way of meeting the difficulty ; but there is one very important reason why that method should not be adopted by the Government. The Prime Minister, more than any other man in this Chamber, is pledged not to raise the Tariff question during the currency of this Parliament. He knows very well that if he brought down a new Tariff schedule without reference to the reports of the Tariff Commission, he would break a pledge which he solemnly gave from all the public platforms upon which he appeared at the last election. Knowing that that pledge is in existence, and feeling that he is bound to observe it - at least, outwardly - he is endeavouring by means of the present Bill to sneak behind his promise. This part of the’ measure in its present form means prohibitive protection, and therefore Ave are entitled to demand that the fullest justification shall be offered for its introduction. I again ask the Minister of Trade and Customs to fulfil the promise he made during the second-reading debate. It is his duty to the House and to the country to inform us as to the basis upon which his drastic proposals rest. It is due also - and I hope that I may say this without laying myself open to any unfair accusations - to the persons against whom we are raising these barriers that they should know the basis upon which we are proceeding. It is only fair that the Massey-Harris Company, as a British firm, should know why we are proposing to ruthlessly shut them out of our markets. If the company are adopting unfair means with a view to bringing about the downfall of our harvester manufacturers, we should be informed as to how they are acting. Apparently, however; those who have the fullest information on the subject are not permitted to impart it to us. Having regard to all the circumstances surrounding the case, I do not know that it’ would be contravening any political ethic for the Chairman of the Tariff Commission to give us the information which he has upon this subject. Indeed, it seems to me that he might incur a grave responsibility if he withheld information which would prevent us from making a grave mistake. That is a matter, of course, which he will have to decide for himself, and I am sure that he and the other members of the Commission will be actuated by considerations of duty, and nothing else. I desire to pay the Commission the compliment of saying that they have performed exceedingly hard work, and the information which they have gathered at so much cost to themselves should prove very valuable to us. It is disgraceful that we should be debarred from taking advantage of that information, when we are being asked to legislate with regard to matters which the Commission have made the subject of special inquiry. I suppose that it is of no use to make any further appeal to the Minister of Trade and Customs. He has made up his mind as to the course he will pursue, and he has a very effective way of meeting, a situation of this kind, namely, to sit still and say nothing. He is sure of those who sit behind him. Thev ask no questions. Free-trader and protectionist behind him are alike dumb, and therefore the Minister thinks that it is best to sit tight until honorable members of the Opposition have exhausted themselves.. This legislation will be placed on the statute-book, and, too late, we may find that those who know most about’ the subject have declared that it is not necessary so far as some of these enterprises are concerned. After seeing in the daily pressfrom time to time reports of the evidence given before the Tariff Commission, I shall be very much surprised if the members of that Commission report that there. is need’ for this special legislative interference for the protection of the manufacture of harvesters in Australia.
– It deals with all agricultural machinery, and not with harvesters alone.
– I am aware of that, hut the Minister specially singled out harvesters in his speech. The honorable gentleman made that large general statement, which we have heard from platforms a thousand times already, as to the many million pounds’ worth of metals and machinery that are being imported to this country. The strange thing about the honorable gentleman’s statements is that the figures he gave in his secondreading speech indicated a decline in the importations of metals and machinery, and not an increase. They showed a decline of over £1,000,000.
– They showed an increase for last year over the year before.
– I should think that under ordinary conditions of trade there was room for some improvement. Three years ago these importations amounted in value to £8,000,000, and then they went down to £6,000,000. So that if they, did increase to nearly £7,000,000 last year, that indicated nothing in the nature of dumping, but simply showed a recovery of the ordinary volume of business.
– Does the honorable member not think that dumping has been going on for some years ?
– I should be very glad indeed to know what the Minister regards as dumping. If the honorable gentleman regards ordinary importations as dumping, if all goods coming here from other countries are to be considered dumped, let us know it. I should like to remind the honorable gentleman that if we are going to shut out all importations’, we shall be compelled! to find some way of disposing of exports from Australia. He should understand that Australia dumps more than she imports by a very great deal. If we are to prevent even the most innocent and legitimate description of dumping from abroad, what is to become of our dumping in other parts of the world? Alf this talk about dumping in connexion with the great Empire to which we belong reveals only more and more clearly the fact that Great Britain and the countries forming the Empire as a whole, are the greatest dumpers in the world today. Great Britain dumps upon every shore ; her life’s blood depends upon her ability to do so; and in Australia our life’s blood depends upon our .ability to send our exports to the various countries of the world. I, therefore, say that the Minister should tell us whether he regards ordinary importations of metals and machinery as dumping. If so, the honorable gentleman had better give this part of the Bill another name. Anti-competition or antitrade would more correctly describe what it deals with than does “ dumping.” Dumping, as we know, is importation carried on specially for destructive purposes, or, as was said by the last speaker, importation for the purpose of the disposal of surplus stocks, arising very often from commercial bankruptcy and from overproduction - the importation of something which must be got rid of even below the usual price. If that is what the Minister of Trade and Customs means bv dumping. I admit that if he can make out his case for this Bill, we are here to consider it fully with him. But if, as we may judge from the honorable gentleman’s interjections, he regards all importations to Australia in the nature of dumping, we had better find out before we pass a Bill of so farreaching a character as this, what we are going to do about our own dumping abroad. Two can play at this kind of game, and if we decline point blank to engage in the ordinary competitive enterprises of the world, the world mav be disposed to pay us back in our own coin. I ask the Minister, before we proceed with the detailed consi-deration of these clauses, to tell us what he regards as dumping. That he should do so has become the more necessary, by reason of his interjections and his general attitude in dealing with the Bill. If the honorable gentleman confines his definition of dumping to sinister operations which would have the effect of sweeping our Australian industries out of existence if allowed free pla.v. let him make out a case to show that that kind of thing is going on, and then honorable members, with all the knowledge of the Department available to them - and I strongly suggest with the knowledge which can be given bv the Tariff ‘Commission also available - may proceed to a full, fair, and free discussion of this matter unhampered by ignorance, as they are to-day, and may be able to give it their best attention in the interest of legitimate competiton and of legitimate trade and commerce.
.- For the last two and a-half hours we have been witnesses of a very sad spectacle. The Minister of Trade and Customs has been appealed to by various members of the Committee for information in regard’ to legislation of a most drastic character. The honorable gentleman has -been coaxed, cajoled, and cuffed, but we cannot get any answer from him. He absolutely refuses to give the Committee the information which it is necessary that we should have before voting upon so important a measure as that before us. The. Attorney-General has tried his hand with the honorable gentleman, and so has his friend the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, known locally as “ 66 Bourke-street “ But even the combination of the Attorney-General and “ 66 Bourkestreet “ could not wring from the Minister what evidence of dumping he has. A fortnight ago I moved an amendment on the motion for the second reading of the Bill, to secure delay in the passing of the measure until we could get some information from the Tariff Commission on the subject of metals and machinery. There is the same reason for delay to-day, for the honorable member for ‘Perth, who is a member of the Commission appointed to inquire into this matter, has said that the Commission have never yet received a single bit of evidence in regard to dumping in Australia.
– No; I did not say that.
– I understood the honorable member to say that the Tariff Commission has received no evidence to warrant the statement that dumping is taking place in Australia.
– I made no such sweeping statement as that.
– The honorable member now uses the word “ sweeping.” I understood from his remarks that the Tariff Commission had received no evidence of this character, because he said that he looked to the Minister of Trade and Customs to present it.
– I say I would like to hear what information the Minister has in connexion with the matter.
– The honorable member bears out what I have said. He would like to know what information the Minister has, and that pre-supposes that the honor able member, who has for about two and a-half years been working as a member of the Commission, has not yet ‘received such information.
– No, not for so long.
– The honorable member for Perth has condemned himself out of his own mouth, because if, as a member of the Tariff Commission, he had obtained this information, it would not be necessary for him to ask it from the Minister. .The honorable and learned member for Corinella had the Minister on the gridiron like a live eel over a slow fire, but while the honorable gentleman twisted and squirmed, he made no answer. The Minister knows that he has behind him an army of blind supporters. The honorable member for Parramatta has just said that thev are dumb, and I say that they are also blind. The honorable and learned member for Corinella appealed to the Minister, if he had any information, to give it to the Committee, and if the honorable gentleman had done so, two hours of the time of the Committee would have been saved. Either the information which the honorable gentleman has is ‘of so weak a character that he is afraid to mention it, or else, as the honorable member for Parramatta has suggested, he considers all importations in the nature of dumping. If that be so, it but proves the argument used from this side that this measure is a surreptitious attempt to get round the Tariff, and to give the Minister the fullest prohibitory powers he could possibly obtain. No wonder the Minister said eighteen months ago that he would not attempt the Tariff issue in this House. The honorable gentleman knew what he had before him. If honorable members are sent here by their constituents to give effect to protectionist principles, they have a perfect right to do so, but they should not do it by means of such a measure as this. Pf the Minister considers that all imports come under” the category of dumping, and wishes to prevent that kind of dumping, he is, in this Bill, smuggling through Parliament a nol icy of prohibitive protection, and is asking us to be as blind as are his supporters. The honorable gentleman will not give the information for which he has been asked, and he is not now even in an irritated mood. The honorable and learned member for Corinella warmed the honorable gentleman up more than I ever saw him warmed up 1,pl ore. but he ‘ appears to have recovered himself, and I must admit that I should like to see him annoyed, because that is our only chance of getting any information from him. The honorable gentleman does blurt out information when he is annoyed, but when he is in the passive mood in which we now find him like a pig upon a block of ice, we can get nothing from him but a grunt. The honorable member for Parramatta .appealed to the honorable gentleman in a most pathetic manner for information which the Minister will not give. I think that it should be made known to the public that the Minister in charge of this measure desires to impose legislation upon a certain’ class in the community, and will not give any justification for it. How can honorable members go before their constituents and say that they passed legislation of this character because it would be useful to the community, when the Minister in charge of it will not supply any information which will justify its introduction ?
– How can I, when honorable members opposite are all talking ?
– At first the honorable gentleman said that he would not give the information, then he said that he had given it, and now he asks how he can give it when we are all talking.
– I cannot speak while the honorable member is speaking.
– Then I shall pause to give the Minister an opportunity now. The Minister apparently regards me as he would one of his blind supporters, and desires me to sit down, so that he may take no further notice of the matter.
Air. McCay. - But the honorable member can speak again.
– It is fortunate’ that we may speak as often as we like in Committee. How can the Minister expect honorable members, either on this or on the other side, to vote for a measure of this character unless he presents the proper data? If the Minister possesses the information which is asked for. what is his reason for keeping it back? Is it because, as the honorable member for Parramatta has suggested, the Minister is such an ardent protectionist that he would go to anv length in order to get the fullest measure of protection ? Is it because the Minister, who. from his experience, is so acute, knows that on an open vote, within these walls or in the country, he could not impose the fiscal prohibition he desires, and is. now seeking to attain his end by means of this Bill ? The Minister has often appealed to American legislation and American precedents, and I ask him whether this, to use an Americanism, is not another way of “whipping the devil around a stump “? As the representative of an electorate which is much concerned in shipping, I ask whether I can be expected to accept the interpretation of dumping presented by. the Minister. We cannot expect one-sided trade. Ships will not come here empty, simplv in order to take away our produce. However, I do not wish reenter into the larger economic question, nor to discuss the propriety or otherwise of dumping. That can be done on the next clause. I never knew a Minister, either in State or Commonwealth, who received such a cajoling, coaxing, and cuffing as the Minister has been subjected to in the course of this discussion. Appeal’s have been made to him from all sides, including the Attorney-General, and the leader of the organization, which has its head-quarters at 66 Bourke-street. Under pressure of public opinion, I think the Minister will be compelled to supply the necessary information as to which firms, if any, have carried on dumping to the detriment of Australian industries. The Tariff Commission has been sitting for two years, and if those interested in Australian, industries have suffered from dumping of a detrimental character, they would have beenonly too pleased to lay -their care before that Commission. Judging from the newspaper reports of the evidence taken by the Royal Commission in regard to metals and machinery, no dumping of a detrimental character has been disclosed. Doubtless such a prominent and keen protectionist c organ as the Melbourne *Age would have- been delighted to blazon forth any such evidence in the largest type. It is of nouse making general statements; and I am with those honorable members who, whileperfectly willing to vote for a free-trade or revenue Tariff, are just as concerned as are honorable members opposite in extending natural assistance to Australian industries if it be shown that the prerent Tariff is being used as a lever for the destruction of those industries. But we arenot to be deluded into sanctioning the imposition of higher duties under cover of this clause of the Bill. If such a course were taken the investigations of the Tariff’ Commission! would represent so much waste of monev, and, in view of the power sought to be given to the Minister of Trade and”
Customs, there would be no need for a Tariff to be passed by this Chamber. I do not know whether the Minister’s own sweet reasonableness will come to our rescue, or whether he is going to prove so adamantine as to require some political dynamite in the form of a vote of censure, to extract the information. I am really beginning to think that a vote of censure is the only way by which we can attain our desire. If a vote of censure were tabled,. I guarantee that even members of the Labour Party would be compelled to vote for it, in view of the treatment which has been meted out to honorable members and the public. If it became known in the constituencies that members of the Labour Party were, to use another Americanism which the Minister will understand, “going blind’” - were voting in the dark, simply on the ipse dixit of the Minister - their supporters outside would be far from satisfied. That, however, is the concern of the Labour Party. I am responsible to my constituents, and I refuse to vote for any portion of this clause in the absence of the necessary information. The Minister’s silence lends support to the idea that he is simply using speculative arguments ; and I hope the honorable gentleman will at once tell us all he knows about this matter, and thus save, perhaps, a long debate.
.- I cannot help feeling sorry that this part of the Bill has been brought forward in anticipation of the receipt of the reports of the Tariff Commission. I say . that partly because, to some extent, I feel embarrassed, and almost tongue-tied, in dealing with certain questions which are now really under the deliberation of the Royal Commission ; and I cannot, in justice to my colleagues on- the Commission, freely, fully, and exhaustively discuss here questions which they have yet to settle. There are certain members of the Royal Commission who are not Members of Parliament, and who cannot make use of the opportunity, which is presented to us, to ventilate their opinions. It would, I think, be a mistake, in propriety as well as in etiquette, to now fully and exhaustively discuss those questions on the- floor of this Chamber. At the same time, I shall endeavour, as cautiously as I can without trenching on the prerogative of the Royal Commission, to make a few remark’s in reference to this question. Honorable members are distinctly at a disadvantage in dealing with this part of the Bill in the absence, not only of the report of the Commission, but of the evidence given before the Commission. Some honorable members have suggested that the dumping question is not a normal part of the Tariff question - not a normal part of the Tariff conditions. So fair as my recollection serves me, there has been a considerable amount of testimony tendered to the Commission concerning proceedings under the name of “ dumping ‘ ‘ ; but there seems to be considerable difference of opinion as to the exact meaning of the word. Some of the witnesses used the word “ dumping “ in a comfortable, self-assured manner - much in the same way as the old lady used the “blessed word Mesopotamia.” But so far as I can understand from reliable evidence given before the Commission, the true definition of “ dumping “ is the export of surplus stock from one country into another, and the sale of that surplus stock in the importing country at prices lower than the prices of that stock in the home country or country of origin.
– That is how dumping is referred to in all the consular reports.
– “ Dumping “ does not mean the sale of those goods at a. loss, or at a price below the cost of production, but it certainly does ‘mean the sale of goods in the market of the importing country at prices lower than the sale prices^ within the country of origin. I should like to draw honorable members’ attention to paragraph 17 of the Tariff Commission Report No. 2, which has already been presented’ to’ Parliament, in reference to spirits and the distillation of spirits. In that paragraph honorable members will find a preliminary reference to this question of dumping, and a definition in reference to the transport or export of surplus stocks of spirits. The paragraph is as follows: -
When the stocks of the Scotch distilleries are heavy they ship their surplus out to Australia. They do not care at what price they sell, because it is only their surplus. Once fixed charges are paid, anything over the cost of labour and material is profit. When a distiller in a large way of business has manufactured a certain number of gallons, and has earned sufficient to cover his fixed charges, any further quantity made is not charged with these expenses, and can therefore be sold at a much cheaper rate. He is at a great advantage compared with a distillery in a small way, and only running to half its capacity. The foregoing is an illustration of dumping given by Mr. Joshua. - (Q.1260).
It will be observed that it is suggested, not that “dumping” means selling below actual cost of production, but that it means selling at a lower rate than that obtaining in the exporting country. The Bill, as it is drawn, does not meet a case of that kind ; consequently, although this part of the Bill is headed “ Dumping,” it is really not , a Bill or part of a Bill dealing with dumping. There is very little evidence, indeed, so far as I can remember, Before The Commission of the sale within Australia of goods, wares, or merchandise produced in countries beyond the seas, (at prices actually below the cost of production, but there is evidence of goods sold in Australia at prices below the market prices Tn the country of origin.
– Just as our exports are sold at lower prices.
– Dumping does not necessarily mean selling without profit.
– That is so. As the extract shows, having provided for the fixed charges in the country of origin, and after exacting, sometimes, a higher price in that country, producers there are enabled to sell at a lower price in the country to which they send their goods; and, as a matter of fact, the Bill, as I read it, does not meet that case. I mav say that, although we have taken evidence under this” heading in all parts of Australia, and have examined upwards of 600 witnesses, not one witness suggested a remedy of the kind that is now embodied in the Bill. There were numbers of witnesses who came forward and referred to this exporting and! selling of surplus stock, and who suggested and demanded higher duties; but none asked for a prohibition provision such as that embodied in the Bill. So far as the evidence goes under these various headings, the Tariff Commission will deal fully, carefully, and exhaustively with every item qf alleged export of surplus stock, and its sale at lower prices in the country of consumption than in the country of export.
– Will the honorable and learned member allow me? If that export and sale is unfair in the circumstances, it is included in the Bill. In clause 14, paragraph b, the widest power is given to the Judge to say what is unfair in the circumstances, and, if the export and sale is unfair, it is included in the Bill.
– But it is not included in sub-clauses a to /.
– Not specifically.
– Evidently the draftsman did not understand the true definition of “ dumping, “ as applied to trade and1 commerce. I admit that there may be a number of cases which require consideration ; but they do not disclose “ dumping “ within the true commercial definition of the term, as given in the evidence Before the Tariff Commission. Of course, selling at a price below the cost of production could not last long, and could not form part of a continuous commercial system ; only in rare and extraordinary instances, such as bargain sales, would goods be sent here and sold at prices below the cost of production. As I say, such sales could not continue long, and would not require a Bill of this kind to deal with them. I am a firm believer that the Tariff is the best remedy - that the Tariff itself is, and ought to Be, the true means and method of grappling with and settling all these grievances. I believe in straight-out, honest protection - substantial protection in all instances where a good case has been made out - but I do not desire to be a party to passing a general clause such as this for the redress of Tariff grievances. It is only fair that we should tell the whole world that we are going in for high duties in certain cases, because there may be a certain kind of competition with which it is desired to deal. That would be fairer to outside countries having trade and1 commerce with Australia ; and it would be more effective also. We want to put on stiff, straight, and if necessary, high’ protective duties, rather than to resort to or rely upon a measure such as this. I have my own suspicions about the origin of this Bill. I believe it really originated from a desire to supersede the Tariff Commission. When the Tariff Commission was engaged in its investigations in Western Australia and South Australia, there was an agitation in the course of which it was alleged that the Commission was not working hard enough, or fast enough, or was not sending in reports : and this Bill was launched- as a sort of counter-blast to the Commission, under the apprehension that it would not report in sufficient time for its reports to be dealt with bv this Parliament. But I can see now that this Bill, if persisted in. will tend to delay rather than to hasten the redress of Tariff grievances. We ‘have had evidence in connexion with many branches of the metals and machinery industry, which I must decline at the present stage to discuss. But this Bill will not meet those grievances, nor will it remove those complaints. It will not satisfy those who have made them. It will be a disappointment and a disillusionment to a number of people who are now waiting for remedial legislation. This Bill rather stands in the way of the redress of grievances, than tends to give relief. I want this House and this Government to facilitate the early consideration of the Tariff Commission’s reports: and I say that there is enough work to go on with now. There is almost a month’s work in the reports furnished by the Commission, dealing with spirits distillation and wine. Why should not Parliament have an opportunity to discuss them? Although only a part of the report of the Commission has been presented, and it is a partial and incomplete report, there is sufficient material for the House to deal with. Why does not the Government at once propose that the House shall gp into Committee of Ways and Means for the purpose of redressing grievances in an industry which is crying for relief, and in which upwards of a quarter a million of capital has been invested ? Why does not the Government deal with that, and propose some practical measure of relief, instead of wasting time over this anti-Trust Bill?
– I am sorry that so much heat has been imported into this debate, and chiefly at the instigation of the honorable member for Corinella, who has misrepresented me very grossly. He stated that I had promised to do certain things, and that I had not done them. I did not make any such promise as the honorable member has said.
– I read from Hansard.
– I have Hansard before me. There is more than one copv of Hansard, fortunate! v.
– Do thev differ ?
– No; except the honorable member alters his speeches ; and then they may. When the honorable member was speaking on the 20th June, according to Hansard, page 469, he said, referring to myself -
I would ask him whether there are any cases in his cognisance in which dumping has taken place to the substantial detriment of Australian industries.
I said -
I think so, most certainly.
Then the honorable member asked me whether I knew of any special cases. After my interjection, he said -
That is information ‘ which honorable members are entitled to have in their possession. If the evil be pressing we are justified in taking more strenuous steps, and incurring more risks to cope with it than it would be the case if it were not more urgent and pressing. Would the Minister be good enough to tell the House in what industries his experience leads him to suppose that dumping of the kind to which he objects is taking place?
To that I said-
I shall reply to that question at the close of the debate’?
I did not tell the honorable member that I was going to give specific cases. Then the honorable member went on -
I presume that he is cognisant of cases, though he did not tell us what they were when he moved the second reading of the Bill.
I replied that I had no.t done so because, if I had, I should’ not have anything to say subsequently. Further on the honorable member said -
It was his duty in introducing the Bill to give us all the information in his possession. I am just as earnest as he is in my desire to support a fair protectionist policy in this country, and I resent being placed at a disadvantage by his refusal to give information which it is his duty to supply.
I replied -
I am very glad to hear that the honorable member is a protectionist.
I did not know it before.
– That is incorrect. The honorable gentleman did know it before.
– I did not know it, and I do not think it.
– Was the Minister in the House during the Tariff debates in 1901-2?
– The honorable member must allow me to have my own opinion. I have quoted what I said. There was no definite promise to give specific instances. That is what the honorable member tried to pin me down to. It was vetly unfair of him ; but I am not going to be bullied or dictated to by him. When I replied on the whole debate, the honorable member, I suppose, was at home in bed. The hour was late. When I spoke there were some interjections, as the report shows : -
– Take a vote ! Mr. Pace. - The Minister is “ stone-walling “ his own Bill.”
I said that I had not had time to deal generally - I ‘did not say specifically - with this question on the second reading, in consequence of the debate being so inordinately extended. I never made any definite promise, such as. has been imputed to me. That is my reply to the remark of the honorable member for Corinella in that regard. I also referred to the matter on going into Committee. I said, as to the dumping provisions : -
I do not desire, and I do not intend at present,, to say anything with reference to that part of the measure, but shall leave any explanation I may have to make at a later stage.
I had intended to make a statement at that time, but it was objected to on the ground that it would create a general discussion.
– Let us have the explanation now.
– I am going to justify myself. I am not going to have words put into my mouth1, or intentions put into my mind, that were never there. If the honorable member for Corinella had been doing his duty here he would have known that in my second-reading speech I gave specific cases. For instance, on page 254 of Hansard, he will find a list - I do not wish to go into the matter a second time - showing goods that are sent here from the United States of America, and are purchased in that country at an average of less than, the price of the same articles in the American market, the price obtained here being sometimes one-third and sometimes one-half of that obtained there.
– Where did the honorable member get the information from ?
– The honorable member will find the information in the report of_the inspector, instructed by the late Mr. Seddon.
– Were the goods purchased in Australia ?
– They are purchased in the United States for sale in Australia - purchased at a price which, in some cases, was only half of the selling price of the same articles in the United States. I will not go through the list again ; I have referred to the page in Hansard so that honorable members :an look it up. I gave that information so that honorable members might see where dumping was taking place.
– How much dumping ?
– A great deal. How is it possible for me to state exactly and precisely the amount of dumping? I am going to refer to another thing that is not exactly dumping, but is a system carried on by ‘British firms at the present time with which we ought to deal. I have not traced it elsewhere, although I think it is also taking place on the part of German firms. We are getting a large quantity of Japanese manufactures here which are supposed to be of English and German make.
– What are they?
– I have here a sample which I will exhibit directly. I am not going to mention the names of the firms, but I have information showing that there is a firm in Great Britain that is having goods made in Japan and sent out here at a very low price.
– Quite likely
– It is so. The price of the goods is below what they can be produced for im this country
– Are not the manufacturers compelled to mark the goods “ Made in Japan “ ?
– Not if they are made for sale in Australia; they are compelled so to mark them if for sale in Great Britain.
– Will not the Commerce Act cover such cases?
– I hope that it will. I am going to make the Commerce Act deal with them, if I can. I am giving honorable members facts which have Come before me in connexion with this question. I also wish to reply to the statements of the honorable member for Bendigo. I have asked the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs to give me any information he could as to this dumping practice. The following is his memorandum to me upon the subject: -
It is a well-established practice, especially with American manufacturers, to send goods to Australia in order to sell at a price which is much less than that charged in the Home markets. This is especially the case in regard to manufacturers of certain classes of machinery (apart from harvesters), and in consequence of this practice it was that the Canadian Parliament passed its anti-dumping legislation. Sewing machines, typewriting machines, and oil, are cases where it is alleged on good authority this practice exists. It is evidence and well known that this practice largely prevails, and unless prevented it is sure to continue, inasmuch as it is important to manufacturers to get rid of their surplus stock without depreciating local sates ; nails also, and many similar classes of goods.
The representatives of two firms came to me in Sydney the other day, and told me that dumping was going on to such an extent in connexion with nails as to crush out the local industry. They have given me particulars showing that it is possible to get nails delivered in Sydney cheaper than we can get the imported metal from which to make them. This practice is crushing out nail-making in Australia.
– What kind of nails?
– I cannot tell the honorable member exactly what kind of nails. I have a memorandum embodying the information given to me by these firms, though I cannot find it amongst my papers just now. At the present time steel from which these nails are made is being sold in Sydney at a higher price than that for which the manufactured nails are being sent from Germany.
– Where do they make them in Germany ?
– I know where they are made in Australia. Has not the honorable member seen the correspondence that has taken place, and’ the evidence given in connexion with, I think, Holdsworth, Macpherson and Company ? It is all very well for the honorable member to laugh. Really he must be oblivious to everything that is going on. He knows nothing about the Tariff business or anything else, so that it is of no use for him to talk on the subject. If we were to manufacture all the nails that we require, it will be seen from the list of imports that’ it would give employment to a very large number of men. But that cannot be done while the dumping process is continued.
– And the consumer benefits all the time.
– I do not expect to convince a free-trader, and I never try to do so.
– The Minister does not believe that dumping injures us.
– I believe that it injures vis seriously. If honorable members will go into Pitt-street or Castlereaghstreet, in Sydney, particularly Pittstreet, they will find a large number of indent agents who have been sent ‘here from all parts of the world - from Germany, to a large extent, and from the United States. There are not many sent from Great Britain I believe. These men hire £t boy to look after one room which is used as an office. They bring out the goods at the cheap rates which t have quoted, and sometimes at one-half of the price charged in the’ country of production, and thereby seriously injure those firms which have provided all the machinery required to manufacture the articles in Australia. The indent agents dump the .goods on to wharfs in Sydney Harbor, and are themselves of no good to this country as consumers, having only one room and an office boy. Whilst they are dumping down these imports they are seriously injuring legitimate traders and manufacturers to a large extent, and also reducing the rates of wages. Many things besides those I have mentioned are dumped here. If my honorable friends desire to do any good for our people I am quite satisfied that this Bill will have a very wholesome effect.
– The protectionists will do the same thing as soon as they have overtaken the demand; they will export to England.
– As regards any attempt to reduce wages or to sweat in Australia, we can legislate when the emergency arises, but we cannot deal with the question of wages in the United States or elsewhere.
– If I remember correctly imported nails are sold, almost invariably, at a higher price than locallymanufactured nails.
– Because they are better.
– Imported nails better than ours !
– I do not say that Australian nails are better, but I assert that almost invariably they are sold at a higher price.
– It is no use to try to wriggle over this question, because I am giving my honorable friend a home thrust which he cannot answer. If honorable members on the other side care to keep an open mind they will find that this is only one direction in which dumping is going on. I look upon dumping in somewhat a “different light from ‘ that stated the other night by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and tonight by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo. It does not matter under what set of circumstances we get a cheap article here which is going to injure our factories, and reduce the rate of wages, and which is selling at a price lower than that at which it should be sold. If it is proved that it is going to be injurious to our people, that is dumping. Whether the importers get a profit upon the price which they paid or not, to my mind, it does not matter, as far as the injury is concerned. If we are to have Australia for the Australians to a greater extent than we have now, we must see that they are protected against the system which I have been describing.
– Are we not to consider the consumer at all ?
– The honorable member is always talking about the consumer, but the latter gets cheaper articles here when we have local competition.
– Then, where is the necessity for this legislation ?
– That I have proved times without number. If we can keep the production to our own people and reserve the home market to ourselves, the tendency is not to increase the cost of the article, but to decrease the cost, if it is a legitimate industry.
– The honorable member has been complaining of the cheapness. Sir WILLIAM LYNE.- I am complaining of the nastiness.
– Cheapness is what the honorable member has complained of before.
– The honorable and learned member for Bendigo has said’ that the Bill will not meet the case, but I must differ from hip. If he will look at paragraph e of clause 14, he will see a provision to meet cases of the kind -
If the imported goods are being sold in “Australia at a price which is less than gives the person importing or selling them a fair profit upon their fair foreign market value, or their cost of production, together with all charges after shipment from the place whence the goods arc exported directly to Australia (including Customs duty).
As regards the honorable and learned member’s statement that we should wait for the report of the Tariff Commission, there again, I must differ from him. I feel sure that the honorable and learned member and his compeers on that Commission have done an ardent and’ useful work, and will give us a good deal of information, but it must not be forgotten by him and others that perhaps the Department of Trade and Customs has as much information as they can get.
– Why does not the Minister give that information to the Committee? ‘
– I was against the appointment of the Tariff Commission, because I maintain that in the Department of Trade and Customs there is all the information which is required for dealing with the Tariff. The information which has come from the Tariff Commission, will, no doubt, be very useful, but it does not follow that we should wait until it is received before we decide what to do in a case of this kind. As regards the statement that the reports of the Tariff Commission to hand should be dealt with, I have only to say that they will be dealt with as soon as possible. I do not look upon the reports relating to wines and spirits as being very urgent. I wish to see reports upon questions of far more importance, having regard to the general good of the public, than the question of the Customs and Excise duties on wines and spirits. The report on the latter subjects is important, but it is not as important as the reports of the Commission on other subjects are likely to be. There are other forms of dumping which’ I need not enumerate. In the Department, we know well that goods are dumped here every year, not to the extent of a few pounds’ worth, but to the extent of tens of thousands of pounds’ worth”. For instance, there is as much dumping in con«nexion with wearing apparel as there is in connexion with anything else. I refer to the sales of surplus stock, as well as possibly to the sales of insolvent stock.
– And who gets the benefit of the cheapness of the article? The public !
– If foreign manufacturers are allowed to send in their goods and destroy our factories, and we are ever going to attempt to class ourselves as an increasing and improving country-
– It is always the Victorian manufacturer whom the honorable member is thinking about.
– Once the competition here is destroyed we shall’ not have cheap articles coming in, because it is not inherent in human nature for a man to pay a low price for a catch line in some other part of the world and bring it here without making the most of the transaction. If the competing industries here be destroyed the consumer will have to pay a great deal more than he can possibly have to pav at the present time. Small1 as the present protection is, it keeps our industries going to a certain point, and that saves the public from the higher prices .which would otherwise be charged by those who import cheaply bought stuff.
– A wonderful argument !
– At any rate, it is a very true argument. , I refer to wearing apparel, clothes., tweeds, and various other articles which have been dumped in exactly the same way in Canada.
– Has the Minister any information as to agricultural implements having been dumped here?
– Yes, I have full information. I quoted just now from what the Comptroller-General wrote to me this afternoon in reference to the manufactured implements of the United States of America and Canada. There has been a lot of dumping in connexion with the harvester. A combination came here, and the difference between the dumping price and the ordinary selling price was brought up to such an extraordinary amount that until I dealt with the question the farmers had paid a third more than they should have paid for their harvester.
– The Minister’s friends arc in that combine.
– The honorable member is not fair in using the expression “ my friends,” because I scarcely know the gentlemen.
– The Minister brought in this Bill for them.
– I hope that the honorable member will try to be a little fair. Whether it concerns Mr. McKay, Mr. Morrow, or any one else, an internal combination should be dealt with in just the same wav as an external combination. Of course, . I want every man to be my friend. I would prefer not to have an enemv. At the same time, this Bill is not brought in for my friends, in the sense in which the honorable member suggested.
– Outside the harvester, are agricultural implements sold under their value in any of the States?
– Yes, a good many - for instance, ploughs, harrows, and other farming implements sometimes. At one time there was a fight on here about reapers, binders, and strippers. After the first combination was burst up, wherever there was a manufacturer here there was an attempt by the International Harvester Company more than any one else to destroy him. An honorable member has re ferred to the firm of Massey-Harris. I wish that the firm would only do what they threatened to do. They thought they would appal me by telling me that if I went on as I was doing they would do a dreadful thing. I asked what it was> that they intended to do, and when they said, “We shall start our factory here,” I replied, “ I wish to God you would do it at once, and if I could possibly make you do it I would.” I do not care whether it is the firm of Massey-Harris or any one else. If they would carry on a factory in a legitimate way, and pay the local’ scale of wages, I would hail with delight the firm of Massey-Harris, especially asthey come from Canada. There isno direct attempt here to injure any oneconnected with any portion of the British Empire, but we have to see that Australia - a vast and rich continent, possessing somuch raw material - shall not remain in the slough in which she is, but shall prosper much more rapidly than she has done in production and manufacture. That is the main object of the Bill. I want honorable members, who imagine that dreadful things are going to happen, to understand that the public weal has always to be considered before anything dan take place under the Bill. It cannot be hurled at me that I am going to decide these important questions when, under the proposed amendment, they are to be decided bv a Justice of the High Court. I think that that is the best method that we can adopt. The only other way would be to appoint a Board, either for each case, or permanently. But it would be very Hard to constitute a permanent Board capable of dealing satisfactorily with the great variety of subjects which might come before it, while, if a Board were appointed to deal with each particular case as it arose, there would be no end to the appointments. I ask honorable members to consider the difficulty of obtaining a tribunal which could be depended upon to give satisfaction. The only method which we have been able to devise is the appointment of a Judge to do the work. He will have full power to decide all the cases referred to him ; but if it is represented that he has misunderstood a case, or has imposed penalties which are too heavy, the Executive of the day may vary his judgment, or reduce his award, although they may not raise it.
– The Executive is to upset the Judge’s award?
– The action taken by the Executive would be somewhat analogous to the exercise of the prerogative of mercy.
– Why does not the Minister leave these matters to Parliament instead of taking them into his own hands? iMr. Isaacs. - If that arrangement were anade, there would be no means of modifying a decision when Parliament was not sitting.
– It would be impossible, moreover, to bring every matter before Parliament. Honorable members must attempt to deal practically with questions of this kind. A lot of matters come before me with which I should like Parliament to deal; but it is practically impossible to ask for the opinion of honorable members upon them, and I do not shirk the responsibility of dealing with them myself.
– How the Minister’s supporters trust him ! At this moment there Is not one of them present-
– It is pleasing to me that they do trust me. In an article giving the Canadian practice, the following passage occurs : -
Mr. Fielding, the Minister of Finance, in his Tecently delivered Budget speech, stated that_ it -was intended to prevent the sale of commodities imported into Canada at a lower price than at which they are sold in the country of production. The “ dumping clause,” as it is termed, inserted into the Tariff Amendment Bill, provides that whenever it shall be made to appear 1o the satisfaction of the Canadian Customs authorities that the export price, or the actual selling price to the importer in Canada, of any imported dutiable article of a class or kind made or produced there, is less than the fair market value thereof, such article shall, in addition to the duty otherwise established, be subject to a special duty equal to the difference between the fair market value and the selling price.
What has taken place in the past in Canada in regard to dumping is taking place here. now. I hold in my hand a sample of an article which is now being sent to Sydney, marked as though manufactured in Berlin, whereas it is really made in Japan.
– What is it?
– A high-class soap. It is being imported, I believe, through a German company. No doubt the public think that it is made in Germany, whereas it is really made by the cheap labour of Japan, which thus comes into competition with those engaged in the soap industry in Australia. A British firm, too, is entering into a large contract for the supply of certain articles which are being made in Japan, but sent here as if made in Great Britain.
– The Bill does not touch these cases.
– It will do so. If goods are sold here at a price injurious to the wage-earners of this country, and to an industry in which they are employed, at a price lower than that at which they can be produced in the country from which they are supposed to have been sent, their importation may be prohibited. I do not think that I have omitted to touch upon any point upon which honorable members desire information. I refer them again to the list of imports which I gave the other day, affecting £7,140,000 worth of machinery.
– Do those figures cover dumped goods entirely? Sir WILLIAM LYNE. - No. I ask the honorable member to be fair, and to refer to the quotation in my second-reading speech as to the prices of a great many of the goods which come from the United States.
– The honorable member spoke of goods imported into New Zealand, not of goods imported into Australia.
– It is the same thing. A large proportion of the goods coming from the United States and from Canada in the way I have mentioned are dumped. This is: not fair to our own manufacturers.
– Are we to understand that all the agricultural implements sent here from Canada and the United States are dumped?
– The bulk, of the imports in the iron trade sent here from Canada add from the United States are, in my interpretation of the term, dumped, because they are sold at special rates, which are lower than the rafes charged in their own country.’
– But not lower than the cost of production there.
– That is open to question. I am satisfied that the harvesters sent here at one time were valued at less than the cost of their production. The effect of their being ‘ so sent here would be. to destroy the local industry. Then, again, particulars and designs of the latest and best Australian ploughs and other machinery invented here are being taken abroad and copied. The harvester is an Australian invention. Manufacturers in Canada and the United States have obtained full information in regard to ploughs and harrows manufactured in Australia, and have copied the designs, and are now sending back implements of their own to seriously interfere with the local business.
– Disc ploughs are being manufactured here under an American patent.
– I have here the report of a secret trial, at which the inventors of these implements were not allowed to be present.
– Disc ploughs are manufactured here under a licence from the American patentee. A case affecting the manufacture was tried in the Supreme Court, and the evidence of witnesses was taken on oath.
– I am not talking about disc ploughs, but of other agricultural implements. The time has come when we must deal with this matter in the interest of our people as a whole. I do not think that the provisions of the Bill will often be put into force, because its effect will be to bring about, to a large extent, the cessation of wholesale dumping such as we have suffered from in the past.
– - If the Minister had given at 3 o’clock this afternoon the answer which he gave at 5.30, he would have saved the time of the Committee. Some of his statements are extraordinary. He says that dumping is the selling abroad of goods at prices less than those for which they are sold in the country of origin, although the sale may give a very good profit to the producer. Does he see how far that definition takes him ? Does he not know that the operations of our own people come within it?
– I do not think so. Mr. DUGALD THOMSON.- Why do people send goods abroad?
– Does the honorable member mean to say that the harvester people sell more cheaply abroad than they sell here?
– The honorable member’s mind is fuTI of harvesters. The only object of the Bill would appear to be to deal with the importation of harvesters.
– Harvesters are not put on the markets of the United States and of Canada, because they are not used there.
– They are used in the United States.
– Australian manufacturers of harvesters put their machines on the South American markets. But would any manufacturer send his goods abroad if he could sell them in his own country at an equal price and lower selling charges? Manufacturers only export, and sell at lower prices abroad, what they cannot sell in their own market. For instance, those in the butter industry keep prices up here by exporting surplus, but take what they can get for the surplus exported to Great Britain. Those engaged in the fruit industry do the same thing, while the same remark applies to our meat industry. Are not better prices obtained for meat in Australia than are obtained abroad? But, as there is a surplus, it must be sent to other markets, to fetch what it will bring. If this practice is a criminal one, the suppression of which by legislation is justifiable, are we going to deal with our exports as well as with our imports ?
– We can leave that to the others.
– Yes, that is left to others in the belief- probably with the assurance - that Great Britain will not turn against her own dependencies. If it is dishonest to follow the practice that I have described, and it is intended to penalize the importers who adopt it, we should also penalize our exporters who resort to the same means of getting rid of their surplus. It is quite a different matter when goods are deliberately sold below cost in the markets to which they are exported in order to destroy a local industry.
– That is always the object.
– That is not the object, if the goods are sold at a fair profit. The United States manufacturers take full advantage of the Tariffto obtain a high price for their goods within their own territory, and they are not guilty of dumping if they sell their surplus at a fair profit in outside markets in competition .with the rest of the world. I am speaking*-of the Minister’s argument - that dumping consists of selling goods in the market to which they are exported fpr less than the home prices. I say that it is nothing of the kind. I agree with the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, that from a protectionist standpoint, the alleged evil should be dealt with by means of the Tariff. If goods can be sold in competition with, our own, and it is desirable, from the protectionist’s stand-point, that we should preserve our industries, they should be protected by means of an extra dutv. That is the protectionist’s theory, but the Minister, who is a protectionist, says that we should prevent the introduction of goods for sale at a lower price than that demanded for them in the country of production.. He says that that is dumping, and must be stopped, even though the .goods may be sold at a profit. If such action is criminal on the part of foreign manufacturers, it is equally reprehensible on the part of our own exporters.
– But they do not do it.
– They do. They sell their goods in the foreign market at whatever prices they can get.
– They sell at the highest prices.
– In the same way that goods which are imported here are sold at the highest price that competition will permit of. If that is a crime, I say that our exporters are equal-lv guilty, if they, after meeting the demand of the local consumers at certain fixed prices send their surplus abroad, and accept whatever thev can get for it. Our butter exporters ..systematical!” fix the price for the local market, and, in order to insure that they shall obtain it, export their surplus to foreign markets, and accept what they can get for it.
– I am not sure that the fixing of local prices does not in a great many instances injure the public.
– If the Minister says that that is dishonest or wrong-
– I did not say that it was dishonest, but that it might injuriously affect the public.
– The action taken by our exporters must also injuriously affect some people in the countries -to which they export their produce. The Minister’s definition of dumping is a new one to me. The difference of opinion between us may be due to my ignorance of commercial affairs, and to the Minister’s intimate acquaintance with such matters. I was always under the impression that what is commercial lv known as “ dumping,” assumed one of two forms, which have been described by the honorable member for Perth. In one case, goods are shipped and continuously sold in a foreign market, irrespective of cost, perhaps because the manufacturers have such a surplus that they must have an outlet for it. and sell below cost, or because it may pay them better to sell a portion of their goods at a loss, or at a very low price, rather than to reduce their output. Another kind of dumping consists of the shipment of goods to a foreign market and selling them at prices reduced to the extent necessary to destroy local competition. I have never yet heard of any manufacturer or producer asking that imported goods which were being sold at a profit should be excluded. In such a case, a higher duty is generally asked for to reduce or suppress the competition. I do not intend at the present stage to discuss this matter at length. A little later on I shall move an amendment which will have some bearing upon the subject. I would urge, however, that if the Minister means what he says, and intends to regard as dumped goods those which are being sold in Australia at a lower price than is demanded in the country of production, he should apply similar rules to our exporters. -The Minister stated that that was his idea of dumping, and that this Bill was intended to deal with it. If it be his intention to prevent the importation of such goods, he will not only inflict great injury upon the consumers of Australia, but will make the measure one which, instead of applying to only a few cases, will be brought into operation every day of the year.
– Not at all.
– I am adopting the Minister’s own interpretation of dumping, namely, the sale of goods in a foreign market at less than the price obtained in the market of production.
– That must be carried on to an extent that is injurious to a large section of the people.
– The Bill will be injurious to a large section of the people.
– The honorable member always draws the long-bow in these cases.
– The honorable member’s bow is so elastic that it is placed beyond all comparison with other people’s. If the Minister’s interpretation of dumping be adopted, he will have to deal with an enormous number of cases. A large quantity, of our imports are sold at prices lower than the rates which prevail in the markets of production, and still most of them are sold at a profit.
– We are merely proposing to do what has been done in Canada, but in a different way.
– Nothing of the kind. Canada does not exclude goods. The Canadian Act merely provides that if goods are sold below their current value, the duty shall be so regulated as to equalize matters up to a certain limit.
– Is not that exactly what I have stated, so far as selling prices were concerned?
– No. The Minister, instead of dealing with this matter by means of the Tariff, as we might expect of him as a protectionist, and as has been done in Canada, says, “ You must give m>e power to refer this to a Judge, who will be compelled, in certain cases such as I have instanced, to put the Act into force, and enable me to exclude good’s.”
– It is not the Minister, but the Comptroller-General, who will take action.
– The Comptroller-General will act through, the Minister, or the Minister through the ComptrollerGeneral. The Minister may originate the inquiry, or the ComptrollerGeneral may do it. The result will be the same. The Minister has not added to the clearness of his proposals’ by his contradictory explanations. At first he told us. that the provisions of the Bill would be operative only in a few cases; but, if his definition of dumping be adopted, it will apply to a very large number of cases, which will crop up day after day.
– The honorable member for North Sydney has referred to the Canadian legislation with regard to dumping, and I think that one aspect of that law should be specially mentioned, because it meets the case of local manufacturers who endeavour to dump their goods upon the markets of other countries. There is a clause in the Canadian Customs Act which provides that, if it be proved to the satisfaction of the Court that any manufacturers are selling, goods for export at lower prices than are being charged to local consumers, the Tariff duty which they enjoy shall be reduced. Thus the same treatment is meted out to the local manufacturer as is accorded to those who dump goods upon the Canadian market. The Minister, in his anxiety to pass legislation differing from any adopted in other parts of the world, carefully omitted a provision such as I have described. He has taken no steps whatever to prevent the dumping of Australian products upon other markets to the ‘detriment of the Australian people. The Minister has given us an indication of what he regards as evidence. He read a quotation from the Age with reference to a deputation on the subject of disc ploughs.
– And other ploughs as well.
– I wish to state, for the information of the Minister, that the manufacturer of disc ploughs in Australia referred to in that statement is, and has been, manufacturing disc ploughs under licence from the American patentee. This is the man who tells the Minister of Trade and Customs that the Americans are manufacturing goods according to his patent, whereas, as a matter of fact, he is manufacturing disc ploughs under an American patent.
– I suppose that Messrs. T. Robinson and Company know their own business better than does the honorable and learned member.
– If the Minister will look up the Argus Law Reports, he will find that during the last three months the case of Peacock v. Osborne has been tried, and that the very question to which I refer has been dealt with. Messrs. Robinson and Company, who were manufacturing disc ploughs under the American patent, complained that other persons were manufacturing similar goods, in disregard of the patent rights. They called upon the American patentee to protect his patent, and it was then found that the patent was faulty. They have been manufacturing these implements for years.
– Then the honorable and learned member accuses the man who made this statement to me of telling an untruth.
– I accuse the honorable gentleman of trying to mislead the Committee by describing a bogus statement as evidence. It is no more evidence than would be any statement made from the top of the Princess Theatre, or anywhere else. I have referred the honorable gentleman to a case which came before the Courts in which sworn evidence was given, which proved beyond a doubt that T. Robinson and Company and other Victorian manufacturers have been manufacturing disc ploughs under a licence from an American patentee. The Minister could find out the truth of that for himself if, instead of repeating here statements submitted to him by interested parties, he would walk into the Parliamentary Library and look at the documents. But even if his statement was perfectly true, the copying of these implements would be no crime. Is the Minister aware that his pets, Mr. H. V. McKay and others, acted as agents for an American firm of manufacturers of what are called seed drills for a number of years, and that when they had a full knowledge of the construction of those drills they copied them, and so closely that they even copied private marks on the implements, as to the meaning of which they were entirely ignorant? These are the people for whom the Minister is now endeavouring to legislate. I say they were perfectly entitled to do this, so long as there is no patent right involved. The world would never make any progress if this kind of thing were not done. If a farmer sees that another is following more up-to-date and better methods than he is, is he not entitled to copy them? I say that so long as these innovations are not protected bypatents every manufacturer, whether Australian or American, is entitled to copy them. I hold that Mr. McKay was quite entitled to copy the American seed drill, but I also hold that, having done so, it does not lie in his mouth, or in the mouth of the Minister, to complain that implements manufactured by Mr. McKay are copied bv American manufacturers. The honorable gentleman’s statement shows that, while he is willing that evidence of the adoption of an ordinary trade practice shall be a bar to American manufacturers, he regards indulgence in the same trade usage by Australian manufacturers as something which should not be challenged in any way. The members of the Committee and the country are misled by the honorable gentleman’s statement that American manufacturers are guilty of piracy because thev have adopted a universal trade practice, which is followed with very great care by the manufacturers of implements here. The Minister told us that typewriters and sewing machines are dumped here, and that this legislation is necessary to prevent that. Surely the honorable gentleman must be aware that typewriters and sewing machines are not manufactured here.
– That is the statement of the Comptroller-General ; it is not mine. .
– We are to have extra duties imposed upon these articles because they are dumped here, when we know that not a single manufacturer in Australia makes them. Manufacturers here use them, but the honorable gentleman would prevent that.
– The honorable and learned member’s statement is absolutely incorrect
– The honorable gentleman in his statement to the Committee read out a list of dumped articles’, including typewriters and sewing machines, and it is of no use for him to try to wriggle out of it.
– Does the honorable and learned member mean to say that sewing machines are not made here?
– I say that sewing machines are not made here, and the honorable member for Bourke knows it.
– They are made here.
– The honorable member is referring to the fact that a firm in North Melbourne are selling the A.N. A. sewing machines, but if he will refer to the secretary of the branch in that district, he will find out that those machines are made in Germany, and are only put together here. That is no more manufacture than the writing of a letter by_ the honorable member can be said to be manufacture.
– I am not referring to them at all.
– Beale and Company, of Sydney, are making them wholesale.
– Thousands of them.
– They are putting together imported parts, which is not genuine manufacture. But even that is not done in the case of typewriters. The Minister is going to shut out typewriters, and merchants, traders, and manufacturers must give up the use of these machines and go back to the pen. Why does not the honorable gentleman propose to go further, and compel people to use bits of stick instead of pens? The majority of the instances which the Minister has given in relation to dumping are entirely inappropriate, but they show what a terrible engine this legislation would be in his hands. A man has only to meet the honorable gentlemen in Sydney, and say “ These goods are being dumped into this market. The Japanese are making soap; the Germans are making nails and sending them here,” and the honorable gentleman at once assumes that the one-sided statement he hears must be true. Without ever inquiring whether any statement can be made on the other side, he brings forward the statement he hears for the purpose of inducing us to legislate in this extreme way.
– I have twisted the honorable and learned gentleman’s tail, any way.
– The honorable gentleman is a beauty. I know of no other word for him. He is a curio. What he does in a deliberative assembly I am sure I do not know. He has never had any judicial powers, and that is amply shown by his administration of his Department.
– Be nasty.
– The honorable gentleman is not worth while being nasty over. He makes a promise, and breaks it as soon as he possibly can. No man breaks a promise more quickly. In connexion with this very harvester question, the honorable gentleman made a promise in this House that when the harvester cases came on he would let the people interested prove if they could that the -cost at which they were importing these articles was the true cost. Did the honorable gentleman carry out that promise when the pleadings were delivered? Of course not. I did not believe that he would. He broke the promise as soon as ever he got a chance. He promised this House that he would give information with respect to dumping, and he did not give that information until it was torn from him. This goes to show that it would be a huge mistake to intrust the administration of legislation of this kind to a Minister, I will not say of the character, but of the calibre, of the honorable gentleman. If the Committee desire to retain its self-respect and the governing powers intrusted to it by the people, it will see that there must be some check imposed in this matter, and that no decision of the ComptrollerGeneral, the Minister, the Justice, or any one else, shall become effective until it Iia? been indorsed by Parliament.
– The honorable and learned member should not be angry.
– I am not angry with the honorable gentleman. I feel just that sort of contempt for him that I should, and I can assure him that that is good measure. Almost every statement he has made as to dumping has been shown to be something that is not relevant to the issue or to be based upon the statements of interested persons. That is shown in the case of tha disc ploughs to which the honorable gentleman referred. A statement has only to be put into his hands accusing some importer of unfairness and the Minister swallows it .without any attempt to find out whether it is true. The honorable gentleman had only to walk twenty yards inside this building to find out that the statement made to him about disc ploughs is absolutely incorrect and without foundation, but he preferred to make the statement to the Committee, rather than to take the trouble to verify the alleged information which he has given us. That being so, I hope that honorable members will scrutinize every statement that the honorable gentleman makes, and every clause he submits.
.- We were first of all informed that the Minister would give us some information with respect to dumping In the next place, the honorable gentleman refused obdurately to give the information he had promised to give, and then, when he found that honorable members were determined ‘to get it, he endeavoured to carry out his promise, and I am afraid that he lamentably failed, I am glad that even at the eleventh hour the honorable gentleman should have recognised the political, if not the moral, necessity of keeping his word. Otherwise, the country would have found yet another basic difference between the parties who in this House have been responsible for recent legislation, and. for that which is now before us. One of those parties is known as the party that signs a pledge, and if the Minister of Trade and Customs had not spoken this afternoon, the other party would probably have been known as the party that never keeps one. I think that the honorable gentleman was acting in his own interests when, at the eleventh hour, he decided to keep his word in this regard.
– Is the honorable member discussing the question’ of dumping?
– I am afraid that I was discussing the Minister’s refusal to give an explanation as to what dumping is carried cn. Part III. of the Bill will be improved by the amendments which have been proposed in it, and even with those amendments, it will place the Minister largely in the position which Parliament occupied in the past, because it will remove the consideration of fiscal alterations from this the people’s House, to the Ministerial sanctum or - the Board-rooms of those great companies where these matters, if this Bill be passed, can be adjusted over cigars and1 in congenial surroundings. When we consider the enormous discretionary powers proposed under this Bill to be conferred on the Minister, we shall find that it vests in him personally powers which formerly belonged exclusively to Parliament.
– Of course the honorable member is aware that the Minister, under this Bill, has not anything like the power which is given to the Minister of Trade, and Customs in Canada, who has power to put on a special Tariff.
– The Minister of’ Trade and Customs in Canada has to act in accordance with an expression of the will of Parliament.
– What the AttorneyGeneral says is that he has the power to increase duties.
– The Minister in Canada can come to certain findings on the facts, and then the special Customs Tariff goes on. The honorable member may read the section.
– I am rather at a disadvantage in quoting from the text of the Act, But I remember that in the precis of legislation of this kind with which the AttorneyGeneral provided honorable mem.bers, it is stated that the method adopted in Canada is for the Comptroller-General of Customs to decide when dumping has taken place. Whenever it appears to the satisfaction of the Minister of Customs that the export price, or the actual selling price to the importer in Canada of any imported dutiable articles, of a class or kind made or produced there, is less than the fair market value as determined according to the basis of value for duty, the article, in addition to the duty otherwise established, is subject to a special duty “equal to the difference between such fair market value and such selling price.” In Canada it has to be proved to the satisfaction of the Minister of Trade and Customs that dumping is going on.
– The Minister decides finally.
– The Minister first of all decides that dumping is going on, and then, as I understand it, the article is subject to the special duty I have just mentioned.
– I only interpose to say that the Minister has all the power in Canada.
– The Minister in Canada has power to do what Parliament tells him, it having been decided that it is necessary to do something. According to the Bill before us, however, it is the Minister who has to decide what has to be done.
– In Canada, the Minister has only to refer to some one else.
– I can assure the Minister that I am not stretching the interpretation in the least. Here it has to be proved to the satisfaction of the Minister that dumping is going on, and then the Minister, who is the same as the Comptroller-General, has to refer to somebody else. Also, under the Bill the Minister has the large discretionary power of waiving any judgment given by the local Court in the direction of mercy.
– That must go before Parliament.
– The honorable member for Wentworth does not complain of that?
– That is not the point. I am now alluding to the large discretionary power vested in the Minister, and pointing out the expediency for the fullest explanation of the necessity.
– The Minister has no power to stop goods coming in. He may mitigate the penalty if circumstances arise, just as may ‘be done in an ordinary case. If an offence be committed and sentence passed, the Executive may mitigate that sentence, but not increase it ; the power of the Crown is preserved.
– That is done through the Executive, and by proclamation.
– The Cabinet, I think, is usually guided by the Minister.
– Very often that is so.
– Still there is a check.
– No doubt there is a check. I think these clauses as amended are better than they were before, but still I do not think any free-trader could possibly go half-way to meet such proposals.
– If the principle is once established, I think the provision fairly meets all practical difficulty.
– I do not think that the Minister succeeded in showing the Committee any instances of dumping to the detriment of Australian industries.
– I think the evidence as to the iron industry in America is most conclusive.
– The Minister gave a number of facts and figures in regard to New Zealand.
– What I spoke of was a report obtained by an officer, appointed by the late Mr. Seddon, as to the effect of exports from America to New Zealand.
– That is what I am saying. The Minister gave us information as to the export trade from America to New Zealand, but I do not think he can ask us to accept off-hand an assumption that the same sort of importation is going on into Australia.
– It is, absolutely.
– I have no doubt that the Minister believes that to be true.
– I know it.
– But the Committee is in the position of giving a verdict, and honorable members ought to be shown .evidence of dumping in Australia before they are asked to vote. The Minister gives a new definition to “ dumping “ - a definition I never heard before. I notice that, in the discussions in England and elsewhere, “ dumping “ is usually held to be the selling of imported goods at less than the cost of production in the country of origin. The Minister has, however, extended that definition, and holds that, not only shall imported goods not be sold at less than, the cost of production, but that goods shall not be landed if thev are to be sold here at a price less than that which retailers in_ the country o’f importation are able to obtain. That is a most extraordinary and farreaching proposal. If that is what the Minister means by “ dumping,” his proposal, if carried, would affect probably nine-tenths of the import trade of the country.
– Such importing would have to be done in a very large way before it was touched.
– The Minister will see that, in many cases, where goods are bought after the season in other parts of the world, and sent to Australia in time for the season here, those goods are procured at less than, the actual ordinary selling price.
– Obtained from whom?
– Obtained in open market.
– There are some suggested amendments limiting the purchases to purchases from the manufacturer, or some person representing the manufacturer.
– But the Minister of Trade and Customs goes further than that..
– - If the Minister has made a mistake, I shall say nothing further on the point.
– There is no mistake.
– The Minister this afternoon told us that his proposal was to prevent such goods being landed here.
– I was giving my idea of dumping.
– Then the Minister does not propose to penalize what is dumping according to his idea, but only what is set forth as dumping in the Bill ?
– In the Bill.
– If the Minister is not going to put his idea into force-
– Yes, the Minister is; but he does not propose to go back on the proposed amendments.
– Not at all ; the amendments were drawn up at my instance.
– In that case, I accept the assurance that the Bill will not touch goods purchased under the conditions whichI have just indicated.
– The honorable member had better wait until we reach the clause dealing with that matter.
– I think the Minister is justified in making that suggestion. Thereis one other point with which I should like to deal. This Bill affects our primary producers almost as much as .it affects the importing classes. That the Bill affects the importing classes is easily shown by the widespread fear of the results of the legislation. But the primary producers are vitally interested in gettingtheir goods to market as cheaply as possible, and those markets are at the otherend of the world. Those producers, sofar as oversea freights are concerned, are already at a serious geographicaldisad vantage as compared with competing countries ; and they will be at a still further disadvantage if this Bill be enforced as it might be enforced. We should then have fewer good’s coming to Australia, and, of course, fewer ships in which the productions of Australia could be taken to other parts of the world. That would mean less competition in freights outward, and, of course, higher charges for the great producing interests. This Bill therefore vitally affects the producing interests on which the prosperity of the country is based, and absolutely depends. The producing interests are almost as vitally affected by the Bill as are indent merchants, and the great importing community of Australia. The Minister, in the course of his speech this afternoon, held up the indent merchants to execration.
– I do not believe in indent merchants.
– The Minister does not believe in anybody who does not support him. but indent merchants have a right to live. I dare say that the Minister, if he only knew it, is indebted to the importing community to a very considerable extent. The honorable gentleman is at this moment writing with a pencil which, I dare say, was not made in the British Dominions, and he is wearing clothes which probably came from abroad.
– My clothes were made at Marrickville, in Svdney.
– All the honorable gentleman’s clothes ?
-Nearly all of them.
– The honorable gentleman hedges even on the sacred question of Australian tweeds.
– I get all the clothes possible made in Australia.
– Even on the sacred question of tweeds, the Minister cannot be wholly consistent. The honorable gentleman, I dare say, also wears imported spectacles, which enable him to take an intelligent interest in the Bill.
– The Minister of Trade andi Customs looks at all these matters through Australian spectacles.
– Is at seriously suggested that the honorable gentleman’s spectacles do not come from abroad? However, as I was saying, the importing community have as much right to live as has the Minister himself. Although importers are not supporters of the honorable gentle man, he ought to recognise their right to exist, just) as they are prepared to recognise his right.
– Some of the importations are necessary for Australian manufactures.
– That is so. If piece goods, for instance, were excluded, what would become of the slop-clothing industry in Australia? Parliament has already declared its will in this connexion, by deciding to admit piece good’s at a lower rate of duty than that imposed on made-up articles. That:, I think, shows that the clothing industry is worth protecting.
– That is done under the Tariff.
– But the Minister may depart from the Tariff under the powers bestowed by the Bill. A Judge, acting arbitrarily, without consulting the people, might go quite contrary to the intentions as expressed in the Tariff Act ; and that is a serious position. The Judge may decide that piece goods are being bought at less than the ordinary sale price in the country of origin, and, in certain contingencies, .exclude them from Australia. Under the Bill it would be possible to go right behind the intentions of the people of Australia as expressed in the Tariff Act. ,
– The Bill might affect the supply of raw material.
– The Bill might prove absolutely subversive of the principles of the Tariff Act, which, in almost every section, declares that the object of the Australian people is to get raw material as cheaply as possible.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.30 p.m.
– The Minister this afternoon told us that we had not necessarily to regard the Tariff Commission as the depository of all wisdom. He added that the Customs Department was, in his opinion, quite as capable of judging these matters as the Commission. If the Customs Department has this knowledge, why cannot the Minister give it to the Committee? Surely it is very unfair that a Minister, who is in such a fortunate position as to know everything connected with dumping, should keep that information entirely to himself. Either from inability or from unwillingness, he has withheld the information from honorable members. I have no hesitation in saying that up to the present time, we have not had the slightest proof on which we can hang, such proposals as those before us. The Minister has recognised the necessity to endeavour to give some cause for this drastic change from all our previous methods - a change which puts at the sole discretion o’f the Minister what hitherto has rested entirely within the prerogative of this Parliament. The honorable gentleman has introduced to this Chamber a modest cake of soap ! He has not asked the Committee to wash its hands of its privileges, but he has produced this small tablet of soap as the only inducement he has to offer as to why the Committee should follow his lead !
.- I am sure that the Committee will feel gratified that the Minister of Trade and Customs has at length yielded to the pressure of criticism, and vouchsafed to give us some information, meagre as it is, on the subject of dumping. We “are indebted to the honorable member for Bendigo for having practically forced the hands of the Minister in this connexion ; and I hope that he will give serious heed to the advice tendered by that honorable member to delaying the further consideration of the Bill, especially in view of his authoritative opinion that to proceed with it before the reports of the Tariff Commission are laid upon the table for the information of honorable members, of Ministers, and of the country, may have the effect of prejudicing any future action that might be thought necessary to be taken in the direction of correcting Tariff anomalies. I think I am right in saying that the honorable member for Bendigo has expressed views which are shared by a considerable section of honorable members. All along, the contention- has been made, especially in relation to the particular portion of the measure. now under consideration, that it ought not to have been submitted to Parliament at the present juncture, and certainly ought not to have been pushed forward with such undue haste and such a disregard of the immense interests, financial, commercial, industrial, and general, of the trading, manufacturing, and industrial communities, as well as of the public generally of the Commonwealth of Australia. The Minister appears to me to display an inward “fear that the reports of the Tariff Commission will be unfavorable to legislation of this kind. He seems to have had either some premoni tion, or perhaps some private information, that the reports of the Tariff Commission, if based upon the evidence which has so fatbeen published in the) newspapers, will not only show that legislation of this kind is not desirable, but that there is no necessity whatever for it. It seems a reasonably fair thing, to assume that the only object of the Minister in pushing forward this Bill, and especially the portion of it now under review, is that he is afraid to risk what the Tariff Commission’s reports may reveal. If the Minister and those sitting behind him are sincere in the belief that evidence exists which will show the necessity for such legislation, that is an argument which should induce’ him to listen to the request of members of the Opposition to delay the passage of the’ Bill. But in spite of all entreaties, not only on the part of members of the Opposition, but of some of those who are of the same fiscal faith as himself, to delay further action until such time as we are in possession of fuller information, the Minister has determined to push on with the Bill. He cannot very well complain under the circumstances if some of us and the country at large are disposed to regard his feverish haste with suspicion. Coming to the clauses relating to dumping, we are entitled, I think, to have some definition of the term. What is “ Dumping “ ? The Minister this afternoon, after two hours and a half or thereabouts of hard pressure, condescended to rise and endeavour to give some sort of a justification for introducing this measure. But he carefully avoided telling us what dumping is. He did not attempt to define the term, or to explain the process, but he attempted to show that something in the nature of what he was pleased to call dumping is going on in Australia - an effort which, I make bold to say, was not a brilliant success. The only thing which the Minister did was to show that certain importations are coming into this country, that thev are competing with articles which are produced here, and that in some cases they are sold at a price below the cost of locally-produced articles, and, he also asserted, below the price of the same articles in the country from which they are exported. Admitting all that for the sake of argument- - I do not admit it as a matter of fact - what does it tend to prove? Only that our people are thus enabled to get things which they need at a considerably less cost than they would have to pay if they were dependent purely upon the mono-‘ pol’istic efforts of local manufacturers, with competition entirely shut out. But it does not afford any evidence of dumping as that term is applied in the old country. All that it shows is a desire to get a fair footing in the markets of Australia for these products, and that in doing so they give the public - the consumer - a wider range of choice at a lower cost for the article. The instances quoted by the Minister himself as awful examples of dumping and alleged ruinous competition, were not particularly striking, and certainly the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs has not been very happy in his selection of the articles which it is asserted are being dumped into this country. The articles upon which special emphasis was laid by the Minister and the Comptroller-General were sewing machines, typewriters, and oils.
– And wire netting. Mr. TOHNSON. - Wire netting was only mentioned incidentally. In regard to sewing machines, I should like to know where in this country they are manufactured. I have no knowledge of any local sewing machine being manufactured right out in this country.
– Beale’s factory in Sydney is turning out hundreds.
– I know that certain parts are manufactured by Beale’s, but not the machinery parts. They, I understand, are imported.*
– Then the honorable member understands wrongly.
– I am not prepared to accept the Minister as always a reliable authority on matters of this kind, because he has so often been shown to have made mistakes, and to have misled the House in matters of fact.
– The honorable member has no right to say that.
– I have every, right to state what is a notorious fact. The deception may be unintentional, perhaps ; but it has turned out upon inquiry that the Minister’s information was incorrect. Does he mean to say that he knows that sewing machines as a whole are manufactured at Beale’s’ factory ? I have been led to believe something verv different from that. I understand that in regard to both pianos and sewing machines only certain portions of them are manufac tured here. As to typewriters, it may be that there is a typewriting factory in Australia of which honorable members have no knowledge. I certainly know of no such industry. I do know that most typewriting machines are the subject of patents, and I take it that whatever manufacturing there may be here is done only with the consent and under the control of the patentees, who are mostly, if not wholly, nonresidents of Australia. I do not believe, however, that there are such cases. Certainly I have never heard of them. In regard to oil, it has been shown that oil can only be produced here at a considerably greater cost than that of oil imported from where the natural oil is obtained from wells. It can be landed in Australia without in any way lowering the rates of wages, or curtailing legitimate profits. But this imported oil is shown to be much cheaper and better than the Australian oil, which, so far from being an injury to the poorer classes, who use oil for lighting purposes, is a distinct advantage, and we ought not to seek to put obstacles in the way of their getting cheap lighting. Among other things which the Minister enumerated in his second-reading speech was galvanized wire rope. Is there any galvanized wire rope manufactured in Australia?
– There never will be if the honorable member’s policy is carried out.
– The Minister is evading the point. In a second-reading speech he led the House to believe that these several articles are being dumped here to the detriment of Australian industries, to compete against articles which are made here and sold at a lower price than the locallymade article.
– I did not say so.
– The honorable gentleman implied as much, if he did not say it in so many words; otherwise ,’for what purpose did he quote illustrations of that kind? Where was their application if it were not to point a moral of that description ? Yet, when we come to inquire about the articles which are alleged to be dumped in competition with Australian manufactures, and to their detriment, we find that no such articles are being made here. These articles are needed for the benefit of many other industries which ‘ to a larn-e extent depend upon them; and therefore prohibition will be a death-blow to many of such industries. In his precious list, the Minister cited table knives as an illustration of the terrible effects which the importation of these goods has upon Australian industries. Where can any one point, in Australia, to a factory which manufactures table knives ? I do not know of such a factory, and I do not think that any other honorable members do. Yet this is one of the items relied upon by the Minister to strengthen his case for the clauses against alleged dumping. Another item he enumerated was steel rails. Do we manufacture steel rails?
– We should.
– That is an evasion; the point is, do we?
– Because the honorable member stops it.
– The honorable gentleman has quoted these articles, not as showing what should be manufactured in Australia, but as evidence of industries which he alleges are suffering by competition from imports. He tried to make it appear to the public that all these industries were established and subject to unfair competition, and he gave these alleged instances of dumping and injury to Australian industries as his reason for the introduction of a measure for the purpose of stopping the importation of goods.
– I never said so.
– If the honorable gentleman did not say so directly, he implied as much; otherwise, what was his purpose in giving the illustrations? They had not the slightest point or application. But he knows perfectly well that they were intended for that purpose, and for no other. Again, he cited shovels, tin plates,1 washboards, and lawn mowers. Where are tin plates manufactured in Australia? Perhaps he will also tell us where we manufacture lawn mowers . and other articles which he enumerated in this precious list, which was not worth the paper it was written on as an illustration for his purpose. But coming to the question of price, he also dragged in harvesters. The conviction is firmly rooted in the minds of honorable members that this measure has been introduced with the object of benefiting one Australian industry primarily, and that is the harvester industry, which is chiefly in the hands off his friend and protege, Mr. McKay of Ballarat. We know perfectly well that if it had not been for the persistent efforts of a certain firm in Victoria - who behind the back of Parliament, wanted to get all the advantages which prohibition would give them, and which it refused to give them by means of the Tariff - in agitating and bringing pressure to bear upon the Minister, to legislate so that they could secure a monopoly of the manufacture of the article in this State, we should not have seen a Bill of this character introduced. Other matters are only dragged in for the purpose of throwing dust in the eyes of > the people, and making it appear that generally the industries of Australia are the subject of this paternal interest at the hands of the Government. But we know perfectly well what the mainspring of their action was. The Bill was only intended primarily to benefit a man who admittedly is making from ^28,000 to ^30,000 a year out of the existing Tariff - a man who is not paying conspicuously high wages to his employes, but who has the effrontery to want the taxpayers, when they would not grant him the additional protection he desired, to be made to suffer by means of using the administration of the Customs House. This Bill was only designed for that purpose. Knowing that Parliament would not give higher protection to this firm, the Minister came down with this Bill, so that behind the back of Parliament an irresponsible tribunal, in’ conjunction with himself, could bring about all the monopolistic advantages which the most prohibitive duty would give them. It is time that this measure and its authors were exposed, and the people made fully acquainted with its character. The Minister deplored the fact that imported harvesters are sold to the farmers at a cheaperrate than are the locally-made harvesters. In his view it is an evil that the farmers should get cheap harvesters. I wonder if the farmers in Ms own electorate regard’ cheap agricultural implements as an evil. If they do, there is nothing to prevent them voluntarily paying double or quadruple the price. Who gets the benefit of the cheapness in connexion with the articles which he enumerated? Do not the public reap the benefit? When. I asked the Minister that question by interjection, he immediately turned round and said that the object of this legislation was to cheapen the price of the locally-made article to the people. Who will believe that statement, unless he be the veriest simpleton in the world? First, the Minister complained about the effect of dumping being to bring about cheapness, because he spoke of the imported article under-selling the Australian article, and he said “ That is an evil, and must be stamped out, and the only way to prevent that cheapness is to stop the introduction of these articles, so that ‘the l ocally-made articles can command a higher price.” But in the very next breath he contradicted himself, by declaring that the reason why he wanted to prevent importation was not that the local producer could get a better price for his article, but that the public could get the article at a lower price. Who can follow arguments of such a contradictory character ? The Minister cannot possibly have any faith in them, because if he only reflects for a moment he must be struck with their utter absurdity and absolutely selfcontradictory character. But we know perfectly well that all this facing-both-ways is characteristic of the Minister and those who want to bleed the unfortunate public for private gain. What they want to do is to raise the price of all goods to the consumer. The result will be absolute injury to the great mass of the people. In regard to dumping, the honorable and learned member for West Sydney referred to the scriptural illustration of the falling of manna. I suppose the Minister of Trade and Customs would say that was dumping of the very worst description. Yet, if we were to get all our material wants rained down from heaven in the same way - if the earth were to be flooded with bounteous gifts of the things which, minister to the necessities, the comforts, the luxuries, and the happiness of the people - I suppose that it would be called dumping in the most extreme form. But can anybody point to a single person who would be hurt or injured by such a process of dumping? I wish that those who object to dumping would only dump into my back yard all those useful things which go to minister to the wants and luxuries of mankind. I should receive them most thankfully. I -should not take it ill if my grocer, my butcher, my baker, my tailor, or any one else to whom I usually have to give something in exchange when I want his goods, were to insist upon dumping them into my back yard every hour <>f the week at a fraction of cost or at no cost at all to me. I wonder who would get poor first - I cr the dumpers? Why, sir, it is absolutely absurd to argue that any system of importing the things which the people need at the lowest possible rates can do injury to the community. Is it to be supposed for a moment that a country will dump its goods into Australia without getting some equivalent in return ? Does not the Minister know sufficient of economics to be aware that imports are paid for by exports, and that no country can be a purely exporting country unless it chooses to pay about twice or, perhaps, even more, the rate of freight which otherwise would be charged, even if trade could be carried on at all of such a one-sided character? Only this afternoon, in connexion with the mail contract, we had from the Prime Minister a statement in which he said that certain ships with a very large tonnage would have to be built, and provided with an immense amount of storage space for the purpose, of - what? - taking away Australian perishable products in exchange for .goods produced in other countries. How are the sales going to be effected? The Minister knows perfectly well that such sales are effected by means of exchanges, and that the exports in the mail ships will have to be paid for by goods imported from other countries in exchange. Does he suppose that these magnificent ships will leave London, and other ports, and come to Australia with thenholds empty? Yet the very object of this measure is to try to bring about such a state of things ! We know perfectly well that they could not carry on trade and commerce on those lines for a month without going bankrupt, and doing immense damage not only to themselves, but to the trade and prestige of Australia. This afternoon we had the honorable and learned member for West Sydney, a professed out-and-out free-trader, defending legislation of this character, certainly in a more or less unconvincing and, perhaps, half-hearted way. Has he considered what the effect would, be upon the particular class of persons whom he comes here specially to represent? One of the effects of any diminution of importation by means of the prohibitive power proposed to be granted to the Minister would be to largely paralyze the trade, commerce, and industry of this country. There would be fewer ships coming here to land goods. A multitude of the men who find employment on the wharfs of Melbourne,
Adelaide, and Sydney would have to seek other avenues of labour. Our graving docks and ship-repairing yards would suffer severely through a diminution in the volume of work which ordinarily went to them. The hands who are now employed in industries which are more or less dependent upon shipping, and the success of which must either be promoted or diminished as our shipping is encouraged or discouraged, would be very seriously affected by the operations of the Bill. Honorable members must know that any interference with the trade and commerce of this country would involve not only the importers, with the immense army of employes dependent on the importing trade, and an immense number of carters and others, but also various branches of industry which are directly and indirectly associated with, and dependent upon, shipping. This would affect all our ports and all the people of Australia. I do not wish to pursue the subject at any great length at the present stage, but I would seriously urge the Minister to give due weight to the speech of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo. Coming from the Chairman of the Tariff Commission, as it did, it certainly should carry a very large amount of weight with the Minister. I urge the honorable gentleman to give due consideration to the appeal to delay the further consideration of the measure until honorable members generally have had an opportunity of studying the reports of the Tariff Commission, and then seeing whether any such necessity exists for this legislation as he alleges does exist. I do not for a moment believe that there can be brought forward any evidence which will justify the introduction of a Bill containing clauses of this description’. I do not believe that the Minister knows of a tangible case of dumping which will justify the enactment of such legislation. In the face of any evidence to the contrary, we can only assume, and we are warranted in assuming, that there must be some sinister influences outside the House which have not been disclosed by the Minister, or any of his supporters, to account for this indecent and undignified1 haste in pushing forward a measure for which no reason whatever has been shown to exist.
.- Although’ we have had’’ a verv instructive debate on Part III. o£ the Bill, no utterance to which honorable members have listened de serves more serious consideration than that of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, supported as it was by the speech of the honorable member for Perth. Surely the Government must feel that in disregarding those remarks it is practically flouting the Tariff Commission. The honorable and learned member adduced weighty arguments to prove that at this stage we require more information than we at present possess in regard to the dumping which Part III. is intended to guard against. With the utmost respect for the members of other Royal Commissions/ 1 say that it will be generally admitted that no Commissioners have more thoughtfully, carefully, and attentively carried out the tasks allotted to them than have those appointed to consider the effect of our Tariff upon Australian industries. There have always been large attendances at the meetings of the Commission, and the desire to secure evidence on both sides of the questions coming before it has been evident from the first. Therefore, the appeal of the Chairman for the postponement of the consideration of this important measure deserves more respect than has been shown to it. I do not wish to speak unkindly, but the action of the Minister forces us back to the belief that the Government is being compelled by others to push the measure forward before information, which would be available after a very short delay, can be obtained. The Minister was challenged to give instances of dumping such as the Bill would deal with, and replied most weakly. He referred to one or two industries which, in the proper sense of the words, are, not manufacturing, but assembling, industries, the work of whose operatives is to put together imported parts. While I admit that such industries are serviceable to the community, they are not such as justify the enactment of legislation like that before us. I ventured to suggest, when speaking on the second reading, that the Committee would be found unanimously opposed to the deliberate importation of goods for the purpose of destroying Australian industries ; but the measure provides for a direct restraint of trade, and gives to the Minister powers which he should not be permitted to exercise, even with trie safeguards arranged for. If it is really the desire of the Government to give relief to industries requiring assistance and further protection, why do not Ministers bring forward for consideration the reports of the Tariff Com- mission already to hand? The honorable and learned member for Bendigo thinks that it will take at least a month to consider those reports, and to give effect by legislation to any decisions arrived at in regard to them, and I, for one, am prepared to pay serious attention to the recommendations of the Commission, with the desire to do all that is necessary to give help to industries requiring it. By the time the three reports now before us had been dealt with, the Commission, I have reason to believe, would have presented other reports.
– If Parliament commenced to deal with the Commission’s reports to-morrow, I think that I can safely say that the Commission would undertake to keep it supplied with work for the rest of the session.
– That is a declaration to which the Ministry should pay serious heed, arid I have no doubt that it will be indorsed by the chairman of the Tariff Commission.
– Hear, hear.
– Surely the statements that have been made by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo and the honorable member for Perth, as chairman and member of the Tariff Commission respectively, amount to a challenge to the Government, who profess to desire to assist our industries, to postpone the consideration of the Bill for’ the present, and engage in the more practical -work of dealing with the reports of the Tariff Commission. If Ministers adopt this course, I am sure that they will receive the assistance of a number of honorable members on this side of the House. The Government are flouting the business men of Australia, and are unnecessarily interfering with the course of trade and commerce by unduly pressing forward legislation of this kind. The object of the part of the Bill now under discussion is to prevent the importation of goods which are deliberately brought here for the purpose of destroying our manufactures, and Ministers will best accomplish their end by giving reasonable consideration to the requests of honorable members. I do not believe ‘ that mere cheapness should be our sole aim. I desire that the fullest justice should be done to all our producers and manufacturers, but I do not think that we should be ‘called upon to deal out of hand with an incomplete and ill-considered measure such as that now before us. It would be an outrage, not only upon the House, but upon the community generally, to pass the Bill under present conditions, and any wrong that may be inflicted as the result of the Government persisting in their present ‘Course will inevitably react upon the members of the Labour Party, who are pressing, them forward. It seems to be imagined that both our manufacturers and the working classes will be benefited by the prohibition of imports which it is intended to’ exclude by means of the dumping provisions; but it is questionable whether the Bill will confer the benefits that are expected to flow from it. I trust that the Government will cease their efforts to bulldoze honorable members into passing this ill-considered Bill.
– In common with most honorable members on this side of the Chamber. I am bitterly opposed to the Bill, and think that we are being unfairly treated by the Government. The honorable and learned member for Corinella asked the Minister of Customs to afford us certain information, and the Minister has made a statement in which he has done little more than repeat what he stated during the second-reading debate. He threw very little additional light on the subject. He produced a bit of soap which, although it bore a German label, he told us had been made in Japan.
– And a very fine piece of soap it was.
– So far as I was able to judge, the soap was fairly good. I did not test it by making use of it, because, fortunately, I do not require so much washing as do certain Ministers. The Minister endeavoured to impress upon us the fact that dumping was being carried on to an extent that was proving disastrous to many of our industries. If he had desired to convince honorable members upon that point he should have proved his case by bringing forward incontrovertible testimony, instead of merely producing a piece of soap. Although he stated that the soap had been made in Japan, it bore a label printed partly in French and partly in. German, and there was absolutely no evidence that the article was the product of Japanese habour. The Minister should not content himself by making mere assertions, but should submit absolute proofs. Of course, the object of the Minister was to excite the feelings of honorable members against the introduction into the Com- monwealth of the products of cheap labour. If he knew anything about Japan, he would be aware that the Japanese, who live principally on rice and fish, have a very small number of cattle and sheep, and are therefore not able to produce large quantities of tallow with which to manufacture soap for export. If the soap produced by the Minister was made in Japan, its principal constituent, namely, tallow, must have been first imported either from Australia or South America. The Minister should be in a position to substantiate his statements. I should like to point out that three classes of the community are deeply interested in this measure. The first crass, the manufacturers, is a comparatively small one. The second class, the employes in our manufacturing industries, is not a very large one; and the third class, the consumers, is by far the largest and most important. It appears to me that the Minister of Trade and Customs has gone mad on the subject of protection, and that in his desire to bolster up Australian industries, he has entirely lost sight of the interests of the largest class in the com.munity, who will undoubtedly suffer seriously if this precious Bill becomes law. Dumping is generally understood to consist of placing upon the market a large quantity of a given commodity within a very short time. There can be no question that when a market is flooded in this way, the tendency is to depress prices for the time being. This may not be of any benefit to the manufacturers, or their employes, but it is certainly good for the great bulk of the consumers. The Minister says that if, as the result of dumping, our manufacturers are ruined, the importers who have been flooding the market will in a very short time raise their prices, and the consumers will eventually be no better off than if they had paid reasonable prices all along. We know, however, that if prices were unduly raised, those who had been responsible for the dumping, with the object of securing the market for themselves, would very soon be exposed to competition from other quarters. Most European countries are unable to consume all the manufactured goods that they produce, and would very readily seize an opportunity to enter into competition with any body of men who might seek to monopolize our market in the manner indicated. I do not know of any article except oil, the price of which could be unduly inflated for any length of time, because competition would undoubtedly operate to bring prices down to a normal level. For these reasons, it appears to me that we need not be afraid that any very disastrous effects will follow from dumping. The honorable and learned member for Wannon, before the adjournment for dinner, made an extremely eloquent speech, in which he conclusively proved that statements which the Minister had accepted as gospel were utterly without foundation. Manufacturers abroad, by the aid of better machinery, or owing to the fact that they are able to manufacture on a large scale, are enabled to produce certain articles very much more cheaply than they can be produced here, and if we pass this Bill we shall say to those persons, “ We shall not allow you to sell your goods at a price which yields you a fair profit, and -which you are prepared to accept, but we shall compel you to raise your price to that of the Australian manufacturers of the same goods.” If we take ploughs, for example, which are amongst the most useful implements employed in one of our primary industries, we shall find that Australian ploughs at the present time cannot be sold at much less than from £6 10s. to £j. We are told that they are superior to the implements imported from America and Canada. Whether that be so are not, I am unable to say. The workmanship of the imported implements may not be quite as good as that of the implements locally manufactured, but they answer their purpose, and American and Canadian ploughs can be sold here at from £4. 10s. to £5. If this Bill is to have any effect at all, action may be taken under it to compel American and Canadian manufacturers of ploughs to put their price for those implements up to the price charged by Australian manufacturers. Who will suffer by that ? It will be the farmers of Australia, of whom I am one. I therefore say that if this Bill is allowed to become law, its effect may be to inflict injustice on one of the most deserving classes in- the community. I recognise that honorable members can speak more than once to the same question in Committee, and I shall, therefore, not speak at length at this stage, but, before resuming my seat, -I do urge upon the’ freetraders in the labour ranks opposite to consult the best interests of the people of Australia, and vote against these antidumping clauses.
– I do not propose to go into the question as to what is dumping and what is not, I think that the definition given by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, though it may be somewhat too wide, will fairly answer the purpose. Some reference has been,, made to the dumping of wire nails and tacks by German manufacturers, but, according to consular reports, that was dumping, but the reference was not to Australia. It was pointed out in some of the English consular reports that wire nails and tacks largely exported from Germany were sold in the Home market at a profit of 1,200,000 marks in six months, and at a loss on export of 859,000 marks. That was dumping, and the class of dumping to which the honorable and learned member for Bendigo referred. The Minister gave no instance of that sort of dumping. The’ reference to harvesters does not apply, because they are not manufactured in America for consumption locally, and we therefore cannot have the difference in. price, which is the very essence of clumping. Throughout this Bill there are references to labour and to a fair remuneration for labour. If this is a Bill to protect labour, we should be very careful that it does protect labour. I remember that some time last year a Trade Union Congress sat in England, and when the question of the efficacy of protection in its various forms as a remedy for some of the acknowledged grievances of labour in the United Kingdom was considered, that remedy was rejected by the Congress by a vote of, I think, 1,250,000 to about 27,000 or 28,000. That being so, I do not think we should trust too much to a measure 0 this sort, and to the benevolence of the capitalists, who have been so instrumental in pushing it on, to deal fairly with labour, but should put within its four corners a provision that will secure to labour what it is justly entitled to, and about which its advocates are so solicitous. I remember, on glancing through some of the evidence given before the Tariff Commission, finding that the figures quoted bywitnesses did not show that labour was in a very happy condition in some of the machinery factories, whose proprietors have been pressing this legislation upon the Government. The aggregate figures as to the wages paid, taken in connexion with the number of employes, showed the payments to amount, in some cases, to from £70 to £75 per year per man. I have seen figures given by some of the witnesses which would not work out at even £50 per year per man. I do not know what wages are really paid, (but these figures were, (for 1902, and I should think that wages did not vary very much up to 1904, when the alleged competition was in existence. I could refer honorable members to the particular witnesses who supplied the figures which I have quoted, but, following the suggestion of the Chairman of the Tariff Commission, I do not propose to make more than a cursory reference to the evidence given before that body. In America all these agencies are at work, and in addition to very stiff protection the Wilson Act, which is framed upon somewhat similar lines to this Bill, operates. But labour at Pittsburg, for instance, does not seem to be in a very happy state. In a work just published by a Mr. Shadwell, on Industrial Efficiency, reference is made to Pittsburg as “ Hell with the lid off,” and to Homestead as “ Hell with the hatches on.” He says -
Here is nothing but unrelieved gloom and grind; on one side the fuming, groaning walls, where men sweat at the furnaces and rolling mills twelve hours a day for seven days a week; on the other side, rows of wretched hovels, where they eat and sleep, having neither time nor energy left for anything else.
This is the state of labour in the iron works of America, where they do protect capital, and where they cannot, under their constitutional laws, protect labour, as we can here.
– Would the honorable and learned member allow goods made under those conditions to come in here?
– I wish the honorable member for Melbourne Ports to assist me in preventing that kind of thing being even possible here.’ I want the honorable member and the public who are delighted by his advocacy of their cause, in the propagandism that is going on outside, to see that this Bill does protect labour, and not merely capital. That is the point. I say that there exists in America, according to the evidence supplied by Mr. Shadwell in his two volumes recently published, that state o’f affairs. In Pittsburg, which is the very home .of the iron industry, along with a very liberal protection under the Tariff and the operation of the Wilson law, which is somewhat similar to this Bill, labour is degraded. That is the position in America. We can cure that by operating^ upon the definitions in this Bill. Very often the definitions in a Bill look quite as simple as does the
Minister in charge of it, but they mean a very great deal. I shall not detain the Committee any longer at this stage, but I indicate that, to test the feeling of honor able members, I shall move an amendment upon this clause, providing for a definition of labour. The alphabetical arrangement is not followed in the clause, and I propose to move, after the definition of the word “ trade,” the insertion of these words - “ Labour “ means labour in Australian industries to which a Commonwealth or Slate law providing for the fixing of the remuneration of labour by an award of a Court of Arbitration, an industrial agreement, or a Board applies, or, if no such law applies, in which in the opinion of the Justice the remuneration of labour prior to the alleged unfair competition was fair.
We find that on the subject of harvesters some of the gentlemen who gave evidence before the Tariff Commission, and who are advocating prohibitive duties, submitted figures from which it appeared that about 25 per cent, only of the product was represented by labour. Let us now protect that 25 per cent., and not give the whole of the protection to the other 75 per cent. I have no wish to be unreasonable, and I have therefore framed the amendment so that it shall apply not merely to industries protected under an Arbitration Act with provision for awards in favour of labour, by an industrial agreement also sanctioned by an Act, or by Wages Board, but that it shall also apply where these means of protection do not exist if the Justice thinks that the remuneration of labour prior to the alleged unfair competition was fair.
– It would’ have the same effect as the institution of a Wages Board.
– Practically the same effect. As we now find gentlemen, and amongst them politicians, in their spare time perambulating the country, organizing labour and telling labourers that all sorts of things will follow the prohibition of imports, and the increase of Customs duties, that if we reverse the rule which hitherto we have thought led to productive progress, the millennium will come about, I propose to move the amendment in order that the hopes which, have been raised amongst the labouring classes by these perambulating and somewhat loquacious persons shall not be falsified.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the words “ ‘Board ‘ means a Board appointed under this Part,” lines 2 and 3 be left’ out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ ‘Justice’ means a Justice of the High Court.”
– I move -
That after the word “thereof,” line 8, the words “ but do not include goods imported from and the product of the United Kingdom “ be inserted.
I think that the Minister will recognise the importance of that amendment, and I hope he will give it the favorable consideration which, in my opinion, it deserves.
– Canada has passed special laws to protect herself against the dumping of goods from the United Kingdom.
– I will deal with that matter when I .come to consider the Canadian legislation. It must be remembered that the provisions of this Bill are to operate in addition to the Customs duties which we have imposed, or may impose, on imports from foreign countries, Great Britain, and dependencies of the Empire. I do not think that the instances of dumping in Australia of exports from the United Kingdom are more than the instances of dumping of Australian goods in Great Britain, and the Minister has said nothing to shake that belief. There is, therefore, no serious reason for excluding British goods under the provisions of Part III. of the Bill. Harvesters, which seem always to be at the back of the Minister’s mind, are not sent here from the United Kingdom. The first very important reason which I would urge in support of my amendment is the treatment which Australia and the other dependencies of the Empire have received from the mother-land. Great Britain gave us this great continent as a heritage. She has handed over to us and to our descendants a country which to-day is rich and prosperous, and gives every promise of increasing in prosperity and supporting an enormous population.
– But the English people will not give us preferential trade.
– They give us what is a much greater advantage - free entry for our goods into their markets.
– According to the honorable member’s belief, we. should allow everything to be imported here free of duty.
– If we had any gratitude to the mother-land, we should do so as regards her products.
– Has the fulness of time come ?
– I do not know when the honorable member would consider that the fulness of time had come. We can only be certain that he will not be here then, though we hope that he will have preference in a better place.
– Does the honorable member think that the fulness of time has come to reap the advantage of pauper labour?
– That is a cry upon whichthe honorable member for Melbourne Ports has lived all his life.
– When he speaks of “ pauper,” he means protected labour.
– The honorable member, as a protectionist, has every opportunity, by the imposition of Customs duties, to get rid of the effect of the difference between the cost of labour in Australia and its cost in Great Britain. He has already exercised that privilege to the full, and intends to exercise it to excess.
– He intends to exercise it reasonably.
– Not only has Great Britain given us this Continent as a heritage, but, with surprising generosity, she has allowed us full rights of self-government If she had considered her self-interest alone, it would have instigated her to withhold from us the power to , tax her goods, and to frame our Constitution so as to provide for the free entry of British goods into Australia. She has given us the right to legislate, not only for our own advantage, but even to her injury. No doubt her statesmen anticipated that we, having been treated generously, would give a generous return. This measure will show that Great Britain cannot expect from this part of the Empire generosity such as she has herself displayed. The hand which has given all these things, and which we are attempting to smite, shelters us from our enemies. The people of Great Britain, who are comparatively poorer than those of Australia, have to dip deeper into their pockets, and pay more per head for defence, than we do, so that our shores and our commerce may be protected by the British Fleet.
– Must we, because thev do that, allow them to dump their goods here ?
– We, because they do that, should extend a little generosity to them. ,
– Would the honorable member extend generosity to a Chinaman?
– If a Chinaman had been generous to me, I hope that I should be generous to him in return.
– We are not talking about generosity.
– I am talking about generosity. There is much reason to do so.
– There is too much antiBritish sentiment in this House.
– A little generosity may surely be expected in return for the great generosity extended to us. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has had every opportunity to impose conditions regarding the terms, as to payment of duty, under which British goods will be admitted here, and has exercised it, to the full. The provisions of the Bill are additional to the Tariff, and allow for the absolute prohibition of importation, if the Minister so wills it.
– Not the Minister.
– I understand that amendments are to be made in this part of the Bill.
– The proposal that a Justice of the High Court shall be appointed for this work has been practically adopted by the insertion of the interpretation of the word “ Justice” in clause 12.
– The amendments to which the Attorney-General refers will transfer the power of prohibition from the Minister to a Justice, but the Justice will be guided by the conditions which we lay down in the Bill. The second reason why my amendment should receive favorable consideration from the Government is that Ministers have declared themselves in favour of returning concessions for concessions.
– They call’ that preferential trade.
– Yes. The principle of preferential trade is the return of concessions for concessions. Surely when Great Britain admits such large quantities of our produce freely-
– She takes only 5 per cent, of her food supplies from us.
– We do not export food supplies only. She takes also our wool and our minerals.
– She cannot do without them.
– Neither could we do without some of the goods which she sends to Australia. I should like the Minister to say what proportion of our exports goes to Great Britain. Those goods are dumped on her shores, if we accept the Ministen’ s definition of dumping. Is Great Britain to receive no consideration from this dependency, to which she has shown so much?
– Millions of loyal Englishmen are opposed to dumping.
– I give the; honorable member credit for knowing a little about business matters - I could not say so much for every honorable member - but is he aware that the Minister has defined dumping as the sending of surplus products to another market, to be sold there at whatever prices they will fetch, and often at lower prices than can be obtained for similar goods in the country of production ?
– I said “ always,” not “ often.”
– The Minister said that sometimes dumped goods are sold at a profit.
– Millions of loyal Englishmen are opposed to dumping, and a very strong party in England is adverse to it.
– If they are opposed to dumping in the sense in which the Minister of Trade and Customs uses the term, they must be opposed to the exportation of Australian surplus products to Great Britain, to the disturbance and disorganization of Home industries. The Vice-President of the Executive Council, who represents an electoral division in which there are many butter factories, knows that an association determines what quantity of butter is likely to be absorbed bv this market, and fixes the price for it, the balance being exported to Great Britain, to be sold there at what it will fetch. That, according to the definition of the -Minister of Trade and Customs, is dumping. Similarly, we send our fnuit to Great Britain - not that for which we can obtain a good market here, but the surplus, which could not be disposed Of here, and the offering for sale of which would depress local prices. Our surplus fruit is sold in Great Britain for whatever price can be obtained for it, and sometimes for considerably less than is obtained in our own market.
– No, no. Mr. DUGALD THOMSON.- I say yes.
– It is nearly always a higher price.
– I say no ; on many occasions the price is considerably lower, and heavy losses have been made on shipments, not when goods were damaged, but when they were sound.
– When they were damaged.
– Unfortunately, the Minister brings little study or knowledge to bear on the subject.
– I know just as much as does the honorable member, and a little more.
-The Minister will see from the press reports that the same classes of apples, for instance, are quoted often at a higher rate iri Australia than in Great Britain.
– Very seldom.
– I say that often the same classes of apples are quoted at a higher rate in Australia than that at which they are sold in London.
– What about meat?
-Yes, what about meat? Will the Minister tell me that the prices obtained in Australia for meat are not higher than those obtained in the London market?
– Not always, but sometimes.
– The same price is obtained! so seldom that we may say it is never obtained.
– Does the honorable member say that the price of Australian meat is lower in London than in Australia ?
– Yes, I say that the price in London is relativelv lower, when the cost of sendihir the meat there is deducted; and I make that statement on the highest authority, namely, that of the exporters.
– The honorable member is taking special cases. In Queensland the price of beef is considerably lower than in Victoria, and the relative cost of transport is greater.
– I am not taking any special cases.
– Take the whole of the Victorian export.
– I am saying - or rather I am interjecting - that in the majority of cases Australian meat sells at a lower rate in London than it does in Australia, when the price of sending the meat there is deducted.
– Fruit does so, quite repeatedly.
– Fruit very often does so, at any rate.
– Very seldom.
– The Minister ought to be aware of the fact, and if he is not, his officers ought to be able to inform him. Would people be foolish enough to export if they could get as good, or a better price, in their own market? The very inference to draw from the fact that people expert is that they cannot get the same price in their own market - they export to keep up the price.
– They export because there is r.o demand for the produce here.
– That is just it ; and when they export, it shows that if they retained all the products here, they would get a worse price here than they do in Europe; otherwise they would sell all they produce here. If the Minister will agree to this amendment, I un-, dertake to prove my statement to the satisfaction of the Government.
– I am almost tempted to accept that offer.
– Let the Minister do so. I. have no desire to discourage or interfere with such exports ; but how do they affect the English producer? The importation of Australian ibeef, lambs, and so forth, into England has, bit by bit, taken the trade out of the hands of the English grower. The importation of Australian fruit into England operates. in the same way, but not to the same degree, because it arrives there out of the English season, when there is not much English fruit to offer.
– Does the honorable member say the same about butter?
– The Danes do not say that the importation of Australian butter takes the business away from the English producer, but that it takes the business away from them.
– The honorable member can easily satisfy himself on that point.
– I have done so.
– Then the honorable member must have found that what he states is not altogether the case. If we have regard to the importation of Danish butter into England before Australian and New Zealand butter went there, the enoimous increase from the latter places is not nearly accounted for by any drop in Danish importations.
– Is it accounted for by the drop in the English production?
– Australian butter interferes with the importation of Danish butter, but it interferes to a greater degree, probably, with the English production, because it is sold at a lower price than is the Danish. How can the honorable member ask any Parliament to conceive that the large quantity of butter which Australia and New Zealand exports to England does not, in combination with the Danish importations, interfere with production in England ? Where was the butter obtained previously, if not from English and Irish producers ?
– The English farmer has another tale to tell from that of the honorable member for Laanecoorie.
– Of course. Great Britain does not interfere with these importations; but if the tenets of some men were to become those of the British people as a whole, there would be retaliation. This ungenerous treatment in return for the most kindly treatment, almost makes me a retaliationist. Great Britain might take a stand, and say, “ We cannot any longer tolerate this ; we have treated you well in welcoming your productions freely to our markets, to the injury of our producing classes; and when you not only impose duties which, in some cases, are sufficiently high to prohibit, but, where you cannot exclude bv duties, you seek to exclude absolutely bv a Bill such as this, it is time we dealt with your goods in the same way.” If that attitude were taken by Great Britain, we should Be brought to our knees immediately.
—Nonsense ; do not talk such rubbish !
– The Minister of Trade and Customs is a great authority on rubbish; but if he cannot make a more intelligent interjection than that, I ask ‘ him to turn his mind to his Bill - a task which he has not attempted yet. What I say is that we should be brought to our knees immediately if we were to receive from Great Britain the treatment thai we mete out to her. To show that I am not without precedent in my proposal, I shall quote the legislation of Canada. In the Dominion there are provisions which are not called in the measure anti-dumping provisions, but which have been called so here.
– Mr. Fielding so describes the provisions.
– The Canadian Minister and some member of the Dominion Parliament may so describe the provisions. I am not finding fault with the description, and I am quite willing to call them anti-dumping provisions, if the Minister chooses. How does Canada deal with the question? The Dominion Act of Parliament is more a measure for the equalization of prices than anything else. The section of the Canadian Act which deals with this matter is as fellows: -
Whenever it appears to the satisfaction of the Minister of Customs, or of any officer of Customs authorized to collect Customs dues, that the export price, or the actual selling price to the importer in Canada, of any imported dutiable articles 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 subjected to an ad valorem duty, such article shall, in addition to the duty otherwise established, be subject to a special duty of Customs equal to the difference between such fair market value and such selling price.
It will be seen that this aims at an equalization of prices, and even to that there is some limitation in the following : -
Provided, however, that the special Customs duty on any article shall not exceed one-half of the Customs duty otherwise established in respect of the article, except in regard to the articles mentioned in items 224 (pig-iron and cast scrap iron), 226 (iron or steel ingots, and other forms less finished than iron or steel bars, &c), and 23r (rolled iron or steel plates), in Schedule A to the Customs Tariff r8o7, the special duty of Customs on which shall not exceed 15 per cent, ad valorem, nor more than the difference between the selling price and the fair market value of the article.
The effect of these provisions is simply to equalize, by the duty, the prices of the imports, and even that is subject to some limitation. Canada does not attempt to exclude: she admits the goods, and only attempts to equalize prices. But what is Canada’s treatment of Great Britain? Although, these duties are imposed, Canada charges Great Britain only two-thirds of the dutv which is charged to other nations.
– But Canada put up the duties first.
– There is a distinction, in any case. I am merely stating the facts, and not. arguing whether Canada is right or wrong, or is too generous, or not sufficiently generous. I only desire to impress on the Minister the fact that Canada does to some degree recognise Great ‘Britain in this connexion. Now we come to the New Zealand measure. We often hear New Zealand measures lauded by members of this Parliament, and frequently by members! of the. Government. It is evident, from the data which has been placed before us that the Government consulted the New Zealand measure before they drafted these anti-dumping clauses. The Government have not adopted the New Zealand provisions, and one reason for that may be that, while the Bill proposes to affect all goods, New Zealand only saw reason to deal with agricultural implements - that is, to deal with them if the occasion arose. I do not think that New Zealand has yet applied the provisions, and that is, I suppose, because there has’ not been found any necessity to do so.
– But New Zealand passed the Act, and if we pass the Bill we may not find it necessary to put it into operation.
– What ? With the present Minister of Trade and Customs in office !
– If the Minister stands by the speech he has made, the Bill will be put into operation every day in the year.
– No, no.
– We all know that there is the greatest difficulty in understanding what the Minister of Trade and Customs’ does say. At any rate, all this is apart from the question before us. New Zealand has not considered her legislation any too liberal, at any rate to the mother country. What are the provisions of the New Zealand Act? It is provided ‘ that if a certain Board finds that implements have been unduly and improperly reduced in price by the importers, the price shall not be increased to the consumer by excluding competitors, but a bonus, up to one-third, may be granted to the New Zealand implement makers to sustain them through the unfair competition. What a difference there is in the treatment of Great Britain by New Zealand as compared with the treatment proposed in “the Bill ! Let the Minister listen to this - I do not know whether he has noticed it before.
– Oh. yes.
– Then the Minister has read it, and deliberately rejected it. We will see what that provision is. The New Zealand Act in section 9 provides -
For the purpose of this Act, implements of British manufacture shall be deemed to be manufactured in New Zealand, ‘ and the importers of such implements shall be deemed to be manufacturers thereof in New Zealand.
It will be observed that not only does the New Zealand Act provide that implements of British manufacture shall be “ deemed to be manufactured in New Zealand,” but it makes the further provision that the importer of such implements shall be deemed to be a manufacturer in New Zealand. That means that if a bonus is given to prevent the destruction of industries by foreign importations, the importer of a British implement gets that bonus as well as does the New Zealand manufacturer.
– What does “British” include ?
– I am not making my amendment as wide as that, because it might be considered to embrace something which was not desirable.
– How would the honorable member prove that the goods were really British?
– How is it proved in New Zealand? How are a great many things to be proved that this Bill deals with? There are far greater difficulties in the Bill than that. I think that my phrase, “ Imported from and the product of the United Kingdom “ is sufficiently clear to enable the Customs officers to get proof.
– Germany sends cigars to Havanna and they are exported from that place as “Havanna cigars.”
– The Commerce Act, which the honorable member assisted to pass, presents the same difficulty. If the Customs Department cannot ascertain with sufficient clearness to satisfy itself that particular goods are the products of Great Britain, it is mot nearly so alert and capable as I suppose it to be. Will the honorable member for Northern Melbourne tell me this : Which is the greater difficulty, to say what is the ordinary cost of a product in English or foreign markets or to say whether the product is imported from Great Britain or from a foreign country ? I know which task I would rather undertake.
– You can ascertain the value of goods from other people.
– You cannot find out the cost of production of cer tain manufactures from the productions of other manufacturers in the case of complicated articles of trade. In the New Zealand Act there is a generous recognition of the mother country. Whatever we may think of the New Zealand legislation, and of its nature and necessity, surely we must recognise, as New Zealand has done, the generosity of Great Britain, the support we get from the British Empire, and the protection it gives to us. New Zealand has recognised that within the four corners of an Act dealing with importations such as we are considering now.
– And British people emigrate to New Zealand.
– Naturally ; they ought to be attracted to a country of that character. Any Briton ought to be. In a Bill such as this, where no need can be shown as regards British goods for such provisions as those which we are considering, we ought to recognise our debt to the mother country. Is the Government prepared to say deliberately in this measure that British goods shall be prevented from coming -here under the very same conditions as those under which we send goods to Great Britain ? Is the Minister of Trade and Customs prepared to say that there shall be no difference between the treatment of the mother country and that which is shown to foreign nations? Is he prepared to say that the policy of preference - of concession for concession - which this Government has supported, is so much empty sham, and that we shall take the first opportunity we get, not to assist Great Britain to send goods here, but to shut out British goods from our markets when there is no need for it ? It has not been shown that there has been any dumping of British goods into Australia, except that dumping which consists in the export of a surplus, and the obtaining of the best possible price in the market to which the goods are exported; which is the class of dumping that we carry on with the great bulk of our exported products. I will ask whether there is any evidence o’f an intention to carry the preferential trade policy of the Government into effect ; does the Government propose to follow the example set by preferentialists like the late Mr. Seddon of New Zealand ? He showed that he was not merely a citizen of a portion of the Empire, trying to benefit the people of that portion, no matter at what expense to the rest of the Empire; but that he was the citizen of a greater country, willing to take into account the advancement of every portion of it.
– But suppose that one corner is trying to destroy another corner?
– The honorable member has the best answer possible in the action of the late Premier of New Zealand. That gentleman saw no good reason to exclude British implements. Nay, he went further. He saw no reason why, if a bonus were given, it should not be granted to the importers of British implements as well’ as to the manufacturers of :them in New Zealand. I have heard the honorable member laud New Zealand legislation ; and I am sure that he would not wish to be less generous to the mother country than our co-dependency of New Zealand has been. I do not believe that any clanger of dumping from Great Britain exists, and surely, that being the case, we may refrain from excluding British goods under such drastic, uncertain, and undesirable provisions as exist in this part of the Bill.
– With many of the sentiments expressed by my honorable friend the member for North Sydney, I most cordially agree; and I am proud to say that my colleagues do also. With the principle of preferential trade, we are in thorough accord ; and we shall give honorable members opposite, I hope before very long, an opportunity to put into practice the sentiments that they now encourage. We fully appreciate the examples that have been set by Canada, “South Africa, and New Zealand.
– Without any preference from Great Britain.
– Without any preference, I regret to say-, by way of reciprocal treatment, from the mother country.
– No necessity for it.
– My honorable friends are getting excited. I am going to put a little puzzle to them presently, and perhaps they will try to answer it. I ‘say that we hope, before very long, to put before them proposals that will test their “loyalty to the principle of preferential trade. But our policy will not be a so-called preference, to Great Britain that puts her on the same footing as other countries ; because we recognise no preference given to us bv the mother country, which simply puts us in the same position as every foreign country that gives her no preference. My honor able friends argue that the mother country generously says to Australia, “ We will give you exactly the same treatment as we give to Germany and China and J apan” ; and therefore they turn to us and urge that we should exclude Great Britain from the operation of this Bill.
– As Canada and New Zealand have done.
– Canada and New Zealand, with great respect to my honorable friend, have no’t. Have mv honorable friends read this Bill? If’ they have read it, they will see that in these antidumping provisions there is not a word that is directed against any British trade whatever, except the trade that comes here with the intention to destroy Australian industries.
– But that can be said of all competitive trade.
– I am endeavouring to answer a speech which was put fairly. I did not interrupt the honorable member for North Sydney for a moment, and I want my honorable friends to listen if they will to what I am saying, and to give a fair answer. The central clause is clause 15. It provides only for the case of an importer bringing in goods with the intention of unfairly competing against Australian goods, or with the intention of destroying Australian industries.
– According to the honorable and learned member, all competition is unfair. So what is the use of giving an illustration of that kind?
– Some remarks are unfair, and the interjection is one of them. My honorable friend must not try to get out of a difficult corner in that way ; he cannot do it. So far as this portion of the Bill is concerned, it is only aimed at such competition as is unfair, and such importation as is avowedly indulged in for the purpose of destroying Australian industries and lowering the remuneration of Australian labour. What room is there for generosity in that?
– Will the honorable and learned gentleman put that in the clause?
– It is in the clause.
– Will the honorable and learned gentleman put in the word “ avowedly “ ?
– Oh ! I see what my honorable friend wants; as long as a man does not get up and say, in so many words, “ I am coming here with the intention, “ he can have the intent. The effect will be the same. He can sweat our employes, and drive our industries off the face of the land, and my honorable friend will say that is nothing.
– We are simply asking the Attorney-General to put in the Bill the same word as he used.
– My honorable friends feel the pinch of their position, and they are saying to us, “ As long as this destruction comes from the motherland we shall allow it to go cn.” Our duty to Australia is to be Australians first; our duty here is to protect the industries of our land and the interests of our workers, and, whether the intent comes from New Zealand, Canada, or the mother country, I, for one, will not agree to permit the destruction to go on to the injury of my country.
– Always provided that there is any such intent.
– Yes, and the Bill aims at no cases other than those in which that intent exists.
– Will the Attorney-General give an instance of where that is being done to-dav from Great Britain?
– If it is not being done from Great Britain, there is no necessity for the amendment. And, if it is being done from Great Britain, then I object to the amendment.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral give us an instance of any country from which it is being done to-dav?
– The Minister of Trade and Customs has given many instances.
Honorable Members.- No, no.
– There seems to be a chorus. I cannot distinguish exactly the words, but they are in harmony apparently. I would like to put a case to my honorable friends. Suppose that an instance is brought before the Justice of the High Court, and that the facts show that from Great Britain goods are being imported with the intent that they may be sold or offered for sale within the Commonwealth in unfair competition with Australian goods’, or with the intent to injure Australian industry by unfair competition. Will mv honorable friends say that, in loyalty to Australia, they will permit that to be done if the injury comes from Great Britain?
M*. ISAACS. - Then my honorable friend is not an Australian.
– Yes, he is.
– My honorable friend cannot have what I think he ought to have - loyalty to this country.
– The honorable and learned gentleman has loyalty on his tongue, but does not practise it.
– That is, I think a short answer to the speech of the honorable member for North Sydney. This is not an attempt to keep out any goods from any part of the world, provided that the competition’ is fair.
– Look at what unfair competition is stated to be in paragraph a of proposed new clause 14. It applies to all our imports.
– That is hardly an answer to my question, unless the honorable member says he is going to vote for the whole of the paragraph.
– Will the honorable and learned gentleman read it ?
– I am very glad that my honorable friend has referred to the paragraph, because it shows exactly what I mean. It says that competition is unfair if- under ordinary circumstances of trade - this is no boom matter, but ordinary circumstances of trade with the best machinery and methods that we can procure - it would probably lead to the Australian goodsbeing no longer produced or being withdrawn from the market, or being sold at a loss unless produced at a lower remuneration for labour.
Which of my honorable friends will stand up and acknowledge himself as a supporter of sweating?
– We are not protectionists, and that is why we are not sweaters.
– That is all it comes to.
– The lowest wages prevail in the most highly protective countries, showing that protection is a rank and ghastly failure.
– I do not agree with my honorable friend in his fact, but that is not the question here. Whatever our wages are under ordinary conditions, with the best machinery and appliances we can procure, and the best methods we can adopt, if anyone comes here with the intent to break down an industry which it is desirable, inthe interests of producers, workers, and consumers should be preserved, and if he attempts to break it down by means of a system of competition which nothing canavert, except the cutting down of Australian rates of labour, I say for myself and the Government, “ We do not care whether it comes from the mother country or anywhere else, we will not permit, it.”
.- The remark was made last week that the Minister nominally in charge of the Bill was practically absent during the greater part of the time devoted to its consideration, and was, in fact, represented by counsel, while tonight again the speech of the honorable- member for North Sydney has been replied to, not by him, but by the AttorneyGeneral. This seems to me only right, because the Minister of Trade and Customs, in introducing the Bill, stood very much in the position of a criminal in the dock.
– The honorable and learned member must withdraw that remark.
– I will substitute “ accused “ for “ criminal.” I am using the term only by way of illustration. Persons in that position can always be represented by counsel, and it is right that the Minister should be so represented. He told us six months ago that he could bring forward dozens of instances in support of legislation of this character, and he repeated that statement in introducing the Bill j but he has not yet been able to furnish a single instance. Every one knows the real purpose of the measure. It is not an anti-dumping Bill, but a measure to secure that Mr. H. V. McKay, of harvester fame, shall not have competition to meet. It must be remembered, too, that Mr. McKay carries on his operations in a district in which there is no Wages Board. The great bulk of the Labour Party are so false to their principles that they support this Bill to allow a certain capitalist to increase as he pleases the price of his machines. With the exception of the honorable member for Perth, and one or two others, labour members have given no sign of their intention to support the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas, providing that any extra profits made as the result of the measure shall go to the workers, and not to the capitalist. It is pitiable that a large section of honorable members should so dread a dissolution that, at the dictation of the Minister of Trade and Customs, they will swallow whatever legislation he puts before them, even when, as in this case, it will benefit only a few, and greatly oppress the community as a whole. I was astounded at some of the remarks made by the honorable and learned member for West Sydney this afternoon. He has asserted a thousand times that legislation of this kind is beneficial only to the few,-, and makes it difficult for the man of small capital to exist. Measures like this always bring about combinations of capitalists which create monopolies, and that will be the effect of the Bill. No thought is being given to the interests of the great bulk of the workers. Now’ let us see what dumping means. The Minister mentioned the case of sewing machines, and I would ask honorable members whether it would not be of the greatest advantage to our householders if sewing machines could be introduced here, and sold at half the present price. If, on the other hand, a prohibition law were brought into force, the present price would probably be quadrupled, to the detriment of the general public, but to the benefit of one manufacturer who happens to be a friend to the Minister. Even he does not manufacture the machines, in a strict sense of the term, but by a little persuasion he will be able to induce the Minister to place sewing machines on the list of prohibited imports. Sewing machines would be excluded merely because a local manufacturer reported to the Minister that he was being injured by their introduction. No consideration would be given to the hundreds of householders who would gladly buy machines if they could be sold at a reduction upon their present price. I wonder whether the honorable member for Yarra would object if any one attempted to dump a firstclass sewing machine, or even twenty sewing machines, into his house. Would he not open his doors as widely as possible, and say. “ This is a good thing for me”? If, in addition to doing that, some one were to dump into his house all the clothes that he and his family required, would he not be delighted? If he had no need for such articles himself, hundreds of his poorer brethren would be only too delighted to have many pounds’ worth of clothing dumped into their homes. I have a paddock large enough to hold all the goods that could be dumped here from any part of the world, and I should be glad to receive them. I know of thousands of worthy individuals who would be only too glad to select what thev required from such a store. If any such dumping operations were entered upon I should be able to confer great benefit upon my neighbours by making a free distribution of valuable and useful articles among them. I would not keep them for myself, because no man can eat or drink more than a certain amount, nor can he derive any advantage from having am inordinately large stock of wearing apparel. I venture to say that the doctrine which is being preached bv Ministers, if carried to its ultimate conclusion, would result in los3 to us. Any operations must result in loss, unless they are founded upon the lines of true commercial morality. When I heard the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, who professes to be a Christian, speaking in harsh terms of people in other parts of the world, I felt inclined to apply to him a certain phrase contained in the Bible. Whenever I hear a man who professes the doctrine of Christianity preaching the doctrine of selfishness, I conclude that he must have an utter contempt for the great principles of morality in which he professes to believe.
– What is the honorable and learned member talking about?
– If the cap fits, the honorable member can wear it. I will guarantee that if the Denton hat mills dumped all the hats they made into his shop, and charged him nothing for them, he would open his door widely enough, and would take care that he did not dump the goods upon any one else without getting something in return. It is utter cant and humbug for honorable members to speak as they have done. Where are these people who are willing to dump their goods upon our markets? All my life I have endeavoured to buy the goods I required as cheaply as possible. If I obtain an article that is worth to me more than I pay for it, I regard myself as an absolute .gainer by the transaction. Where is the man who does not take the same view, and who does not act upon that principle in his daily life? If he carried the doctrine of altruism to the extent cf utterly ignoring the ego, he would starve in the streets. Therefore, we mav regard all this humbugging talk about antidumping as an attempt to trick and deceive the great mass of the people into the belief that we are going to do something which will prevent them from being injured, whereas if we could cheapen the* imported goods required by them by one-half, we should double the value of the produce which we export in payment for them. Our wheat and our gold would increase in value two-fold. I can conceive of the joy with which protectionists would view such a state of affairs, and how they would glory in the fact that our products, instead of being worth ^40,000,000 were worth ^80,000,000^. If I could buy for £1 a suit of clothes for which I formerly paid £,2, the value of my sovereigns would be increased two-fold. It is because we generally use gold as a measure of value that many persons fall into the mistake of supposing that it is the only measure of value. I would point out, however, that in many cases a workman who receives £2 per week i-i one place is receiving greater value than a workman who receives -£4 in another place. Many of the Bendigo miners who went over to Western Australia found that thev were better off in Bendigo with £2 a week than they were at Cue or similar places with £4 per week. Under the dumping provisions of the Bill, it is proposed to stop the importation pf certain goods. Unfortunately, as the Bill stands, it will be within the power of the Minister to take the initiative. That is the principle of which I complain more bitterly than of anything else. The Minister, through the Comptroller-General, will set the law in motion. Of course, we are told that the Comptroller-General “ when he has reason to believe,” will take action. That means that he will have reason to believe when he is told bv the Minister that certain action is necessary. The Minister in his turn will “have reason to believe “ when a friend of his conies along and tells him that it is necessary to exclude certain goods. The Minister believed what Mr. McKay told him, namely, that the harvesters that were being. imported from Canada were being greatly undervalued. So strong was he in this belief that he declined to credit the reports of the Canadian Minister, the sworn invoices which indicated that ^36 or ^37 was a fair valuation, and also the evidence of his own officer, Mr. Smart. He deliberately set all this testimony on one side. sim.pl v because a section of the Customs Act gave him power to use his own discretion. That is what I object to. When that section of the Customs Act was under consideration in this Chamber, I pointed out - because of what had happened in New South Wales - that this very same man, the Minister of Trade and Customs, would take mighty good care to use the power that would be conferred upon him. I did not then point out that two of the
– That argument has not much to do with this clause.
– Has it not? It is proposed in this Bill to confer the same power upon the Minister that is given to him by the Customs Act, and I am endeavouring to show that what has happened
– If the honorable and learned member will move an amendment to provide for the sharing of profits amongst the workmen in an industry, I will vote for it.
– Will the honorable and learned gentleman get the rest of his party to vote for it?
– “ Am I my brother’s keeper ? “ I will follow the honorable and learned member if he moves such an amendment, and that should be sufficient for him.
– But what will the caucus do? It is of no use for the honorable and learned gentleman to say that he is in favour of anything if the caucus decides that he should vote the other way.
– One thing that can be said about our caucus is that we do not sit down when one lion roars, as the honorable and learned member did on one occasion at a caucus, which I could instance if I pleased.
– I wish the honorable and learned gentleman would instance it,’ for I certainly do not know to what he refers.
– The one in which the honorable and learned member began to roar, and ended with a feeble little squeak.
– It says much for the persuasive powers, and the oratorical and argumentative ability of the honorable and learned gentleman that, after he had spoken, I should have found myself in full accord with him on the occasion to which he refers, though at first I differed from him. The honorable ,and learned gentleman should not reproach me with having agreed with him. There is no provision in this measure by which the workers are pro- tected or considered in any way. When one attacks members of the Labour Party for having departed from the traditions with which they entered public life a few years ago, it is some consolation to know that they have sufficient conscience to feel the sting keenly, and leave the Chamber. Some members of the party are so keenlyalive to the position in which thev are placed, that, while they never speak in defence of their action, they have grace enough to be ashamed of it.
– Is the honorable and learned member aware that an amendment has been circulated by a member of the Labour Party, the object of which will be to give the workers some protection under this Bill?
– That is why I have made an honorable exception of two or three members of the Labour Party. I specially exclude the honorable member for Perth from any connexion with the remarks I have “just made, because, in my opinion, he deserves the thanks of the bulk of the workers of Australia for the manly stand he has taken in connexion with this measure. The honorable member has protested as far as he could against any taxation of the workers under such a scheme.
– Will the honorable and learned member make some connexion between his remarks and the amendment?
– I was discussing the clause as a whole.
– I remind the honorable and learned member- that he must now discuss the amendment. When it has been disposed of he will be able to discuss the whole clause.
– What possible objection can there be to the amendment on the part of any honorable member of the Committee? The Attorney-General tried to show that we gain nothing from the open markets of Great Britain. I hold strongly that the reason why Great Britain is amongst the first of the nations to-day, and occupies the premier position in commerce, is simply and solely because she has done away with all restrictions on her trade. Yet, I say that none the less- we are bound to recognise the advantages we gain from the position she has taken up. The Attorney-General asked, “ Where is the preference to us?” I put this question to the honorable and learned gentleman : Suppose, for instance, that Mr. Chamberlain had been successful during the recent elections in Great Britain, and had been able to impose a heavy Tariff,, would he not admit that the extension of the open market to us by England, would have been a preference’ so great and so valuable, that we should have had tobuy it if we could not have obtained it in any other way? I think that the honorable and learned gentleman must admit that he would.
– Has Great Britain givenus the open door out of consideration for us, or in her own interests ?
– In my opinion, it has. been not only to her interests, but in the interests of the world.
– For whose interest was it. intended ?
– It was following the doctrine of unselfishness, the great mora doctrine, “Love your neighbour as yourself. »’ Look at the results which have followed the practice of this doctrine. It may be that the people of Great Britain are not more strong, vigorous, and upright, than are those of ‘other nations, but they are now better fed than thev were, because the products of the world are open to them.
– The result is that they are going to change their practice as soon as possible.
– If so, it will be to the injury of the great masses of the people there. I admit that this amendment might, perhaps, be required in another place if the great barons and landlords of England had had their way, and if, through Mr. Chamberlain, they had been able to persuade the masses to adopt their policy, and’ to impose taxation for the benefit of the landlords. I have yet to learn that many of the Labour Party in Australia are prepared to follow such a doctrine as that. I admit that the spirit of serfdom influences mien for years, and even for centuries, after the real conditions of serfdom have passed away. The spirit of cringing is sometimes so strong in men, that if you take from them the landlord, they will put a manufacturing lord in his place, because thev must crawl and cringe to somebody. We are, however, hopeful that we are getting away from such a condition of things, and that there is a sufficient body of men animated by the spirit of freedom to try and keep open markets everywhere.
– Did not the AttorneyGeneral fight like a rat caught in a trap just now ?
– The amendment is al read v before the Committee.
– The Attorney-General says that he cannot accept it, and, in an advocate’s argument he puts forward as a reason that at some future nebulous time, which even he does not mention, we shall be enabled to deal with the question in another place.
– Does the honorable and learned member say that British monopolists are preferable to American monopolists?
– I do not say that monopolists are preferable to anybody, but what I do say is that, whilst’ the’ Australian monopolist would have absolute control of the market under the prohibition of importations, the British monopolists would have to compete with the American and Canadian monopolists. I might illustrate the position by reference to what occurred when we were dealing with the subject of the duty upon blankets, and an attempt was made to impose a heavy duty. Honorable members may not be aware that at the time the supply of blankets in Australia was so short that the manufacturers were unable to meet the demand, and, though mills were working full time and overtime, they were obliged in many cases to forfeit a certain amount of money because they were unable to fulfil their contracts. Cables had to be sent Home for blankets that the people might be supplied with them for the winter. The same kind of thing might happen frequently if this clause were allowed to -go through as it stands. Why should not this amendment be accepted, when it overcomes all the difficulties which have been suggested ? There can be no allegation of dumping by any British manufacturer in Australia. I ask for the name of one man in Great Britain or in America who wants to dump goods in Australia? I should be always give the preference to me - there need be no Act of Parliament, and every one may subscribe to the amendment. If the Prime Minister, who often talks about preferential trade, were to accept the amendment, he would be doing something more solid that he has ever done before to promote that cause. The Prime Minister, however, has never made any attempt beyond speechifying to give practical realization to his proposals. His idea has always been rather to increase duties against the foreigner, than to lower duties as against England ; in fact, to practice another fraud on the public. Trade is carried on only because men gain by it, and yet it is contended that a number of laws are required to regulate trade. Before Federation, if any one had sent 1:0,000 worth of goods from Victoria t)b the honorable member for Riverina, would he, staunch protectionist as he is, have declined them on the ground that they represented dumping? If to-morrow the honorable member were offered goods at half their value, would he insist on giving twice the price asked ?
– Let the honorable member try me with a thousand sheep !
– I am afraid the honorable member would regard such a proceeding, not as dumping, but as a friendly action. If I would not dump goods in’ that way down at the door of the honorable member, whom I know, how much less likely are people of other nations, who do not know him, to do so.
– How would the honorable member like cheap law in New South Wales ?
– I have been, struggling in New South Wales for cheap law, and I hope to do something to that end in this Parliament by supporting the appointment of a couple of additional Judges. Why cannot the Minister accept the amendment? The Attorney-General says that we may be asked to deal with the matter in another place. That, I suppose, would be after the election, and the talk would go on election after election. The Prime Minister, as a member of the Coalition Party, two or three years ago made a similar proposal, and asked that time should be set aside for its consideration. The honorable gentleman has been Prime Minister now for twelve months, and yet he is not one whit further advanced, and there is not much hope of anything in this direction for him. With all the time the Minister of Trade and Customs has had at his disposal, he is not able to find a case of a British manufacturer dumping goods in Australia. True, the honorable gentleman has said something about sewing machines, as if it would be a bad thing if the value of these articles were reduced throughout Australia.
– How much are women paying for sewing machines now that they are free of duty ?
– I am told that the cost of distribution is fairly heavy. Of course, if sewing machines are bought on time payment-
– No, for cash.
– In some of the big stores of Melbourne and Sydnev, sewing machines can be obtained at fairly reasonable prices. If the present prices are too high, how much more injurious would be the effect if they were raised two-fold or three-fold ?
– The honorable and learned member ought to know that the landed cost of sewing machines is not onefifth of the price at which they are sold.
– The honorable member is, I think, making a mistake.
– I can give documentary evidence in proof of my statement.
– The prices of sewing machines vary very much. I have seen prices from 17s. 6d. to £7
– Sewing machines landed at £2 are. sold at £10
– That is a very fine profit, and the honorable member ought to engage in the trade.
– That is no answer.
– It is an answer, because, if there is that profit, thousands would be glad to engage in the business.
– Reapers and binders were in the same position.
– That was when there was a limited! supply, and before it was certain whether those reapers and binders would take the market.
– That was the case for years after the reapers and binders got the market.
– But when competition came, how quickly the prices were brought down. If competition had been shut out, the prices would have been much higher to-day. If the power proposed be given to the Minister, it will rest entirely with him whether improvements shall be introduced. The treatment we receive from England is beneficial to England herself, because under her present policy, she has prospered more than any similar country in the world. That is all due to the spirit of freedom; and the nation which most freely trades with us, is the nation in regard to which we might deservedly make a favorable exception. If the Attorney-General . is correct that these clauses will not often be applied, there is all the more reason for accepting the amendment. On the other hand, if the clauses are meant to be largely applied, there is ground for exemption in favour of British manufacturers. We derive great benefit from the fact that the mantle of the British Empire is thrown over us; but for that protection we could not have carried out some of our legislation in regard to aliens. It would ill become us to do anything that might cause that protection to be removed. Trade, of course, does not always follow the flag, because in these days men are learning to trade where it pays them best. We trad’e with England on that .ground, and to a large extent, the same principle animates England herself. Under the circumstances, it would ill become any one who desires the preservation of the Empire to do anything to weaken the bond of union in the slightest degree.
– The honorable member for North Sydney made a somewhat impassioned appeal to us to recognise the generous treatment meted out to us, as citizens of the Empire, by the mother country. That is an appeal that will never be made in vain to me; I have always recognised the deep debt of gratitude we owe to the mother country. But I cannot see that on the present occasion there is any justification for such an appeal on the part of the honorable member to any one who, like myself, is truly patriotic.
– New Zealand exempts British products.
– That is an inconvenient interjection for the honorable member for Laanecoorie.
– I would rather not have any impertinent interjections. When the honorable member for North Sydney was speaking, I interjected because he was making statements which I thought very remarkable from one who is regarded, and correctly so, as a commercial authority. The honorable member desired to point out that certain products sent to England from Australia had a prejudicial effect on the British producer, in driving him out of his own home market. The honorable member gave several instances, and I challenged him on one, namely, the butter industry. We realize that Australia and other parts of the Empire have done a great deal in supplying the wants of British consumers in this particular article. But I do not think the honorable member for North Sydney was justified in his statement that the Australian butter-maker is thrusting the English butter-maker out of his home market. I have since consulted the last returns.
– What I said was that the returns showed that that wasnot entirely so.
– According to my recollection, the honorable member said at first “wholly,” and then “almost.” On consulting the last return presented to both Houses of Parliament in the old country, I find that the quantity of butter sent from the British Possessions as a whole - I am dealing not only with Australian butter, because I take it that the matter really affects the whole of the Possessions of the mother country, and that it has a direct bearing on the ratio of the amount sent from European countries - was in 1901 631,985 cwt. ; whilst the quantity sent from foreign countries was 3,070,905. In 1902- the quantity sent from British Possessions was 525,035 cwt, and from foreign countries 3,449,898 cwt. In 1903 the quantity sent from British Possessions was 557,828^ cwt., and from foreign countries 3,502,866. In 1904 we were recovering from the drought years.
– The figures already quoted included the drought years.
– I am quoting the figures for the five years which were available .in the return which I have mentioned. I am not omitting any item which I believe would have any effect on the calculation.
– But the fact is that there were drought years.
– Really that argument does not affect the sum. The honorable member will see exactly where the difference comes in. In 1904 the importations of butter from British Possessions ran up to 1,045,758 cwt., and from foreign countries the imports fell to 3,195,207 cwt. There was an increase of imports from British Possessions, and a relative decrease of imports from foreign countries. In 1905 the imports from British Possessions totalled 1,054,209 cwt., and there was almost a relative diminution from foreign countries - 31093,657 cwt. It was not the British producer who was affected by this particular product being sent from Australia and other British Possessions to England, but the foreign producer - -that foreign producer for whom., I am rather sorry to say, my honorable friends opposite seem to be solicitous on all occasions.
– It appears that there is not much chance of the debate on this amendment finishing tonight. But I ask honorable members to allow us to come to a division early tomorrow. I understand from the honorable member for North Sydney, who has consulted with honorable members opposite, that an effort will be made to prevent a vote on this clause being unduly deferred. Under these circumstances, I move that progress be reported.
– The House will remember that a short time since the Prime Minister intimated that he had ‘ received a telegram from the Inter- Parliamentary Union with reference to a meeting of various Parliaments to take place in Great Britain shortly. I have to-day received by mail the formal invitation extended to all members of the Commonwealth Parliament to take part in that gathering.
– I desire, byleave, to move a motion with reference to our sitting on Thursday next. Honorable members have received an invitation for Thursday afternoon. It will, of course, rest with them whether they accept it or not. Doubtless there will be sufficient honorable members to continue the business of the House on Thursday, but to provide against accident, I desire to move that the House shall sit at half-past seven as well as at the usual hour. The result will be that if through any misadventure we should lack a quorum at anytime on Thursday afternoon, Government business will come on as usual at half -past seven. Under the special circumstances, I hope that leave will be given to me to move that motion.
Motion (bv Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That the House, on Thursday next, sit at half-past seven, as well as at half-past two o’clock.
– Does that mean that Thursday wil 1 count as two sitting days ?
– No. It simply means that Government business will be taken at the usual time if there has been no count out.
– So that there will not be five sittings in one week?
– Not in that case.
.- It seems to me to be a pity that we cannot adjourn until half-past seven o’clock on Thursday. If it is determined that we shall sit at half-past two, it will prevent Mr. Speaker, and, probably, the members of the Ministry, from going to Queenscliff to see the wireless telegraphyinaugurated. Mr. Speaker and the officials will have to come here at half-past two o’clock instead of half -past seven.
– I will try to-morrow to ascertain the wish of the House.
– I am interested in some private business standing on the paper on Thursday, but I am prepared to give way in order to allow honorable members to go to Queenscliff.
– The motion of the Prime Minister places some of us in an awkward position. On Thursday’s business-paper there is a question, as to which I should like to have something to say. If that business is gone on with in my absence there may not be another opportunity open to me. While I should like to accept the invitation to go to Queenscliff on Thursday, I should not like to lose my chance to speak on the matter to which I refer. I think it would be better for the House to adjourn until half-past seven.
– I will make an effort to ascertain the wish of honorable members tomorrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I desire to bring under the notice of the PostmasterGeneral a matter relating to the postage of opals from Australia to America. I am informed by the Post and Telegraph Department that we cannot send opals through the post to a greater value than £10. I have been informed by the opal buyers at White Cliffs that while they are unable to send opals from Australia to America by parcels’ post to a greater value than £10, thev can send them to England to a much higher value. The people at White Cliffs are extremely anxious to develop in America as well as in Germany a trade in opals. I understand from what I am told, that they are hindered in that respect now. They are very anxious, however, that the American market should be open to them. I have already made representations to the Post and Telegraph Department with reference to this matter, and I understand that the fault does not lie with Australia, but that it is a regulation of the American Postal Department that opals to a greater value than ;£io cannot be sent there from Australia. I wish to know whether the Postmaster-General is prepared to make representations to the American Government in order that opals may be sent through the parcels’ post direct from Australia to America in the same wav as they can be sent via England to America?
– The honorable member for Barrier was good enough to give me notice of his question, and I wish to say in answer to him that some months ago he brought the matter under the notice of the Department, and we have been endeavouring to bring about a better arrangement both in the interests of America and of “Australia. At the present time we have a convention with the United States, which prevents parcels of a greater value than -£10 being sent to that country. Owing to the representations of the honorable member, I discussed this and other matters with the representatives of the United States at the recent Postal Congress in Rome, and I believe that our conversation will help materially in arriving at better arrangements. A further effort will be made on our part to point out that this, and other matters, might be placed on a verv much better footing. There appears to be a disposition on their part now to meet us, especially as it seems that it would result in benefit to both countries. I shall give every attention to the further representations of the honorable member, and place the facts he has submitted before the American Postal Department, with a view to seeing whether something cannot be done to meet his wishes, and to supply ‘a convenience, not only to his constituents, but also to many other persons in the Commonwealth who’ desire to send parcels of greater value to the United States.
.- I desire to bring a small matter under the notice of the Postmaster-General, and to correct a mistake which I made when speaking on the Supply Bill. I refer to the case of a man who has a contract for carrying mails to and from a post office in the Western District. He has to make four trips a day from the township to the station ; in other word’s, he has to travel the distance at least eight times a day: and for this service he gets the munificent sum of 7s. 6d. per week. I think that the Postmaster-General might well institute an inquiry, and see if something better cannot be done for the man.
– Other honorable members have cases of sweating to complain of.
– No doubt other honorable members know of cases which are equally bad, but this is a case in which representations have already been made here, and I hope that it will be looked into by the Minister, to whom I shall be glad to give further details later on.
Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at 10.47 P-m-
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 July 1906, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1906/19060710_reps_2_31/>.