2nd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to know from the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, if he has any further information to give to the House with respect to the position of the men who have been dismissed from the Warrnambool battery ?
– I have received no information about it since yesterday, when the Minister of Defence told me that he had not finally decided what action he would take in the matter. I shall endeavour to ascertain to-day how their case stands.
– Can the Minister of Home Affairs say when the new electoral divisions will be proclaimed?
– All is in readiness for their proclamation this week, and, with a view to having everything as complete as possible, we have arranged for the proclamation of the various polling places at the same time. It is not intended to change any of the existing divisional names in Queensland, but the new division which has been created in New South Wales out of Bland and Canobolas will be called Calare. The proposed names in Victoria will be retained.
– What about Western Australia ?
– The existing names will be continued.
– Can the Minister of
Home Affairs give us the approximate date on which the police will have collected the rolls for the urban districts of New South Wales ?
– There are rolls already in existence but the police are collecting new names with the object of bringing them up to date. I understand that the urban rolls will be completed first, and, immediately all the names are in, the printing will commence.
– Is it the intention of the Department to make the existing rolls the basis of the new rolls?
– The present rolls are legally in existence, and the police have been asked to collect the names of all those whose names do not appear thereon, but who are entitled to vote.
– Has the report of the Imperial Defence Committee yet arrived? If it has, I should like to know whether the Government will afford the House an opportunity to discuss it, and, if so, when ?
– The report has arrived, but, as it is regarded as a confidential document, I cannot answer the honorable member’s second question until serious consideration has been given to the matter.
– Is it proposed to act on the recommendations of the Committee in regard to an Australian navy, or will the Government follow other advice in dealing with that matter.?
– The report reached us yesterday, but it has not yet been read by members of the Government, and I cannot answer the honorable member’s question until it has been considered in Cabinet.
– Can the Minister of Home Affairs inform me what stage the work in connexion with the Launceston Rifle Range has reached?
– Tenders are now being called.
– When will the PostmasterGeneral be in a position to call for tenders for the proposed alterations in the Brisbane PostOffice ?
– I shall be very glad to inform the honorable member to-morrow.
– Is it the intention of the Government to introduce this session a Bill to more definitely determine the area of the future seat of Government?
– I understand that it is’ proposed by the Government of New South Wales that a visit of inspection shall be made to some suggested new sites. If that inspection is to be made, it should be made soon, if anything is to be done in the matter this session. Therefore, I should like to know if the Prime Minister has any proposal to make in regard to the matter. If so, will he state it?
– The Premier of New South Wales, in an invitation extended to the members of both Houses, makes two proposals - for a joint visit, enabling honorable members to inspect all the sites now offered, and, if they think fit, the Dalgety site as well, the alternative being to view these sites during two week-end visits. This Government would prefer the latter course, as causing less delay in the transaction of public business. The Minister of Home Affairs is now ascertaining exactly what time would be required for either programme, and that information, when available, will be submitted to honorable members informally, so that we may take the sense of the majority.
– Will this be done as speedily as possible?
– It is being done now.
– Does not the Prime Minister think that it would be better to determine the area of the Federal Capital Site before making further visits of inspection ?
– That has been determined.
– The honorable member no doubt refers to the proposed further determination of the site by metes and bounds. I think that it will be more courteous for those who wish to accept the invitation of the Premier of New South Wales to visit the new proposed sites before they determine finally the area of the site chosen.
– Will those who accept the invitation of the Premier of New South Wales be regarded as having committed themselves to the re-opening of the whole question ?
– That implication could not properly be drawn from an acceptance of the invitation.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Home Affairs, in view of the refusal of the Department to allow the leader of the Opposition to use a drill hall in Queensland for a political meeting, if it is not a fact that other honorable members have solicited the use of similar rooms for charitable purposes, and that their requests have been refused?
– It is a fact, the general rule of the Department being that drillhalls shall not be used, except for the purposes for which they have been set apart. This rule applies to all public buildings under the control of the Commonwealth, and the use of such buildings has been refused to religious denominations, private charities, and hospitals. One of the most recent applications was for the use of a hall for a dog and poultry show, but it was refused. All these applications are treated alike.
– Is it not a fact that the Premier of Victoria delivered his presessional address at a public meeting held in the drill hall at Brighton, and has not the same hall been subsequently used for some public purpose other than that for which it was set apart?
– I have no information on the subject. No application was made to the Department for the use of that hall.
– I was present at the meeting.
– I take no exception to the rule of the Department in this matter, but, as the subject has been raised, I wish to know if it is true, as from the newspaper reports it would appear to be. that there was an abrupt cancellation of an engagement made on behalf of the Minister in connexion with the use of the Bundaberg hall.
– The - first intimation I had that the hall was required was contained in a telegram which I received just prior to the meeting of the House, on the afternoon of the day on which the meeting was to be held, and instructions were immediately given that an urgent telegram should be sent to Bundaberg, not through the official channel, but directly, in order to save time saying that the hall could not be used.
– Does the Minister know whether the hall had been let?
– I know nothing of the matter, except that I received a telegram between 2 and 2.30 p. m. from an officer of the Defence Department, informing me that the Mayor desired to hold a meeting in the drill hall that night. That was the only notification which we received. It may have been previously announced that a meeting would be held there, but no application was made to me for the use of the hall. The telegram was dealt with immediately it was received, instructions being, given to forward an “ urgent” reply.
– I should like to know from the Minister why he allowed the Brighton drill hall to be used by the Premier of Victoria, and would not allow the Bundaberg hall to be used. Why was one application granted and the other refused ?
– I previously informed honorable members that no application was received, and no permission given for the use of the hall at Brighton. However, I shall make inquiries and ascertain the facts.
– Will the Minister ascertain whether the drill hall at Brighton is at present under the control of the Defence Department ?
– I shall make the necessary inquiries.
– I wish to ask, whether, in view of the fact that these drill halls belong to the people, the Minister will at once issue an order that any honorable member can have the use of a hall if he is willing to pay for it.
– The general policy that is now being followed in connexion with the drill halls has been observed by the Department of Home Affairs from the beginning. It was confirmed by my predecessor, and there are many grounds upon which it can be justified. I am not prepared at this stage to say that I shall set it aside.
– Let candidates and others address open air meetings as we do.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers: -
Statement showing the amounts of the three lowest tenders for a mail service to Europe.
Ordered to be printed.
Proposed regulations under the Commerce Act in connexion with the butter, cheese, meat, and fruit industries, and the resolutions of a conference of official and trade representatives.
asked’ the Minister of Home Affaire, upon notice -
– The Public Service Commissioner furnishes the following replies: -
asked the Prime Min- ,ister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
On the recommendation of Mr. Jones, or other accredited agent of a State, Chinese merchants, officials, tourists, and students, who are visiting Australia, obtain certificates of Exemption covering the period of their stay.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: - i The address referred to has not been printed.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
As the Government is considering the necessity of bringing all States into line with regard to the time of closing telegraph offices, why is the State of South Australia, which was only out of line with the eastern States for one day (Saturday), singled out, while two other States, which close at six p.m. during the whole of the week, are not interfered with?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The practice with respect to closing telegraph offices cannot be said to absolutely agree in any two States, and no attempt has yet been made to insure uniformity in this respect. The alteration referred to was made in order that the hours of closing in South Australia on Saturday should be the same as on other week days, as it was found that closing earlier on that day had led to some inconvenience, and in all other States the hours of closing on Saturday are the same as on other week days.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions’ are as follow : -
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Motion (by Mr. Isaacs) proposed -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of money be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to amend the Judiciary Act 1903.
– I should like to know whether the Attorney-General will lay upon the table the correspondence which has passed between himself and the Chief Justice of the High Court, with regard to the matter dealt with in the proposed Bill ?
– I laid the papers on the table last night.
– I think that it is desirable that they should be printed.
– I have no objection to adopting that course.
.- I should like to know whether the Attorney-General will supply information - if it is not already contained in the papers - as to the number of cases which have been dealt with by the High Court in its original jurisdiction, as well as in its appellate jurisdiction, so that we may see what class of business has principally engaged the attention of the Court.
– I think that most of the information desired is included in the papers - that is, so far as it is obtainable at present.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Isaacs) agreed to -
That the papers laid on the table last night be printed.
In Committee : (Consideration resumed from 10th July, vide page 1199).
Clause 12 (as amended) -
In this Part of this Act - “Justice” means a Justice of the High Court ; “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.
Upon which Mr. Dugald Thomson had moved by way of further amendment -
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 am heartily in accord with the amendment so ably proposed by the honorable member for North Sydney. Any one who listened to the honorable member must have recognised the full force of his proposal. Some honorable members might possibly cavil at the fact that a Minister other than the one in charge of the Bill replied to the arguments of the honorable member. For my part, however, I recognise the peculiar difficulties attaching to the position of the Minister of Trade and Customs in this con nexion. The amendmentis practically an invitation to the Government to prove the value of their protestations in favour of preferential trade. For some reason or other, the Minister of Trade and Customs was not prepared to accept the proposal, but, at the same time, he found it inexpedient to actively oppose it. I can picture to myself the visions which must have floated before the imagination of the Minister of Trade and Customs - visions of the great audiences which he has recently addressed upon the question of preferential trade, and remembrances of the rhetoric which he employed. I can understand the very natural difficulty he would have felt in rising to resist the amendment. He preferred to leave one of his colleagues to shoulder his responsibilities in that regard. What was more fitting and proper than that the Attorney-General should take upon himself to reply on behalf of the Minister of Trade and Customs? He is always at the Minister’s elbow helping him out of his difficulties.
– He is never in difficulties.
– The Attorney-General is always here to look after the Minister of Trade and Customs, who has sadly required his fostering care. Unlike other Ministers, the Attorney-General, having been in such close touch with the members of the Labour Party, has never traded in Imperial sentiments, and was therefore the better able to consistently oppose the amendment. While complimenting the Government upon their choice of a mouthpiece, I cannot congratulate them upon the special pleading to which the AttorneyGeneral treated us. I use the term advisedly, and in no offensive sense. The honorable member for North. Sydney had urged the acceptance of the amendment upon the ground of gratitude to the mother country. He had urged it in the name of preferential trade, and he had cited a precedent to strengthen an already overwhelming case.
– Do not forget the Treasurer ?
– I shall deal with the right honorable gentleman shortly. Did the Attorney-General, in his reply, show that the precedent established in New Zealand is one which is inapplicable in this case? Did he endeavour to prove that the NewZealand situation was in any way _ different - so far as the experience of dumping is concerned - from the Australian situation? He did not. It would have been futile for him to attempt to do so, because throughout the whole of this discussion the Minister of Trade and Customs has accepted it as an axiom that if dumping of a certain character is taking place in New Zealand, dumping of a similar nature is occurring in Australia. He has all along urged that the precautions which have been adopted in New Zealand should be observed in Australia. That being so, the Attorney-General, no doubt, felt that it would be futile for him to attempt to prove that this great principle which New Zealand has incorporated in her legislation - the principle of non-interference with British trade - should not be likewise incorporated in this measure, because the cases were not upon all-fours. Instead of endeavouring to answer the question raised in this connexion the Attorney-General indulged in a piece of “ special pleading,” and I use that term advisedly. The Bill, the honorable and learned gentleman said, is intended to deal with criminals, and he asked members of the Opposition - “ Do you think that British traders are criminals, seeing that you wish to exclude them from its operation “ ? That was the main point of his speech last night. He said that the Bill was intended to prevent cri:minal dealings in trade.
– I did not say “criminal.”
– I understood the AttorneyGeneral to use a phrase of that kind. If, however, he assures me that he did not, I am quite prepared to accept his statement.
– I do not think that I did. As far as I can recollect, I said that the central purpose of clause 1 5 was to prevent the intentional destruction or injury of Australian industries.
– The honorable and ] earned gentleman used the term “criminal” in his excitement, and he is now ashamed of having done so.
– Let us take it, the AttorneyGeneral pointed out that the Bill is intended to prevent destructive competition, with Australian industries.
– That- part of the Bill.
– Exactly. He then proceeded to ask whether we imagined that British traders were so reprehensible that in their trade relations with Australia’ they had that object in view.
– I did not say so.
– The Attorney-General! will find that statement in his speech.
– I do not think so, but I have not seen the Hansard proofs of my speech.
– The Attorney-General will find that the facts are as I have stated. The scope of this Bill goes far beyond the question of the development of trade by improper means. However, I shall defer consideration of that matter for a moment, and I shall deal now with the new question which has been raised’ by the Attorney-General. He declares that the Bill is intended to prevent destructive competition with Australian industry. Was not the New Zealand Act designed for the same purpose?
– I said “ intentional “ destruction or injury.
– Exactly. Is not that the design of the New Zealand legislation which we are now asked to copy in yet another respect by the honorable member for North Sydney? That legislation is upon all fours with the amendment. The New Zealand legislation, I repeat, contains a safeguard of exactly the same nature as does the amendment under consideration. That fact fully answers the statement of the Attorney-General. If he quotes New Zealand as a precedent in the one case he must accept it as a precedent in the other. Of course, the Bill was not devised to deal with criminals. The Attorney-General does not now say that it was.
– Not this part of the Bill.
– Exactly. This part of the Bill is designed to prevent intentional’ “ unfair competition “ with Australian industries.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral agree to the insertion of the word “intentional” in the Bill?
– It is in the measure already.
– “Avowedly” is the word which should be used.
– Under the provisions of the Bill what constitutes “unfair competition” ? Clause 14 provides that -
Competition shall be deemed to be unfair if, under ordinary circumstances of trade, it would probably lead to the Australian goods being either withdrawn from the market, or s.old :.t a loss unless produced at a lower remuneration for labour.
I take it that the measure is aimed not so much at unfair competition in the ordinary sense of the term as at successful competition. I have just quoted clause 14, and I now wish to point out that absolutely all competition from without must necessarily affect, in some way or other, industries within Australia. Any competition from without can be successful only !at the expense of some similar competing industry within Australia, irrespective df whether it be intentionally or unintentionally unfair competition with that industry. As the Bill is drafted, I hold that the Judge who has to decide questions relating to “ unfair competition “ will undeniably have to determine that unfair competition exists in all cases where competition has been successful, because, under the provisions of the measure, successful competition is unfair competition. In such a case it is clear that when the AttorneyGeneral wishes us to believe that it is wrong for any one to compete “ unfairly “ with Australian industries, he would have us believe that it is wrong for any of our kin over sea to be successful in competition with us. If it be criminal to beat one’s competitors in the open market, it is criminal even for the Attorney-General to deprive many a poorer barrister of his due proportion of briefs in the Victorian Courts. The same argument might be applied to him or to anybody else pursuing his ordinary avocation, as he and his party wish to apply to the trading community generally. This is not a Bill to prevent criminal interference with Australian industry. Upon the face of it, it is a Bill to prevent successful competition with Australian industry. It is the duty of the Government to look the position fairly in the face. The honorable member for North. Sydney wishes us to continue trading with our kindred oversea. He appeals to our sentiment, to our sense of gratitude and of fair play. He reminds us of what we owe to the mother country. He recalls that the reason why we have been free to develop our territory, without any restraint save the dictates of our own consciences, the reason why we have never heard a shot fired ‘in anger, the reason why we, a mere handful of people, are able to maintain, our exclusive right to one of the richest countries in the world, is to be found in the strong right arm of the motherland. In reminding us of these things he has pleaded in a way which I think no honorable member can overlook. He has urged US to recollect our obligations to the mother country, and I think it would be to our everlasting shame, if this Committee showed itself unresponsive in that connexion. We have heard a great deal of talk - and I expect that we shall1 hear more during the course of this discussion - regarding the protection which we have enjoyed all these years at the hands of the mother country. Upon what is that protection based? Undoubtedly it is based upon the commercial activity of the people of the United Kingdom. Great Britain’s power and might, to which we owe so much, are based upon the commercial supremacy of the British people. That being so, it is obviously to our own interests to see that nothing which we do shall be aimed at the basis of that power. It is to our own interests to see that British industry shall be - so far as we can make it - successful, and to insure that no successful British industry shall be penalized. That is all that the honorable member for North Sydney contends for in his amendment. In the past, the Government have made the welkin ring with their eloquence upon, the preferential trade question. They have appealed to our Imperial sentiments and to our Australian loyalty. When he was recently in London the Treasurer took as the keynote of all his discourses the phrase “ One people one destiny.” Will the right honorable gentleman accept the chance which we offer him to- day of proving the value of his protestations?
– But under the Bill the British trader must be guilty of intent to destroy or injure Australian industries.
– Will the Treasurer refuse to shelter himself behind any quibbles ?
– Why not assume that the British trader is honorable in his dealings ?
– We do.
– Will the Treasurer prove himself /the same Imperialist now, when his office may depend upon his action, that he proved himself in England when seeking merely the plaudits of the crowd ?
– That is a dirty insinuation. Some people ought to be taught manners. They do not know how to behave themselves.
– The Treasurer made the phrase “ One people one destiny “ the keynote of all his discourses in England. We now give him the chance to prove the value of his protestations. Will he accept the challenge? I am afraid that he finds it inconvenient to answer my very plain question. I presume that he will follow the precedent which he has so often set us, of refusing to vacate the comfortable surroundings of the Treasury Benches at the expense of his principles. I would remind the Committee that the phrase, “ One flag, one people, _ and one trade “ was the basis of the appeal made by the Prime Minister throughout the length and breadth of Australia at the last general elections.
– And one family.
– The Prime Minister and his party were elected on the platform of “ fiscal peace, preferential trade, and loyalty to the Empire.” They have flung overboard “ fiscal peace “-
– Can the honorable member show me that his remarks are relevant to the clause which is under consideration ? Does he intend to connect them with it?
– I did not think; it would be necessary for me to connect my remarks upon preferential trade with the question which is before the Committee.
– I understood the honorable member to be discussing what the Prime Minister did at the last general election. That has nothing whatever to do with the question that is before the Chair.
– I submit to you, sir, that the honorable member is entitled to give reasons why he wishes to exempt Great Britain from the operation of the measure, and make a distinction in that respect. In support of what he alleges ought to be the action of the Government, he is quoting a pledge given to the people and the country at the last election.
– The honorable member for Wentworth will be quite in order in using any argument to show the necessity for including the words of the amendment, but I maintain that he will not be in order in pursuing the lines which he has been following in connexion with something which the Prime Minister has. said outside the words which actually bear upon the subject.
– There are, I think, about . half-a-dozen words in the amendment, and if I am not to use any other words, I shall be in rather a difficult position. I am trying to show that pledges which the Prime Minister gave upon the public platform, and which should make him support the amendment, will be broken if he fails to do so.
– The honorable member will be in order if he follows that course.
– That is what I was doing, sir. A part of the Prime Minister’s platform has already been thrown overboard, and it remains for him to prove the value of his protestations, so for as “ preferential trade” and “loyalty to the Empire” are concerned. We know that the cry of Australia for the Empire has recently degenerated into the cry of Australia for the Australians.
– That was the cry last night.
– Yes, it has now been the cry for a few months. The first plank of the Ministerial platform, I repeat, has been thrown overboard, and the other two planks - preferential trade .and loyalty to the Empire - are absolutely intrinsic points in this amendment. I ask the Government if they are going to honour their platform pledges by supporting the amendment. In any case, they will have broken their pledge of fiscal peace, because the measure is absolutely subversive of the main pledge, by which they got their seats.
– The amendment has no relation to preferential trade.
– It relates to preferential destruction of trade.
– The honorable member need not be nervous, because the amendment has nothing to do with Canadian harvesters.
– That is not fair.
– What is not fair? Have I not a right to suggest that a protectionist in the Chamber might be afraid of competition from Canada?
– And did he not ask a question on the same point in 1905 ?
– I think that the honorable member for Riverina introduced the mattei here.
– The honorable member is quite wrong.
– I have the keenest recollection of a question which the honorable member asked here.
– The honorable ‘member for Riverina made a fair argumentative answer, and the honorable member for Wentworth ought not to pursue the subject further.
– I do not think that the honorable member for Riverina misinterprets my reply. He introduced the question of Canadian harvesters,, and I say that, as regards this amendment, at any rate, he need not be nervous of competition from that source, because it relates to imports from the mother country, where none of these alleged trusts or malpractices are in existence.
– Then what is the use of the amendment?
– The use of the amendment is to prevent these absolutely too extensive powers granted in the Bill from being used to the detriment of British trade with this country.
– Can there be any powers too extensive to preserve Australian industries which are beneficial to Australia?
– That is all very well coming from the honorable and learned gentleman whose leader, at the last election, used so much rhetoric on behalf of. preferential trade. The amendment deals with something further. The honorable member for Riverina told me a few moments ago that he had never asked a question about Canadian harvesters.
– I said nothing of the kind. The honorable member said that I was the first to introduce the subject, and I replied that he was quite wrong.
– I accept the honorable gentleman’s assurance on that point. He remembers that he did ask a question about harvesters.
– I have not denied that.
– I wish to show now that this is not a proposal which those who are so anxious about the measure need oppose.
The Bill has been introduced with a special object - to prevent the importation of harvesters. At any rate, last session the Minister of Trade and Customs told us that that was the main urgency for its introduction. Great Britain sends us no harvesters. She sends us nothing but legitimate trade. Last night the Minister in charge of the Bill told us that his object is to prevent any import trade being carried on which might in any way affect an Australian industry. Now, an import might be to the benefit of the whole community, and yet affect detrimentally a small section thereof ; to wit, the industry competing with it.
– That would not come under this part of the Bill. It must be an Australian industry which is beneficial, and maintained in the interests of all.
– There is nothing in the Bill about that.
– The honorable member has not read the Bill, else he would have found it there.
– I have read the Bill with extreme care.
– Then the honorable member has missed it.
– We are all liable to error, and perhaps the Attorney-General is making a mistake now.
– Perhaps the honorable and learned gentleman will tell me exactly where it is to be found.
– In clause 13, dealing with the industries to which unfair competition refers-
– That is limited to industries which are beneficial to the producer. On another part of the Bill, we fought out that question, and the honorable and learned gentleman was not able to satisfy us as to what he entirely meant by the words “having due regard to the interests of producers, workers, and consumers.”
– I only mean now that it must foe whatever that means - for the general benefit.
– It means what it means, the Attorney-General says.
– Yes; the honorable and learned gentleman assures us that it means what it means.
– We ‘all understand the meaning. I do not think that, the honorable member can put it in more precise words, but if he can I shall accept them.
– I am glad to hear that. If it means only competition with industries which are in the minds and for the benefit of the Australian people as a whole, that restricts very largely the scope of the measure. But the Parliament has passed a Customs Tariff which lays down the principle that there are hundreds of industries in almost every phase of trade which are well worthy of being maintained by the Commonwealth. Surely that is the scope of the present measure? If that be so, I submit that this part of the Bill is absolutely all-embracing in its scope. However, I do not wish to labour that point. I have pointed out to honorable members who are so anxious about- the harvester question that this legislation does not affect their position, and with that remark I shall say no more about the controversial nature of the amendment. In conclusion, I only wish to remind the Committee that the Prime Minister was elected on definite pledges, which he will only honour bv accepting the amendment. I haw pointed out that the cry of Australia for the Empire bv the Prime Minister at- the last election has lately . degenerated into the cry of Australia for the Australians. I warn the Government that if they are not very careful they will find the world at large “ thinking, if they resist this amendment, that they are not verv particular as to whom Australia is for, whether it be for the Empire or for Australians, provided that she keeps her offices for them.
The honorable member for Wentworth has taken it upon himself to advise the Government and their supporters. By this time honorable members must have arrived at a decided opinion as to the value of the amendment’. I for one refuse to be classed, as the last speaker, attempted to class those who fovour the policy of protection for Australia, as disloyal to the Empire. I yield to no one in my Tova It to Great Britain, not even to the honorable gentleman who has spent so much of his time there. But what is the object of the Bill? It is to prevent monopolies which are destructive of Australian trade, r.o matter whence they come.
– We have got off the question of monopolies, and axe now dealing with the Question of dumping.
– I am quite aware that we have reached clause 12, and that
Ave a:e now discussing an amendment moved by the honorable member for North Sydney, perhaps for a very proper purpose, but possibly with the object of inducing persons outside to think that the members of the Opposition are the only loyalists in the Australian Parliament, that they will open their arms to Great Britain in every direction, and that the membersof the Government and their supportershave quite the reverse disposition.
– The members of the Opposition are the only ones who show it practically, anyhow.
– The honorable member has not shown that or anything else, practically, so that he need not interject.
– I have.
– The only time when the honorable member showed anything practical was when he sat on the rail for a week or two, and then voted with the Government.
– And I saved them.
– And I saved the honorable member a great deal of anxiety when he knew that he was safe for a time.
– I do not wish to be drawn aside by these interjections.
– Then the honorable member should not provoke them.
– The honorable member spends so much of his time in the cold climate of Tasmania that he wants to get warmed up now and again. Whatever the object of the amendment may be, in my opinion it is an insult to Great Britain. The object of the Bill is to prevent the destruction of Australian industries, but in supporting the amendment the Opposition say, “ We will not allow the Americans. French, or Germans to destroy Australian industries, but we will allow Englishmento come here and do so.” I am a loyalist, and an Australian, but I shall not suffer Australian industries to be destroyed, no matter whence the attempt may emanate. That, to me, is a patriotic feeling.
– There is no liployalty about it. My whole life has been ashonorable as that of the honorable gentlemen opposite.
– We are not talking of the honorable member’s life.
– Then why should” the honorable member say that I am indulging in lip-loyalty? Neither my career m or my attitude in the House has ever given warrant to the honorable member or any one else to say that I have made here any statement which I did not really believe in and indorse by vote and voice. I need no defence in that regard. The honorable member for North Sydney and every supporter of the amendment has tried to throw upon the members of the Government and their supporters the odium of being opposed to preferential trade with Great Britain. That is an absolutely improper statement to make, because it is within their knowledge that when the question of who was in favour of preferential trade with Great Britain was put to the electors, it was the Right Honorable G. H.’Reid and his followers who absolutely refused to accept it. But now, with the object of introducing a side issue, they wish to pose as preferential traders with Great Britain. I repeat that this is a Bill for the prevention of the destruction of Australian industries, no matter from what country the -attempt may be made, and those who support the amendment are really pleading that Australian industries may be destroyed by monopolistic manufacturers of Great Britain, Canada, or any other part of the British Empire.
– No; only the United Kingdom.
– That is a limitation I did not expect. The fact remains that those supporting the amendment plead that we should allow some one to destroy Australian industries.
– No one has suggested that.
– It is not a question of loyalty to the Empire, but merely that persons in the United Kingdom should have this power.
– That is the gist of the amendment. The honorable member for Wentworth has said that there are no monopolies in Great Britain, and no persons engaged in industries there who will “be responsible for dumping destructive of Australian industries. If that be so, of what use is the amendment? If there are monopolies in the United Kingdom, it is just as necessary that we should protect our industries from their operations as that we should protect them from the operations of monopolies in other countries.
– They do not exist in England.
– If they do not exist in the United Kingdom, of what use is the amendment ? If they do exist, I hope that it will be considered patriotic on. the part of Australians to prevent the destruction of Australian industries, no matter from what country the attempt is made to destroy them. When the real question of loyalty to the Empire is before this House in a practical form, which will show which party is prepared to give expression to that loyalty in a practical and legitimate way, that is, by the establishment of preferential trade in the interests of the Empire, the votes in favour of such a proposal will be on this rather than on the opposite side.
.- While no one is more pleased than I that you, sir, should occupy the position which ‘you do now, I deeply regret that in the body of the Chamber we have not the advantage of the presence of Mr. McDonald, the labour member for Kennedy, in the discussion of this very important amendment. It is strange that while this loyalist amendment is under discussion there is not a single member of the Labour Party present, with the exception of the Chairman of Committees and the honorable member for Melbourne. It is reasonable to suppose that the members of the party are now engaged in caucus discussing what action they shall take in regard to this proposal. The honorable member for North Sydney has on many occasions rendered signal service, not only to the Commonwealth, but to the Empire, but he never rendered a more signal service that he did in submitting his amendment upon the Contract Immigrants Bill providing for the exemption from some of its provisions of British labourers introduced under contract.
– The Treasurer inferentially took credit for that amendment when he was in London.
– I am astonished that the honorable member for Wentworth should tell me that the right honorable member for Swan inferentially desired to obtain credit for that loyal amendment submitted by the honorable member for North Sydney in the Contract Immigrants Bill. If that be so, I can understand the right honorable gentleman’s sudden exit from the Chamber. In dealing with the amendment which is now before the Committee, it is most desirable that the Treasurer should adopt the same attitude in Melbourne that he took up in London some few months ago. There, speaking with the responsibility and credit attaching to the Treasurer of the Commonwealth, the right honorable gentleman uttered highly loyal arguments, and I ask that he should adopt the same attitude when dealing with this amendment.
– Does the honorable member accuse the Treasurer of disloyalty?
– If the statement made by the honorable member for Wentworth be correct, I must accuse the honorable gentleman, if not of actual disloyalty, at least of backing down upon his utterances in London only a few months ago. The Minister of Trade and Customs has had a troublesome time with this Bill. Whenever the honorable gentleman has charge of a Bill, he is unfortunate enough to receive a more severe jacketting than does any other member of the Ministry in a similar position. I am very sorry to have to join in an attack upon the honorable gentleman, but when he refuses to accept such an amendment as has now been submitted, I am absolutely compelled to say harsh things of him which otherwise I probably would not say. On reconsideration, I hope that the honorable gentleman will admit that the amendment submitted by the honorable member for North Sydney is worthy of acceptance. I am afraid that I shall be compelled to quote the honorable gentleman’s own utterances - not the utterances of some designing oppositionist who desires to secure the Minister’s position - to show how difficult it is to understand why an honorable gentleman, who is so oval : and so British, should refuse to accept an amendment exempting articles produced in Great Britain from the operation of the dumping provisions of this Bill. The honorable member for North Sydney urged in support of the amendment that British manufacturers should be exempt from these dumping provisions in just the same way that labour from Great Britain nas been exempted from the provisions of the Contract Immigrants Act. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports accepted the amendment which was moved on the Contract Immigrants Bill, affecting contract British labour, and we now ask the honorable member and other honorable members opposite to prove their bona fides as citizens of the Empire, by agreeing to exempt from these dumping provisions the products of British manufacturers.
– I want British labourers here, but I do not want their sweated work here.
– That is the attitude adopted by the Attorney-General last night when he came to the rescue of the Minister of Trade and Customs. The honorable and learned gentleman, in a dramatic manner, asked whether we would allow the products of sweated labour to come in here. But honorable gentlemen opposite acquiesced in proposals to permit the sweated labourers of Great Britain to come here under the Contract Immigrants Act.
– They must come at the same rates of wages as are paid here.
– We will deal with that later. The amendment now before the Committee is, in my opinion, the strongest yet presented in this Chamber to test the loyalty and British instincts of those who call themselves preferential traders.
– The honorable member is comparing things which are not alike.
– I am accustomed to the practice of parliamentarians in twisting; things as the honorable member is now trying to twist this matter. Last night the Attorney-General, in defending the Minister of Trade and Customs, squealed like a rat caught in a trap, but all he could say was, “ Do not let us Jose the Bill in order to exempt the productions of sweated labour.” The protectionists who have advocated preferential trade have objected to the production, not of the sweated labour of free-trade Great Britain, but of protectionist Germany and America. The honorable member for Riverina has told us that this is a Bill for the preservation of Australian industry, but since the second readme; of the measure, the Minister of Trade and Customs has tabled seven pages of amendments, and really, the second reading of the measure, as it now stands, has not yet been passed. AH that we have passed is an attractive title. This is in accordance with the placard system of legislation adopted by French politicians, who are satisfied if only they can carry a title. The honorable _ member for Riverina has tried to hoodwink honorable members, the press, and_ the electors bv the assertion that what he is now supporting is a measure for the preservation of Australian industries. But the Attorney-General ma.y alter the whole scope of the measure, and the Minister of Trade and Customs may table, not seven, but seventy, pages of amendments, and so long as the attractive title remains, the honorable member for Riverina will vote for it. On the 1 8th of October last, the honorable member asked the following question of the Prime Minister: -
Whether his attention has been directed to the operations of the International Harvester Company of America in reducing the price of harvesters to ^’70, with the avowed object of capturing the Australian trade, and crushing out the existing industries of the Commonwealth?
That was followed by another question, and to both the honorable member obtained answers -from the Prime Minister. I have here a bill-head of a business firm, and from it I learn that the honorable member for Riverina is an agent, not for the International Harvester Company, but for H. V. McKay’s Sunshine harvester.
– The honorable member is absolutely wrong. _
– I have here an account with the heading “ J. M. Chanter and Sons,” and showing the district in which they operate, and the articles in which they deal.
– The honorable member may not be referring to the same firm.
– The honorable member is absolutely wrong.
– Is not the honorable member connected with this firm ?
– Absolutely, no.
– The question is whether the honorable gentleman was connected
Avith it at that time.
– I shall take an opportunity to reply to this, Because that document was put in for a purpose, and the statement made is absolutely without foundation.
– It is put in for no purpose but to answer the braggadocio of the honorable member, who stood up here and said that honorable members who are supporting the amendment wish to make provision for the destruction of Australian industries. Let me tell the honorable member that I am as strong an advocate of the preservation of Australian industries as he is, although I do not desire that a few industries should be preserved at the expense of the general public.
– I have looked at the billhead, and I do not think it says that T- M. Chanter and Sons are agents for McKay at all. It appears merely that thev are agents for an insurance company, and also sell “ Sunshine “ harvesters.
– The Attorney-General again comes to the rescue with legal quibbles. He says the firm are not agents for Mr. McKay, but they sell his harvesters.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that every man who sells an article is an agent for the manufacturer ?
– This firm has a perfect right to sell these articles, but I have made the reference in reply to the honorable member for Riverina, who twitted honorable members on this side with supporting the amendment for a certain purpose.
– Will the honorable member be satisfied if I say that personally I have never obtained a solitary sixpence from any interest in the firm?
– I know the honorable member so well that I readily accept his assurance. I am sorry that he should have been led’ to say certain things in the heat of debate. We are simply asking, that there shall be inserted in this Bill such a provision as exists in the New Zealand Act. It reads -
For the purposes 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.
What reason is there why a similar provision should not be inserted in this Bill? It is a singular thing that, in the paper furnished to honorable members by the Government, ostensibly giving information with regard to trust legislation in different countries, no mention is made of this seclion as being in operation in New Zealand.
– I mentioned it in my second-reading speech.
– Why was it not referred to in the memorandum prepared for the use of honorable members by the Government? Had it not been for the industry and research of the honorable member for North Sydney, probably few of us would have been aware of it. I shall not dwell upon the fact that this Government proposes to exclude the goods of our own kith and kin. The honorable member for Wentworth has emphasized that point. But I should like to quote from a lecture delivered bv the Minister of Trade and Customs, bearing upon this very question. The lecture has been reprinted in pamphlet form and issued in a neat cover of the proper socialistic colour - red. Let me read the whole title-page -
Imperial Reciprocity. Lecture delivered by the Honorable Sir William J. Lyne, K.C.M.G., Minister for Trade and Customs, Commonwealth of Australia, before the British Empire League, Sydney, in the Royal Society’s rooms, 25th January, 1904.
It sounds well, and it looks well. The “ K.C.M.G.” is there. It looks very imposing. From that lecture I will quote some remarks bearing upon this matter -
Do they consider that for a paltry and often imperceptible difference in cost, the whole sum total of our benefits in trade is buying in the cheapest market? I repeat that we are vitally interested in the prosperity and prestige of the great centre of the British Empire, and if there is anything we may contribute to its maintenance and progress, so much will it be to our lasting and permanent advantage, apart altogether from those feelings of sentiment and patriotism which, contrary to the opinions expressed by certain ill-natured and ill-informed critics, inspire the hopes and ambitions of the Australian people. We need have little fear of any interference with our own manufactures. There are certain and many articles, owing to a limited demand, and in the absence of specially skilled labour, which for many years to come we are not likely to be able to produce here with any possible success, and it is the trade in these articles which we hope, by the adoption of Mr. Chamberlain’s proposal, will be restored to the hands of British manufacturers and British workmen.
– What is there wrong about that?
– Nothing wrong at all; but in the face of that statement does the honorable gentleman intend to oppose this amendment? If he was not lip-loyal at that time, I respectfully ask him as Minister to accept it. It will be no climbdown.
– We cannot have one-sided reciprocity.
– Then am I to understand that all the loud-mouthed statements of the Prime Minister - who once occupied three hours in advocating preferential trade - and those of the Minister of Trade and Customs were simply a matter of bargainhunting? Am I to understand that they are only preferential traders so long as they can make a bargain favorable to Australian sellers ?
– Who said that?
– They say it themselves.
– Nonsense !
– It is all very well for the honorable member for 66 Bourke-street to say that but why does not the Minister accept this amendment?
– It is all right; the honorable member has to keep the debate going for an hour.
– The honorable member for West Sydney will not have many months to go, so far as his membership of this House is concerned, if he votes against this amendment. Why does he not vote and fight on the side on which he has always been in the past?
– Which side did the honorable member vote with in the past?
– The right side, the loyal side, the British side.
– I remember when the honorable member was not on that side.
– I can remember when the honorable member for West Sydney was on the same side as myself, but he did not stay very long with me, and I am pleased that he did not, though I think he would like to have me in his company.
– I should like to have the honorable member’s personal company, yes ; but as for his political company, no.
– We are in different camps now ; but under the new re-arrangement of electorates, I have made the honorable member a present of 5.000 of my warmest supporters. That is a tribute to my friendship for him ; though I do not think they will do him much good. As a matter of fact, 5,000 free-traders and staunch loyalists have been dumped into the honorable member’s electorate.
– It will take the honorable member all his time to look after “ Selina.”
– It would take the honorable and learned member all his time if he came out against me.
– Neither the honorable member for Dalley nor any of his “ crowd “ would dare to oppose me. Let the right honorable member for East Sydney come out against me.
– I must ask the Committee to take this discussion seriously. This is a deliberative assembly and I must ask honorable members to maintain order.
– I desire to apologize. The whole thing was spontaneous. Under the same circumstances, I should say the same thing again, though I should be very sorry for it immediately afterwards.
– What would happen to our trade if Great Britain applied provisions similar to those which we are discussing to butter, meat, fruits, and wines from Australia?
– What does Great Britain give to us in the way of trade that she does not give to foreign nations?
– The honorable member’s only concern seems to be that Great Britain does not close her ports to foreign nations. There is a spirit of bargaining behind all these so-called preferential traders. I ask that the amendment shall be supported for reasons of loyalty and gratitude to the country which has protected our commerce and our very lives for so many years. I ask the honorable and learned member for West Sydney to give the matter his earnest consideration, because I know that his instincts are strongly in this direction.
– If the honorable member would attach to the amendment a provision that the goods shall be made in Great Britain with labour employed at trade union wages, I will vote for it.
– Personally, I shall be delighted to vote for such an amendment if the honorable and learned member will propose it.
– Let the honorable member move it. and I will vote for it.
– Let it provide for the payment of Australian trade union rates.
– I should like to make a further quotation from the lecture of the Minister of Trade and Customs to which I have previously referred. He said -
In my opinion our Tariff is of such a character as would readily lend itself for such a purpose of Imperial reciprocity. The rates throughout are moderate, and on many of the articles which the United Kingdom could readily supply us with, a sufficient and moderate preference would not tend to raise the rates to anything like those of the large majority of protected countries. I refer particularly to textiles, metals and machinery, hardware, earthenware, chinaware, glass, drugs, and chemicals, &c:
These are the very articles for which the amendment would provide an inlet. The Minister of Trade and Customs admits the strong position which British products hold in comparison with our own; and he has expressed a desire that the former should be allowed to come in, and suggested that the Tariff would prove a ready machine for the adoption of Imperial reciprocity. Now, however, by means of this Bill, the honorable gentleman seeks to erect a stone wall against those British products. The amendment is not a hostile, but a friendly, proposal submitted with the object of assisting the Government. Time after time Bills have been improved by the Opposi tion, and the Attorney-General himself, in relation to the measure before us, has asked the assistance of honorable members on this side in moulding legislation. I have quoted the Minister of Trade and Customs as practically supporting the idea contained in the amendment, the only difference between the honorable gentleman’s utterances then, and his utterances now, being that the former were delivered to Imperial music before the Empire League. My own opinion is that the Opposition would receive more credit if they allowed legislation, which is hurtful to the community, to be passed in the shape proposed by the Government. The Opposition are wasting their time, from a tactical point of view, in improving and watering down legislation, such as has been submitted to us during the last eighteen months ; and it would be just as well, after the failure of an attempt to defeat the second reading of such Bills, if these had been allowed to go, with all their blemishes, before the public.
– Try that plan for the rest of the session !
– The Minister of Trade and Customs has admitted that his original proposals were wrong, seeing that, since the second reading of this Bill, he has tabled no less than seven pages of amendments - practically a new Bill.
– This is the third time the honorable member has said that.
– It will bear repeating. If the public know how the Minister of Trade and Customs butchers his own measures, they will know what value to attach to his proposals.
Mr.Johnson. - And yet we are told that this Bill received the mature consideration of the whole Cabinet.
– The late Richard Seddon, the great tribune of New Zealand, was so much a Britisher that he made the provision which the amendment seeks to have embodied in the Bill. If New” Zealand, which is in the van of progressive and protective legislation, could make an exemption in favour of British products, we surely may follow that example.
– To what extent does New Zealand favour British products?
– To the extent of one particular line only.
– The New Zealand Act provides that implements of British manu.facture shall be deemed to be manufactured in New Zealand - that the importer shall be deemed to be the manufacturer.
– That is only with regard to one particular line.
– It is a very large line; the honorable and learned’ member for West Sydney must admit that machinery and metals represent about our largest importations’.
– I happen to have the figures which were quoted by the Minister ot Trade and Customs.
– Another fact gene wrong !
– The figures I have are the figures quoted by the Minister of Trade and Customs himself. The honorable member for Riverina laughs at the figures which were used by the Minister on the 24th January, 1904 ; and I am therefore compelled to repeat them for the benefit of this blind supporter of the Ministry. The importations of British steam-engines in 1898 represented -£164,000, as compared with ,£411,000 worth in 1901,; while the importations of other machinery in 1898 represented ,£787,000, as compared with ,£1,025,000 worth in 1901. Honorable members will thus see the importance of the importations of manufactures of metals, including machinery.
– Is it suggested that these importations should be admitted free?
– It is suggested that these importations should have preferential treatment. Great Britain opens her ports to us ; and the honorable member for Moira, for one, is glad to know that butter, meat, and other products of Australia find a market in the old world. We cannot sell to Great Britain unless we buy from Great Britain - we cannot be sellers unless we are also buyers. We do not buy primary products, but manufactured products, from Great Britain, and those most in demand in Australia are manufactured metals and machinery. The Minister of Trade and Customs ought to be the first to support such an amendment. We have had many services at the hands of the honorable member for North Sydney, and this amendment represents another ; and I trust that the AttorneyGeneral will not regard the proposal as in any sense obstructive. Last night the Attorney-General said he would put honorable members to the test on the question of preferential trade. I now ask honorable members to reverse the order of things, and to put the Attorney-General to the test. Now is the golden opportunity; we do not want lip loyalty, but some practical exemption in favour of British products. What the Attorney-General means by ‘ ‘ dumping “ can never take place in connexion with British products, though the definition by the Minister of Trade and Customs would appear to embrace all trades. So long as there is a. single Australian industry, employing;, it may be, one boy or a child, so long will the Minister of Trade and Customs, strong protectionist that he is, regard as unfair and injurious competition any attempt by Great Britain, or any other country, to undersell the local manufacturer. I know that the AttorneyGeneral does not take so small a view ; and, truly, this is a matter beyond any mere question of free- trade or protection. According to the statement of the Minister of Trade and Customs, there are annually imported articles to the value of ,£7,000,000 which we cannot hope to manufacture for years to ‘Come; and, under the circumstances, the honorable gentleman ought to be prepared to extend just and generous treatment to the mother land.
– I must confess that I am somewhat surprised at the arguments used in favour of the amendment. It is time, I think, that we remembered what the amendment is, and what it proposes to effect. This part of the Bill aims at preventing the destruction of Australian industries by what is called unfair competition. As to the definition of ‘ unfair competition. “ contained in the Bill, I am not prepared to give my accordance to it as it stands.
– That is, as to clause 14, paragraph a.
– -Clause’ 14, paragraph a, for example, is, I think, quite wrong as it stands. There are proposals in the Bill which, it seems to me, cannot be justified by either protectionist dr free-trader; but the amendment before us does not deal with the point referred to in the interjection. Some honorable members may think that the proposals in the Bill are altogether wrong, while others may regard them as altogether right, or, as I myself do, as requiring modification. But if we once establish what is our standard of unfair competition, we should forbid that unfairness from whatever quarter it comes.
– And also the intention to destroy our industries.
– I include that - I mean unfairness with the intention of destroying ; that is, unfairness of method and unfairness of the object aimed at. When we determine these, the provisions should be applied all round. It has been suggested that this amendment is a test of sincerity with regard to our desire to assist the Empire.
I must confess that I am unable to answer that argument, because I cannot understand its application to the question under consideration. It has been suggested that the amendment is a test of the sincerity of those who allege their belief in preferential trade, which, as has been rightly pointed out, implies reciprocity on the two sides. That suggestion also, I venture to think, is entirely inapplicable to the present circumstances. Then we have had quoted to us a precedent in the shape of the New Zealand Act. That Act, however, refers to the sale of a very limited number of agricultural implements.
– And the Act was introduced for a particular purpose.
– That is so. That Act refers only to ploughs above a certain weight, tine and disc harrows, combined drills, seed drills, rollers, cultivators, grubbers over a certain weight, chaff-cutters of a certain size, self-bagging chaff-cutters, and seed cleaners. These are the only articles of commerce and industry to which the New Zealand Act relates, and I venture to say that as soon as honorable members read the list they will realize that neither New Zealand nor Australia has much to fear, or hope, from the English imports of these particular articles. It is from the United States that those implements come, and it is really a useless placard in the New Zealand Act to say that it does not applyto British manufactures, seeing that these productions are not manufactured in Great Britain for export to this side of the world. I always respect a New Zealand precedent, and would respect it in connexion with a Bill of this kind, whenthere is a proposal to make an exception in favour of articles of British manufacture ; but in this case I hold that the precedent is not in the least degree applicable - that it is no precedent. To my mind, the question narrows itself down to one single point. Assuming that it is right to pass this part of the Bill in any form - and I think it right to pass it in some form, though not exactly in its present form - whatever it is right to apply to implements or articles manufactured elsewhere, it is right to apply, so far as this Bill is concerned - and I am referring only to the Bill - to articles of British manufacture. The Bill, however ill-designed, and however much it may yet be amended in order to bring it into better shape, is intended to prevent unfairness with the intention to destroy. I am perfectly certain that our kinsmen in the United Kingdom do not desire to have any exemption made in their favour, in order that they may be able to indulge in unfairness with intention to destroy.
– This amendment would constitute such an exemption.
– The amendment would constitute an exemption in their favour, and British manufacturers would be able to indulge in unfairness with intention to destroy. .
– That is the only meaning of the amendment.
– That is the only meaning the amendment can have.
– Is it?
– That is so, in my opinion; and it is irrelevant to consider how far the other clauses of the Bill require amendment. I have already said that I think there are one or two proposals in the Bill that should not apply to either British or any other goods. The circumstances aimed at by clause 14, paragraph a, which mean that honest competition is unfair because it is successful should be met by Tariff alterations. If the duty is not high enough from a protectionist point of view, it is for protectionists to make it higher, but not to put in the Bill a substitute, and an unsatisfactory substitute, for protection. I find however, that I am committing the same offence for which I have reproached others. What I say is that if we define what is unfairness with intention to destroy, the test should be applied all round. We are neither justified in offering the very dubious privilege to our kinsmen at home of permitting them to be unfair with intention to destroy, white other peoplemay not do so, nor justified in supposing that our kinsmen want such a privilege. Consequently whatever the merits or demerits of the other clauses of the Bill may be - and as to this the most violent differences of opinion may exist, and violent disputes may rage - it seems to me - and I only speak for myself - clear beyond contradiction and reasonable dispute that that which applies to prevent unfairness with an evil intention on the part of people in Canada or elsewhere should also apply to people in the United Kingdom who are guilty of unfairness with evil intention. That is one thing, while the propriety of the provisions of the Bill is another. Having settled what its provisions shall be, we should apply them all round. Instead of it being a kindness or act of good feeling, it is almost an insult to tell the manufacturers of the United Kingdom that we are so well disposed to them that we are willing to let them be unfair, or to have evil intentions.
– I have been much interested in the discussion of the amendment, more particularly be cause of some of the sentiments to which utterance was given last night by the honorable member for North Sydney. With those sentiments in general I am in hearty accord.
– So are we all.
– I venture to say, however, that they have little or nothing to do with the matter in hand. We are dealing with a business proposal, and must consider it on its merits. Although the honorable member for Dalley has said that it is proposed to so alter this part of the Bill that the House, in agreeing to the second reading, cannot be said to have approved of it, I venture to ‘declare that no material alteration of its basic principles is proposed. The alterations which are proposed affect the methods by which effect is to be given to this part, and were clearly outlined when the second-reading debate was in progress. All that it is pertinent to ask at this juncture is: On what grounds has the amendment been moved ? As I understood the honorable member for North Sydney, he gave three reasons in support of his action - the need of showing our loyalty to the Motherland, the precedents which have been established in two directions, and the desire which has been expressed for preferential trade. To my mind those who support the amendment with a view to showing loyalty to Great Britain are one-sided loyalists. To be loyal to the Empire, we must first be loyal to Australia. We must be loyal to Australia if this country is to become self-sustaining and self-supporting, and a source of strength to the Empire. It cannot be urged that we are not free to deal with trade relations as we may think best in the interests of our community. The Bill has been framed to deal with those relations. Clause 13 determines that it shall not be operative except in the best interests of the community. Those who argue from the stand-point of loyalty do not use the word in its broad sense. If it be a good thing to exempt the United Kingdom, why should we not also exempt Canada, New Zealand, and the other parts of the Empire? The mother country desires no special treatment. Those who favour preferential trade will, when business negotiations are entered upon, deal with the interests of the Empire in a broad spirit. As to the New Zealand precedent which was adduced, I venture to say that the New Zealand legislation is entirely different from this. The New Zealand Act was passed to regulate and control the manufacture and sale of certain agricultural implements. It does not deal with all imports, but only with ploughs of a particular class harrows, drills, and chaffcutters. The title of the Act shows that the intention of its framers was to develop the manufacture of those implements in New Zealand, and that its provisions do not apply to the whole range of imports into that Colony. The second precedent which has been urged is the Commonwealth legislation with regard to the admission of contract labourers into Australia. But contract labourers who come here from Great Britain are, as soon as they arrive, on an equality with the workmen already here in regard to hours, rates of pay, and conditions generally, whereas the artisans and mechanics employed in the manufacture of the goods sent here from Great Britain are not on an equality with Australian workmen. If they were, there would1 be some force in the precedent which has been adduced. As it is, there is no similarity between the two cases.
– Does not the Massey-Harris Company pay the same rates of wages as are paid in Australia?
– The amendment does not deal with the Massey-Harris Company ; it deals with the manufacturer of Great Britain. Under the amendment we cannot impose the conditions which are imposed on English workmen who come here.
– What is the Tariff for?
– We are not now dealing with the Tariff.
– But the honorable member is forgetting that there is a Tariff.
– When we were dealing with the Tariff, those who hold different fiscal views from mine would not admit the difference of conditions which exists. The Bill attempts to prevent injury being done to our people by the importation of goods under unfair conditions, no matter where they come from.
– The honorable member should read paragraph a of clause 14.
– That is another matter, with which we can deal when it arises.
– That is the Bill as we have it.
– No doubt politics at times bring men into strange company, and I listened with some amusement to the arguments of honorable members opposite in favour of the preferential treatment of British goods. If my memory serves me aright, at the last elections most of them were opposed to preferential trade.
– We were opposed to any increase of duties on goods imported from foreign countries.
– One of the planks in the platform of the Prime Minister was a proposal for preferential trade, and parties were divided on that subject.
– Only as to methods, not as to the principle.
– The Opposition were against the Prime Minister’s proposal.
Mr.Johnson. - We favoured the reduction of duties on goods coming from the mother country.
– The Opposition favoured a general reduction of duties.
– Our proposal was to grant a preference to the mother country by means of reduced duties.
– The leader of the Government was in favour of preferential trade on clearly defined lines, his first policy presupposing protection to Australian industries. He desired to give a. preference to Great Britain where that is possible; but the Opposition desired a general reduction in the rates of duties.
– In the rates imposed on British imports.
– From my point of view, the Opposition were against the preferential trade proposals of the Prime Minister, and I am, therefore, surprised to hear them to-day arguing for preference where that is impossible.
– They are faking the course which they have always taken.
– We offered to give preference without conditions. The Minister would not do that.
– The honorable member for North Sydney last night referred to what might happen if Great Britain treated us as we treat her under the Tariff. The statesmen of that country support the fiscal policy which they consider best in her interest, while we adopt the policy which we consider best in our interest. He went on to say that some of our staple products - he gave two instances - are sold in the British markets at prices lower than they bring here. I contend that at no time except possibly during a short period over which some untoward circumstancess have operated, have we sent produce into the English market and sold it for less than the prices ruling in Australia. We have frequently been told by honorable members of the Opposition that we must continuously depend upon the markets of the world, which govern the prices of our staple products ; and in view of the fact that we have not a monopoly of the articles which form our staple products, how is it possible for us to so fix the rates at which we shall sell our goods? I will take, for example, the prices of mutton and beef. The latest quotations ‘show that there is a difference of about1d. per lb. between the prices obtained for mutton in Australia and in Great Britain - the additional penny per lb. obtained in England is about sufficient to cover the cost of exportation.
– There is a difference of 11/8d.
– I will give the honorable and learned member the benefit of the1/8d. I assert without fear of contradiction that lambs for export and for home consumption were bought in the same market in Victoria during the last export season. The greater number of the lambs were bought for export, and shipped to the old world with profit to the shippers. Therefore, taking into account the cost of shipment, that particular product could not have been sold at higher rates in Australia than in England. The position in regard to beef is exactly the same. The latest quotations show that beef is being sold in the English market at about 3d. per lb. We do not ship any beef from the southern . States, but I asked the honorable member for Capricornia, who has an intimate knowledge of the beef export business, for information as to the price of beef at Rockhampton. He informed me that the current price was about 16s. per 100 lbs., and the London wholesale price corresponds. We have not at any time, except during a period of scarcity owing to a drought, been able to obtain for our produce a higher price in Australia than has been ruling in Great Britain. In the case of wheat, for instance, there must always be a margin of profit to the shipper. I can remember a time when wheat was being sold for 3s. ~er bushel in Great Britain, .whilst it was quoted at 6s. per bushel in Australia. We found at the end of the season that we had overshipped, and in the face of an, absolute failure of the crops in the ensuing season, we had to import wheat in order to meet our requirements. Those conditions, however, were abnormal.
– But does not the honorable member see that the Bill would provide against such a case as that ?
– I am dealing, with the statements of the’ honorable member, which related to normal conditions. Sofar as I understand the Bill, it would apply only to general conditions of trade. It is not likely that in any circumstances, such as I have referred to, any steps would be taken under the Bill. Consequently, so far as I have been able to follow the arguments of the honorable member for North Sydney, there is no warrant for his amendment. I cannot imagine that the exporters of Great Britain desire to be placed in such a position that they would be able to compete unfairly in our markets.
– - I have listened very carefully to the honorable member for Moira, and I ami sorry that I cannot agree with him. He said that the mother country did not desire to have separate treatment accorded to her. I do hot believe she does, but she certainly wants to be dealt’ with straightforwardly and fairly. When she conferred upon us our Constitution, she left us at liberty to erect our Tariff wall against her, as well as against other nations, and she is content to rely on her own resources. During the last elections, Ministers were preaching fiscal peace and preferential trade, but now they have turned a complete somersault, and apparently desire to enter upon a fiscal war. The members of the Opposition are now the only advocates of fiscal peace, and are taking the present opportunity to show that they are prepared to grant a preference to England over other nations. The question of regulating prices for our produce has been referred to. Any person who knows anything about business -must be aware that it is exceedingly difficult to fix prices. This has always been a great source of trouble to exporters who have to send their produce to England, and accept whatever price they can get. In order to protect themselves they have, in some cases, created what is known as an export fund. For instance, if butter is being sold for rod. per lb. in Sydney - which is a very high price - and does not, after all expenses of shipment have been paid, realize that amount in London, the export fund is drawn upon to cover the loss incurred Such an arrangement is necessary in connexion with our export trade, but under the Bill i’t would be considered as involving unfair competition. It appears to me that in the drafting of this measure, the interests of trie consumer have been entirely ignored. Take the case of a plough that can be manufactured in England and sold here at £4 10s., whereas a similar plough could not be manufactured and sold here for less than £6 10s. The Bill would offer a premium to the importers to put the difference of ,^2 in their pockets, instead of giving to the purchaser the benefit of it.
– They would not do such a thing.
– They must do it in. order to avoid the risk of being charged wilh carrying on unfair competition. The measure is designed, in the interests of the merchants and the importers. It is built up, not upon the golden rule “As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise,” but upon the principle of doing unto others what you would not wish them to do unto you. It has been said that it would be an insult to Great Britain to allow her to trade with the Australian portion of her Empire without any interference, whilst excluding the goods of other nations. Personally, I consider that the mother country would be prepared , to submit to a great number of such insults.
All that she asks is a fair field and no favour. Of course, if honorable members wish to extend a preference to Great Britain, I, as a free-trader, do not object. I have never objected to our Customs duties being reduced in favour of the mother country.
– The honorable member is. not a rabid free-trader.
– I am what I am.
– And nobody knows it better than the honorable member himself.
– Very often it happens that a man does not know what he is himself. The free-traders have always been prepared to accept any reduction of our Customs duties in favour of England. The Ministry appear to have lost all faith in the policy of protection, otherwise they would be prepared to deal with these matters in the Tariff. But, in order to give effect to their cry of “Australia for the Australians,” they are now seeking to obtain, by legislative enactment, a prohibition on the importation of certain goods. I do not think that thev will be altogether successful in their efforts. They will not be able to fly the flag of “Australia for the Australians “ so far as the British’ Empire is concerned. That phrase should not form the motto of the Ministry, because its general acceptance would simply result in the wiping out of Australia. If we are not prepared to trade with the British Empire and with other nations, they will not wish to trade with us, and, under such circumstances, we might just as well discontinue the running of our mail steamers, abolish our cable services, and live isolated from the rest of the world. Honorable members opposite appear to be actuated bv a desire to emulate Robinson Crusoe. I do not agree with the honorable member for Riverina that there is any question of loyalty involved in the amendment. I. consider that Ministerial supporters are thoroughly loya) to the British throne, but, at the same time, they are not loyal to British trade and commerce. If they object to the amendment, thev tire not sincere in their desire to extend a preference to Great Britain.
– I beg to call attention to the state of the Committee. [Quorum formed.]
– In listening to some of the speeches delivered bv honorable members opposite, one is irresistibly reminded of the extraordinary nature of some of the reasons upon which the ingenuity of the human mind can seize,’ when it wishes to take a certain course in connexion with any particular matter. That is especially the case in regard to the debate which is proceeding upon this amendment. It has been alleged that the adoption of the proposal of the honorable member for North Sydney would be tantamount to offering an insult to Great Britain. Surely it takes some mental ingenuity to make oneself believe a proposition of that kind. All that is proposed by the amendment is to remove from the clause under consideration the standing insult to Great Britain which it contains. So far from our offering an insult to Great Britain, there is a standing insult to Great Britain contained in the Bill. There is an assumption that she will come here with intent to demolish our trade, and, by every unfair means that she can devise, to destroy our industrial occupations. An assumption like that is necessarily an insult to Great Britain in view of her consistent treatment of us. All that is proposed in the amendment is the removal of this implied aspersion upon her integrity and upon her methods. That honorable members can make themselves believe that, by removing that aspersion, we are offering an insult to Great Britain, seems to me to indicate a mental ingenuity which I, at any rate, am not able to appreciate. Then the honorable and learned member for Corinella spoke of a preference - meaning the preference which was urged with so much pertinacity and eloquence at the last general election - as implying reciprocal, action between the parties who enter into these preferential relations. I venture to say that that is the preference of the protectionist who seeks to guard his market against every part of the Empire just as jealously as he guards it against every part of every foreign Empire. That is not the kind of preference that is preached by those who are advocating the acceptance of this amendment. Neither was it altogether the kind of preference which was indicated bv the Prime Minister at the last elections. At that time he made it clear that, if need be, he was prepared to grant an unconditional preference to Great Britain. I happened to be able to look up the speech which he delivered upon this subject in the House only a little while ago. and if I am not mistaken he then intimated that he was prepared to grant an unconditional preference to the British Empire. That is all we are seeking to embody in’ this amendment.
– A preference in unfair competition.
– Nothing of the kind. Why should we assume that there is unfair competition between Great ‘Britain and Australia?
– We do not.
– The Bill assumes it, and provides against it.
– Only if it exists.
– Let the Government make the assumption adversely to foreign nations, if they choose, but do not let. them make it in relation to our own kith and kin of the Empire That is the distinction.
– The amendment would not touch Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa.
– So far as it goes, it represents our attitude upon this subject. We ask why it should be assumed that there will be unfair competition with intent to destroy our industries on the part of Great” Britain ? Whatever the Government may assume in their proposals concerning foreign countries, they should at least treat Great Britain as if she were a fair competitor, and I venture to say that the whole history of her industrial ‘ relationships with these far distant States has1 been that of a fair competitor - nay, more, a generous competitor. All that we ask to-day is that she shall be treated in exactly the same way as she has always treated us.
– Oh !
– I would be obliged to the honorable member if he would cease his interruptions. He is the most inane man - and the most insulting one - in this Parliament.
– Will the honorable member get on with his speech, and shut up?
– I must ask the honorable member for Gwydir to withdraw that remark.
– If he does not, I promise him that I will make him withdraw it.
– The honorable member promises what?
– I promise the honorable member that I will not tolerate his insults.
– The honorable member for Gwydir must withdraw his remark.
– What remark?
– The honorable member told the honorable member for Parramatta to shut up.
– I recognise that that would be the greatest hardship I could inflict upon him, and therefore I withdraw it.
– The honorable member is now only aggravating the insult.
– I must again ask the honorable member for Gwydir to withdraw his remark.
– In deference to you, sir, I withdraw.
– The honorable member must withdraw his remark unreservedly.
– He has done so.
– So far from a preference being a reciprocal matter as between the various parts of the Empire, the only knowledge we have of any preference being granted to Great Britain is of an unconditional preference on the part of Canada.
– Canada has asked for reciprocity though.
Mr.JOSEPH COOK.- She has asked in no official way for reciprocity.
– Yes, she has.
- Sir Wilfrid Laurier has not asked in any official way for it. All that the Prime Minister can quote in that respect are some statements made by Sir Wilfrid Laurier from the public platform. The latter has made it quite clear that under no circumstances will he make a trade bargain with Great Britain which would interfere in any degree with the absolute autonomy of Canada. Far better, he has said, would it be to sweep away all idea of reciprocal treatment than to sanction any interference with the sovereign rights of these far-distant parts of the Empire. So far he has been prepared to grant an unconditional preference to Great Britain without asking for anything whatever in return. Now we hear for the first time that our idea of preference in Australia is to be put upon a lower plane even than that of Canada. We are further removed from Great Britainthan is Canada, and there is every motive to in- duce us to be more generous in our treatment of the mother country, because Canada has to submit to the competition of the great British-speaking people of the United States of America. Here is an opportunity to give effect to the glowing panegyrics indulged in by the Prime Minister at the last general elections. No one spoke upon this question from the various platforms throughout Australia more eloquently and with greater magnetic power than he did. Here is the close of one of his speeches, which was delivered in Hobart just upon the eve of the elections. I have not the exact words of the speech - I had not time to copy them. But he concluded his address with a brilliant and stirring peroration upon the advantages of a self-contained Empire. He said -
Their policy was to enable Great Britain to fulfil its high destiny, and to bind the parts of the Empire one to another in all that which made for peace, for progress, and for civilization.
– Noble sentiments.
– In his last message to the electors of New South Wales, which was published upon the eve of polling day. he said -
The choice of the electors of New South Wales is between fiscal peace and fiscal war, with a further choice as to preference, which we propose to grant, and expect to receive.
There is a suggestion of the granting of an unconditional preference.
– No; he used the words “ and expect to receive.”
– But those words were not used to indicate the condition under which a preference would be granted.
– He could not grant it in return for a preference.
– May I suggest that here is an opportunity for the Prime Minister to grant a preference to the mother country, and only a very limited and conditional preference at that. The amendment does not embody a proposal for* freetrade as between the Commonwealth and Great Britain. It does not interfere with the Tariff in any way. Having regard to the fact that we stand related as we do to the mother country, we mav surely rely upon the Tariff already in existence, with such modifications as we care to make in it, to protect us from the unfair competition of her goods and from dumping, if there be any. Surely the Tariff is a sufficient instrument of obstruction between the trade of Great Britain and ours without these further proposals, which mean, possibly, prohibitive protection, if imports be found to interfere with the organization of our industrial concerns. There is not very much brother!liness in an attitude like that. I venture to say that the terms of the Bill, if carried into effect,, would represent an incomplete loyalty between Australia and Great Britain. I am not suggesting now any reference tohonorable members’ loyalty to the Throneof Great Britain, but I am suggesting a possible want of loyalty to her trading interests, without which her integrity and status could not be maintained. It would’ strike a blow at her position and prestige in one of its most vital quarters if, under a Bill of this description, we were to impose prohibition. I want to push the matter no further than that. This amendment offersus a chance of showing that we have nodesire to injure Great Britain in any degree. Here is an opportunity to remove an implied slur upon her in a way which, could not be resented by other countries, or taken exception to on broad international grounds. Here is a chance of removing an implied aspersion upon her integrity, and the assumption which the Bill carries, namely, that she may do us an injury with intent to destroy our trade and industrial life. Though there has been no ground shown, nevertheless the Bill proceeds upon the assumption that there are nations ready to cut into the vitals of our industrial prosperity, that there are nations which with that sinister purpose will set themselves to destroy our industries, and so interfere with the domesticity of our homes, and our ideals of comfort. We ought to exempt our own people from an implied assumption of that kind. That is all that the amendment seeks to do. Yet. forsooth, we are told bv our opponents that in removing this implied aspersion upon Great Britain we are actually offering an insult to her. It seems to me to be a very curious process of reasoning which leads honorable members into a position such as that. All we propose to do in this matter is simply to treat Great Britain as she treats us. I submit that clause 14, if carried out by Great Britain in relation toAustralia, would ruin our export trade tomorrow. If she were to treat our export trade in a similar way we should be in a bad way, and very quickly too. In this respect it is proposed to do to Great Britain what we would not care that she should do to us. It would be a sorry day for Australia, if the mother country did such a thing. Surely with ;i Tariff, regulating from the protectionist stand-point any difference in wage rates, industrial skill, and experience, we ought not to go further, and carry out the prohibitions which are possible under this Bill. I repeat that if Great Britain were to treat us and our export trade as it is proposed under this Bill to treat her imports, it would be a sorry day for Australia, and many of our industries would have to seek’ elsewhere for the market which could’ not be obtained there. We are constantly interfering with her industrial enterprises and primary productions. Indeed that is one of the main objects of the protectionists in Victoria, and particularly the professed preferential traders. I remember that at the last election the Prime Minister and the honorable member ‘for Melbourne Ports distributed throughout Australia a circular pointing out amongst other things how Great Britain’s agricultural productions had declined under free-trade, and the former pointed out that what we seek by means of preferential and empire trade is a market for our primary productions. Surely that is rather a one-sided idea of loyalty to the old country. It does not show much sympathy with the primary producers at Home, when the avowed object of our seeking preferential trade with them is to find a market for still more of our primary productions, in the shape of wheat, butter, cheese, and all those things which we produce in abundance. In advancing an argument like that, we do not take much stock in the welfare of Britain’s primary, industries. But I am not concerned with that at present. I am only concerned1 now to show that the ideas of honorable members opposite in relation to all these preferential matters is not that which ought to obtain between members of the same Empire. I remember that, at the last election, one of the Prime Minister’s favourite illustrations was that of a great family group, in which one should supply the wine, another the fruit, and another the grain. He went through the whole list of primary products, and said that between the members of the group, there should be unfettered and unrestricted trade in” those things which constitute the family stock. Here, instead of carrying out the idea which he. advocated with magnificent eloquence throughout Australia, he is interposing a further barrier against some of “the things which one part of the family oversea wants to send us. I appeal’ to honorable members on the protectionist side as to whether they do not think that the Tariff is a sufficient obstacle to interpose against all goods coming from any part of the British Empire. Surely they can regulate the competition of the Empire bv means of a Tariff, without bringing into operation proposals for the shutting down of trade in this arbitrary way ! It is not, I repeat, as if this were the alternative of free intercourse. The obstacles which the Tariff interposes to the free importation of British goods will still remain. If that is not enough, let honorable members raise the. Tariff, and do it in a fair and above-board way. But do not let them assume, as is done in the Bill, that, unless we protected ourselves against her, Great Britain would intentionally injure us in the way contemplated by the terms of this Bill. All that we propose to do here is to remove from Great Britain the aspersion which the Bill casts upon her bona fides with regard to her industrial relationship to these States. The honorable member for Moira asked what are the grounds upon which we support the proposal. From my point of view, the grounds can be readily stated. First of all, Great Britain has no such legislation against us. It seems to me to be an allsufficient ground in itself that she is of the same family group as we are. We stand in a filial relation to her, as we do not to other nations. Her destiny is our destiny ; her highest interests are the same as ours: We seek the same ideals, and have practically the same objective. For 100 years, and more now, she has welcomed to her shores anything which we have cared’ to send, no matter at what cost to her business or trade. She has never, apparently, considered the point, but has given us free access to her markets without let or hindrance of any kind. The fact that she does not contemplate any such proposals as these with regard to our export trade to her shores is, in itself, I submit, an all-sufficient ground for giving effect to this amendment. I do not put it on the ground of generosity at all, but submit that in view of all the circumstances of the case, it would be a just thing to remove this aspersion from her. What are _ those circumstances ? The whole ramification of her industrial relationship to us is opened up here. I do not intend to do more than briefly refer to it. In the first place, let me remind honorable members that this is the first time in all history, so far as I know, where a motherland has permitted her Colonies to tax her. Every other country has insisted upon free and unfettered intercourse between herself and her Colonies, so far as history furnishes us with any examples. If there has been a privilege at all, it hasbeen claimed on the side of the motherland as against the Colonies. As a rule, the Colonies have been laid under tribute and made to minister to the wealth, ease, and affluence of the central Government. But here, for the first time in the history of the world, we have an example of a motherland permitting her Colonies in far distant parts even to tax her goods, and to prohibit trade intercourse by means of Tariffs. We have not an example like that anywhere else.
– Probably that is why Great Britain’s Colonies are so loyal.
– I amnot prepared to deny that. I was going on to observe that this really is the measure of the completeness with whichour system of self-government has been granted to us. But I venture to say that if, after this free and generous gift of self-government, we were not loyal, we should not be worthy of the name of Britons.
– But why alter the conditions by this amendment?
– I am not seeking to alter them.
– We are getting along very well.
– I am afraid my honorable friend has not been paying attention to my arguments. I am suggesting that the conditions should remain. I am not suggesting at present any interference with the Tariff, but I am suggesting that we should not put into this Bill an implied aspersion that Great Britain desires to injure our industries.
– The honorable member is advocating preferential treatment for the products of British manufacturers.
– No. That can only be done by means of the Tariff.
– Then what is the good of the amendment?
– This Bill assumes that foreign nations will injure our trade if we permit them to do so. We are providing an instrument here to prevent the possibility of their destroying our trade by unfair means. I say that it is right that we should assume that the industrial relationship of Great Britain to Australia is fair, and not unfair, as this Bill assumes it to be.
– Where does Great Britain’s gift to us come in? It is we who have made Australia, and not Great Britain.
– I am speaking of Great Britain’s gift of self-government. I should be very sorry to be thought unmindful of the part that Australia has played in the building up and maintenance of the Empire. I am not suggesting for a moment that Australia has not taken a part in building up the Empire. I simply say that we have in Australia a magnificent gift of self-government, more complete than any other nation has received from a motherland. I challenge the honorable member to deny that. So complete is this measure of self-government that we are actually given the right to tax Great Britain out of our markets, if we choose. If honorable members desire to keep her out of our markets, for Heaven’s sake let it be done by means of the Tariff, and not by the imposition of machinery such as this Bill. The fact that she has given to us this complete form of self-government is a reason why we should strain every point before we do anything which would seem to savour of an abuse of the liberty with which she has so plentifully endowed us. Might I remind honorable members of what Great Britain is doing for us at the present time? Take our trade in the East - who has kept the open door there for us? Would Australia have any chance to get into the trade of the East if it were not for the protection afforded us by Great Britain, and her insistence upon the open door for us - for herself also, it is true, but equally for the Empire at large. But for Great Britain’s insistence upon the right to open commerce in the East, we should not be able to send a pound’s worth of our goods to Eastern ports to-morrow. The other great nations of the world would take care of that. That is one of the things we do not stop to think of when considering all the. trade ramifications of this great Empire of ours. What we receive from Great Britain in the way of protection, of facilities, and of privileges is not always expressed and open to the gaze of the world. Her influence is very often silently exerted on our behalf. Indeed, we could exercise but little influence for ourselves were it not that we were allied to her in the bonds under which we exist as a part of the Empire. I am speaking now in reply to the honorable member for Moira, who asks what are the grounds upon which we urge this special exemption of Great Britain from the implied aspersions of this Bill. That is my purpose in making these observations. I ask again what chance should we have of insisting upon and enforcing a White Australia if it were not for the protection which Great Britain gives us? Australia, I venture to say, would be overrun by the Eastern nations - I will not say that they would trench upon our cities ; I do not know that they would trouble themselves about that - but I do say that we should have had colonies of Japanese and of other Eastern nations in the back parts of Australia to-day but for the relations in which we stand to the great British Empire. Great Britain has made our White Australia policy a possible one. The honorable member for Moreton smiles at that statement, but I should like to hear him prove the contrary. I think that my contention in respect to the White Australia policy is unchallengable. I am certain that but for the benevolent intervention of Great Britain at the time our White Australia legislation was going through, our circumstances even to-day might have been very different from what they are. It is due to the benevolent intentions of the rulers of Great Britain, to the Navy which is always at our disposal, and to the prestige of the British nation in the counsels of the world that we have been able to keep our shores free from the hordes of Asiatics who would else have undermined and defeated our civilization. Might I suggest to the honorable member for Moira., when he asks what Great Britain has done for us, that she has given us practically a “ Torrens title “ to one of the greatest continents of the earth.
– What could she have done with it if we had not been here ?
– If she had not done something with it other nations probably would, and our circumstances in Australia might be very different from what we find them to-day. Instead of having our 1,000,000,000 of private wealth, this continent might still have been a penal settlement, under quite another form cif government. Thanks to the enlightenment of the great country to which we are proud to belong, and the complete system of self-government she has given us, we have been enabled, without let or hindrance, to build up a civilization here which to-day is the envy_ of the world.
– Thanks to the Australians who protested against the convict system.
– May I remind the honorable member that other* peoples have protested before, and have not been successful. Our protestations had availed nothing were it not for the benevolent intentions of the people of the Home land. All the protestations we could have made against the continuance of the convict system, or against limited self-government, would have been of no avail had there not been a willing ear and an enlightened mind to receive them. Similar protestations being made to-day in other parts of the world are falling on idle cars. All the considerations which the honorable member suggests from time, to time by his interjections, only serve to show the great difference between our position and that of other peoples existing elsewhere as the colonies of other nations. Again, what shall be said1 of the consular service of the Empire, under which we enjoy the right of entry into and protection within every country of the world, free from the molestation crf any man. Under it we are guaranteed our rights and privileges as citizens of the British Empire in any part of the world. I should like to ask the honorable member for Moreton what we pay for all this? Not a penny, so far as I know. We send our trade representatives to the East, and they are there under the protection of the British consuls. They carry on their work to our advantage in a way in which they would not be able to “do but for the free and generous way in which these consular services are placed at our disposal. I say nothing of the protection of the British Navy. Every member of the Committee, I take it, is cognizant of the security, peace, and progress which has been possible to us through all these years by reason of the Navy which guards our shores. We may have our aspirations for an Australian Navy. In time, possibly, that may come. I, for one, am not anxious on that score, so long as the great British Navy continues to exist in its present state of efficiency.
– Captain Creswell in his last report says that the real defence of Australia must always rest with the Imperial Navy
– I do not know in detail the opinions of the latest authorities on this matter, I know only that we dwell in peace and security to-day in Australia by reason of the Navy which has looked after us through the period of our development, during 100 years and more. These, I think, are some of the reasons, put upon material, hard, and practical business grounds, why we should stretch a point, if possible, in favour of the great land from which we have sprung. But above and beyond these material and business reasons is the one outstanding reason why we should seek to remove this implied aspersion from Great Britain, and that is simply because she is Great Britain, and our mother country. That, after all, is the great reason - because she is part of the great British Empire, part of the great family of which the Prime Minister spoke so eloquently upon the occasion of the last elections. Because, to use the honorable and learned gentleman’s ilustration, we should so act in every way that each member of the family might contribute to the family stock of prosperity and progress. For these reasons we ought not to pass any legislation which asperses the integrity of Great Britain’s industrial relations to these far-distant parts of the Empire. After very careful consideration of this matter, I do not hesitate to say that if we put this Bill in its present form on the statute-book of the Commonwealth, it will indicate in the clearest possible way that there is an incomplete loyalty between Australia and the old country - incomplete, I repeat, and explain, only from the industrial point of view, and only in so far as our trading relations with her are affected. I do not now refer to the kinship of race and blood, which I believe is as firmly cemented in even’ part of the British Empire to-day as it has ever been. As to that aspect of our loyalty to Great Britain, I believe it is stronger to-day than it has ever been before. But is not that in itself a reason why every possible avenue of intercourse with her, industrially as well as in every other way, should be kept reasonably open? I say that if our industrial conditions prevent free intercourse, as is constantly alleged bv these on the protectionist side of the fiscal controversy, for goodness’ sake let those who think so give effect to their views bv means of the Tariff, and not by means of these special prohibitive enactments. That much is due to Great Britain from us in consideration of all the material benefits which I have tried to enumerate, and because we belong to the same family, and are loyal members of it. I have no more to say on this, matter, except that a nation such as Great Britain is, with all her past history, and past relations to us, demands at our hand’s the best treatment we can give her in connexion with this special prohibitive legislation. We belong to anEmpire that long ago abolished slavery, to an Empire which has spread to the ends of the world the principles of Christiancivilization, and has done more than am* other Empire to open up the dark places of the earth to civilizing influences. To-day she. occupies a position amongst the nations, of the world which makes them envy her, and desire to imitate her. I venture to say that she is exercising ait influence upon the destinies of the world paramount over that exercised by all other nations. Our ideals are hers. Our civilization is hers. We build upon her pattern - trying to improve it if we may. But now, as hitherto, she is our pattern and exemplar in all those things which make for the extension and the maintenance of civilization. She has been our friend and protector for a hundred years, guaranteeing to us in these distant lands unmolested progress in all the arts and sciences of life. And now, after we have grown up and become a self-contained nation, both in point of influence and of population - now that we are able to shift for ourselves if need be, we, forsooth, are showing in our legislative enactments that we have suddenly become afraid of thisgreat motherland - afraid of the injury which she may inflict upon our industrial enterprises - afraid of the way in which she mav assail our homes and the standard of comfort that we have set up. It seems as if it had taken us a hundred years to become afraid of all these things happening to us at the hands of the nation which has proved herself to be the greatest friend’ and benefactor that Australia has ever had. I appeal to honorable members to remove all traces of that feeling and of that fear from this Bill ; and we shall dothat. I think, most effectively bv voting for an amendment which, while leaving the
Tariff as it is, willi proclaim once and for all that, so far as Great Britain is concerned, we will regard her intentions as honorable until we have evidence complete and unanswerable to the contrary.
.- The speech to which we have just listened, more especially in its references to the mother country, makes one hesitate to address the Committee at this stage. I have listened to many speeches in this House, but I have not heard one which has affected me more than the appeal that has just been made by the deputy leader of the Opposition. Every Australian must recognise that
Ave in this country owe everything to the mother country. We have been living under the complete and peace-giving protection of Great Britain for over 100 years. The great development of Australia, and the splendid markets which we have gained for our produce, we owe exclusively to old England. Last night reference was made to one of our great industries by the honorable member for Laanecoorie. He quoted certain figures relating to the butter industry. But if he had thought for a moment he would have acknowledged - as men like myself, representing a district which is largely dependent upon the butter industry, are glad to acknowledge - that it is not the Australian market upon which we depend for the sale of our produce. Australia affords us a very small market indeed. We are dependent upon what we can get for our butter in Great Britain and the other markets of the world. The amendment of the honorable member for North Sydney provides, in effect, that this Bill shall not apply to goods imported from, and the product of, the United Kingdom. Where should we be if the old country were to retaliate on us by an enactment such as is proposed by this Bill ? It is perfectly true that Great Britain is to some extent dependent upon Australian wool for the support of one of her great manufacturing industries. But, on the other hand, it is a well-known fact, especially in connexion with the butter industry, that we are absolutely dependent upon the price which our goods bring in London, where the world’s market prices are regulated. I was very much amused when I entered the Chamber last night, after having attended a sitting of the Tariff Commission, to find that the Minister of Trade and Customs had produced an example of dumping, in the shape of a piece of soap from Japan. He told the Committee that, nominally, that soap is imported from Germany, whereas in reality it was of Japanese manufacture. He led the Committee to believe that there were tremendous importations from Japan, which were injuring established industries of this country - that our soap manufacturers could not carry on business and employ labour because of the Japanese competition. This piece of soap was put forward as a magnificent illustration of the evils of dumping. I say with all seriousness, as a member of the Tariff Commission, supporting what has been said by the honorable member for Bendigo and the honorable member for Perth, that throughout the whole of the inquiries of the Tariff Commission dumping has not been proved to exist in Australia in any shape or form. The Minister reminded me of what occurred in New South Wales in 1891 and 1892, when an attempt was being made to sneak in protection. The Bill before us is an example of ‘sneaking in, not protection, but absolute prohibition. The Parliament of New South Wales was told on that occasion that there were tremendous importations of Japanese boots, and that it would be impossible for the local manufacturers to carry on their business unless this sort of thing was stopped. Investigations were made, an’d what was the result? The only Japanese boots that could be found in the whole of New South Wales were traced by the late Mr. J. H. Want to a place somewhere down in the purlieus of Wooloomooloo, one of the suburbs of Sydney. This German or Japanese soap stands in exactly the same position. The Minister has absolutely failed to produce any evidence of dumping, except a statement by Mr. Coxon,, of Numurkah. But neither that nor any other evidence gave proof of dumping to the injury of any Australian industry. Last night the Minister in charge of the Bill left it to the Attorney-General to defend the position. The honorable gentleman said that he did not care whether goods came from Great Britain or from any other part of the world. I, as an Australian, resent that attitude very earnestly. I recognise that we in Australia to-day are dependent on the mother country, and that but for the Imperial protection we could not hold our position for a moment. That being the case, we ought to do all in our power to give the manufacturers and producers of Great Britain an opportunity to find a market for their products and manufactures in Australia. You, Mr. Chairman, are ohe of the most earnest advocates in this House of a White Australia, and I do not think there is an honorable member who does not believe in that policy. Can it be thought for a moment that, if we had not behind us the Navy of England, we should be able to maintain that policy for a month, or even for a week ? It is because we have that ceaseless protector, the British Navy, always watching our shores, that we can carry out our desires in that direction ; and it is a policy which I sincerely hope we shall be able to maintain for all time. When we consider the treatment meted out to us bv the old country - when we consider the market provided for our products, and our peaceful possession of this great Continent - is it not only fair that we should welcome the products of the old land? When we hear the Attorney-General aver that he does not care whether goods come from the mother country or from elsewhere, I say that such a decaration of opinion ought to be sent broadcast throughout the Commonwealth. At any rate, if the Attorney-General does not care where the goods come from, I as an Australian, do care. What can be said of preferential trade when we find in the Bill before us provisions in direct antagonism to the manufacturers and producers of the old country. From start to finish - when we have been considering the Tariff or dealing with measures of this description - the efforts of honorable members opposite have not been directed to the exclusion of goods of foreign nations, but of the goods of Great Britain.
– And these are the bulk of our imports.
– That is so. This Bill ought not to be proceeded with until we have the report of the Tariff Commission before us; and I express that opinion in all seriousness and earnestness. The Tariff Commission has been pursuing its investigations since the 16th February, 1905, and a full inquiry has been made in connexion with the particular matter with which the Bill is specially intended to deal. If the investigation is to be attended by useful results, we ought to wait until we have the report of the Commission. That point of view has been submitted by the Chairman, and by the honorable member for
Perth, who is a member of the Commission, and now I, as another member, make the same appeal. I am not at liberty to disclose the evidence that has been submitted to the Commission, but I may say that, in my opinion, we ought not to further consider this Bill until we have the report ; to do otherwise would be to pass legislation without the information to which honorable members are entitled. I do not say what the report of the Commission may or may not be; but after inquiries have been conducted in Melbourne, Adelaide. Sydney, and other centres of Australia - after witnesses have been examined so fully, so acutely, and so earnestly - we ought to pause when we find a Bill of this nature introduced as a special means of protecting one industry. The least that the Government can do is to wait until we have before us the results of the work of the Royal Commission - of the work of eight men who have given their full time and earnest attention, and all the ability which they possess, to the investigation of the matter referred to them. If, after that information has been made available, honorable members are prepared to pass the Bill, then that course may be taken in all fairness. If, on the other hand, this Bill be pressed forward, in the absence of the necessary information, it will mean, so far as the Government are concerned, a pandering to one man who represents a big interest in this country ; such a step would be unfair to the House and the country, and would indicate, to my mind, that the Government are not fit to hold the reins of power.
Mr. FOWLER (Perth) [5.55!- One reason, and, I think, almost a sufficient reason, why considerable weight should be attached to the amendment of the honorable member for North. Sydney is that the Bill sets up a purely arbitrary standard of commercial morality- a standard which goes much further than the most severe moralist, dealing with the subject on this basis, would be prepared to ,go. If we find that is the case, surely we ought to hesitate before we apply such an artificial standard to those who undoubtedly are entitled to consideration from us. Take a concrete illustration. A person might be employed in buying woollen goods in England, and shipping them to Australia, and, have offered to him, perhaps at the end .of the season, a considerable quantity at prices greatly below the market price in England, or the country of origin. The difference in the price might mean a reduction of only 5 per cent., but it would be considerable if the total profits were 10 per cent. When such a man sent the goods to Australia, or attempted to do so, he would, according to the Bill, be under the liability of having it declared that he was guilty of unfair competition.
– That would only be so if he sent the goods with the intent to destroy an Australian industry.
– But the importer would have to prove that he had not the intent to destroy ; under certain conditions, the onus of proof is on the importer. An ordinary every-day commercial transaction of that kind ought not to be stigmatized as criminal. We ought to hesitate before we apply the word “criminal” to any transaction of the kind between the mother country and Australia. Earlier in the debate the honorable member for Melbourne Ports interjected something about protecting Australia against pauper labour, inferring, of course, that even in Great Britain pauper labour is employed, and that it is necessary to take measures, otherwise than under the Tariff, to put an end to competition arising from that cause. I desire to refer to that phase of the question very shortly. It is, I notice, assumed by those who profess to be protecting the interests of workers in Australia, that if there is a difference of 50 per cent. in the wages here, as against those ruling in Great Britain, there ought to be protection to the extent of 50 per cent. Without revealing any of the evidence given to the Commission, I may say that I believe that amongst other results of their investigation, some very useful little protectionist fictions will be exploded’, and that the particular fiction, as to the necessity of high protective duties in the interests of the workers of Australia, will among others be exploded. Those who take the same view as does the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, ferret that in most of the industries affected, machinery plays avery large and important part - that, as a matter of fact, the value of the labour, in a greatmany of the products we wish to protect under the Bill, is not more than 25 per cent. of the whole cost of production. It is obvious that when we desire to protect labourby means of a Tariff, or a Bill of this kind, we car. protect only that portion of the goods into which labour has been introduced. The value of the labour employed in making, say, £100 worth of goods averages, perhaps, £25, and if the difference between the rates of wages here and in Great Britain is 50 per cent., the amount of protection to be given should be equivalent to 50 per cent. of £25. When honorable members have the reports of the Tariff Commission ‘before them, they will see that the cost of exporting goods to Australia, taking into account freight, insurance, wharfage, exchange, and other charges, frequently amounts to more than the value of the labour employed’ in the production of similar goods in Australia.
– We have heard that old free-trade gag before.
– Perhaps the honorable member is an authority on gagging. He has undoubtedly studied economic questions closely and with ability, and it is, therefore, a matter for surprise that he puts forward the contentions upon which he is relying in the fiscal campaign in which he is now engaged.
– The freight from one part of Australia to another is often greater than that from Great Britain to Australia.
– I have shown that the Bill is not required for the protection of labour. I am prepared, whenever a Tariff is brought before us, to vote for such duties as will amply protect the workers engaged in Australian industries, and I believe that many who hold the same fiscal faith as I do are prepared to take a similar course. But we must have an absolutely safe basis upon which to make our calculations as to the amount of protection requisite. The question of protecting persons who have insufficient capital, or manage badly, or suffer from lack of customers, is entirely different from the question of protecting the workers engaged in any industry.
– Money and rents are both higher in Australia than in England.
– The talk about the need for high duties to protect the workers will be shown by investigation to be mere, clap-trap.
– Does the evidence taken by the Tariff Commission bear out what the. honorable member is saying?
– I ask the honorable member to possess his soul in patience until he has an opportunity to read that evidence for himself. The amendment is. one which I think the Committee should agree to, and which I shall certainly support, as a recognition of the essential nature of the relations between Australia and the mother- country, and an indication of what I believe to be the general conviction of a majority of honorable members that, wherever objectionable trade may come from, it certainly does not come from the mother country. Knowing as I do the industrial conditions which prevail in Great Britain, I consider it in the highest degree unlikely that any injury to our industries is ever to be expected from that quarter.
– The amendment opens up a verv large and important question, and translates the discussion of the provisions of the Bill to a different sphere from that in which we have hitherto discussed them. This is probably the first opportunity which honorable members ‘have had to show the sincerity of their utterances about preferential trade and the commercial unity of the Empire. During the past three or four years, many fine speeches have been made on that theme; but, when the eloquent gentlemen who have been responsible for them are asked to come to close quarters, and to prove the sincerity of their utterances, we are immediately side tracked on to some other subject, and the point at issue is evaded. We are always told what they are going to do, but we are never able to get them to carry out their promises. In the first place, I desire to congratulate the free-trade members of the Committee on their conversion. Hitherto they have appeared strong opponents of preferential trade, and I have been glad to hear the recantation of much that has previously been said by them. There is not the least _ doubt that, if their education is continued for a little longer, we shall find them, not only favouring preferential trade within the Empire, but ready to impose good and substantial duties against the imports of foreign nations, The question we are asked to consider is whether the mother country shall be placed on the same footing as foreign countries. It has been said that we must prevent unfair competition, no matter whether it comes from the old country or from elsewhere. But what likelihood is there of Australian industries being damaged to any great extent by the unfair competition of manufacturers in the old country ? Is there any great risk of any Aus tralian industry being seriously injured in that way?
– Yes. Both the clothing and bootmaking industries’ may be injured. There are 58,000 bootmakers in England who are receiving, only 19s. a week.
– On the other hand, we have to ask what are the benefits which Australia .will receive if she obtains a preference from the old country. Who can compute those benefits? Great Britain imports ,£210,000,000 worth of products such as form the primary products of Australia. Is it not then advisable to run some little risk to show that we are sincere on the question of preferential trade? It has been asked repeatedly this afternoon where would Australia be if Great Britain treated her as we are ready to treat Great Britain ? We send our wheat, grain, and dairy and other produce to Great Britain, and sell it there at prices much lower than those at which it can profitably be produced locallyOur primary products are obtained at what to the British farmer would be sweating rates, and. as a consequence of their importation into Great Britain, he can scarcely live. But what would be the future of our export trade if he successfully demanded the protection of legislation similar to that which we are now considering?
– A good old free-trade argument.
– It would be a good thing to distribute a few slips containing that statement among the farmers in the Wimmera.
– The honorable member can distribute as many slips as he likes.
– It would be the first sensible thing that he had done.
– He may have to justify his own utterances before his constituents.
– The honorable member does not contend that we obtain, our primary products under sweating conditions.
– No. I did not say so. But the British farmer might make that assertion, and might, for his protection, demand the enactment of legislation such as this. If the British Parliament granted his request, what would become of our export trade? This is not a Question of free-trade or protection at all, although the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is so ready with his parrot cries that lie cannot enter into an argument, and listen to what is being said. I made only one speech when I was in England recently; but when invited to address a gathering of some 3,000 persons at St. Helens, in Lancashire, I spoke strongly in favour of preferential trade. When I said to my auditors, “ Do not imagine that we are going to sacrifice Australian industries,” several in the crowd cried “Ah,” and I explained that, notwithstanding the output of our great manufacturing industries, there are scores of manufactures which we cannot hope to produce for ourselves for generations to come, and that in regard to them I would be willing to do my best to give the old country a very decided preference. The opponents of the preferential trade movement in the old country ask what evidence can be produced to show that the Colonies are prepared to reciprocate with the motherland, and I contend that the utterances of our public men, or the want of a definite pronouncement by them, on the subject, fully warrant that question. One of the main, causes of Mr. Chamberlain’s want of success was the absence of any response, on the part of leaders of political thought in the Commonwealth,, to the invitations thrown out by him. Even if there were instances of unfair trade on the part of ‘British manufacturers or exporters, it would not be necessary to class them with foreigners. We could meet the case bv the imposition of duties, as has been clone in Canada. We lately had amongst us a great Imperialist - a man whom we were proud to know, and whose strong Imperial spirit we admired. When he had to meet the difficulty brought about by -dumping in New Zealand, he did not proceed in the way that the Government now propose. He did not treat the old land as a pariah, an outcast, or an enemy, but he placed British and Australian, goods on the same footing.
– What goods?
– The goods in respect to which, complaints have been made as to their being dumped.
– Such goods were not made in England.
– He classed British and Australian goods together. He did not sneer at the pauper labour of Great Britain, as some honorable members here are now doing. He spoke as one who believed in a unified Empire. I always expected that, when we came to close quarters upon the preferential trade question, the real obstacles in the way of our arriving at a practical arrangement would prove to be the extreme protectionists. My view is now shown to have been the correct one. When they are addressing public meetings they mouth freely about preferential trade, and talk about the glories of the Empire and their pride as citizens of it; but when they are asked to move one step towards bringing us into closer relations with the motherland they sneak out of their position and go back upon their professions. My belief is that before long there’ will ‘ be a great political change in Great Britain. A terrible amount of dumping is going on there. At the last general elections in Great -Britain the issues were obscured, and I feel sure that before very long a reaction will take place, and that a strong protest will be made against the dumping of foreign goods that is now being permitted. I urge that we should not by means of a measure of this kind try to intensify the feeling among the people of Great Britain that we are not honest in our professed desire to bring about preferential trade. If there is any trouble we should meet it in another way than by classing the people of the old land with Yankees, Germans, Chinamen, and Japanese.
– Question !
– I think that this is a subject of sufficient importance to warrant every honorable member in freely expressing his opinions.
– A promise was given last night that the debate would not be continued at any great length. Otherwise I should have gone om till a later hour.
– Honorable members will no doubt have made a special note of the speeches delivered by three honorable members who are also members of the Tariff Commission. Although those honorable members very properly refrained from disclosing the information in their possession - and which we are unfortunately precluded from sharing with them at the present time - no one could have more directly or straightforwardly told the Committee that in the light of the knowledge they possessed, the Bill should not be proceeded with.
– They all spoke with the gag in their mouth.
– They spoke in the light of information of which other hon- orable members and the country have not yet been able to avail themselves - information of the most valuable kind bearing upon the objects of the Bill.
– What has this to do with our loyalty to Great Britain?
– The honorable member trades upon the cry of “ loyalty to the Empire “ when he is before the electors, and forgets all about it the moment that he is returned to this House.
– The honorable member does not know what he is talking about.
– No one is so prone as is the honorable member for Melbourne Ports to stigmatize as paupers the artisans of the mother country, who include in their ranks many better men than the honorable member will ever be. I support the amendment because, it seems to me, that it makes a definite step in the direction of preferential trade, of which I have always been a strong supporter. I was elected to this Chamber as a supporter of that principle.
– This is a proposal for preferential dumping.
– We have not had presented to us any evidence of dumping, and the honorable member would be better employed if, instead of persistently interrupting, he produced some facts which would show that the statements made regarding dumping upon our market are wellfounded. Three years ago the Preferential Trade flag, under which a good many of us were elected, was hoisted by the Prime Minister. I desire to make one or two quotations from speeches delivered by him in Sydneyjust prior to the last general elections, and I think that I shall be able to show that the principle which underlies the amendment then received his strongest advocacy. The Prime Minister went . to Sydney for the definite purpose - and he was quite entitled to do so - of inducing the electors to return him and his followers to Parliament, in order that fiscal peace might prevail, and preferential trade be brought about. He appeared, in company with the Hon. B. R. Wise, at the Town Hall, Paddington, in support of Mr. Dalley, who sought to win the seat now so ably filled by the honorable member for Went worth. He said -
He and Mr. Wise, who differed on fiscal questions, found themselves side by side upon the same national platform. In that one circumstance, they had the key to the new situation that was developing. The old shibboleths had been laid aside, and they had to fit themselves to the new circumstances by which they were confronted.
The Prime Minister then could talk of nothing but the Empire. He voiced the cry of the “ Empire for the citizens of the Empire,’’ and we heard nothing of the cry of “Australia for the Australians.” He went on to say -
This fact had awakened those who were vigilant and who saw the Empire’s necessities. They must view them not from the Australian point of view alone, and not from the British point alone, but from the view of the Empire as a whole. It was from that stand-point that they were bound to decide the issue submitted to them during the coming election. Theirs was a platform upon which protectionists and freetraders could alike join hands. Mr. Wise was as firm in his fiscal faith as he (Mr. Deakin) was, but he realized the fact that they were no longer faced by the same circumstances.
The Prime Minister then made a strong point. He remarked -
There was the plain fact that if they wanted preference to be given to the mother country they must return this (Deakin) Government to the next Parliament with a majority. If the people desired no preference to be. given to the mother country, they would put the Opposition into power. The establishment of preferential trade would give the Empire greater strength. It would mean that the people of Australia and the other dependencies of the Empire would obtain a larger share of the Empire trade ; it would mean that the component parts of the Empire would be able to trade more to their mutual advantage.
In this utterance we have presented the distinct and clear programme of the preferentialtrader. Speaking at the Town Hall, Sydney”, on the same date, the Prime Minister said -
The real question at issue in regard to the proposals of the Government was the establishment of trade relations with the mother country. Free-trade and protection were the old catchwords. He would show them the difference between the old and the new. It was not a question of free-trade or protection. It was a question of freer trade within the Empire. (Cheers.) In Australia in ten years the imports of British goods had declined by£1, 000,000 a year - our foreign imports had increased by£5,000,000. The same thing had manifested itself in Canada and Canada recognised this and granted a preference tariff to the mother country. The decline ceased tinder that tariff, and in six years the trade with the mother country doubled. What reason was there why the same thing should not apply to Australia? Why should we not become larger customers for British goods.
We are now asking the Prime Minister to carry out his election pledges.
– When the sitting was suspended I was completing a quotation from an eloquent speech which was delivered by the Prime Minister prior to the last general election upon the subject of preferential trade. The honorable and learned gentleman went on to say -
Why should we not send to the mother country the sum of£14,000,000 which we send abroad ? Why should we not give a preference to the mother country so as to buy more from her than from the Argentine? Whom were we called upon to consider within the Empire except citizens of the Empire?
In concluding he said -
They would not tamper with the Tariff, but would stimulate industry. The people could only achieve those objects by returning candidates who would support the Government, because the policy of the Opposition was not preference to the mother country. If the Government were returned with a majority, they would propose preferential trade. Let them make the home land a reality. Their watchword was fiscal peace and preferential trade.
It will be seen that at the last elections the Prime Minister and his party made this question a vital one, and I claim that they are now afforded an opportunity of giving effect to the very principles upon which they were elected. I have a vivid recollection - because I take a deeper interest in this question than in any other - that the Prime Minister intimated that he was prepared to grant a preference to the mother country without seeking anything whatever in return. I find that, when he was speaking upon the Address-in-Reply on 3rd March, 1904, the leader of the Opposition interjected -
The question is : Will the Minister make a substantial reduction of the duties in order to achieve the glorious results that he is picturing?
To which the honorable and learned gentleman replied -
Speaking personally, I am perfectly prepared to do so.
– I wonder if he will indorse that statement now.
– All that we ask is that? Ministers shall at least grant some modicum of preference to the mother country - an action which I believe the electors of the Commonwealth would readily indorse. What is the whole policy of the Commonwealth, so far as immigration is concerned? We shall very shortly be asked to sanction the appointment of a High Commissioner in London, largely in order that we may secure suitable immigrants for Australia. I am satisfied that there is nobody in this House or outside of it who wishes to see an influx of the artisan class into the Commonwealth at this precise moment The immigrants whom we desire to attract are those connected with agricultural pursuits. The general idea is that upon the seaboard of Australia especially, a much larger number of people should be settled. What is the position to-day? In connexion with every additional acre that is ploughed for the cultivation of wheat, or laid down in orchards, or sown with grasses for dairying purposes, we all recognise that the one object in view is that of export. In the majority of our primary industries our production already exceeds our local consumption. In the sugar industry within a comparatively few years the production must be largely in excess of Australian requirements1, and then the surplus must be sent abroad. Where are we to send it?
– Send it to Tasmania, to enable the apple-growers to convert their fruit into jam.
– Great as is the future of the fruit industry of Tasmania, I fear that it will not be able to absorb the surplus production of sugar within the next fewyears. If the honorable member knew asmuch about the manufacture of jam as he does about tropical fruits-
– I know a good apple when I eat it.
– If the honorable member knew as much about jam-making as he does about the cultivation of tropical fruits, he would1 know that, as a matter of fact, our apples are not converted into jam. The moment that the Australian production of sugar exceeds Australian requirements we shall have to export the surplus, just as we do in the case of our wheat, butter, wool, and fruit, and the only possible market for the whole of our primary products is that offered by the mother country. As has already been pointed out, Great Britain opens her ports to us, so as to permit of us “ dumping,” as the Minister of Trade and Customs would say, the whole of our primary products into that country.
– Other countries take our products, as well as Great Britain.
– I do not know of any other country which admitsour primary products without subjecting them to Tariff duties. It is true that they take our gold and our wool-
– They do, to an enormous extent.
– But so far as our wheat, butter, and fruit are concerned, the United Kingdom is the only market which is open to us.
– But the prices of the world rule there.
– I am aware of that, and that is one of my objections to a Bill of this character, which may perhaps hamper the producer, who has to compete in the markets’ of the world, and so prevent him from producing at the lowest possible price. There is a great national question involved in the consideration of this proposal. I am an Australian, and I yield to none in my desire to see the Commonwealth flourish and progress. But I do think that there is such a thing as national “sponging,” just as there may be individual “ sponging.” Alii the talk of preferential trade and “ the bonds of Empire” is sheer hypocrisy if when a proposal is brought forward in a concrete form we refuse to indorse it. I am a preferential trader under almost any circumstances. I am prepared to grant an unconditional preference to the mother country. I am prepared to increase the duties which we levy upon the productions of foreign countries proportionately as we reduce them upon British goods. If we extend to Great Britain a preference of 5 per cent, upon any article, I am prepared to add that 5 per cent, to the duty we impose upon the importations from foreign countries. I am wholly in sympathy with the declaration of the Prime Minister at the last election that we owe something to the Empire in the matter of her trade relations with, us, altogether apart from the question of the national protection which we enjoy at the hands of the British Navy. We owe a great debt to Great Britain, inasmuch as she takes the surplus of practically everything that we produce. If we give effect to the policy of the Minister cf Trade and Customs bv practically erecting a Chinese wall around Australia, so as to prevent importation, sooner or later those who have to export to the old world will be called upon to face largely increased freights. The factor which chiefly contributes to cheap freights is full bottoms. If we have to send a ship in ballast to any country, high freights must be charged, because half the journey is undertaken at a dead loss, and the whole of the profits must be obtained from the one voyage. The way to foster the export trade is to secure full bottoms to and from Australia. I hold that we ought to embody the amendment of the honorable member for North Sydney in this Bill, for the purpose of preventing a direct stigma being cast - as the deputy leader of the Opposition has pointed out’ - upon the traders of the old country. So far as I have been able to gather from the newspaper reports of the proceedings of the Tariff Commission, there has not been one tittle of evidence adduced to show that there has been any dumping of goods in Australia on the part of Great Britain. The dumping of which complaint has been made, has come largely from Germany, Japan, and the United States.
– Then this Bill will not affect Great Britain.
– If the mother country is trading honestly with us, I do not think that we ought to class her amongst those whom the Minister has charged with a direct attempt to crush Australian industries, with a view subsequently to fleecing the Australian farmer by charging him an increased price for his agricultural implements. I do not blame the Minister for having made that charge, because it provides his only justification for the introduction of a Bill of this character. He has given us to understand that there has been a deliberate attempt on the part of some manufacturers to secure Australian trade for the ultimate purpose of fleecing the local consumer. But not one tittle of evidence has been forthcoming to show that anything of the kind has emanated from the old ‘country in her trading relations with the Commonwealth. I have never believed in the doctrine that we should regard every man as a criminal until he has established his innocence. I hold that we should regard the traders of Great Britain as innocent of any desire to wreck Australian manufactures for the purpose of securing the whole of our trade until evidence is forthcoming of their guilt. We should not be called upon to legislate in the dark. From the evening newspaper we learn to-day that the Tariff Commission has completed the talking of evidence. The only reason I can assign for the attempt of Ministers to force the Bill through t!he House before that evidence is furnished is that they are afraid’ that it will not substantiate the charges which they have made here. It is rumoured that many of those who believed that the Tariff Commission was going-
– The honorable member must not discuss that matter.
– It is not fair to ask us to proceed with the measure until that evidence, which is already in type, has been circulated. I sincerely hope that the third reading, of the ‘Bill will not be agreed to until it is available. There is no reason why it should not be , in our hands in a very short time”. In view of the -fact that the collection of this evidence has cost Australia many thousands of pounds, and represents the hard1 labour of some of our ablest public men for seventeen months,* it is not fair either to the Chamber or to the country that it should not be circulated before the Bill is disposed of. I hope that, in view of their protestations in favour of preferential trade, the Prime Minister and his followers will show their consistency and earnestness by agreeing to the amendment.
– Is the honorable member stone-walling ?
– I have not yet said a word on this amendment. I do not know that the Minister has any right , to suggest that there is anything in the nature of a stone wall because an honorable member happens to rise to say a few words in support of the amendment. In my opinion, it is most unwise to unduly rush through a measure containing clauses which are so pregnant with the possibility of rupture, if not ruination, in connexion with our trade relations, not merely with the British Empire, but with the rest of the world. Part III. contains’ certain highly objectionable provisions, and the honorable member for North. Sydney has proposed an amendment to prevent their application to the mother country. Practically speaking, his amendment amounts to a declaration of preference in matters of trade with the mother country. Ministers, including the Minister of Trade and Customs, have ‘frequently given voice to the most lofty aspirations about the necessity of drawing closer the bonds of friendship between Great Britain and Australia, the bonds which unite us in one common Empire, and similar high-flown and very laudable sentiments. The amendment is designed to give them an opportunity to carry into effect their professions. I sincerely hope that they will be seized with the purpose of the amendment, and its appositeness to their so-oft-repeated professions, and, by agreeing to our suggestion, and embodying it as a Ministerial amendment in this part of the Bill, will render a vote upon it unnecessary. In opposing the amendment, Ministerial supporters, apparently, have lost sight of the fact that we already have a Tariff against the goods of the mother country. As a further proof of their desire to unite the whole of’ the British people in one great Empire, they come down with provisions which will impose still greater barriers against the trade of Great Britain with Australia. I have not the slightest sympathy with any legislation of that character. I make no secret of the fact that I for one am willing to pull down, stone by stone, the Tariff wall against Great Britain, until not a stone is left. That is the way in which. I would show my desire to unite the whole of the British-speaking people. What I would do in the case of Great Britain I would also do in the case of other Britishspeaking communities. I would extend similar consideration to the people of all other countries, and thus carry out that grand principle - which, I believe, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is so fond of expounding on various occasions - of doing unto others as we would they should do unto us.
– Hear, hear; that is a good motto.
– The honorable member applauds the1 principle with his lips, but how does he carry it out in practice ?
– Ah ! that is the point.
– The honorable member is not only engaged in supporting a Tariff wall against the products of the mother country - a thing which he would resent if she were to erect a similar wall against the importation of Australian products into Great Britain - but he is now proposing to place further disabilities upon British exporters to this country. That is the way in which he carries out the principle for which he professes so profound an admiration.
– What principle is that?
– The honorable member has just applauded with his lips the principle of doing unto others as we would they should do unto us. We have so many of these lip professions that we are entitled to ask honorable members opposite to prove their sincerity .bv carrying the principle into effect. An opportunity is afforded by the amendment to carry the principle into effect in regard to the mother country. Let us do unto Great Britain not only what we would she should do unto us, but as she has been doing unto us since our existence as Dependencies of the Empire. When I listen to honorable members opposite proposing to put disabilities in the way of trade with our own kith and kin in the mother country, I feel ashamed to think that I have to call them fellow Australians. They talk about the principle of Australia for the Australians. This is carrying out the idea to an absurd extent. Only a little while ago the honorable member for Moira declaimed against our idea of maintaining loyalty to the mother country by opening our ports to her products, and he asserted that if we want to be loyal we should be loyal to Australia. I am one of those who do not want to be otherwise than loyal to Australia, and I shall always resent any attempt to cast upon me an aspersion of that character. In being loyal to Australia, however, we can also be loyal to the Empire, and loyalty to the Empire does not in any way mean disloyalty to Australia ; but on the contrary is the highest form of loyalty and patriotism to this southern land of ours, and which is only ours to-day because the motherland has given it to us, and her powerful arm protects us in secure possession. On the other hand, there is a species of loyalty to Australia which is only a thinly-veiled disloyalty to the mother country, and that is the bogus kind of loyalty which I certainly raise my voice against and despise. The amendment provides honorable members on the other side with an opportunity of proving the sincerity of their profession of a desire to draw closer the bonds of union between the people of the English nation and ourselves. By their vote we shall be able to understand exactly what their professions are worth. If they vote against the amendment, I hope that we shall hear no more of that kind of profession from them, because they then will have been completely exposed. This part of the Bill is most far-reaching in its effects upon the whole of the trade of Australia. If the Bill should pass into operation with its more objectionable features unamended, or in anything like their present form, we shall have to take steps as soon as possible to undo legislation of such a mischievous character. Let us imagine for a moment that a clause of the kind were passed by the British Parliament for the purpose of injuring or destroying Australian imports, and carried into operation. Where would our export trade with the mother country be? It would vanish. And where would we be then ? Yet it is assumed that our kith and kin in the mother country will send goods here, not for the purpose of honest and legitimate trade with us, but for the purpose of injuring and destroying our industries withfelonious intent. I refuse to believe that they will. I decline to be a party to any legislation which assumes that they will. It is a shame and a discredit upon the Ministry that a Bill containing such imputations and allegations against the people of the mother country should be introduced here. I consider that the Opposition are fully justified in opposing its passage with all the strength that they can command. I. realize that our efforts will be futile. The Minister is sifting in his chair calmly conscious of the fact that he can rely upon a mere brutal majority, who do not even attend in the Chamber to listen to argument or criticism.
– Order !
– I will say, sir, that the Minister is simply relying upon the force of numbers, as I have no desire to hurt the feelings of honorable members opposite by the use of over-strong phrases. It. is only the knowledge that he has the numbers behind him that enables the honorable gentleman to bludgeon legislation through this House when it is shown that it is mischievous in its character and is likely to be followed bv consequences most serious to the commerce, industry, and prosperity of the country. I know that it is useless to address arguments to the honorable gentleman or to submit facts for his consideration. He does not want either. All he desires is the passage of legislation which will entrench upon the privileges of Parliament, and its control over taxation. He desires that we shall give to an irresponsible body outside a power to control the trade and commerce of the country, so that by the actual prohibition of imports, at the Minister’s sweet will, such extreme protection shall be afforded to local manufacturers as will enable them to establish local monopolies. Arguments fall upon deaf ears in contending against legislation of this character, but I have no hesitation in declaring where I am on this amendment. I shall vote for it, and whenever I get the opportunity I shall be prepared to afford our kith and kin in Great Britain every facility to trade with us on fairer terms than they can do at the present time. I am prepared to pull down all barriers against free ingress and egress to our ports. I shall always be found voting in the direction of reducing Tariff duties, which already hamper our trade with the old country.
– I support the amendment, because I am a free-trader. The honorable member for Echuca has tried to be funny at the expense of free-traders in this Chamber, and has said that we are giving up our principles in supporting this amendment. I am afraid I am unable to give the honorable member credit for very much intelligence if he believes that. The honorable member spoke as a preferential trader. We are not preferential traders of his kind, or like those who are responsible for the introduction of this Bill. We are prepared to admit the goods of other countries to Australia free. If we are unable to do so, then we are prepared, if possible, to admit British manufactures free. The honorable member for Echuca referred to the way in which he spoke to an immense crowd somewhere in England. He told them about our love for the old country, and that we were prepared to assist them by some kind of preference. What kind of preference? The honorable member said, “ We will not let your goods come in free. We shall keep our Tariff up against the goods you send us, but we desire that you shall impose a duty upon goods coming from other countries similar to those which we send you, and let ours in free, and thus make it harder for your poor to live, so that we may pocket something atyour expense.” That is the preferential trade of the honorable member for Echuca, and of honorable members opposite.
– That is not what I said this afternoon.
– Surely the honorable member for Echuca did not tell English people that?
– Of course, the honorable member did not; but it is just the kind of thing which the selfish protectionists proclaim. They never desire to help themselves, but some other fellow,, and’ yet all the time they are seeking to get their arms up to the elbows in other people’s pockets. The honorable member for Echuca, the Prime Minister, and otherprotectionists desire that the British people shall impose duties upon the goods sent to them by other nations, and not upon the goods we send. They desire that our advantage shall be considered, even at an increased cost to the poor of England, that our farmers may pocket something at the expense of the British poor. The honorable member for Echuca calls that love for the old country. If honorable members can point to anything more mean and more despicable than that kind of preferential trade, I should like to know what it is. If I appear to have spoken strongly, it is because the honorable member for Echuca sought to sneer at free-trade and free-traders in this Chamber who, in supporting this amendment, show that they are prepared to give an honest and not a pretended preference to the old country. The Canadians in their Tariff gave a preference to Great Britain without asking for anything in return. They did not ask that the people of the old land should penalize themselves for their benefit. They simply said, “ We will give you a preference against all the other nations of the world.” That is what we are asking for by this amendment, that an absolute preference should be given to England. We will know who the true preferential traders are, and who are the bogus and hypocritical preferential traders when the vote on this amendment is taken. We have heard a great deal about preference to Great Britain from the present Prime Minister. The honorable and learned member has talked about the Empire, the necessity for all its parts standing together, and for having freer trade between them. To-day, honorable members opposite are not talking of preference to the old land. They are talking of Australia for the Australians. Last night we had an honorable and learned gentleman opposite rebuking a member of this House because he stated that he was prepared to let British goods come into Australia., even though they injured Australian industries. He stated that he was no Australian if he did so. This rebuke was by a preferentialist who claims to be a lover of the old land. I am an Australian born, and I have a family of Australians, but I love the old land better 1 than to desire to obtain any advantage for Australia at her expense. No vote of mine will ever be given _to place any disability upon men of British origin. I shall never adopt the policy that because a man is an Australian, and only because he is an Australian, he must be preferred for any position to a man of British origin who is not Australian born. I say that the honorable and learned gentleman who made the statement to which I have referred, shows what little love he possesses for the old land. England has been the home of the outcast. The British people have ever had a friendly feeling for those who have been tyrannized over in their own lands. The honorable and learned gentleman to whom I refer is a descendant of two great races. He is a descendant of the great and noble Jewish race, and the country that has stood by the Jewish people, protected them, and given them equal rights with other men, is the grand little land yonder. Time and again she has opened her doors to provide an asylum for people of the race from whom, the honorable and learned gentleman has come. Yet he dares to say here that the man who would give a preference to the land that has offered an asylum to his race is a traitor to Australia.
– The honorable and learned gentleman did not say that.
– He did not say that. But what did he mean ? What the honorable and learned gentleman said was that such a man was “ no Australian.” What did that mean but that he was a traitor to this land, if he would give a preference to the little land yonder, the land of freedom, that has ever been an asylum for the oppressed. I believe that the honorable and learned gentleman’s parents were of the Polish race, a noble race of people, who in times gone by have given their lives for freedom. They have laid down their lives in order to preserve the freedom of their own country. Yet this honorable and learned gentleman dares to make the remarks he did about the country that has helped that oppressed race, and has found an asylum for them. I say to his shame be it, that he should make such statements here, and in the way he did. I say that such statements were beneath the contempt of honorable members who listened to the honorable and learned gentleman’s remarks. I admit that I am here to give a preference to Great Britain. The butter, fruit, frozen meat and tinned meat which we send to
England by competing in that country with the home products, keep the prices of those products down, and lower the remuneration of the people who are engaged in producing; them there. If the British people applied the principle of this Bill, they would seek to impose Customs duties upon the goods which we send them, and to prevent their importation. They are produced here under much more favorable circumstances than they can be produced ir> England, and for that reason, if the people of England adopted the principle of this Bill, they would be justified in protecting themselves from the competition of those goods. But England opens her ports freely to us and to all the world, and if Australia would but take a lesson from the grand old country, instead of developing the narrow close selfishness of protection as she is doing, it would be better for her, and better for her people, in the days that are to come. I shall always be found upon the side of the country from which we have sprung. We were told this afternoon, in an interjection, that “ We made this country, not Great Britain.” I wonder where on earth we should have been if Great Britain had not been behind us. I wonder what would have become of this country had it not been for the force and prestige of the old land. Yet in our little simplicity and in our puny selfishness, in our arrogance and pride - though I do not know what we have to be proud of - we say, “ We made this great country.” We have done all we could to destroy it. The legislation of this Parliament, it appears to me, instead of assisting to elevate and develop the country, is calculated to bring us into contempt everywhere. It is calculated, instead of making us a great and noble people, to do us just the reverse. Those who talk of our having made this country ought to hide their heads in shame, for Australia would have belonged to some other people had it not been for the power of England. I believe that the principles of freedom are best for us all, and that what we want in this country is not more restriction, but less of it. The Government ha.ve just lately placed before us a new mail contract that has been referred to in high terms. The effect of it is to be to shorten the journey to the old country. But the Government, if they are to be consistent, ought to block our ports. The legislation which we are dealing with should lead us, not to have fast steam-ships, but to go back to the old sailing boats of the last century. Why should we pretend that we want faster steam-ship communication, whilst at the same time, by the legislation they propose, this Ministry seeks to restrict and destroy trade with every country? These restrictions are “for the benefit of the few, not of the many. They are calculated to mate men rich at the expense of the community. And that is all any restrictive legislation ever did or can do - to rob the multitude, to put wealth into the pockets of a few. The Minister who is in charge of this Bill would not allow the matter to remain in abeyance until the reports of the Tariff Commission were, before us. He knew that once those reports were in our hands this Bill would be doomed. There is no evidence in favour of it. It is a Bill to benefit about two firms in the State of Victoria. One of those firms is British. If I had my way I would exempt Canada, as a part of the British Empire, from the operation of this measure. I would allow the products of that country to come in without restriction. We are justified in the strong opposition we are making to the Bill. If honorable members wish to give Great Britain a true preference, there is no other way than that proposed by the honorable member for North Sydney. Until we stand out for greater freedom we shall never develop a spirit that will give us strength to compete with the world1 in every department, but -shall remain a weak and spineless nation.
– The turn which the debate has taken ought to be satisfactory to the Minister of Trade and Customs, because in the past he has been very loud in expressing his views in favour of preferential trade. Preferential trade with Great Britain is a great policy that is worthy of realization. The honorable member for North Sydney has been very wise in proposing the amendment before the Committee. The Bill, without such an amendment in it, would certainly have the effect of shutting out the manufactures of Great Britain, because it says that, if those manufactures would probably lead to Australian goods being either withdrawn from the market, or sold at a loss, or produced at a lower remuneration for labour, they may be excluded. We cannot read those words without recalling to mind the addresses delivered throughout England by Mr. Chamberlain about two years ago. He stumped Great Britain advocating preferential trade. Mr. Chamberlain then pointed out that the manufactures forming the secondary industries of Great Britain should be transferred to the dependencies of the Empire, amongst which he especially mentioned Australasia, laying special stress upon the States forming the Commonwealth. He pointed out that the loss of trade to Great Britain per annum was something like ,£45,000,000; and that, while that might be accounted for to some extent by the lower cost of production, owing to improved machinery, there were, nevertheless, in the manufacturing centres of Great Britain 166,000 operatives out of employment. He appealed to the statesmen of the Dependencies of the Empire, and said, ‘ ‘ Will you not do something for us at Home?” The large-hearted Minister of Trade and Customs, who then sat in the shades of Opposition, came down to this House with a motion in favour of preferential trade. What has become of that motion? What has become of his ardour for trade with Great Britain ? What has he to say now, when he has an opportunity to bring forward legisl’ation that would1 accomplish preferential trade1? What has he to say in excuse for himself ? The honorable member for North Sydneyhas done the Commonwealth much service bv giving the Minister an opportunity to redeem a lost laurel ; for it did seem that he had been shuffled into a place in the Ministry which prevented him from bringing forward his cherished proposal. The amendment proposes to grant preferential trade to Great Britain by saying that an embargo shall not be levied upon the goods of that country - the products of the traders, merchants, and artisans of England, who are paying 15s. per head for n navy for the protection of Australia and of Australian trade, as against is. per head that we in Australia are paying under the Naval Agreement. Mr. Chamberlain said that in twenty years, the time when effective legislation could be passed to give effect to the idea of preferential trade would have passed. Is not the Minister of Trade and Customs going to take any action ? Is he not going to follow the example of the late Mr. Seddon in saying that, whilst we legislate against dumping and the sending .of surplus products from foreign countries, produced by people who have no interest in British artisans, we will give a preference in favour of Great Britain? These are fair stipulations to make. They are similar to the proposals of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, in Canada, when he said - “ Great Britain has given us the advantageof trading with foreign countries under the most favoured nation clause of treaties entered into by her, an advantage which we could not have obtained for ourselves.” These are great advantages, which could not have been obtained1 but for the prestige and power of Great Britain. Can we not be friendly? Can we not say to our kith and kin that we will place them on equal terms with our own workmen under this Bill, and give the latter the one advantage which Mr. Chamberlain said might be given. Mr. Chamberlain urged that the Tariff which now exists might continue against the foreigner, but that lower duties should operate against the British manufacturer and exporter, so that the latter might be able to command that part of the trade . which is so dear to Great Britain. The Minister of Trade and Customs has spoken of the importation of metals and machinery, and Mr. Chamberlain referred to tin-plate ware and ironmongery ; and these embrace about £7,000,000 worth of trade. In the famous speech which Mr. Chamberlain delivered at Glasgow, and repeated in other parts of Scotland and in England, he stated that the trade with the Colonial Empire represented£40,000, 000, and urged that it ought to be made greater for the good of the Empire. The Minister of Trade and Customs, trading on the sentiment that was then abroad, came down with a proposition that appealed to the supporters of the Government of the right honorable member for East Sydney, who was then Prime Minister. The subject of preferential trade was, in that session, discussed by honorable members, including; myself, or. the Address-in-Reply : and a full-dress debate would have taken place, but for the tabling of the motion referred to by the Minister of Trade and Customs. Did the Minister, after the general election, table that motion for the purpose of blocking discussion? We were then at liberty to show at length the advantage which Australia would derive by the adoption of preferential trade with Great Britain ; but the Minister of Trade and Customs brought flown his motion, and did not withdraw it at a time when, otherwise, the Question might have been- discussed. When the hon orable gentleman had an opportunity to get in the front place of a Ministry, with the emoluments of office, he followed the protectionist methods he had observed in the State of New South Wales. As soon as he became a member of the Government he said nothing about protection to the manufacturer, though when in the shades of Opposition he, in order to get party support, could talk of nothing else. I wish to know why the Minister of Trade and Customs has changed his viewson preferential trade, and I invite him to make a statement on the question. Why has his ardour cooled ? Has he ceased to be the Imperial representative he formerly thought himself to be in Australia? Is he not now sitting at the feet of Gamaliel, in the person of Mr. Chamberlain ? It would appear that both the Minister of Trade and Customs and the Treasurer think very little indeed, of preferential trade, so long as they can enjoy the benefits of office.
– No, no.
– Those honorable gentlemen shake their sides with laughter at the manner in which they have gulled the public, and scooped the pool. They have sat at the feet of Mr. Chamberlain, and prated of preferential trade throughout the Commonwealth; and they are now expected to “toe the mark,” and show that they are worthy of the position of Australian statesmen.
– The honorable member is against preferential trade, is he not?
– If the Treasurer were oftener in his place in the House he would know what I am in favour of.
– The honorable member’s leader is against preferential trade.
– The right honorable member for East Sydney is not against preferential trade.
– Yes, he is.
– The right honorable member for East Sydney is well able to speak for himself, and does not require that I should speak for him. As a member of the Opposition, however, I may say that the right honorable member for East Sydney is in favour of a preferential trade which will remove the barrier as against the Britisher, and raise it as against the foreigner. That is the preferential trade we desire - a real preferential trade with Great Britain. What do the Treasurer and the Minister for Trade and Customs offer? They offer to give a preference by leaving the duties as they are against the mother country, and raising them as against foreign nations. What advantage would that be to Australia? What advantage would that be to the 166,000 unemployed men in England, of whom Mr. Chamberlain spoke? When the Treasurer was in England as a representative of the Colonial Empire - when he was acting as the representative of the Australian Defence Department - Mr. Chamberlain declared
– I was not there as a member of the Conference.
– I find I am correct in my assertion that the Treasurer was then in England, because I remember reading of his delivering an address there on defence matters. The honorable gentleman was in England with Sir Edmund Barton, and I suppose that, as a member of the Cabinet, he knew that the latter was party to a promise made to Mr. Chamberlain that, on his return to Australia, the best would be done to promote preferential trade between Australia and the mother country. The late Mr. Seddon made a similar promise, and, true to his word as a Colonial statesman, he introduced the necessary legislation. But what do we find the representatives of the Government doing? The Minister of Trade and Customs sits at the table here, and, with the Treasurer, shakes with laughter when I speak of their sitting at the feet of their Gamaliel, Mr. Chamberlain, who stumped his country in favour of preferential trade.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN (Mr. Mauger). - Will the- honorable member connect his remarks with the question under discussion ?
– The Acting Chairman is evidently not aware of the words of the amendment, which proposes that the clause shall not affect goods “imported from and the product of the United Kingdom.” Does that not mean preferential trade? Is the amendment not designed to give preference to British goods ? Does the amendment not mean the insertion in the Bill of, practically, the words used in the New Zealand Act, which ‘gives a real preference? That is the connexion of my remarks with the Question before the Chair. Why would the Minister of Trade and Customs not assist a policy which offered a preference to our staple productsin Great Britain, and a preferential “market for British manufactures to certain foreign imports”? That is the proposal that was made to the Minister of Trade and Customs long ago, by the unionist Government in Great Britain, in order that the manufacturers of England might get their raw material at the lowest possible price. Mr. Chamberlain dealt at length with that phase of the question, but took an opposite view from that of the present Prime Minister of Australia, who seeks, by means of this Bill, to increase the cost of raw material to manufacturers, as pointed out by the deputationists to the Minister of Trade and Customs last week. I invite the Minister to step out with the flag of preferential trade under which he stumped the country. Many free-traders at the general election, in their desire for preferential trade, were prepared to stand behind the Government then in power, rather than behind their natural leaders, whom they had followed for many years. When, however, the Minister of Trade and Customs had gained their adherence to the policy that was so fluently advocated by the present Prime Minister, he “ went back” on them, and put the proposal under the table. Such action is worthy only of the Minister of Trade and Customs, who is only a trickster in politics - an opportunist who seeks to serve his own ends.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN .(Mr. Mauger). - Order ! The honorable member must not use such terms in regard to the Minister of Trade and Customs.
– Had it been any other honorable member, I might have taken some notice of the remarks.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN.- The honorable member for Robertson must withdraw the word “ trickster,” which is quiteout of order.
– I withdraw the word. The Minister of Trade and Customs has done many acts which in private would cause honorable members to refer tothem as trickery ; but we cannot conceiveof a Minister of the Crown, or an honorable member of this House, representing a constituency in the great State of New South Wales, with a true sense of his responsibilities, tricking the people who follow him.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN.- The honorable member must not follow that line of argument which is not pertinent to the- amendment under discussion, and is distinctly unparliamentary. The honorable member must not speak of another honorable member as a “trickster.”
– I have withdrawn the word “trickster,” as unparliamentary, but I say that, if outside-
The ACTING CHAIRMAN.- The honorable member must not evade a withdrawal by repeating the unparliamentary words in an indirect way.
– I withdraw the remark; but I say that, if any person outside were to gather together a following under the banner of preferential trade, and then deceive that following when an opportunity presented itself of carrying the policy into effect, he would be called a traitor, and would never again be followed as a representative of the people. Occasionally there are exceptions to the rule of parliamentary procedure, and I am not permitted to further refer to that phase of the question. What has the British Navy done for our trade? Where would our trade be if we had not the. protection of the British Navy ? What would become of the tens of millions of pounds’ worth of Colonial trade in time of war if we had not the Navy to protect it from attack. For the Auxiliary Fleet in Australia we pay £200,000 a year. That fleet cost the British taxpayer £2,500,000, which represents1s per head of our population, as against 15s. per head paid for the protection of our trade by the British workmen whose goods are not to be admitted here. Should we not be a despicable set of people if we refused to trade with our own kith and kin. and resolved to shut out the productions of the horny-handed, hard-fisted workers of that country. The 40,000,000 people in Great Britain contribute largely to our protection, and aid our development in every way possible, asking absolutely nothing in return. That is not the way in which the Continental nations treat their Colonies, which have to contribute to the home exchequers. We, however, pay to Great Britain very much less than the actual cost of the protection which we receive from the presence of her vessels of war in our waters. TheAttorney-General has told the Committee that the amendment cannot be accepted, because the British manufacturer might take advantage of the preference held out to him, and dump goods in our markets in order to cripple our industries. That seems to me a very weak argument.
Have we not a Tariff to protect our manufacturers against such importations? And are we not about to receive reports from a Royal Commission appointed to investigate the working of that Tariff? The Prime Minister, in reply to a question asked by me yesterday, stated that, upon the presentation of those reports, he will introduce a Bill to amend the present Tariff. I take it that, in some cases where there are anomalies, he will propose a reduction of duties ; but do we not know that in most cases he will propose the raising of duties ? How can there be dumping such as would cripple our industries, in the face of a high protective Tariff? No instances of dumping have been put before the Committee. The Minister has referred us to a list of imports totalling in value £7,000,000. But we know, as a matter of fact, that, taking into account the increase of population, the value of our imports varies hardly to the extent of £100,000 a year in tin plates and ironmongery. ‘ Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, who calls himself the missionary of Empire, has said that Great Britain expects consideration from the Colonies, which are equally concerned in the development and permanency of the Empire. He wants us to increase the production of Great Britain by taking the products of her secondary industries, while she, on her part, will take from us the products of our primary industries. Has he not defined commerce as the exchange of goods for goods? With that phase of the question I will deal later. When the AttorneyGeneral was sitting, on the cross benches, and supporting the Watson Administration, he issued a manifesto for the information of honorable members and the public at large, in one paragraph of which he announced that he favoured preferential trade, and, on one occasion when I was speaking on the subject, he interjected, “ Is the honorable member against preferential trade?”
– Is the honorable member in favour of it ?
– I, like the honorable member, am infavour of preferential trade.
– I am not.
– Then the honorable member has lost the faith which he had. There was a time when he believed that there should be comparative free-trade between Great Britain and Australia. I am in favour of bringing about preferential trade by reducing the duties on British imports, leaving the Tariff as it is on foreign imports. The duties on British imports must come down.
– In some cases.
– In every case. Mr. Chamberlain has declared that there can be no compact between Great Britain and her Colonies unless the mother country is given a preference. What preference can we give her, unless we reduce the duties on tin plates and iron manufactures, the chief lines upon which Mr. Chamberlain has asked for preference?
– Would the honorable member give preference to the productions of India?
– I include India in my system of preferential trade.
– - Oh !
– Does the Minister think that any Australian industry will be injured by the dumping into this market of Indian tea, coffee, or rice? If he had any knowledge of our trade with India, he would know how unlikely it is that any Australian industry would be crippled by the dumping in this market of Indian goods. He clutched at the interjection of the honorable member for Grey as a drowning man clutches at a straw.
– I should like to ask the honorable member for Robertson a question, through you, Mr. Chairman.
– The honorable and learned member cannot speak now, except to a point of order. Do I understand that he is addressing me on a point of order?
– What I wish to say may be taken as a point of order, if you, sir, like to regard it in that light. I wish to know whether I shall have an opportunity to make a speech to-night, for I have something to say on this subject, and it does not seem likely that the honorable member will soon bring his remarks to a conclusion ?
– If the honorable and learned member has something to say, I hope that he will say it. He very often speaks without saying anything. At one time preferential trade was the trump card of the Attorney-General ; and the Prime Minister, too. stumped the country in favour of that policy.
– The honorable member has said this six times.
– Probably I shall say it sixty times before I have finished with the subject.
– The honorable member would have made a good bishop.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports is nothing unless he is ridiculous. What has become of the advocacy of the AttorneyGeneral of preferential trade? Was he in earnest when he declared himself to be in favour of that policy, or was he following the example of the Minister of Trade and Customs, and making that declaration only for political purposes? Was what he said only so much clap-trap, like his speech to the miners in his constituency, when he went back on protection, and spoke of whipping the willing horse to death? It seems to me that he is giving merely lip service to the Empire. He is shrewd enough to know the side on which his bread is buttered ; but, now that he has got into office, he has forgotten his promises to the country.
– Is the honorable member in order in saying that a Minister has broken his promises, and is acting only for political and personal ends?
– I did not understand the honorable member for Robertson to say that any Minister has done that ; but if he did say so, I am sure that he will withdraw the words.
– Whatever may be your ruling, sir, I shall abide by it. The Attorney-General, by prohibiting the importation of goods which are necessary alike to the manufacturer and the primary producer, is retarding progress and is acting in a manner which ill befits his position. The Prime Minister, too, was returned to support preferential . trade, and I ask, why have not he and other Ministers done something for that policy ? Of what use are their professions unless something practical is done? Ministers are only playing with the people, and it seems to me that they are serving their personal ends instead of trying to benefit the country.
– The honorable member must not impute motives.
– I withdraw any remarks which may be considered by you, sir, unparliamentary. The AttorneyGeneral advocated preferential trade with a view to getting into office. He has broken the pledges he gave to his constituents, and has thus been guilty of political dishonesty. We had a right to expect something more from a representative of the people, who is responsible, not only to his constituents, but to every member of this House. I appeal to him to do his duty, and to cease humbugging -the public. An opportunity is now presented to those who believe in pre- ferential trad’e to insure that preference shall be given to importations from Great Britain. Mr. Chamberlain’s appeal which aroused the enthusiasm of the AttorneyGeneral and the Minister of Trade and Customs, and induced the Prime Minister to stump the country in advocacy of preferential trade, had no lasting effect. After they assumed office Ministers entirely overlooked the promises to the people on the strength of which they were elected to this House, and I believe that they will verv soon be called to account for their dereliction of duty. Mr. Chamberlain pointed out that the English trade was languishing to the extent of £46,000,000 per annum.
– I would point out to the honorable member that the question before the Committee is not whether Mr. Chamberlain made certain, statements, but whether certain words should be included in the clause.
– I shall establish the connexion between my remarks and the amendment. Mr. Chamberlain succeeded in satisfying hundreds of thousands of people in Great Britain that preferential trade was necessary, and he made a strong appeal to the people of Australia to assist him in the movement.
– The honorable member will be in order in making a passing reference to Mr. Chamberlain’s statements, but will not be in order in discussing them in detail.
– I have no intention to discuss the matter in detail, because that would take up too much time. After the Conference at which Sir Edmund Barton promised Mr. Chamberlain that on his return to Australia he would introduce legislation which would give preference to Great Britain, Mr. Chamberlain said -
My words to Australia arc these : Do not increase your Tariff walls against us, but put them down where that is necessary to the success of this policy to which you are committed. This is the parting of the ways. In twenty years it will be too late.
This is the first opportunity that we have had presented to us to give effect to the promise made by Sir Edmund Barton, and 1 appeal to honorable members to take advantage of it. The Bill as it stands would practically prohibit the importation of goods from Great Britain if their sale in this market would probably lead to a reduction of wages or an increase of the working hours in our factories. If goods can be produced in other parts of the world at a much less cost than they can be manufactured in Australia, their introduction here must necessarily lead to longer hours of work or reduced pay ‘for our operatives if the local manufacturers expect to monopolize the trade. “ It seems to me that the Bill would operate against Great Britain as well as other countries. Our exports to Great Britain are valued at £12,000,000 per annum, whilst our exports to foreign countries represent an annual value of ,£17,000,000. It is well known that commerce consists in the exchange of goods, and1 that it will be impossible for us to receive payment for our exports of primary products, unless we accept from the countries consuming them certain goods in exchange.- If we do not accept goods from those who take our products, they will soon cease to trade with us. If we place an embargo upon the manufactures of Great Britain, our export trade with that country will be affected to the extent of ,£12,000,000 per annum. If we shut out from Australia the manufactures of Great Britain and other countries that are required by our farmers and producers, how can we possibly receive payment for the products that we export? We cannot hope to establish our manufacturing industries within the next twenty years or more upon such a scale that Ave shall be able io meet all our own requirements, and if the Bill were allowed to operate in the manner that seems to be contemplated, it would reduce us to a hopeless condition. If the provisions of the measure had the effect of increasing the duties upon British imports by 20 per cent., or upon colonial manufacturers to that percentage, we should to that extent reduce the income of our primary producers.
– Does the honorable member intend to connect His remark’s with the amendment? I have been following his speech very carefully, and I cannot see any relation between his observations and the matter now before the Chair.
– I am pointing out that, in order to maintain our commercial relations with GreatBritain, it is necessary for us to take goods from her in exchange for our products. That seems to me to be the very essence of the question. We must not treat goods sent to us in the ordinary course of exchange as if they were being dumped on our shores with the object of destroying our industries. It is necessary to our prosperity that we should exchange commodities with the old country, and, moreover, it behoves us to do something for the motherland. We must be loyal to the Empire, which has done so much for us. Great Britain engages from time to time in numerous little wars in order to protect her extending trade, and our commerce, in common with that of all other parts of the Empire, is carried on under the protection of the British flag. Surely we should not be indifferent to all the benefits that have been conferred upon us by Great Britain. She affords us her protection, and her manufacturers take from us our raw material and give it back to us in the form of manufactured goods. The motherland has given to us of her best. The leading men in our universities come from the motherland, and in every walk of life, and in every branch of industry, she has assisted us. We should certainly give her a preference over foreign nations. Instead of shutting out her good’s, we should do all we can to foster her trade by entering into reciprocal relations. We should follow the example of New Zealand and Canada, and extend to her a real and lasting preference. We should show our appreciation of the spirit which animated the writer of the lines -
For the cause that lacks assistance,
For the wrongs that need resistance,
For the future in the distance
And the good that we can do.
.- Napoleon said, on one occasion, that the people of Great Britain were a nation of hucksters, and I am very much afraid that if he had listened to the speeches of some honorable members he would have spoken of the people of Australia in the same terms. I was much struck with the ability with which the honorable member for North Sydney spoke in favour of according preferential treatment to Great Britain, and I most cordially support his amendment. It seems to me that the Attorney-General did not rise to the occasion. He should have accepted the suggestion of the honorable member for North Sydney, not only because it is a fair one, but because it would enable us to show our gratitude to the people of Great Britain for what they have done for us in the past. Instead, the Attorney-General, acting, it appears to me, very much as Shylock did in demanding his pound of flesh, said that he could not agree to the request, but that the Government hoped, at some not far-distant period,to introduce a Bill in favour of preferential trade relations with the mother country. He knew full well when he talked of preferential trade that he was speaking of something which the people of GreatBritain, by an enormous majority at the polls, had declared against. He knew that there can be no such thing as preferential trade in the near future between any of the British Dependencies and Great Britain. The electors of the mother country have unmistakably declared in favour of free-trade. They have sent the party whose members advocated the imposition of moderate duties, in the interests of preferential trade, to the wall. The Government of Great Britain is now composed of men who have declared in the most unmistakable fashion for free-trade. What,then, was the use of the Attorney-General attempting to humbug this Committee?
– Order ! The honorable member must not impute motives.
– Then I will say what was the use of the Attorney-General attempting to mislead honorable members?
– Order ! The honorable member must not impute motives.
– If the AttorneyGeneral was not endeavouring to impute motives, what was he attempting to do?
– It is not for me to answer the honorable member’s question as to what the Attorey-General was doing; but the honorable member must not impute motives to other honorable members.
– I bow to your decision, sir; but in my opinion it was unfair for the Attorney -General to act in the manner that he did last night. He is aware - no man better - that any preference which may be extended to the goods of the mother country must emanate from the people of the Commonwealth themselves. Great Britain has done much for us in the past, and why should we not do a little for her? Honorable members upon this side of the House do not ask for a reduction in our Tariff duties with a view to giving effect to the proposal of the honorable member for North Sydney. We recognise that there is a majority against us. But surely we are justified in following in the footsteps of New Zealand. Surely we are justified in emulating the example of the late Mr. Seddon, who has been so much extolled by the Prime Minister, and whose unhappy death has been deeply lamented by everybody, and especially by those who hold the democratic faith. Undoubtedly he was a man who recognised his responsibilities to the Empire. Surely this Commonwealth is not going to play second fiddle to New Zealand, and to say that, because of certain mean and contemptible motives we decline to follow in its footsteps. I appeal to members of the Labour Party, who have time and again declared themselves in favour of free-trade, to assist honorable members on this side of the Chamber to give effect to the amendment which is now under consideration. If they do so, I am quite satisfied that they will never have cause to regret their action. This is not a party question ; it is a question of sentiment which should appeal to every honorable member, no matter upon what side of the House he may sit. I am satisfied that if honorable members vote in the direction I have indicated, they will in the future have cause to congratulate themselves upon having risen superior to party politics, and upon having done something, however little, for the country which has done so much for us.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 13
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- Whilst we are dealing with a measure of this character, it is always as well to frame it in as logical a manner as possible. Under such circumstances, I desire to supply a slight defect in the Bill. When the Minister of Trade and Customs was moving its second reading, he admitted that it constituted a departure from any existing legislation. I mentioned that over 600 years ago this had been tried. I have to apologize to the Committee for a slight inaccuracy. I find that it is only 543 years since it was tried, so that when the Minister mentioned that he was introducing something which was entirely novel he was a very long way indeed from stating the actual fact. I propose to introduce into this interpretation clause several definitions which, if agreed to, will have the effect of making the Bill more perfect than it is. I specially look for support from the labour corner, or rather I ought to get support from that quarter. In order that the advantage shall not be on theone side, I intend to move the insertion of three amendments.
– I wish to introduce an amendment immediately after the word “trade,” and if the amendment of the honorable and learned member is to be proposed by way of addition to the clause, my amendment ought to take precedence.
– My three amendments will have to be incorporated in one before the Chairman can decide whether they should be moved in this clause or not.
– It will not take the Committee very long to deal with my amendment, and by that time, perhaps, the incorporation of the honorable and learned member’s amendments may have taken place.
– Very, well, I give way to the honorable and learned member.
. -Last night I mentioned that I would move an addition to the clause, with the object of insuring that the provisions of this part should not be operative except in connexion with industries in which labour is protected either by the existence in the State, or in the Commonwealth, of an arbitration law under which an award may be made fixing the rate of wages, or an industrial agreement to the same effect, or in which, in the opinion of the Comptroller-General, and subsequently on reference to him, of the Justice, the rate of wages paid is fair. I think that honorable members will agree with me that unless labour is protected by this part of the Bill it is a farce for us to pass it. I contend that we ought to protect the men who have to bear the brunt of the work, who very often have to live on wages which border on the lines of mere subsistence, and who nevertheless are, as compared with seme of the employers, those who give life and character to the community. Last night I elaborated the arguments I have to submit in favour of my proposal. Therefore, I shall content myself with moving : -
That the following new definition be inserted : - “‘Industries’ means industries to the majority of the workers in which throughout the Commonwealth a Commonwealth law, or a State law or State laws, for fixing the remuneration of labour by award of a Court of Arbitration, an Industrial Agreement, or . 1 Board, applies or apply, or, in which the remuneration of labour of the majority of the workers throughout the Commonwealth, in the opinion of the ComptrollerGeneral, and on reference to a Justice under section 15, of a Justice, is, or, but for the alleged unfair competition would be, fair.”
– Is the object of the amendment to insure that the workers shall share in the advantages of the Bill ?
– The object is to provide that no employer shall be protected against dumping unless he pays a fair wage.
– How can we ascertain that all over Australia? Employers in Tasmania are not paying fair wages.
– How can we ascertain any of the conditions as to when the Bill is to become operative? The honorable member seems to have forgotten the provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, which” refers to the majority of the workers right through the States. It is of no use for the honorable member to ask how we can ascertain this or that rate throughout the Commonwealth when he has tabled a motion in favour of the amendment of the Constitution, with a view to the enactment of uniform industrial legislation.
– And that is the proper plan to adopt.
– The honorable member is always waiting for the future. The test of his faith in the efficacy of this Bill, and his belief in its alleged object, which is to protect labour - and it literally bristles with provisions referring to the remuneration of labour - is whether he will accept the principle of the amendment. I cannot see any way of improving its wording, though I maybe wrong. If the Attorney- General will agree to the principle, I shall accept any wording. ‘But certainly the test of the sincerity of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is whether he is prepared to support an express declaration that, if we are going to prevent dumping, labour shall have an equal right with capital to the protection alleged to be given by the Bill. I hope that honorable members on all sides of the Chamber will support the principle of the amendment.
– I do not think that it would be possible to work the amendment. Before we could take any action, the Comptroller- General would have to ascertain whether the industry was one - the majority of the workers in which throughout the Commonwealth a Commonwealth law, or a State law or State laws, for fixing the remuneration of labour by award of a Court of Arbitration, an Industrial Agreement, or a Board, applies or apply -
If the honorable and learned member can show that the amendment could be given effect to without delay and without injury to importers, I should be very much enlightened.
– I understand the amendment to refer to the majority of the workers throughout the Commonwealth, in the opinion of the Comptroller-General or a Justice. It leaves it to the opinion of one or other of the authorities to say whether a fair wage is paid.
– Yes, it says- or, in which the remuneration of labour of the majority of the workers throughout the Commonwealth, in the opinion of the ComptrollerGeneral, and on reference to a Justice under section 15, or a Justice, is, or, but for the alleged unfair competition, would be, fair.
I cannot follow the amendment in that sense. Moreover, if it were left to the Comptroller-General to say what is fair, a very grave responsibility would be placed upon his shoulders. But the main objection I have to the amendment is that, in my opinion, we could not very well give effect to it without considerable delay. The objection which was raised by honorable members opposite to delay in trade in the ordinary sense would, I think, be very much emphasized if this amendment were accepted. I certainly cannot accept it unless it is shown very much more clearly to my mind that it could be worked. I do not think it could.
– Let the Minister get his law officer to make the amendment more perfect in its wording, and I shall be with him.
– The amendment is very much involved. I can only state the effect which I think it would have. At the present time, I cannot see that it would have any other effect than to cause delay and place upon the ComptrollerGeneral a responsibility which I think should not rest upon his shoulders.
– I think that the argument which the honorable and learned member for Angas used with very great effect very recently, was thatthe anti-dumping clauses would be perfectly useless to protect anybody in Australia.
– I did not say that.
– I must have misunderstood my honorable friend. I, however, took that to be his argument, and when he submitted this amendment it looked to me as if, because it would be of no good to anybody, he wished to give a share of it to the worker.
– That is a fine deduction, if the honorable and learned member gets the premises.
– I understood that the honorable and learned member spoke against the anti-dumping clauses, and wished to have them in no way applied to industries. However, to make a long story short, I think that, however well meant his amendment may be, it is impracticable, because the Commonwealth Parliament has not power to make uniform legislation as to wages, hours, and industrial conditions. We cannot get that power. It is well known that in one or more of our States there is no Factories Act, or Arbitration Act. Gross sweating is practised in these States where there are no established conditions of labour. If the Justice were to come to the conclusion that insucha State there were not good conditions for the workers, he would not be able to apply the antidumping provisions to any part of Australia. Those who are in favour of applying them to Australia for whateverthey are worth - and I am not at all sure that they would be worth very much for a time - in order that we may not be insulted by men who come here avowedly for the purpose of destroying our industries, should endeavour to make them as effective as possible. We cannot in this Parliament legislate with respect to wages, hours, and conditionsof labour. Therefore, in certain of the States we must leave the workers to continue to be sweated, and if the amendment be accepted, and the workers in any State are sweated, the Justice will not be able to extend the protection of these anti-dumping clauses. As I understand the amendment, it provides that there shall be no protection to any industry, if in that industry wages are not paid in pursuance of an award of a Wages Board, or of an Arbitration Court, or if, in the opinion of the Justice, the wages paid are not fair.
– It refers to the majority of the workers.
– That may be, but that only increases the difficulty, as I should like to know how we are to find out what wages are being paid to the majority of the’ workers.
– Everything would have to be held up until we found out what the numbers were.
– That is so. May I point out that the latter part of clause 13 provides by anticipationfor what the honorable and learned member for Angas is anxious to provide for.
– The amendment must be all right if clause 13 provides for the same thing.
– Clause 13 is not rigid. It allows the Justice great discretion, which in these matters it is clear that he must have. We are justified in assuming that he will act with common sense, and under clause 13 he must have “ due regard to the interests of producers, workers, and consumers.” I do not think that we can adopt any more’ rigid provision to give protection against dumping, I rose to say that I cannot vote for the amendment, which I have no doubt is submitted in good faith for the purpose of protecting the. workers, and not for any merely party purposes.
– I have listened, as I always do, with much attention to the observations of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, but it seems to me that the construction he put upon clause 13 is rather far-fetched. In my opinion that clause merely indicates to the Justice that he is to look to the interests of the workers, amongst others, in the case of any proposition to exclude foreign goods. That is to say, the interests of the workers are to be regarded only in respect to those foreign goods, and not in respect totheir own local conditions. So that, whatever might be done with regard to foreign goods, nothing could be done under that clause which would give the workers any share whatever of the advantages proposed for the manufacturers. I have no doubt that this Bill consists very largely of a series of benevolent propositions couched in such general terms that it is very doubtful if any of them will be found to have very much actual effect. But, admitting that, I say that it is our duty now to put into the Bill some definite provision which will indicate that we believe that the interests of the workers should not be left out of sight in dealing with any proposals to exclude foreign goods. It is all very well to say that the interests of the workers are considered, but I wish to remind honorable members that in some of the industries which this Bill is intended to protect the wages of the workers areanything butsatifactory. and that if actual prohibition of the manufactures of foreign competitors of these industries may beimposed, there is still nothing whatever to indicate how the workers are to receive the slightest advantage therefrom. Although I have circulatedan amendment, to be introduced later in the Bill, with the sameobject as the honorable and learned member for Angas has in view, I am willing that the opinion of the Committee shall be tested on his amendment, the principle being one which I, at least, cannot ignore, and which I am bound to support. I say, further, that if his amendment is in anyway indefinite or defective, it should be the business of the Committee to put it into such a state as will make it most effective for the purpose intended.
.- The object which the honorable and learned member for Angas has in view is a very good one, but it does appear to me that the amendment which he has submitted will prove inoperative. As the Minister of Trade -and Customs has said, it would throw a very grave responsibility upon the Comptroller-General, and would greatly delay the settlement of these matters. Further, it does not set forth in clear terms what is or ought to be considered a fair thing. I might take a concrete case.
– It is the same in the Arbitration Act.
– I am aware of that, but I should like to point out to the honorable and learned member that the Commonwealth Arbitration Act does not, and cannot, make provision for any union whose operations do not extend beyond the boundaries of any one State. It is, however, quite probable that we should have an industry located in one State. The circumstances of that State might be such as would not invite any competition or similar activity in any other State. The industry might be one of considerable dimensions, and fairly prosperous, and yet it might be absolutely ruined.
Mr.McCay.- How ?
– It might very readily be ruined by dumping into the State a sufficient quantity of foreign importations of the articles which it produced. If there be any virtue in the prevention of dumping, it is very clear that it must be prevented, whether the operations of the industry concerned extendbeyond the boundary of any one State or do not. For instance, in a State like Tasmania the circumstances of an industry might be circumscribed because of its geographical situation, and for other reasons.
– This amendment will not stop that.
– I did not say that it would, but in several of the States there are no State Arbitration Acts, and it is only where disputes extend beyond the boundaries of any one State that the Commonwealth Arbitration Act becomes effective.
– That is not essential to this amendment.
– Oh, yes, it is. Otherwise the matter must be referred to the Comptroller- General .
– The Comptroller-General could decide at once.
– It is with the very greatest reluctance that I give any shadow of support at all to these proposals, and I wish to say most emphatically-
– Why did not the honorable and learned member vote? ‘
– Ihope the honorable member will not interrupt. I have been waiting for so long, while an honorable member was standing where the honorable member for Parramatta is now, that I almost confused him with the honorable member.
– We are glad to see the honorable and learned member in the Chamber at all.
– Oh, go home. Remove the honorable member, Mr. Chairman.
– We voted.
– I wish to be allowed to continue.
– Will the honorable and learned member resume his seat. I remind honorable members that interjections are disorderly at any time, and if they are to be continued I must refer to the honorable members who make them.
– Oh, go on.
– After the honorable member has interrupted me deliberately and without provocation he tells me to go on.
Mr.Joseph Cook. - Let the honorable member go on, or go out again.
– I call upon the honorable member for Parramatta to cease his continual interjections.
– Then let the honorable member for West Sydney conduct himself properly.
– I must also remind the honorable member that when the Chairman calls him to order he intends that the honorable member shall cease his disorderly conduct.
– Is that intended for me. Mr. McDonald?
– Most certainly.
– What I was saying was that the object of the amendment appears to be to restrict theoperation of this part of the Bill to those industries in which the workers are paid a fair rate of wages. I take it that that is an object which we all have in view, but the question is whether the amendment will be effective. I say most emphatically that I decline to believe that it is necessary or proper that this part of the Bill should be carried into effect unless it does provide that the people who are actually engaged in the industry benefited by the prevention of dumping get a fair rate of wages.
– Let us try it.
– With all’ due deference to the honorable and learned member, I believe that his amendment will not attain that purpose. If it will, it will be in a very cumbersome, roundabout way, and I am not at all sure that it will effect it in some cases even in that way. It refers, not only to industries to which an Arbitration Court has applied a rate, but also to those in which it may apply one. If we take New South Wales, for instance, while the local Arbitration Court may apply a rate to all the industries in that State, as a matter of fact it has done so only in the case of an infinitesimal proportion of them.
– I think that the amendment covers the case of industries to which an Arbitration Court may apply a rate, although it has not actually been applied.
– Of course. It is not necessary to bother about arbitration awards at all, if the Comptroller-General considers that the wages paid in the industry concerned are fair.
– Suppose there is an industry in the State of New South Wales which does not apply to the Court, but to which, nevertheless, the Arbitration Court of New South Wales may apply a rate. Suppose that the wages in that industry are wretchedly low. This part of the Bill will come into force as against thatindustry, although’ the conditions under which the poor, unfortunate people engaged in it are working aresuch that it does not deserve preservation.
– There is the State law to protect them then.
– We are talking about the honorable member’s amendment. I want to make it clear that this part of the Bill shall not apply under any circumstances to industries in which men are not getting fair rates of wages. This amendment would not effect that object.
– It goes as near as we can get to it,
– It is necessary to be quite clear about the amendment which has been moved by the honorable member for Angas. This Bill deals with unfair competition, and it provides that “due regard” shall be had “to the interests of workers.” I take it that that regard will be to the conditions of the industry and the wages that are paid.
– Hear, hear; it is all included in that.
– If that be so, precisely the same thing would be done under the clause as under the amendment. The question is whether the clause goes far enough, and whether the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Angas will do something more.
– It would make the Bill so complicated that it would not be easy to work it at all.
– I think that the Bill as it stands is so complicated that much will not be done under it. I am willing, as I have stated from the commencement, that the Bill shall be passed; but I am not hopeful that it will achieve what the Government think that it will do. I am afraid that it is an experiment that we shall be glad to get rid of. I hope that it will do all that the Government hope, and if I can do anything to make it more effective I shall do so.. I can see no provision which goes expressly in the direction of protecting the workers in the Bill as it stands. The only provision that tends in that direction, so far as I can see, is that found in another clause to the . effect that when the ComptrollerGeneral thinks that there is unfair competition, he shall ascertain what are the wages paid to the workers in the industry concerned, and what are the conditions in it. It is quite true that in South Australia, Tasmania, and Queensland there are no Arbitration Courts or Wages Boards, except in the case of the clothing trade in South Australia. The Bill therefore means that when the Comptroller-General, thinks that wages are unfair in those States, dumping will be allowed to continue. I have not the slightest objection to dumping being allowed under those circumstances. I am not going to be a party to protect an employer who does not pay fair wages. If we refuse to protect him, we shall induce the employer to agree to Wages Boards or to an Arbitration Court being established. For that reason, unless I hear stronger reasons urged against the amendment than I have heard up to the present time, I feel inclined to support it.
.- I must confess to some surprise at the haste with which the honorable member for Northern Melbourne and the honorable member for West Sydney have criticised this amendment. The Attorney-General interjected that the object of the honorable member for Angas is met by clause 13 of the Bill. Clause 13 provides, upon this point, that unfair competition refers to competition with those Australian industries which are worth preserving, “ having due regard to the interests of producers, workers, and consumers.” I must confess that I have been puzzled a good deal as to how any Court, or any Comptroller-General, is to apply that test to an industry. “ Having due regard to the interests of workers.” Does it mean that it is better for a, man to be without work altogether, than to work in an industry that pays low wages? That is the only way, it seems to me, in which the interests of the workers can be tested with respect to the question of the preservation of an industry. Are you going to let it be destroyed because the wages are low? If so, I am doubtful whether that would be in the interests of the workers. It seems to me that it would be much better to apply some inducement to the employer, or to put some compulsion upon him, to pay satisfactory wages. And that is what the honorable member for Angas proposes to do in his amendment. He proposes that the anti-dumping provisions shall not be available to manufacturers unless one of three states of affairs exists. First, that the wages are satisfactory for the majority of those employed in the industry, whether they are wholly employed in one State, or are spread over the six States. That is the first alternative - that the wages are satisfactory for, at any rate, a majority of those in the industry. Secondly, that the wages can be made satisfactory bv appeal to a Court that has jurisdiction to make them satisfactory ; the argument there being that if either employes o? employers have a right to *no to a Court to get the wages made satisfactory then the fact that thev have not done so is no reason why the anti-dumping provisions should not apply, because they can always have their remedy by going to a Court of competent jurisdiction. The third contingency is this - that where wages have not been made satisfactory bv an, Court of competent jurisdiction, and where there is no Court of competent jurisdiction 10 which to apply in order to obtain satisfactory rates, then you fall back upon the authority that is given under this Bill, that of the Comptroller-General, or a Justice of the High Court. They will have infinitely more difficult cases to determine than any that will be raised by the amendment of the honorable member for Angas. Therefore, we say that where there is no Court available, then the ComptrollerGeneral, or a Justice of the High Court, must form the opinion, and for that pur pose must obtain conclusive evidence that the majority of workers in the industry are being fairly treated. I take it that these anti-dumping provisions are not proposed in the interests of a few manufacturers.
– Yes, they are.
– I do not agree with that view. They are proposed, I think, in the interests of the community as a whole; and the people to whom we must specially have regard are not the employers, but the employes ; and the people whose interests must be watched to prevent an injustice being done to them are the consumers. But this proposal says that a manufacturer shall not be allowed to come to the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs, or to the High Court, with a request to have the goods of foreign rivals prohibited in his industry unless the industry is paying satisfactory wages.
– The honorable member would not object to the manufacturer applying, but he would object to his getting the protection applied for unless he paid reasonable wages.
– He can apply as much as he likes, but this Bill says that facts shall be adduced to satisfy the Court that in the industry that is seeking protection from the foreign rival fair wages are paid. The proposal looks cumbrous at first sight, but when you take it word by word, I venture to say that it is quite clear.. There is no other way of putting the matter so satisfactorily ; but, so far as drafting is concerned, I am sure that the honorable member for Angas himself would not object to the Attorney-General re-casting the amendment to suit the general frame-work of the Bill, so long as it served the same purpose. If we are earnest in the desire that our industrial trade legislation shall operate in the interests of the great masses of the community, a provision like this is necessary, requiring any trade that complains of a foreign rival destroying it by unfair competition, at any, rate to satisfy the Court that the majority of the workers at least are receiving fair remuneration. I must confess that I differ entirely - with, every reject - from the Attorney-General when he says that the words, “ having due regard to the interests of workers,’’ in clause 13, are sufficient. I cannot conceive of the Court taking the view that the interests of workers are being regarded by allowing the workers to be put out of employment altogether.
– It is impossible to improve the condition of the workers under this Bill as it stands.
Mr. McCAY.I think so. There is no inducement to the employers to improve the condition of the workers where they are unsatisfactory. But it seems to me that the language of clause 13, providing that the industry shall be worth preserving, “ having due regard to the interests of workers,” if it is to be interpreted to mean an industry in which fair wages are paid, ought to be put more clearly. It is better to be employed in an industry at low wages than not to be employed in any industry at all.
– I would rather starve without work than starve with it.
– We can have a living wage without having what we call a fair wage. I think that the line of fair wages is above the line of wages of subsistence.
– It is incumbent upon us to say exactly what we mean.
– Quite so; and I say that “ having due regard to the interests of producers, workers, and consumers “ means very little for the workers, as an industry is always worth preserving from the point of view of those employed in it. Therefore, I do not understand how a case could arise where an industry would not be worth preserving having due regard to the interests of the workers in it.
– As it is, the Bill does not give the slightest power to improve wages.
– No, it does not. It says that due regard shall be had to the interests of the workers, and then it proceeds to prevent dumping. The proposal of the honorable and learned member for Angas, however much the wording may be quarrelled with - and I personally am satisfied with it - does impose the principle that when the powers of the State are being invoked by those in Australia who complain of foreign rivals, the State shall be satisfied by some reasonable evidence that the. industry deserves its assistance.
– We, are all at one as to that.
– If the Attorney-General is at one with us as to that principle, and if he says that the wording of clause 13, “ having due regard to the interests of workers,” means anything like this, all I can say is that he is much more sanguine as to what the Court will say that the words mean than I am. If the Attorney-General tells me that he will accept the amendment, with verbal modifications to prevent its hindering the Bill from operating altogether - should he fear anything of the sort - I am satisfied.
– The Attorney-General will find that the amendment does not affect the operation of the Bill.
– I think the honorable member for Angas knows my mind.
– I do not; I think the honorable member desires to carry out the amendment.
– Honorable members of the Opposition have a great regard for the interests of the workers ! They are opposed to the Bill, and would like to see it defeated.
– The honorable member for Yarra may make remarks of that kind ; they are just about the sort of so-called argument he is capable of. The argumentum ad hominem is the height of his most soaring argumentative ambition.
– I should not run away from my constituency.
– The honorable member may find that his constituency will run away from him.
– Then I shall only have the experience of the honorable member himself.
– So far as I am concerned, I followed a portion of my constituency, which was divided into four parts - I could not follow’ them all. However, all this is quite apart from the question. I am glad to hear that the Attorney-General is disposed to accept the amendment in a shape more acceptable to his views of drafting. Personally, I do not care what the form is, so long as we get the substance.
.- I rise to support the principle embodied in the amendment. Conceal it as much as we may, this Bill is protection in disguise. We have heard Ministers and others, especially the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, speak of the “ new protection “ ; and I take it that the amendment of the honorable member for Angas is simply an endeavour to carry out that new protection - to protect the workers as well as the manufacturers. To show how necessary such an amendment is, I may point out that the chief mover and father of this Bill, Mr. McKay, when, some time ago, the Wages Board system was applied to Ballarat, removed his works from that city to Braybrook, in order that the number of his apprentices might not be limited, and that he might not be brought under the control of the Wages Board. I take it that if the amendment be embodied in the Bill, any attempt of that kind will deprive the manufacturer of the right to protection against dumping.
– Such a manufacturer would have to move into a city before he could get that protection.
– That does not follow ; because if a manufacturer paid the ruling rate of wages, and observed Wages Boards conditions, he would be entitled to the protection, whether within or without the jurisdiction of the Wages Board. However, the case of Mr. McKay is one in point, because he shut down his works in Ballarat so that his employes would not be able to obtain the wages to which the Wages Boards declared1 they were entitled.
– That was not the cause of the removal.
– What I am stating is a fact. Is it not a fact that Mr. McKay did close his factory at Ballarat, and move beyond the jurisdiction of the Wages Board?
– That was not in order to escape paying the wages fixed by the Board.
– But Mr. McKay did escape paying the wages fixed by the Board, though I believe he made the excuse that he had more apprentices than he was entitled to employ, and that he wanted them to complete their indentures.
– The question is whether Mr. McKay is observing Wages Boards conditions.
– He is.
– I understand that Mr, McKay is observing Wages Boards conditions now, having received a broad hint to do so.
– Mr. McKay did not get a hint, but was told straight that if he did not observe Wages Boards conditions we would not work for him.
– It was not until he was told that if he did not observe Wages Boards conditions he would not be protected against the dumping by the International Harvester Company, that he made the promise. Let us have some provision in the Bill to insure that all the protection shall not be given to the manufacturer.
– I am against this class of legislation, but if it has to be passed in the interests of the manufacturers, we ought also to protect the workmen. I am prepared to support legislation that will give employes the very best wages. If wealthy manufacturers are to receive advantages by legislation of this kind, it should not be at tnt expense of their men. There is no doubt that this Bill has been introduced for the especial benefit of one or two men in Victoria; and, as has been stated, the. very man in whose interest it was mainly promoted, removed a part of his works from Ballarat to Braybrook, in order to avoid Wages Board conditions. Shortly before last Christmas, an inspired paragraph appeared in the press to, the effect that industries were being so strangled that 130 men, who received, in the aggregate, about £200 a week in wages, had had to be dismissed in Ballarat. We may take it for granted that if the amount paid in wages had been greater, we should nave been told so in that newspaper. It will be seen that 130 men, receiving .£200 a week, means an average wage of about 30s. ; and that is the sort of wage that is paid by a gentleman who is asking to have all competition destroyed. This Committee should not legislate for one or two men.
– Is that why honorable members of the Opposition are supporting the Bill ?
– We are not supporting the Bill. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has supported the Bill right through in the interests of wealthy manufacturers, not caring one dump about the working man. We on the Opposition side have opposed the Bill from end to end, but we support the amendment of the honorablemember for Angas because it gives some fair play to the workers. We are not supporting the other parts of the Bill; and the honorable member for Hindmarsh knows that his statement is incorrect. We ought to give no consideration to men whoare making fortunes, unless their employesreceive the fullest pay to which they are entitled. The honorable member for Angas, and the honorable member for Corinella,, both of whom are clear-headed lawyers,, assure us that the amendment will attain the end in view. While I have always held that this class of legislation does not helpthe workers, but, on the other hand, tends to their injury, my sympathies are just asmuch with them as are those of the honorable member for Yarra. That honorable member made a remark about honorable members on this side opposingthe Bill, but I can tell him that I have more sympathy than he has with the toilingmasses, and have done more for them thanhe has.
– More harm.
– The honorable member for Yarra has raised himself to his present position on the shoulders of the workers, for whom, however, he has never done anything. He takes the stand he does in his own interests, with a desire for his own advancement.
– The honorable member must not impute motives.
– Then I shall say that the honorable member is looking after the interests of the workers, and that he believes those interests are best served by his being here as their representative. That may be taken “as ironical, or sarcastic, if honorable members please, but it is all I have to say in regard to the honorable member, who boasts so much of his love for the workers. The Attorney-General and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, both accept the principle of the amendment, but they only do so because they see that members of the Labour Party are in favour of it. They had no intention of accepting the amendment until they observed the disposition of the Committee to accord fair play to the workers.
– I am not going to say one word about my attitude towards the workers or towards Wages Boards; my attitude is too well known to require any answer from me.
– The honorable member was against this amendment a little while ago.
– I was against putting into the hands of free-traders the power to destroy industries and to prevent wages being regulated at all. I am still of opinion that there can be no satisfactory industrial settlement until the same Parliament that fixes the Tariff also applies the industrial laws. I have a motion on the notice-paper dealing with this question, and there will be an opportunity to test the sincerity of honorable gentlemen opposite in regard to the workers and Wages Hoards. If the amendment can be made effective, I am most anxious to see it applied. I contend, however, that we should not punish employers, who are paying fair wages, because the majority of the trade do not happen to be up to their standard. What we ought to do is to get the work here, and then to compel employers to work reasonable hours and pay fair wages. As to the remarks about Mr. McKay, it is only fair to say that the dispute was not about wages, but about the number of apprentices. For some months past, Mr. McKay has been paying .full Wages Board rates, even to those apprentices; and I say again what I said by way of interjection, that I do not care whether it is Mr. McKay or any one else—
– How much did Mr. McKay pay to the election fund ?
– Not a single penny.
– He ought to.
– Most decidedly he ought to.
– I must ask honorable members to maintain order.
– It is only fair to say that Mr. “McKay is paying, and has been paying for some months, the wages fixed by the Wages Board.
– Does the honorable member not think that it would be a fair thing to wait for the reports of the Tariff Commission ?
– Those reports have nothing to do with the question we are now considering. If the amendment could be made effective, and could be applied so that it would not injure those who are paying fair wages, I should be prepared to support it; but I am convinced that, as it is at present worded, it is r-.ot so applicable. I believe, however, that a provision has been framed which will meet the case, and I shall be happy to vote for that.
.- The Government should give very careful consideration to the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas ; but it seems to me that, if the words which he proposes to insert are placed in the interpretation clause, they will operate as a distinct limitation. The point I should like to have cleared up is, what will be the effect of the word “majority”? In New South Wales, the Arbitration Court, when appealed to, fixes the rate of wages, and it might happen, in connexion with an industry extending throughout the Commonwealth, that dumping was being resorted to which would cripple the industry so far as it was being carried on in New South Wales, because high rates were being paid there under an award of the Arbitration Court, whereas in the other States it would not be affected, because the lower rates of wages paid enabled the local manufacturers to compete successfully against their competitors from abroad. The result would be that the New South Wales factories would have to close down. I shall not vote for any provision which is likely to have the effect of decreasing wages, because, even in the best paid industries, the wages are too low, and will have to be greatly increased before they can be regarded as fair,. A short time back we heard about capital leaving the country ; but the manner in which the city of Melbourne loan has been subscribed shows that there is plenty of money here still. As a matter of fact, this country is so flourishing that our people can afford to pay better wages, and we should do everything possible to increase the rates of wage. As it seems to me that the amendment will not have that effect, I shall not vote for it. The idea of the honorable and learned member for Angas is, however, a good one. I agree with him that the manufacturers alone should not get all the benefit accruing from legislation such as this ; the conditions of their workmen should be improved as well as their own. But I should like the honorable and learned member to show that the amendment as drafted will not have the effect that I fear. It seems to me that it would be better to redraft clause 13, in order to carry into effect the principle embodied in the amendment. It seems to me, as a layman, a peculiar thing to provide for the giving of powers by a paragraph in an interpretation clause. I think that the machinery for the collection of information by the ComptrollerGeneral should be provided In another part of the Bill. In my opinion, the best thing to do is to re-draft clause 13.
.- As a general rule, I am opposed to legislation in restraint of trade. I do not claim to be a friend of the importer; but I feel that if we restrict trade we lessen our markets, and, to that extent, reduce the value of our production. I admit that there are unfair traders, with whose operations the State must interfere for the protection of the public interest. The difficulty is to do anything without unduly interfering with legitimate trading. I do not see any provision in the Bill which will extend the benefits to be derived from the prohibition of dumping to workmen engaged in the industries which will be protected. In giving protection to any industry, I should like to see the benefit so conferred not limited to those who have invested their capital in it, but extended also to those who are employed by the capitalists.
– Paragraph a of sub-clause t, and paragraphs b and c of sub-clause 2 of clause 14, are all directed to the protection of the workmen.
– They do not go as far as I wish to see the matter carried. I do not regard the amendment as a limitation, although I am not entirely satisfied with the wording of it. But if the principle is acceptable to the Government, as I understand it to be, it is their duty to improve the wording. I desire that the benefits of this legislation shall be extended to the workers, and I shall support the amendment until something better is proposed.
– A good deal has been said by way of objection to the wording of the amendment, but not one honorable member has attempted to improve it. I venture to say that if honorable members tried for an hour they would not be able to adopt much clearer terms. I have framed the amendment in accordance with the Bill, and with all due deference to honorable members I think that it will accomplish what is aimed at. I have endeavoured to provide against delay.
– Hear, hear.
– The Minister was afraid that there would be some delay whilst the Comptroller-General was making up his mind as to what constituted a majority of the workers in an industry. I have provided in the latter portion of the amendment, which is absolutely independent of the former part, that if, in the opinion of the Comptroller-General, a fair wage is paid to the majority of the employes in an industry, he can put the law in motion. He can form his own opinion, and there will be no check upon him. I deliberately inserted those words in anticipation of objections such as have been raised. A number of honorable members profess to be in sympathy with the object of the amendment, but cavil at its wording, without making the slightest attempt to improve it. Some honorable members have objected to the use of the word “ majority,” but they have not suggested any other word that could be employed. Nothing would be easier than to substitute the word “ minority,” if honorable members think that that would be a fair thing to do.
– No one suggests that. It is the onus of proof that is objected to.
– There is no onus of proof. The Comptroller-General can put the law in operation, so long as he is of opinion that fair wages are paid to the majority of the employes in an industry. He can make his own estimate. I deliberately inserted that provision in order to prevent any possibility of delay. If the ComptrollerGeneral thinks that the law should be .put in force it will rest entirely with him to do so. I recognise that it “would not do to regard the opinion of the ComptrollerGeneral as final, and, therefore, it is provided that, after his. certificate has been issued, the Judge shall give his decision. Otherwise, the whole machinery of the Act would rest upon the ipse dixit of an officer acting under the control of the Minister of Trade and Customs. First, the Comptroller-General would form -what may be called an interlocutory opinion, and would bring the machinery of the Act into operation. He would issue his certificate, and the importation of the goods would be suspended until the matter could be referred to the Judge for his decision. Surely that is a fair proposal to make. If the ComptrollerGeneral formed an opinion that the wages of the majority were unfair, and that the Act should not be brought into operation, it could be shown by reference to the decision of the Wages Boards or Arbitration Courts which might apply to only a minority of the workers, that he was mistaken. I would ask honorable members who object to the principle being embodied in the Bill to say so definitely. If, however, honorable members are in favour of the principle, they should point out in what respect the wording of the amendment is faulty. I am not claiming anyspecial credit for the drafting of the amendment, but I have .given some consideration to it, and I think that it will accomplish its object. The honorable member for Darling, with that caution which characterizes almost every statement he makes, in regard to fiscal principles, has objected to the word “ majority.” He pointed out that some men might be receiving fair wages, but that the majority might not be in that fortunate position, and that, therefore, the Act could not be brought into operation in their case. Surely the fairness or otherwise of the wages paid in an industry may properly be tested by the rates that are paid to the majority. That test will be applied whether the amendment is adopted or not, because clause 13 will not be brought into operation unless the Judge is satisfied that the majority of the workers in an industry are affected. I hope that tinder the circumstances, honorable members who are in favour of inserting some provision in the Bill that will insure the payment of fair ‘wages, will vote for the amendment.
– I took exception to the wording of the amendment, because I thought it was too involved and not workable. I intend to propose an amendment which is more directly worded, and will have the same effect. I move -
That the amendment be amended by inserting after the word “Industries” the following words: - “shall not include industries in which, in the opinion of the Comptroller-General or Justice, as the case may be, the majority of workers do not receive adequate remuneration, or are subject to unfair terms or conditions of labour or employment.”
– Will that apply to all industries?
– Yes. The honorable and learned member for Angas will see that the word “ remuneration “ is used, and that according to the interpretation clause, that embraces almost everything. The provisions in clause 14 will render it unnecessary to enter into the details which the honorable and learned member for Angas has included in his amendment, and I hope honorable members will accept the alternative proposal which deals with the matter directly, and will achieve the object in view.
.- I am very glad that the Minister has accepted my “amendment. That is what he has practically done. I do not desire to cavil at the wording of his amendment, but, with all respect, I contend that my proposal did fit in with the Bill. However, I am satisfied with having secured from the Government - although with manifest reluctance - an affirmation of the principle for which I contended.
.- Under the clause in its original .form, the AttorneyGeneral pointed out that the interests of labour were conserved. Undoubtedly they were conserved, as they at present exist, but what most of us desire is that manufacturers who reap an advantage under the measure shall give better conditions to their workers. Some of the employes engaged in industries which require this prohibition are urgently in need of better conditions. The Bill, in its original form, did not provide for the betterment of the position of the workers, and, therefore, I am very glad that the Minister has accepted, in substance, an amendment of which I had previously given notice, but the consideration of which will now become unnecessary.
.- Although the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas has been accepted “By the Government, i claim that it does not go far enough. What we ask is that if an advantage be given to any manufacturer, the enhanced price which he receives for any article shall be distributed amongst the workers. Otherwise, it would be idle to call upon other citizens to pay it. Why should the increased price filter through the pockets of the manufacturer?
– Hear, hear. Let us go for nationalization.
– In such a case, let us go for nationalization right up to the hilt. Money which is taken from all the citizens should not be allowed to find its way into the pockets of one particular class.
– Does the honorable and learned member favour the fixing of a maximum selling price?
– There are two or three amendments which I propose to submit dealing with that phase of the matter. As I have previously stated, legislation of this kind was attempted in England very many centuries ago. When action was taken there it was decided that the manufacturers should have “ reasonable gains, and no more,” and, in order to prevent them from declaring that they had parted with the control of their goods, the celebrated provision in regard to the forestallers was introduced.
– When was that?
– The first attempts recorded were in the eighth or ninth century. These matters were then controlled by mere ordinances. About the fourteenth century such laws began to be very frequent indeed. In order to show honorable members how much trie lawmakers were in earnest over the matter, I desire to make a brief quotation, in which I have practically embodied the words of the old English Acts. At a subsequent period it will be my duty to move in relation to that very matter. I intend to ask the Committee to agree to an amendment, the effect of which will be to declare that at the hearing of any case the Justice shall, upon the motion of any person, assess the price at which an article shall be sold. This will prevent the manufacturer, who will have been practically freed from competition, from raising the market price of goods against the citizens of the Commonwealth. It will insure him “reasonable gains, and no more.” These are the exact words of the old English Acts upon the subject, and if any manufacturer refuses to subscribe to that condition, he is to be liable to a penalty of .£500.
– I am not quite sure that I shall not be able to agree with the honorable and learned member. My sympathies are with him.
– I do not desire sympathy. I can only refer the Minister to Matthew, chapter xxiii., 3rd verse, which is addressed to hypocrites who “ say, and do not.” We get too much of that sort of thing here. After we have determined that the manufacturer shall receive “reasonable gains, and no more,” we should make a further provision - as they did in England - to prevent him from saying that he “has entirely parted with the control of all his goods. In England, after the passing of the Act to which I have re ferred, a second Act was passed in regard to the forestallers. It was enacted that -
Any forestaller which is an open oppressor of poor people -
That is a very sound statement - and an enemy of the whole Commonwealth -
Another very sound statement - which for greediness of his private gain buyeth in advance such things, intending to sell them more dear, shall be liable to a penalty of £500.
We must insert a clause of that kind toprevent the possibility of the manufacturer declaring that he has sold all his goods tosomebody else. When by our act we had lessened competition, he would say that he had sold the lot to a certain man. The two men would be in league, and they would share the profit, so that we need tomake another amendment. Unless we go> still further, some manufacturers will work half-time in order to limit production r and to be in a position to say that they had not the articles to supply. I propose to introduce an amendment on the lines of another English Act, which, slightlyaltered, says -
Manufacturers of goods shall make sufficient of such goods, and any manufacturer neglecting to employ sufficient men at reasonable rates of wages shall be liable for every day or portion of a day he neglects to employ men to a penalty of £500.
Why cannot the Government be thoroughly logical and bring, in a provision of that kind ? That would be doing something on behalf of the workers.
– Why not nationalize them ?
– A short time ago the leader of the Opposition advocated the nationalization of factories as against protection.
– Order ! Do I understand that the honorable member intends to connect his remarks with the amendment? He seems to be speaking on the lines of an amendment which he proposes to move.
– I hold that the present amendment does not go far enough, and, therefore, I am giving reasons why the Government should be willing, to introduce a further amendment. When the Minister of Trade and Customs declared that his proposal was in the interests of a majority of the workers, he ought to have announced that he was prepared to accept a further amendment drawn upon the lines which I have indicated. Surely that would be in the interests of the workers. If legislation can accomplish anything of that sort, why not let us try to bring it about ? If an Act of Parliament can make men wealthy, it would be far better to have three Parliaments sitting eight hours a day and working continuously, even if we had to submit to three Ministers of Trade and Customs. As the amendment stands, a manufacturer might work only half-time so as to keep up the price of articles in this market, in fact, to charge extreme rates. It is true that it shuts out a great many of the poorer men, and that is a double reason why we should interfere. Surely every one will admit that in very many cases the workers are not getting the full results of their industry. As a rule, no employer pays more than is necessary, in order to carry on his business. An employer is not likely to turn round and say that he will give a much higher rate than he is compelled to pay. Therefore, it is right to, in every possible way, safeguard the interests of the majority of the workers. If the Government will accept amendments cn the lines I have foreshadowed, they will have taken a step in the direction of introducing legislation which, while they may think it novel, was really in existence many hundreds of years ago? I do not believe that it would be very efficacious, because it failed in times past when the conditions of life were verv much simpler than thev are to-day. ,
– It is time that this business was finished.
– Is the honorable member willing to accept the amendments that I have outlined, or can he point out any objections to them?
– The objections are so numerous that I could not think of pointing them out.
– The objections on the part of employers are very numerous indeed, but the honorable member cannot state any objection on behalf of the workers to legislation on the lines I have indicated. Will he state one objection there can be on behalf of the workers to the introduction of such amendments ?
– I will tell the honorable member to-morrow; let us get home.
– What possible objection can there be to trying to attempt to secure to the workers the benefits of any restrictive legislation of this sort which may be passed? It must be remembered that what we are asked to do is practically to allow one, two, or three men who maybe engaged in certain industries to get a monopoly if the clause should come into force. It is only in human nature that they would raise their prices. It does not follow that they would give their workers an increased remuneration, because the price of labour is never determined by the conditions of labour in a protected industry, but is always determined bv the price of labour in the primary industries. If the price of labour in the primary industries were low, we may depend upon it that the price of labour in the secondary industries would always be low also. However, I do not wish to detain the Committee any longer to-night. I have indicated the lines upon which I think we ought to legislate. If the Committee is not prepared to take that course, then the bulk of the Labour Party do not understand the conditions of the people whom they profess to represent; in fact, they will have failed in their duty when thev have before them the splendid examples of past legislation.
Amendment of the amendment agreed to.
Amendment further amended by leaving out all the words after the word “Industries,” and, as amended, agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
Though moving the motion^ I should have been glad if honorable members could have seen their way to consent to our adjourning until 7.30 p.m. to-morrow.
– Will there be a quorum in the afternoon?
– I” have been informed by honorable members who have made inquiries that three out of every four of the very large number of honorable members we have had in attendance to-day propose to avail themselves of the invitation of Captain Walker to visit the exhibition of the Marconi system. Captain
Walker desires it to be understood that the day fixed was not of his selection. He had practically no choice left, owing to the impending departure of the Governor-General and his engagements for all other days. Captain Walker was obliged, therefore, to select to-morrow as being the only day for which it was possible to extend his invitation to us, unless he postponed it for more than a month. To-morrow, as honorable members are aware2 is set apart until 6.30 p.m. for the transaction of private members’ business. The Government do not wish to abridge the rights of private members, or endeavour to do so. Having regard to the very large number of acceptances of Captain Walker’s .invitation, it is extremely improbable that a quorum can be’ formed or kept to-morrow afternoon. For the sake of the officers of the House, the Ministers who would require to be present, and of honorable members, it would be better to adjourn now until 7.30 p.m. That can only be done by leave. It rests practically in the hands of those who have private business on the paper for tomorrow. I should be happy to withdraw my motion if there were a general consent, but if there is not I must move the adjournment of the House.
Mr. McCOLL (Echuca) fu. 12]. - I should like to ask the Prime Minister if he will give me an opportunity to take a vote on my motion with regard to the time at which the general elections are to take place. It has been on the paper for a month. There is >no disrespect to the Government intended in that motion, as I expressly said in moving it. but the matter with which it deals is one of vital interest to nearly the whole of the rural population of the Commonwealth.
– I think that we practically disposed of it yesterday in connexion with the deputation on. the subject. The members of the deputation were quite satisfied with what was proposed.
– The honorable and learned gentleman fixed the 21st November.
– That is the earliest possible date.
– The Prime Minister knows the interest which the matter is exciting throughout the northern district, and, in fact, throughout the whole of Victoria, and some of the other States as well. If Ministers desire that honorable members shall give way, it is only fair that they should meet them in the way I have suggested I have no wish to take up time or to do anything discourteous or disrespectful to Ministers or members of the House. At the same time, I think it is fair that private members, who have these rights and have important motions under their control for which thev are responsible to their constituents, should be given every opportunity to carry them through. I ask the Prime Minister to give me time when the House meets to-morrow simply to take a vote on the motion.
.- On behalf of the honorable member for Barrier, I should like to say that he has no objection to the adjournment over tomorrow afternoon, provided that the motion which he has on the paper for tomorrow does not drop out of the position which it holds on the paper now. If the whole of the motions appearing on the business-paper for to-morrow afternoon could be set down for the next private members’ day, in the order in which they now appear, I think that would be fair, and there should then be no objection to the adjournment.
– I point out that there are already matters down on the noticepaper for to-morrow week. To displace them from the position which they hold would be quite out of accord with any rule over which I have control. I could make no exception of the kind suggested, except by a vote of the House. If honorable members who have business down on the paper for the 19th July would consent to what is proposed it might be done, but otherwise any business which falls off the paper to-morrow must be replaced on the paper, not before, but after, the business which is already on the paper for the 19th Jury.
.- I am one of those who have business for to-morrow afternoon. My motion is the first on the business-paper, but when it was reported to me that very many of the members of the House desired to avail themselves of the invitation which they have received, I readily consented to the postponement of my motion until a later date, in order to avoid any inconvenience to them. I’ was under the impression that other honorable members who have business on the paper would do the same. In my case it means the postponement of my motion for fully a month, but I do not mind that if the convenience of honorable members generally is served. I hope that the honorable member for Echuca will, in the circumstances, see his way to adopt the course which other honorable members have expressed their willingness to adopt.
.- I am very glad that the honorable member for Echuca has not seen his way to withdraw from the position he has taken up. No valid reason has been given for the postponement of the business set down for to-morrow afternoon. The invitation we have received from Captain Walker is merely, to attend a picnic. We have had a great many picnics in connexion with this Parliament, and we should not increase the number. I point out that honorable members are proposing to take part in this picnic to support a monopoly. We have been legislating against monopolies, and this Marconi system of wireless telegraphy is undoubtedly a monopoly.
– No; there are a number of systems of wireless telegraphy.
– It is a monopoly in Australia, and, worse than that, it is a foreign monopoly. Honorable members who have been professing to legislate against monopolies are going to support this foreign monopoly, which is also an Inter-State monopoly, operating between two of the States of . the Federation. I hope the honorable member for Echuca will stick to his guns.
.- I do not agree with, the honorable member for Corangamite that the invitation we have received is in any sense an invitation to a picnic. It is rather an opportunity for the education of’ every member of .the House. I rose particularly for the purpose of saying that I have what I consider to be a very important Bill on the paper for the 19th July, and I am quite prepared to permit motions postponed from to-morrow to take precedence of it.
.- I hope that the Prime Minister will give the honorable member for Echuca the concession for which he asks. The honorable member asks simply that time may be given after half -past 7 o’clock to-morrow for a vote to be taken on his motion. The honorable and learned .gentleman will admit, on consideration, that the honorable member for Echuca is practically compelled to take up the position he now adopts. If the honorable member were to withdraw from it a certain section of the press would at once affect to consider his withdrawal as a sign of weakness, and would claim that he Had not the interests of the farmers truly at heart. In view of that, I hope that the Prime Minister will give the honorable member’s request the consideration to which it is entitled. The honorable member does not ask for time to further discuss the motion, and if any honorable member were to break through the spirit of the agreement, assuming that the Prime Minister granted the concession asked for, we could apply the closure. I am sure that the House would be prepared to resort to that standing order for the first time on such an occasion. I hope that the Prime Minister will accede to the wishes of the honorable member for Echuca, and save the House from a trying situation.
.- I am not satisfied with the attitude that theGovernment has adopted in connexion with this matter. I think that a proposal should have been submitted by the Prime Minister definitely, to put honorable members beyond doubt as to the time when the Housewill sit to-morrow. There appears to be a universal desire on the part of honorable members to have an opportunity to witness the despatch of the first message by wireless telegraphy in Australia. Although the desire of the House is practically unanimous, we find that the honorable member for Echuca steps in and says, “ Because I have a proposal on the business-paper, I am not going to allow the unanimous wish of the House to be acceded to.” But, as a matter of fact, when this proposal of the honorable member’s was last before the House he was not in his place to go on with it. I believe that it was merely a political dodge on his part–
– The honorable member must not impute motives.
– I believe it was introduced for political party purposes - the Prime Minister secured the adjournment in the absence of the honorable member for Echuca. There was then every oppor- tunity for him to bring forward his motion. The Prime Minister was the only member who spoke with regard to it. But the honorable member, who now professes to be so anxious to have a vote upon the subject, when the opportunity was presented to him a fortnight ago, was not even in hisplace. He was, I suppose, attending to other political jobs - perhaps endeavouring to persuade the electors that the Prime Minister was trying to have the elections fixed on a day that would not suit the farmers. ft was only owing to the Prime Minister’s courtesy that the motion did not lapse altogether; and it conies with exceedingly bad grace from the honorable member to turn round now and say, “ I am going to thwart the wishes of the House to-morrow.”
– I should have been happy, under othercircumstances, to consent to grant Government time to the honorable member for Echuca for the discussion of his motion. But it so happens that other honorable members who have business upon thepaper for to-morrow made exactly the same request, and, of course, it is not possible to discriminate. I understand that the honorable member for Echuca simply desires to divide upon the question. If I could accept that as an expression also of the desire of other honorable members, we might take a vote upon the motion to-morrow ; but, as a matter of fact, one honorable member has informed me that he, at all events, proposes to discuss the motion, and I understand that others also wish to do so. Under the circumstances, we have not’ Government time to spare for the discussion of the subject. I very much regret that Mr. Speaker and the officers of the House will be brought here to-morrow at half-past two.
Mr.McW ill lams. - If the Prime Minister cannot spare Government time, he cannot spare private members’ time.
– I have not spared pri vate members’ time. Private members, with one exception, have generously giver up their own time. I should be prepared, if I had an opportunity, to move that the House, at its rising, adjourn until tomorrow at 7.30 p.m. ; but understand that it cannot be done.
– If the Prime Minister desires to move a motion to that effect he does not require to obtain leave, because a motion fixing the time when the House will meet can be moved at any time. It will, however, first be necessary to withdraw the motion for the adjournment of the House.
– If that be so, I ask leave to withdraw the morion.
Motion,by leave, withdrawn.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
Thatthe House at it rising adjourn until 7.30 p.m. to-morrow.
.- The honorable member for Kalgoorlie has made an attack upon me, and has imputed certain motives to me. His conduct was very unbecoming, and his statements were very untrue - absolutely untrue.
– The honorable member must not say that.
– That young man is merely a political fledgling, who has come here lately, and it does not lie in his mouth to make charges against members having parliamentary experience as he has done to-night. I submitted the motion which stands in my name because I have had at least a score of letters in regard to the matter, apart from interviews with various people. There is nothing that has affectedmy own district, and northern Victoria generally, so much as this question of the date of the elections. However, I have no desire to deprive honorable members of any enjoyment to-morrow. When this motion came on a fortnight ago I was unfortunately accompanying a deputation on public business to the Lands Department of Victoria. I understood that the business then before the House would occupy at least two hours. No one expected that my motion would be reached so soon. But a change took place inmy absence. However, as there will be a chance in . 1 week or two to take a vote upon the motion. I shall not persist to-morrow.I see that I can get the motion down forThursday. 2nd August. On that understanding I waive my objection.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.30 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 July 1906, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1906/19060711_reps_2_31/>.